6 Types of Cements used in Construction

Feb 12, 2024 | Blog

When it comes to constructing sturdy, reliable structures, the correct choice of cement makes a big difference. We’ve put together a crash course about the world of cement, exploring various types and their specific applications.

While cement may not seem like the most exciting subject in the world, think about how many structures you use every day that benefit from quality cement pouring and choice of materials. Hint: it’s most of them!

The foundation– essential design and best practices

The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, which makes sense for the layman but could quickly get confusing when used in the construction industry. Get familiar with the individual substances in order to make sure you say what you really mean when you talk about them!

Cement is a powdery binder substance that hardens when mixed with water. It’s an important ingredient in concrete, and it works as the glue that binds the other components together.

Concrete, on the other hand, is a composite material composed of cement plus aggregates like sand and gravel, and water. Sometimes, additional materials like admixtures or additives are included to enhance certain properties.

When the cement powder is mixed with water, it undergoes a chemical reaction called hydration, forming a paste that binds the aggregates together. As this mixture hardens, it creates an extremely durable and strong construction material.

In short, cement is a component of concrete, and concrete is the final product used in construction. Cement is the binding agent, while concrete is a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. Got it?

White cement mixer truck

Types of cement and their applications

   1. Portland cement

Portland cement– unrelated to the cities in Maine and Oregon, and not a proper noun– is widely used in construction projects. It’s known for its versatility and strength, which makes it a go-to choice for building foundations, pavement, and structural elements.

   2. White portland cement

White portland cement is primarily used for decorative purposes. It offers a clean, bright finish, making it ideal for architectural and aesthetic applications like precast panels and terrazzo surfaces.

   3. Rapid hardening cement

Rapid hardening cement, true to its name, is suitable for projects with tight time constraints. It achieves a high level of strength within a short period of time, which makes it ideal for repair work and projects that have a quick turnaround.

   4. Low heat cement

Low heat cement is used in massive concrete structures. It generates less heat during hydration, preventing cracks in large masses of concrete like dams and foundations.

   5. High alumina cement 

High alumina cement is suitable for construction in high-temperature environments. This makes it suitable for applications like industrial furnaces and refractory construction.

   6. Blast furnace slag cement

This type of cement is used in marine construction. It enhances durability, and provides resistance against seawater, making it perfect for structures like bridges and marine terminals.

Characteristics and properties

Each type of cement has unique characteristics, and full knowledge of these characteristics and qualities is a must for making informed decisions in construction.

For example, portland cement excels in providing robust strength to ensure longevity for everyday structures like bridges, walls, culverts, sidewalks, buildings, and much more. Rapid hardening cement offers quick strength gain, which enhances the efficiency of construction projects.

White portland cement provides a bright, clean finish, which makes architectural elements look flawless. Low heat cement minimizes heat during hydration, preventing cracks.

How does cement affect construction projects?

Selecting the appropriate cement type is a critical decision that can directly impact project outcomes. Factors like climate, structural design, and intended use play a big role in cement selection.

Join a fast-growing industry where hard work pays off

If you’re interested in joining a fast-growing industry where you’ll work as a team to build structures that people use every day, check out the RedStone Construction Group’s Careers page to find our current job openings! We’d love to have you!