What is Hydraulic Cement Used For?

Hydraulic cement is a common material used in the construction industry. It’s a type of cement that works like mortar – it creates a waterproof seal and sets incredibly fast. Contractors commonly use it for crack repair in basements and foundations.

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But as great as hydraulic cement is for plugging cracks and water leaks, its quick dry time makes it unsuitable for most other applications.

If you’re considering hydraulic cement for a construction project, here’s what you should know.

What is Hydraulic Cement?

Hydraulic cement is one of the most widely used cement products on the market. So, while you may have never heard of it by its proper name, you might already have some of this product in your home.

Hydraulic cement’s chemical composition is hydraulic calcium silicate. It hardens when it comes into contact with water, creating a water-tight seal. Since it doesn’t rust or shrink, it’s one of the best materials for stopping leaks and plugging cracks in areas with constant water exposure.

You can use it above or below grade.

At home improvement stores, you’ll see hydraulic cement labeled as water-tite, water-stop, leak-stop, and fast-plug cement, depending on the brand.

How to Use Hydraulic Cement

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Blend

Hydraulic cement comes in powder. To use it, simply mix in water until you’ve reached the desired consistency. But since this product only has a working time of 3-10 minutes, you should only mix small batches that you can use within three minutes.

Once on the wall, floor, or foundation you’re patching, hydraulic cement will dry in as little as three minutes, stopping leaks and creating a water-tight seal. (Although full curing time can be as long as 24 hours.)

Hydraulic Cement Uses

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Hydraulic cement stops water leaks. It’s an excellent waterproof product, but since it has such a quick dry time, it’s impractical for large projects.

You can apply hydraulic cement mix to seal leaks and cracks in the following:

  • Basements
  • Foundations
  • Swimming pools
  • Cisterns
  • Joints of water pipes
  • Dams
  • Sewers
  • Foundation wall
  • Basement waterproofing
  • Masonry walls
  • Culverts
  • Water tanks
  • Underwater structures

You can apply hydraulic cement mix anywhere you need to fill in a hole or stop water leaks quickly. It will provide a durable, long-lasting seal.

The Pros and Cons of Hydraulic Cement

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Instructables

Hydraulic cement is an excellent building material for stopping leakage quickly. But like anything else, it has its pros and cons.

Pros of hydraulic cement:

  • Creates a waterproof seal 
  • Dries in minutes
  • You can find it anywhere
  • You only need water to mix

Cons of hydraulic cement:

  • Short, 10-minute or less workability
  • Not suitable for large projects

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Is hydraulic cement stronger than normal cement?

There are two main types of cement: hydraulic cement and non-hydraulic. Hydraulic cement is composed of calcium silicate hydrate. It hardens in the presence of water and is dry in minutes. On the other hand, non-hydraulic cement takes much longer to dry. Because of this, it has longer workability but needs arid conditions to harden.

These are both different from concrete. Concrete is a building material used for structural strength and is what you’ll find in basements, sidewalks, and more. 

Hydraulic cement is for stopping leaks due to holes in a concrete structure. Contractors rarely use non-hydraulic cement.

Does hydraulic cement bond to concrete?

Yes, hydraulic cement bonds to concrete. This is why you can use hydraulic cement on masonry walls, to stop leakage and plug cracks in foundations, basement waterproofing, and swimming pools.

Is hydraulic cement the same as non-shrink grout?

Non-shrink grout has a hydraulic cement base. They are very similar products with similar uses.

What is the shelf life of hydraulic cement?

Hydraulic cement has a shelf-life of one year if in an unopened container. To prolong the shelf-life, store it in a cool, dry place.

Final Thoughts

If you need to stop a water leak or plug a hole for basement waterproofing, a swimming pool, or a foundation, hydraulic cement is the perfect material. It is entirely waterproof, dries in as little as three minutes, and is readily available.

But because hydraulic cement is so quick-drying, avoid using it on large projects. You should never mix more hydraulic cement than you’ll be able to use in three minutes.