Cement vs Mortar: Difference and Comparison

People are not very familiar with masonry. Therefore, they confuse Cement and Mortar. All these are used to bind two things together or to form a flat surface.

However, without knowing the difference between these two terms. Thereby, mixing and using them may result in a lumpy and messy outcome.

However these terms are synonymously taken, but they are very different materials from each other. Thus, people think that these two are the same.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cement is a binding agent used in concrete, while the mortar is used in masonry work.
  2. Cement is made by combining limestone, clay, and other materials, while the mortar is made by combining cement, sand, and water.
  3. Cement is used to create a strong foundation, while the mortar is used to bind bricks or stones together.

Cement vs Mortar

Cement is a binding element that consists of limestone, shells, clay and silica Sand is used in bringing masonry materials like concrete and mortar together. Mortar is a binding adhesive that can hold up two objects together, and it comprises cement and sand. It can be used alone without other materials.

Cement vs Mortar

Cement is a fine binding powder used as a component of various materials such as concrete and mortar, as well as tile grout stucco. It works as a binding element in both concrete and mortar.

Furthermore, it’s composed of limestone, clay, shells, and silica sand. When it’s combined with water, it gets hardened and set up.

Mortar is also a binding material. But mostly used during building with brick, block, and stone. In other words, it is used as an adhesive to hold bricks, blocks, etc. together.

In contrast to cement, the composition of the mortar is cement and sand. Moreover, different types are available for different applications.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCement Mortar
Composition The composition of cement is limestone, clay, shells, and silica sand. The composition of the mortar is cement and sand.
Works Cement is a binding element.Mortar is an adhesive to hold objects together.
Sub-component Cement is a component of many masonry materials. Cement is included in Mortar. 
Sole useCement is not used alone.  Mortar is used alone for binding two objects together.
Application Cement works as a binding element in masonry materials such as concrete and mortar. Mortar is used as an adhesive for holding up two objects together. 

What is Cement?

Cement is a binding component in various materials, such as concrete and mortar. The composition of cement is limestone, clay, shells, and silica sand.

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Usually, it is not used alone but used as a component in various materials such as stucco, tile grout, and thin-set adhesive.

When water is added to the cement, it gets activated and hardens up after a while. Also, it binds two objects together in the process.

Various types of cement are present, such as Portland, masonry, or white cement. Portland cement is used for making structures to make an object. Cement is commonly used all over the world for construction purposes.

Furthermore, Cement can be broadly categorized into Hydraulic and non-hydraulic cement based on the ability to set in the presence of water.

Hydraulic cement sets in the presence of water due to the chemical reaction between dry ingredients and water, e.g., Portland.

Non-hydraulic cement doesn’t set in the existence of water, and it is set up after drying due to the reaction with carbon dioxide.  Cement is not used alone, but it does combine with other materials for further application in various things.

It is used for binding bricks, blocks, and stones; as a base of the road; and manufactured for bricks, tiles, pipes, and various products. The production of cement is an extensive industry as it is used widely across the world.


What is Mortar?

Mortar is also a binding material, but it contains cement. The composition of the mortar is cement and sand. In some cases, it also includes fine sand, water, and lime that improves its durability.

Although mortar is not strong as compared to concrete. Thus, it’s not used as a significant component in construction. Instead, it refers to an adhesive that binds bricks, blocks, stones and others together.

It is sold in dry pre-mixed form in a bag that can be combined with water for use. However, it can be made manually as well using a shovel or hoe in a wheelbarrow or mixing tub.

Various types of mortar are also available, designed specifically for a particular application. Due to the types of mortar, there’s a necessity to use appropriate mortar as it may crack if used improperly. It cannot stand alone like concrete.

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Different use of different types of mortar, for example, grout is used to fill gaps between tiles. But the mortar is used in the joints if there are missing block pieces. It contains bonding enhancers.

Moreover, it is also used for repairing and renovating purposes. The application is different from cement, too. Mortar is applied as a thick paste between the tiles or desired, and it gets hardened in a short time.

Thereby, it creates a tight seal between them to prevent air or moisture from going in between them. The most commonly used mortars are Portland mortar and lime mortar.


Main Differences Between Cement and Mortar

Cement and Mortar are very different from each other, yet they’re considered as the same material. As they are used in masonry, they are used inaccurately. Furthermore, their composition and application are different.

They are used synonymously, yet they have their nature and composition. But they are widely used all across the world for different purposes and different types.

  1. Cement is made up of limestone, clay, shells, and silica sand, on the other hand, mortar is made up of cement and sand. 
  2. Cement is a binding element. In contrast, mortar is an adhesive to hold objects together. 
  3. Cement is a sub-component of many materials, such as concrete and mortar, while Mortar is a binding material itself that contains cement. 
  4. Cement is not used alone, while mortar is used alone for binding two objects together. 
  5. Cement is activated by using water, thereby hardening and setting up. Although Mortar is also activated by water, it sets up a little later. 
Difference Between Cement and Mortar
  1. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s13367-012-0004-3.pdf
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0008884673900859

Last Updated : 29 August, 2023

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16 thoughts on “Cement vs Mortar: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The author has thoroughly explored the differences between cement and mortar, providing a valuable resource for readers.

  2. Really interesting article explaining the differences between cement and mortar. It’s important to clarify these misconceptions so people can use these materials correctly.

  3. I think many people will benefit from reading this. It’s crucial to understand the uses of cement and mortar in construction.


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