Specialty Cement, Concrete, and Mortar Information

Specialty mortarSpecialty cement, concrete, and mortar are used to join components and form structures. Unlike conventional construction products, specialty concrete is not based on Portland cement. Instead, specialty concrete consists of specialty cement such as potassium silicate that is mixed with water, a coarse aggregate such as gravel or crushed stone, and a fine aggregate or sand. Specialty mortar is a mixture of a specialty binder or clinker and a fine aggregate.

These products contain specialized binders such as K silicate, calcium aluminate, sulfur, and oxysulfate or polymer resins. They cure or set through film drying (air setting), chemical reactions, thermoset bonds, hydraulic bonds, hot melting, and multiple component binder systems.

Types of Specialty Cement, Concrete, and Mortar

There are several chemical systems for specialty cement, concrete, and mortar.

Bond or binder types include calcium aluminate, phosphate, potassium silicate, slag cement, sulfur cement, and sulfate or gypsum.

  • Acrylic binders provide excellent environmental resistance and fast setting times.
  • Epoxy resins or binders exhibit high strength and low shrinkage during cure. They also offer toughness and resistance to chemical and environmental damage.
  • Furan resins are formed from the polymerization or poly condensation of furfural, furfural alcohol, or other compounds containing a furan ring. They are commonly used in foundry binders, grinding wheels, refractories, and other high-temperature applications.
  • Polyurea resins or binders are used in place of phenolics or other formaldehyde resins in particle or fiberboard binder applications.
  • Polyurethane provides excellent flexibility, impact resistance and durability.
  • Other chemical systems for specialty cement, concrete, and mortar include silicone, polyester, and vinyl ester.

Video credit: JohnDavisSAU


Specialty cement, concrete and mortar vary in terms of basic specifications and mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. 

Basic specifications include set/cure time, set/cure temperature, density, and shrinkage.

Mechanical properties for specialty cement, concrete and mortar include compressive strength, bond strength, tensile strength, and modulus of rupture (MOR).

Electrical properties include electrical resistivity, dielectric strength and relative permittivity. The dielectric constant is the relative permittivity of a material compared to a vacuum or free space.

Thermal properties for specialty concrete and mortar include service temperature, thermal conductivity, and the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), the amount of linear expansion or shrinkage that occurs in a material with a change in temperature.

Features and Applications

There are a variety of features and applications for specialty cement, concrete, and mortar. Some products are abrasion resistant, castable, chemical resistant, conductive, fiber-reinforced, sprayable, or waterproof. Other products provide protection against wear, corrosion, or electrostatic discharge (ESD). Specialty cement, concrete, and mortar are often used in electrical power and high voltage (HV) applications. Some products are used as fillers and sealants. Dry and wet gunning mixes (e.g., shotcrete or gunnite) load with gun-like devices to form walls. Wet ram cements have enough plasticity to allow a wet mix to be rammed or formed into place. Mortars, patching compounds, and finishing cements with good troweling or trowel-on properties are also available. 

Products such as grout and caulk are used to fill gaps between tiles and bricks. Thin set materials such as dry set mortar and dry bond mortar include cement and are used in coating products. Cement-based liners or lining systems are much heavier or are applied in thicker layers than thin set materials. Pre-cast shapes such as blocks and sheets are commonly available.


MIL-C-2861—Insulation Cement Material Intended for Use on Heated Piping and Equipment

Related Information

CR4 Community—Cement (Mortar Mix) Shelf Life

CR4 Community—Portland Cement Challenge

CR4 Community—Concrete Anchor

Image credit: 

Atlas Minerals and Chemicals, Inc.


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