Among construction materials, mortar and cement are the most widely used, but although they are closely related, they are not the same product, but each has its own composition and is indicated for certain jobs, so it is good to know its characteristics.
Mortar does not have an exact defined origin, but it is believed that in Ancient Egypt a mixture of cementitious material made with magnesium, calcium silicates and silicon dioxide was already used to join limestone blocks when cladding important constructions, such as example, the Great Pyramid. However, there is not enough archaeological evidence.
Another historical antecedent developed in Ancient Greece, with the use of volcanic rocks extracted from the island of Santorini in the elaboration of a mortar made of natural cement. Later, the Romans perfected this product by adding volcanic ash from the city of Naples. This mortar was used to build bridges, houses and great monuments that have endured through the years, among which is the Roman Coliseum. It was a type of mortar very similar to that used today in much of the civilized world.
It is important to define what mortar is to differentiate it from cement. Basically, it is a material that is used to join blocks and bricks, whether made of concrete or stone, which are used to make interior and exterior walls. Also, the mortar serves to seal and harden, as well as to level ground and reinforce the bases of certain constructions.
If you want to understand what mortar is for, you should know that it is not a single product in itself, but a mixture of several elements, including cement, but it also contains a portion of sand and water. In addition, it can be prepared with lime, as a substitute or companion for cement. The amount of each ingredient depends on the result that the user wants to achieve and the type of work that is being built. Currently, there are a number of additives that can be added to the mixture to improve certain characteristics, such as resistance or impermeability.
Although it is widely used in the creation of walls, it is also frequently used in the final finish of walls. The so-called water-repellent mortars allow good perspiration to avoid the accumulation of humidity, but at the same time they prevent the passage of water, for this reason, they are especially useful on exterior walls and facades.
Mortar is generally prepared in large capacity concrete mixers , as it is required in considerable quantities for the construction of houses and buildings. However, there are very practical products in packages of 1.5 to 25 kg, which are used to carry out specific DIY jobs at home. In this case, the mixture is prepared and we only have to add water following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Most common types of mortars
In general terms, all mortars have great resistance and withstand humidity, but they can also be classified according to their composition. Let’s see below the main types of mortars.
Mortar prepared with lime has the advantage of being very flexible and breathable, so it is good to avoid humidity in prone areas inside the house, such as bathrooms and kitchen, however, it is more used for finishing of exterior walls . It is a fairly simple mixture that contains sand, lime, and water.
Portland cement mortar
This is the most widely used type of mortar in the world. It is a mixture of sands of different textures with common gray cement and water. The result is a very useful paste for general construction, including small DIY projects , floor repair, wall erection, etc. However, for a waterproof finish, you need certain additives.
This is a more versatile type of mortar, since it results from the mixture of sand, cement, lime and water. In this sense, the ingredients can be dosed to obtain different results; more lime adds flexibility, while more cement provides greater strength, therefore it can have many different uses.
What is cement?
Many of us have ever wondered what cement is made of, the good news is that the answer is very simple. It is a material in powder form, made with clays and limestones that are charred, ground and often reinforced with gypsum. However, there are different types of cement with different ingredients that provide specific results.
Cement becomes a soft paste on contact with water, but subsequently hardens with air, so it is used as an ingredient to prepare mortars , in this sense, it is considered one of the best binders that exist, since a once it dries it becomes a hard and very resistant material.
This is the main difference between cement and mortar. They should not be used as synonyms, since cement is just one of the possible ingredients to make a mortar. Both are very old products, however, they have proven their effectiveness over time and are commonly used in large architectural constructions today.
How to prepare a mortar with cement
Although there is no single manual on how to make mortar, we can say that it is a simple procedure, in which we basically need four parts of sand to one of cement and water. However, as we have said, this depends on the desired result.
On the contrary, making cement is a much more complex process, which requires the use of machines and professional labor , so if you wonder how to prepare cement, you should know that this must happen in a specialized factory, it cannot be done. In the home. What you can do is mix it with other elements to make a mortar.
However, the uses of cement go beyond the preparation of mortars, for example, it can be used with water to make small repairs, such as plugging a hole in a wall. It is also used to make concrete, concrete and other construction materials.
As we can see, these elements are used together most of the time, but in the future you can already be sure if you need mortar or cement when buying materials to make repairs at home.