Are Driveways Cement or Concrete? (Same Thing?)

Are Driveways Cement or Concrete

Cement? Concrete? Are they the same thing? 

Although they are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings.  Yes, they are two different things.  Read on to find out if a driveway is concrete or cement.

Concrete or Cement: the Difference

Cement:

  • Cement is an ingredient in concrete so it is not a building material that usually does not stand alone.
  • It is a bonding agent or paste
  • Cement can be made in many different forms for various uses. For example, some types of cement are designed to harden quickly and some are made to be used on structures that are submerged in water.
  • It is made from materials like clay, calcium, and limestone that go through a special manufacturing process.
  • Cement is mixed with water, sand, and gravel to produce concrete.

Concrete:

  • Concrete is a strong material that is used to construct foundations, driveways, walls, patios, and more.
  • It is a mixture of several things; specifically aggregates like stone, sand, or gravel, and adhesives.
  • As mentioned, cement is the adhesive that is used to make the materials in concrete bind together.  The cement is mixed with water and then with the other materials to make concrete.
  • Concrete is made up of 10-15% percent cement, 10-15% water by volume, and aggregate material makes up the rest.
  • When concrete is first mixed, it a pourable slurry that can be shaped to whatever you need.  As the concrete cures, it becomes harder, and this can take months, sometimes years, before it is fully cured.  For most uses, it only takes a couple of days of curing for it to be used.
  • Concrete is used mainly in large projects.

Your Driveway:  Concrete or Cement

There is nothing substantial that can be built out of cement so your driveway is generally concrete.

If you are told, for example, that your patio is made of cement, it is most likely made of some type of concrete. 

Cement will harden on its own but is not a good building by itself.  When it is dry, it prone to cracking and it does not last as long as concrete will.

The only stand-alone applications that use cement by itself is in concrete repair or as grout.

Concrete Driveways

Since it has been established that driveways are made of concrete and that cement is a part of the concrete, let us look at how it will be installed and then maintained.

Installation:

A homeowner can pour their concrete driveway but it is hard work and everything has to be done correctly or there will be problems with the driveway. 

Once the driveway is poured, time is a critical element because it starts to harden very quickly. 

This is why many leave installing a concrete drive to professionals. 

They can do it all; excavate the area for the driveway, prepare the forms that are need for driveway stability, pour the concrete, and then quickly finish the surface. 

They can do the entire driveway in a couple of days. 

Making a DYI project, it can take a week or longer just to do the excavation and preparation.  Pouring and finishing the concrete will take another day. 

If you decide to do-it-yourself, you will need several people helping you out as it is not a one-person job.

When installing or pouring a concrete driveway, the first thing to do is remove all grass and other vegetation to get a stable soil foundation. 

You will then need to make wooden forms to install around the perimeter. 

You will need to put down a base using class-5 gravel that will be at least four inches thick, which needs to be graded and compacted. 

You will also need reinforcement material of metal rebar put above the grave base, laid in a crisscross pattern. 

The concrete will be delivered from a ready-mix vendor. 

The key part of the finishing process of the concrete driveway is called floating the concrete

Once it is poured and smoothed, there are tools that you will need to use to work the surface of the concrete, drawing the finer particles and cement to the surface to create a smoother surface. 

This is another reason it is best to have professionals do it as they know what to do and to do it. 

While it is curing, the concrete does not dry out but undergoes a chemical process that strengthens and hardens it.

Maintenance:

The main thing you have to do is keep it sealed and clean. 

The sealant will add a layer of protection. 

To get it clean, scrub it with a stiff brush and then rinse it off. 

If there are any spills make sure that you clean them up immediately. 

Pros and Cons of a Concrete Driveway

Pros:

  • It is a relatively affordable option when considering how long it will last
  • Concrete is a very durable surface and if installed with the right base and reinforcements, it could last 50 years or longer
  • The driveways are very strong and when done right, they will stand up to the heaviest vehicles

Cons:

  • It is not the most attractive building material
  • They do require annual maintenance, especially sealant to help ensure that the driveway will have a long life
  • It is not a very friendly DIY material for working on a large project.  It is very hard to pour concrete so professionals should do the job.

Conclusion

  • Driveways are made of concrete of which cement is an adhesive;
  • On average, a concrete drive that is 16 x 38 will cost on average about $3900 but it depends on the size.  The average price is $6 per square foot.
  • Apply a high-quality sealer to prevent the concrete driveway from being damaged through the freeze/thaw cycles during the winter and absorbing moisture.
  • When putting in a concrete driveway, it is advisable that you buy the concrete pre-made and delivered to your home in one of those trucks with the turning drum instead of trying to mix it yourself several bags at a time.

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