Factor pairs equal a given number, when multiplied together in factorization. Every number has at least one factor pair: 1 and itself. Numbers that can only be factored by 1 and themselves are prime numbers. Because 54 has more than one factorization, it is a composite number.

Multiplying 1 and 54 produces 54, as does 3 and 18, 2 and 27, and 6 and 9. Each of these is a factor pair of 54.

Prime factorization produces a number, using only the prime number factors. The prime numbers of 54 are 2 and 3, because each of these numbers has exactly one factor pair. Therefore, the prime factorization of 54 is 2 multiplied by 3 multiplied by 3 multiplied by 3.