They’re two similar words describing wet stuff that’s mixed up, poured out and allowed to harden into durable shapes and forms. We’ve heard them used interchangeably. But are they? Is there a difference between cement and concrete? You bet there is!
Cement is a binding agent made of finely powdered limestone and other ingredients which, when mixed with water, forms a powerful binding agent that hardens to near rock-like consistency. It was discovered by Englishman Joseph Aspdin three centuries ago. Aspdin found that mixing these ingredients and heating them to approximately 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit created a product which, when mixed with gypsum and ground into a powder, would harden when mixed with water.
Concrete is merely a mixture of Aspdin’s product – cement – with aggregated stone, sand and other materials that allow it to be used in masonry, flooring, countertops and other useful materials. So while you can have cement without concrete, you can’t have concrete without cement. Make sense?
Typically, concrete contains about 10 to 15 percent cement. The amount of gypsum in the cement mixture affects the setting time of the concrete (the amount of time it takes the concrete to harden), and additional products can be added to the mixture to control cracking and chipping. Also, the amount of aggregate has an effect – the more stone and other materials used results in stronger concrete.
Here are two more interesting facts: The amount of water needed to set cement is not set in stone, so cement can actually be poured, and will harden, underwater. Also, since cement and concrete utilize raw materials that are abundant worldwide, they do not use up our precious resources – and the more that’s produced, the less raw resources need to be used in the future, since both products are easily recycled.
At Sunworks Etc., we utilize a technique called Glass Fiber Reinforcement Concrete (GFRC). What’s great about this is we can cast larger pieces with less weight. It also makes curves far are more achievable – and even large floor-to-ceiling pieces can be realized.
This year’s Expo featured more than 200 vendors, outdoor living displays, classes and workshops. I know this isn’t actually true, but it seemed like everyone was coming to see us! There weren’t five consecutive minutes of downtime for us during the entire three-day Expo!
Decorative concrete is becoming more widely used in flooring, countertops and other parts of the home, and Expo visitors certainly were interested in learning more about its durability, good looks and nearly limitless design options. (At one point, our small planters were so popular, we had to go back into production to make more!)
Of course, we were very excited to see our beautiful pieces of art. But honestly, the opportunity to educate people about the beauty, simplicity and versatility of decorative concrete – that was why we attended the Expo. That was the real mission we assigned ourselves.
Based on your overwhelming response, I can only say this.
Shopping for new countertops? Seeking unique ideas for paving that outdoor area? Longing for a dramatic change to that kitchen or foyer? Come out and see us at the 2014 Pennsylvania Garden Expo, to be held Friday through Sunday, February 21-23 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
We’ll be in booths 812 and 814, just down the aisle from the second entrance to the show, which is the largest and longest-running event of its kind in Central Pennsylvania. The annual expo features vendors, presentations and ideas from flowers to fencing, bollards to bricks and nearly anything else you can imagine involving horticulture, interior and exterior decorating, and more.
What a great time to check out what we have to offer you at SunWorks, etc. Decorative concrete is becoming more widely used in flooring, countertops and other parts of the home as consumers discover its durability, good looks and nearly limitless design options. We’ll have experts on hand who can discuss your particular project and provide ideas and helpful advice.
The garden show features nearly 200 vendors, outdoor living displays, classes and hands-on workshops. Whether your project is a small, do-it-yourself task or a complete home remodeling, landscape architects and other experts will be there to answer your questions.
Show hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. You can purchase tickets online for $10 each on the show’s website, www.pagardenexpo.org. Tickets will be $13 at the door. For more information about SunWorks, etc., visit our website at www.sunworksetc.com.