Which Cement Is Good for Construction?

Hand Mixing Cement

Choosing the best cement for construction is crucial to the integrity of the structure. Different types also provide different pros and cons that are suitable for various endeavors. But the question is, which cement works best for construction?

The cement types that are good for construction are Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) and Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC). OPC has 3 types: 33 Grade for non-RCC, 43 Grade for plastering, and 53 Grade for fast-paced projects. PPC makes the structure denser, making it perfect for mass concreting works.

There are more types of cement that you can use for various endeavors, and we’ll discuss all of them in great detail. By the end of this article, you’ll have a deeper understanding of these types and be able to choose the best one for your project.

Ordinary Portland Cement vs. Portland Pozzolana Cement

Almost every construction needs cement, but the type that you can use may vary depending on what you’re planning to build. However, most structures need to choose between two cement types: OPC and PPC. Both have their pros and cons that make them suitable for various endeavors. Getting the best cement for your project starts by understanding the difference between them.

Ordinary Portland Cement at a Glance

Ordinary Portland Cement is a combination of 95% cement clinkers and 5% being gypsum—an additive that we use to increase the cement’s setting time. It’s more common for construction projects because we can use it for quick works that don’t require a variety of concrete.

However, there are also some considerations that you need to make because OPC comes in three types:

  • 33 Grade Cement is for general civil construction projects that don’t require high-density concrete and non-RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete) works. It can achieve a minimum strength of 33 megapascals (MPa) after 28 days. However, due to most buildings’ requirements and the availability of 43 and 53 Grade Cement, using 33 Grade became somewhat obsolete.
  • 43 Grade Cement is what we use for wall plastering works, non-RCC structures, pathways, and other projects that don’t require as much concrete density. It gets 23 MPa after seven days and reaches 43 MPa after 28 days of setting. It stays the same over time, and can’t support as much weight, making it less ideal for RCC work.
  • 53 Grade Cement is ideal for RCC works, pre-stressed concrete, and mortars because it offers higher density. Seven days after setting, 53 Grade Cement gets 27 MPa, and it’ll reach anywhere from 53 up to 70 MPa. Generally, any construction that requires support and strength needs 53 Grade Cement because it gains enough density over time.

The drawback with OPC is that it doesn’t offer enough corrosion-resistance and impermeability that some structures may need. Both 43 Grade and 53 Grade are excellent for fast-paced projects, but they’re not as long-lasting as what you’d get from PPC.

Portland Pozzolana Cement at a Glance

Portland Pozzolana Cement is a combination of 65% to 75% cement clinker, 15% to 20% fly ash, and 3% to 6% gypsum. Fly ash is a cheaper substance that replicates Portland cement. When you use PPC for construction, you’ll get a lower-costing structure, making it ideal for buildings with a limited budget and don’t require as much strength as what you’d get from OPC.

You can use PPC for RCC works and mass concreting projects, but a more common application would be residential structures. Aside from the price, PPC is also a better option because it has a higher degree of fineness, impermeability, corrosion-resistance, and chemical-resistance—characteristics that we need when building houses.

Although PPC takes a longer time to set than OPC, it gains more strength over time. When small-scale construction has a limited budget but has enough time to spare, it’s a better option because of its price. However, if your building relies on high-strength, PPC may not provide you with the density you’ll need.

Can You Use the Same Cement for All Construction?

If you have better quality control and follow the best construction practices, you can use PPC and OPC interchangeably. However, in many cases, it’s advisable to use different cement types in various facets of the building, particularly with the foundation, plastering, and masonry. It’ll help you be more flexible with the cost and still achieve the strength you need for the structure.

Aside from OPC and PPC, there are other types of cement that you can use for various structures. If you’re working on a specialized building, it would be best to use a suitable cement because of the varying characteristics. So, a successful project will also depend on your familiarity with the various options available.

Other Types of Cement to Use for Construction

Cement plays a significant role in almost every construction, and the two we discussed above are the most common that you’ll see. Since you can’t use OPC and PPC for all construction works, it would be best to find out the other types that you can use for various structures, including the following:

  • Portland Slag Cement (PSC) is the cement that we use for projects in coastal regions, sewage, and water treatment plants. PSC provides better corrosion resistance than OPC, making it ideal for structures that deal with sulfate and chloride, or areas that are getting plenty of saltwater.
  • Sulfate Resisting Portland Cement (SRC) is the cement that we use for structures that only deal with sulfate attack. Since it provides better sulfate resistance than PCS, many sewers and water treatment facilities prefer using it. However, using SRC in environments where chloride is present may be dangerous.
  • Super Sulfate Cement is the cement that we use for mass concrete, especially for structures with plenty of chemical attacks. You can’t combine it with OPC to achieve better strength because it’ll reduce its corrosion-resistant property. It’s also a versatile cement that expands when underwater and shrinks when cured in air.
  • Quick-Setting Cement is the cement that we use for structures under running water or stagnant water. It has a similar composition with OPC but with lower gypsum content and a small percentage of aluminum sulfate. With this combination, the cement sets within 5 minutes and gets hard within 30 minutes.
  • Rapid Hardening Cement is the cement that we use for construction that requires fast-paced work. It requires less time to achieve strength, making it suitable for quick repairs and rehabilitation of structures to retain its condition.
  • Hydrophobic Portland Cement is the cement that we use for structures in areas that get more rainfall. It undergoes a chemical coating procedure that provides water-repelling property for the building. It’s also the one that we use for the construction of tanks, reservoirs, dams, piers, bridges, and swimming pools because parts of these structures are permanently submerged underwater.
  • White Cement / Colored Cement is the one that we use for decorative purposes. This type isn’t suitable for most construction because it doesn’t have the concrete density to support the weight. We usually use it to fill gaps in wall tiles, ceramic bathroom fixtures, and wall decorations. It looks more natural, but the manufacturing for this cement type is more complicated than OPC.

Conclusion

Cement is an integral part of modern construction. However, as we better understand the structures we can build, we also become aware of the need for various cement types that we should use. We were only using OPC and PPC for almost every construction in the past, but advancements in technology made better options available.

Various cement types offer some advantages that aren’t available with OPC and PPC. Some of these will allow us to complete our endeavors faster, while others provide a better lifespan for the structures.

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