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What’s the difference between concrete, cement grout, and mortar?

Two people laying concrete and smoothing it out with a trowel

While the terms are often mistakenly interchanged, concrete, cement grout and mortar do indeed have their own distinct compositions, uses and application methods. It’s likely that the confusion comes from the common ingredient in each: cement.

What is cement?

Cement is a combination of elements, including silicon, calcium, iron and aluminium, blended with aggregates such as limestone, clay, shells and silica sand. This is then superheated and crushed to a fine powder. Cement is not used on its own; instead it functions to bind and cure concrete, mortar and grout mixes.

It’s not just by drying that cement gives its strength to these mixtures – a chemical reaction between the cement and water causes the material to cure and harden. (In fact, this is why it’s important to not let cement dry too quickly in hot weather, before the curing can be reached.)

General purpose cement is a straight Portland cement suitable for use in all types of construction. It’s commonly used for tiling, screeding and in commercial cement grouts.

Similarly, general builders cement can be used in place of all general purpose cement – its composition differs by blending fly ash or slag with the Portland cement. This blend affords it a better environmental footprint than general purpose cement.

At Auscon, we’re committed to quality and reliability, which is why our full range of cement products are designed, tested and manufactured in Australia, using ISO certified processes.

What is concrete?

Concrete is a mix of cement, sand, stone and water. It’s a versatile and durable construction material, commonly used for foundations (concrete slabs), walls, stairs and driveways or paths. More creative – but just as practical – uses include concrete bench tops and furniture, as well as art.

Concrete and cement are the most frequently mixed-up terms – it can help to remember that ‘cement is not meant to be used by itself’.

What is cement grout?

Also known as cementinous grout, this is another combination of cement and water. It’s used as a layer between or around concrete and structures to evenly disperse the weight of the structure to the concrete. It’s often applied to bases, bearing plates and steel frames.

Unlike concrete, this formulation is not intended as the main ‘building block’, but rather a layer that works in conjunction with the foundation. Want to see this in action? Take a look at our video and article on How to Grout Tilt-Up Panels Using Auscon GP 50 Non-Shrink Grout.

What is mortar?

Mortar is a blend of cement, hydrated lime (also known as HYLime or Marvelime) and fine sands, which cure to act like an adhesive between brick and stone.  Hydrated lime improves the mortar’s bonding strength and workability. Increasingly, innovative synthetic limes are replacing hydrated lime in mortars to improve the environmental impact of this product.

Auscon formulates innovative high-quality cement mix solutions that are easy to prepare and use – simply add water. This creates more consistent results and less time measuring.

To find out more about Auscon’s Australian-made cement blends, and which products are best for your project, get in touch today.