Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are concrete and cement the same thing? Can the terms concrete and cement be used interchangeably?

A: Cement is an ingredient of concrete. The terms “cement” and “concrete” are often used interchangeably, but are not the same thing.

Q: How are cement and concrete related?

A: Cement is a binding agent used to make concrete. The cement acts as a sort of a paste which solidifies and holds together the other materials that make up concrete.

Q: What is cement made of?

A: According to the Portland Cement Association, “Portland cement, the basic ingredient of concrete, is a closely controlled chemical combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron and small amounts of other ingredients to which gypsum is added in the final grinding process to regulate the setting time of the concrete.” Limestone, shells, chalk, clay, slate, silica and iron ore are commonly used ingredients in the manufacturing of Portland cement. Lime and silica account for about 85% of the materials combination.

Q: What is concrete made of?

A: Concrete is a composite material made up of cement (most often Portland cement) and other rocky materials. Ingredients commonly found in concrete in addition to cement include crushed granite, crushed limestone, sand, fly ash, coal ash and other aggregate materials.

Q: Is it dangerous to touch wet cement and concrete?

A: Yes. Due to the chemical reactions that occur when dry cement is mixed with water, wet concrete is very caustic and can cause serious skin and eye irritations and burns. Cement and concrete workers take precautions when handling wet concrete and wet cement.

Q: Do concrete structures resist fire?

A: Yes, concrete is fireproof.

Q: How strong is concrete? Why is it such a popular building material?

A: Concrete is very strong, due in part to the strength of the cement that it contains. Concrete is somewhat lacking in tensile strength so modern installation of concrete frequently makes use of metal reinforcements which are laid down before the concrete is mixed and poured. This makes the metal an integrated part of the concrete structure; held in place by the strength of the cement.

Q: Is all concrete the same?

A: The exact mixture of concrete and cement can be varied to produce concrete with differing properties. There are many chemical additives, called admixtures, that be used during the concrete mixing phase to control factors such as color, plasticity and the speed of the setting.

Q: What are some examples of common residential cement work? What kinds of things are commonly made of concrete?

A: Cement is used to make concrete, which is an extremely common building material for residential structures. Concrete porches, concrete driveways, concrete patios, concrete sidewalks, concrete steps and concrete pool surrounds are all common structures created for residential purposes by cement workers and concrete contractors.

Q: I want to save money on my patio and driveway project. Should I consider the do-it-yourself approach to my cement and concrete needs?

A: Cement work and concrete pouring are skills that require dedicated practice and high quality materials and tools. It may be possible to pour your own concrete, but even the slightest mistakes can lead to diminished quality results that do not last for nearly as long as desired. Hiring a reputable 1-800-Cement-Work contractor is the best way to ensure you get the maximum benefit from your cement work.

Q: We’re having a house built and wondering what is done before our concrete foundation can be poured?

A: Excavation will be needed before the concrete foundation can be poured.

Q: Do cement floors and concrete floors all look alike?

A: Cement floors and concrete floors come in an amazing array of styles, textures and finishes. Due to their durability, ease of maintenance and their allergy friendliness, cement floors and concrete floors are gaining great popularity as a flooring option.

Q: How economical are concrete floors and cement floors?

A: The initial installation of a concrete floor or cement floor may be higher than mid-priced floor coverings. However, compared to the cost of installing high-end flooring materials, concrete floors and cement floors tend to yield a big bang for the buck. Concrete floors and cement floors also require little maintenance and have a longer lifespan than other types of flooring which adds to the cost effectiveness of investing in concrete and cement flooring.

Q: I want a brick paver patio, but I want something that will be very long-lasting. Would stamped concrete be a good choice for me?

A: Yes, stamped concrete is an excellent choice for patios, pool decks, porches, driveways and walkways. Dyes and stamps allow cement workers to create a variety of looks out of stamped concrete.

Q: How should concrete and cement be maintained?

A: To maintain concrete and cement it should be cleaned annually, cracks should be repaired, joints should be sealed and the concrete surface should be sealed.

Q: My concrete is stained and has a rust spot. How can I clean the concrete? Can I hire someone to clean concrete?

A: There are a variety of chemicals that can be used to clean your concrete and remove the rust stain from the concrete. Many 1-800-Cement-Work contractors provide concrete cleaning services.

Q: Can cracked concrete be repaired?

A: Minor cracks and surface cracks in concrete can be repaired and disguised with concrete resurfacing and concrete overlaying. If the cracks are extensive, concrete replacement is necessary.

Q: What are some factors that indicate concrete is damaged beyond repair and needs to be replaced?

A: Factors that indicate the need to replace the cement include deep, widespread cracking or cracks that go all the way to the settlement; sunken, uneven concrete, which may indicate problems with the sub grade; and frost heave, which is common in cold climates and results in cement and concrete that have been pushed upward due to freezing of the ground underneath.

Q: Will concrete harden under water?

A: Yes, if it is mixed with Portland cement or another hydraulic cement variant. Water is an essential part of the chemical reaction that allows concrete to harden. The surface of concrete must be kept moist in order for the concrete to cure properly, and concrete can harden even when submerged in water.