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The difference between mortar, concrete and cement for your home

(StockSnap Photo)

When the average homeowner talks about building materials, he or she often uses the words concrete and cement interchangeably, but they’re really not the same thing.

And then there’s mortar. What in the world is mortar? And, for that matter, what is masonry?

All three are building materials, of course, but here is what makes each of them different:

Cement is one of the ingredients that makes concrete. The other ingredients are air, water, fine sand and gravel or crushed stone. Through a process called hydration, the mixture hardens and continues to harden for years after it’s dry.

It’s not completely accurate to call your sidewalk, patio or block walls cement. They’re concrete. Concrete is used in large structural projects and can be used in beams, walls and foundations for buildings.

Another term you might use during a conversation about concrete is masonry. Masonry is an umbrella term that covers all building materials that you would typically bind together with mortar, such as concrete blocks, adobe blocks, stones and bricks.

Bricks are held in place with mortar, which is a mixture of cement, sand, water and lime. The mortar can be tooled so it’s flush with bricks, giving your wall a smooth appearance, or you can apply mortar so it spills out between the bricks or it can be tooled to achieve a concave appearance.

I hope this helps you understand the differences in these materials. And hey, the next party you head to you’ll be able to school everyone there as well.

If you are looking for the correct mortar mix ratios to use or for more advice, tips and information for all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at – Arizona’s most trusted Referral Network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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