Every time there’s a reference in the news or in general conversation to cement steps, cement porch, curbs or building components, my husband has a nuclear meltdown. We both spent our careers in construction and every time we hear the word ‘cement‘ used when the word they should be using is ‘concrete‘, it hits our ears like chalk grating on a blackboard, or, worse, Yoko Ono singing. This mistake occurs frequentlyÂ including several times on CTV television and their writers should know better. It’s one of those petty annoyances like people using ‘irregardless’ for ‘regardless’. Just . . . DON’T do it.
Here’s the scoop. Cement is one ingredient in the recipe for concrete. Concrete is made up of five basic ingredients:
- Aggregates (crushed stone)
- Cement (powder)
Sometimes, other materials or chemicals may be used as well to modify the strength, density or weight of the finished product but basically, that’s what it includes. Interchanging ‘concrete’ and ‘cement’ is like making a cake and calling it flour. Cement is a dry ingredient that is just one of the components of concrete.
Various additives and chemicals can also be added to a concrete mixture to make it lighter, stronger or more weather resistant..
Creating concete is much like making a cake. You would never call a cake “flour”. That’s just one of the ingredients in the final product.
So, do we all now understand? The words concrete and cement are not interchangeable. That sidewalk, wall or those steps Rocky Balboa climbed to get in shape are concrete, not cement. I don’t want to ever hear you call them cement again.