The standard homeowner always goes to the hardware store and asks for “You’re best cement please!” Fortunately, there are more options than just cement and each has their own use. Make sure you ask for the correct one and your project will go smoother.
Cement is the glue of masonry goods. This product is sticky meaning it can repair minor cracks and refinish other masonry more easily. Hydraulic cement (also known as Portland Cement) can set up even in water.
Sand–like you have in a box for your kids. In all reality sand can be incredibly complex. You can order finer, coarser, washed, or unwashed sand. The vast majority of projects, except the sand box for the kids, require your basic, course sand.
Mortar is a combination of sand and cement which makes porous, inexpensive “glue” to put in between blocks. It tends to be crumblier than concrete but produces a slightly smoother finish.
Concrete is the grand-daddy of building materials. It mixes cement, rock, and sand. This provides a combination of strength and smooth finish. To make concrete more flexible, it can be reinforced with steel rebar. To make it stickier, you can use concrete bonding adhesive.
Make sure when you ask for a masonry product that you ask for the correct thing. Masonry will never do something it’s not designed for. Do you need structure, adhesion, or a smooth finish? Each product has its own purpose.