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When it boils down to it, options and varieties for cement for construction sites and infrastructure aren’t exactly endless. Cement has been around since the Roman Empire, and it literally changed how cities were built. Cement is one of the most common components on every building site, so it’s important to understand the differences and options you have when making a decision that’s best for your particular project. We’ve discussed the differences in hydraulic and non-hydraulic cement, but here we want to go into the specifics of Portland Cement in particular.

Portland cement acquired its name due to its similarity to Portland stone, a stone quarried on the island of Dorset in Portland, England. It was patented in 1824 by Joseph Aspdin while he developed his invention for cement, and the name stuck.

What is Portland Cement?

Portland cement is the most common type of cement in use worldwide. It’s used as a basic component in mortars, concretes and other binding materials, and dates back to the early 19th century. The primary ingredients in portland cement are limestone and clay, with its most common use being as a mixing component for concrete products. Buildings, bridges, sidewalks etc., all utilize hydraulic cement and most likely contain it as an ingredient. On its own, portland cement is a caustic material and can cause chemical burns if it comes in contact with skin, so it should be handled with care.

Portland cement requires manufacturing of ingredients at very high temperatures to achieve a mixture that, when combined with water, will create the proper chemical reaction and harden and set to obtain maximum strength and integrity.

With the advancement of science and technology, portland cement as a primary ingredient in hydraulic cements has propelled infrastructure stability and advancements in construction worldwide. Its forward development has contributed especially to structures like lighthouses, where the constant exposure to inclement weather and ocean waters was a challenge to mortars and stonework.

What Are Its Uses?

Because hydraulic cement is the most common type cement used on construction sites and for repairs, portland cement is an important additive in a variety of applications. It can be used as a mixer with multiple components or used on its own for smooth and dense surfaces. In fact, it’s commonly used for smooth concrete surfaces in indoor warehouses, or smooth polished sidewalks or walkways. It can also be mixed with a variety of compounds as a binding agent in mortar for brickwork.

ASTM International has classified 5 types of portland cement, categorised as Types I-V. Depending on the requirements of your particular job site, you may opt for different types; ranging from Type I, good for general construction, to Type V, designed for structures that are exposed to high levels of sulfate. It’s important to ensure the type you’re using is appropriate, so make sure you have a good grasp of a project and what it will entail before you commit.