(4-min read)

Since its first use in ancient Rome, cement has been a commonly used building material in a variety of construction projects. Despite this, many don’t know precisely what cement is made of or even that it is not synonymous with concrete. You may be surprised to find that cement comes in a variety of grades — each with their preferred application. Let’s take a look at the primary grades of cement and their suggested uses.

The three primary grades construction cement are called Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) grades of cement. Depending on their classes, they can be used for a variety of applications, including mortar, stucco, grout, plaster, and concrete.

33 Grade Cement

Because of its lower level of strength, OPC 33 Grade Cement is frequently used in plastering smaller residential and commercial construction. This grade of cement has a low compressive strength, meaning it is not used where higher load bearing cements are used instead.

43 Grade Cement

Growing in strength, the OPC 43 grade cement is frequently used in plastering, non-reinforced concrete structure, and areas where the time of initial setting is not an issue. 43 grade cement can be seen used in precast cement blocks, cement tiles, specific pipes, and many non-structural aspects of a construction project, such as flooring, wall plastering, and the like.

53 Grade Cement

One of the stronger grades of cement used is OPC 53 grade cement. This cement has a much higher compressive strength than 33 and 43 grade cement, allowing it to be used in construction projects where immense strength is needed. This includes prestressed concrete construction, precast pavers, and reinforced concrete construction. Made to withstand wear, 53 grade cement is also used in roads, bridges, and even airport runways. 53 grade cement is also known for its faster setting properties, allowing it to be used for fast construction projects where strength is needed.

Though these are some of the most popular grades of cement, there are a few more that are popular for their specific properties.

Portland Slag Cement

Also known as PSC, Portland Slag Cement is frequently used in construction requiring resistance against sulphate and chloride — such as in development that comes in contact with seawater. PSC is also a grade commonly used in the construction of sewage removal and water treatment plants.

Portland Pozzolana Cement

Also known as PPC, Portland Pozzolana Cement is known as a fine, less permeable grade of cement where corrosion is an issue. Because of its strength and density, PPC typically takes longer to set up properly than many other grades of cement.

Rapid Hardening Cement

Though not as dense as many other grades, Rapid Hardening Cement has its time and place. For construction projects where time is of the essence, such as an emergency patchwork or additional stabilization for existing structures, Rapid Hardening Cement proves to be quite handy in a pinch. It’s strength in cold temperatures also makes it popular among many construction crews.

Low Heat Cement

For instances where heat during construction is an issue, Low Heat Cement grades are especially helpful. These include climates already very hot or for reinforcing existing retaining walls.

Antibacterial Cement

In some commercial construction sites that need to made and kept sterile, Antibacterial Cement grades may be used. Such facilities include the floors of food processing plants, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, bakeries, or swimming pools. The dense, antibacterial properties of the cement help to prevent the growth of unwanted fungi and bacteria.


 Not sure what kind of cement to use? We can help.

If you want to start on a commercial construction project in the Tulsa, OK area that will require cement or concrete construction, Cowen Construction can assist. Learn more about Cowen Construction today.