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Choosing Mortar or Concrete For Your Next Outdoor Project


This metal 2 car garage was built on a concrete slab which is the most popular foundation for the steel buildings.

Are you thinking about taking on an outdoor project this spring, such as building a new set of stairs, a low brick wall, or a patio? If so, you may be wondering whether to use mortar or concrete for the work. Some people think that these two materials are interchangeable. After all, they are made with the same ingredients. But the truth is that each material serves its own purpose. Discover the difference between these two materials and look at some of the advantages of each one before you make your choice.

What Is Mortar?

Mortar is made with sand, cement, and water. When these elements are mixed together, the substance becomes very thick. It’s important to put the proper quantities of each element into the mixture so it can be spread in an even way. Mortar is like glue, and once you put it on a brick, it is going to be there for a very long time. Mortar is available in different strengths for different types of building projects. For example, there is Type M mortar. This is the type with the highest level of strength. Type M mortar is often used when building stone structures. Type S mortar is known for its medium-level strength. It is sometimes used on exterior walls. Another type is Type N. This type is for general-purpose use. If you’re thinking about building that low brick wall I mentioned, then you may want to consider Type S or Type N for the job.

What Is Concrete?

Concrete is similar to mortar in that it’s made with sand, cement, and water. It also contains gravel, which gives it added strength. While mortar is a thick substance, concrete is more of a thin mixture. There are different types of concrete that vary in the amounts of water, cement, and sand that are put into them. It tends to be stronger than mortar, but its consistency makes it hard to use for gluing bricks together.

The Advantages of Using Mortar for an Outdoor Project

Mortar is a bonding material. It would be the ideal material to put between the bricks of a low brick wall in a garden or around a fire pit. It has a thick consistency and can easily be spread with a trowel. Mortar in a brick wall or other building project can last from 25 to 50 years.

The Advantages of Using Concrete for an Outdoor Project

Concrete is ideal if you want to build a set of stairs or a new patio; it’s very strong, and it’s relatively easy to work with in significant quantities compared to mortar. I like the idea of putting in a new patio. A patio can be used for barbecues during the warm months. Plus, on warm autumn evenings, you can sit out on the patio and enjoy the changing colors all around you. In many concrete building projects, steel rebar is put down before the concrete is poured. Rebar helps a structure to remain stable even as the ground settles beneath the concrete. There are some concrete buildings that have been standing for 100-plus years!

The most reliable advice is to think about the type of outdoor project you are undertaking and then choose the right material for the job. Thanks for reading! – Alan

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