Concrete is more resilient than cement, and can last for centuries with proper care. To use an analogy, cement is to concrete like milk is to ice cream - it's an essential ingredient, but not the main focus. When considering the longevity of cement and concrete, it's important to take into account the conditions they are exposed to. A well-maintained cement structure can last for decades, while a well-kept concrete structure has the potential to last for centuries.
If you're looking for a cost-effective home improvement project, cement is a great option. It can save you money and still last for years. Asphalt is less durable than concrete, and with proper maintenance can last up to 30 years. On the other hand, concrete provides a strong and durable option that can last over 50 years with occasional repairs and degreasing.
It can also withstand heavier loads than asphalt, making it ideal for driveways and recreational vehicles. When mixing concrete, gravel is usually added to a mixture of sand, water and cement - the basic ratio being one part cement, two parts sand and three parts gravel. This creates an incredibly robust material that works well for high traffic areas and heavy loads such as sidewalks, driveways and foundations. As an added bonus, the cost of a concrete entrance is usually lower than other alternatives such as asphalt. The mortar is a mixture of only water, cement and sand (the basic proportion to follow is one part of water, two parts of cement and three parts of sand).
This cement mixture can create any number of brick or stone structures that, if built correctly, will last a significant amount of time. The chemical reaction between cement and water in the concrete mix initiates the process of cement hardening which binds the aggregates into a single mass in a process called hydration. This hardening process continues for the next 28 days unless altered by additives or other measures. It usually takes 28 days for concrete to reach its full strength. During this time it should be kept moist and above freezing point. In hot climates, curing time should be monitored closely.
Sometimes coatings are applied to protect cured concrete from freezing temperatures or auxiliary heaters are used. The design lifespan of most buildings is usually 30 years, although buildings typically last 50 to 100 years or more. Due to their durability, most concrete and masonry buildings are demolished due to functional obsolescence rather than deterioration. However, a concrete shell or structure can be reused if the use or function of a building changes or when the interior of a building is renovated. Concrete with a low water-to-cement ratio (0.40 or lower) is more durable than concrete with a high water-cement ratio (0.50 or higher).