What Is the Difference Between Adhesive & Cement?

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An adhesive is a material designed to stick one surface to another.
An adhesive is a material designed to stick one surface to another. (Image: NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Depending on which substances are being bonded together, there is a specific type of adhesive to use. This principle works if you're dealing with arts and crafts and need to glue paper or other materials, or in the construction industry when building brick walls and laying paving stones. Although most people have a basic understanding of the different adhesives and how they differ from industrial varieties, the actual differences between them are on a chemical level.

Adhesive

Adhesive refers to any substance used to connect two materials together. They can be made from a variety of materials, ranging from petrochemical-based plastics to naturally occurring rubbers. The vast majority of adhesives available in stores are for general use. This means they're able to glue most things together but may not have the strength to endure heavy stresses and strains.

Types of Adhesive

Numerous special adhesives are used in specialized areas, depending on what's being connected together. Epoxy, cyanoacrylate and acrylic are the most commonly used materials to make adhesives, but epoxy is most commonly dealt with. Even these same basic substances have other materials and chemicals added to them to make the adhesive even more specialized.

Cement

Technically speaking, cement is an adhesive because it's used to bond materials together. This is why strong glues are sometimes referred to as cement. Cement is the powdered substance that can be made into mortar or concrete when mixed with water and other materials. It's a naturally occurring material combining calcium, silicon, aluminum and iron.

Applications

Cement is used almost exclusively in the construction industry. Mix cement with water, sand and gravel and it becomes concrete, used for laying patios and paving stones. Mix cement with water and sand, and the result material is mortar, used to build brick walls. Adhesives such as epoxy and acrylic are used in a much wider variety of areas but not in heavy construction. Concrete adhesives are very heavy and are so not useful in electronics, hi-tech engineering and projects involving lighter materials.

Differences

There are no real differences in what cement and other adhesives do. They're both mixed and designed to bond two surfaces together. Cement refers to a specific material used in construction, whereas adhesives refer to all bonding materials.

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