What is Portland Cement?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Considered to be the most common type of cement in use today, Portland cement is used for all sorts of building projects. It is an ingredient in materials used for sidewalks, buildings, and as a binder between other substances, such as stone or brick. The basic formula appears to have originated in the late 18th century, and it was first identified by this name in the early 19th century.

Portland cement is commonly used for the creation of sidewalks.
Portland cement is commonly used for the creation of sidewalks.

The name for the dry cement product is derived from the similarity of the finished product to Portland stone, which was quarried in England in the early 19th century. Using methods that were somewhat like the procedure for making Roman cement, Joseph Aspdin was awarded a patent in 1822 for creating the cement. The original formula called for the use of cement clinker and a small amount of other ingredients. The stability of the product made it ideal for use in the creation of mortar and other binding materials.

Portland cement may be used as a binder between brick.
Portland cement may be used as a binder between brick.

Aspdin’s son William later enhanced the formula for Portland cement. After moving to Germany in 1843, the younger Aspdin continued to refine the product, which led to it being used in many building projects around the country. By 1878, its use in Germany was so common that the government saw fit to issue a standard on the product.

Portland cement may be used in the creation of buildings.
Portland cement may be used in the creation of buildings.

Today, the core ingredients for Portland cement include cement clinker with a small amount of calcium sulfate, although other ingredients are sometimes introduced as well. Concrete is the most common building material that is created using this cement, but the mixture is also commonly used in the creation of stucco and mortar. There are also certain types of grout that are created using it as an ingredient. In some instances, the Portland cement is purchased in dry form and mixed with other ingredients at the building site to produce the desired building material. At other times, it is included in ready-mixed products that require nothing more than the addition of water to create the building element.

Portland cement first appeared in Germany.
Portland cement first appeared in Germany.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

debbiethomas

Do you clean Portland cement grout differently than epoxy or resin?

pleats

Are there any other colors besides grey for portland cement? It just seem so dull.

musicshaman

Can somebody explain to me the Portland cement process?

For instance, is there a special Portland cement ratio that I need to follow? I've been thinking about putting a concrete slab down under my porch for a walkway, and I'm wanting to go it myself, but I've never laid concrete before.

Everybody says that Portland is the best, so can anybody tell me how to make it and use it?

CopperPipe

Remember business owners, you have to keep a Portland cement MSDS posted at your job site.

Even though it's just concrete, the powers that be get picky about that, so make sure you're in compliance before your next inspection.

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