Concrete vs. Masonry: Are They the Same?

Concrete vs. Masonry: Are They the Same?

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If you are planning to build some sort of solid structure, which could be a foundation for a house, a wall, or anything of the sort, there are some building materials of choice that you need to know about.

Two of these building materials of choice are concrete and masonry. However, the distinction between the two can often be a bit confusing. This confusion is what we are here to clear up today. So, what are these two materials?

Are Concrete and Masonry The Same?

Simply put, no, these two building materials are not the same thing. Concrete is composed of a variety of elements that are mixed together, which then harden to form a solid surface.

On the other hand, masonry is created by joining a variety of stones using mortar. Both are extremely durable and may serve the same purposes, although they have some fundamental differences that you need to know about.

What Is Concrete?

First, we have concrete, which, as mentioned above, is a mixture of various substances. Concrete is created by mixing together three different elements, which are aggregate, cement, and water. The aggregate can be gravel, rock, sand, or a mixture of all three.

Yes, cement is required to make concrete, and this is usually always going to be Portland cement. For those of you who don’t know, Portland cement is a type of cement made out of clay and limestone.

When Portland cement mixes with water, the curing process begins, and it will begin to harden. At first, when concrete is freshly mixed, it is a very thick liquid, which then gets poured into a mold, which then dries and cures into an extremely hard surface.

What Is Masonry?

On the other hand, we have masonry, which is when a variety of materials are used to build a structure and then bound together using mortar.

These materials can consist of a wide range of bricks, blocks, stones, and more. These could be regular clay bricks, granite blocks, limestone blocks, or anything in between.

These stones or blocks are stacked on top of each other with layers of mortar in between to bind them together.

Mortar is actually quite similar to concrete, as it is made out of water, sand, Portland cement, and lime. This becomes the binder that is used to hold those stones together.

Key Differences Between Concrete and Masonry

Now that we know what both concrete and masonry are, let’s take a look at the main differences between them.

The Composition

One of the main differences here is of course the composition of these two materials. As mentioned above, concrete is made out of Portland cement, water, and aggregate. Masonry on the other hand consists of blocks or stones that are held together using mortar.

How It Arrives on Site

Another big difference between these two building materials has to do with the way in which they arrive on site.

For large construction projects, concrete is mixed together in a factory and shipped to the site using a concrete truck. However, for small jobs, concrete may be mixed on-site by contractors or individuals. I compared these two types of concrete here.

On the other hand, with masonry, the blocks arrive on-site, mortar is mixed on-site, and everything is prepared on the go.

How It Is Used and Applied

In terms of the building process, because concrete starts out as a thick liquid, it needs to be poured into a mold so it can harden into a specific shape. Concrete always needs to be poured into a mold, as there’s simply no other way to use it.

Masonry, on the other hand, is very different, because the blocks are already solid. You put one block down, add some mortar, and then add the next block. Some people do find that this process is much easier.

Building Flexibility

Concrete is, however, considered to be a much more flexible building material. You can create a mold in more or less any form and then fill it with concrete.

With masonry, you are limited by the size and shapes of the stones, as well as the limitations of the mortar used to bind them together.

Time Required

Because concrete needs to be mixed, delivered, poured, and then allowed to dry and cure, using it is a much lengthier process than building something out of masonry.

The Cost Involved

The other thing to consider here is that using concrete for building is generally more expensive than using masonry.

Can You Use a Masonry Drill Bit on Concrete?

Yes, you can in fact use a masonry drill bit on concrete. Masonry drill bits are usually always made out of tungsten carbide, which is specifically designed to handle tough materials such as masonry and concrete.

Summary

Now that you know what the main differences between concrete and masonry are, what they are both best used for, as well as what their advantages and disadvantages are, you should hopefully be able to choose which one to use for your next big project.

How Does Concrete Compare with Other Materials?

Below, you can find articles that compare concrete with: