How Long Does Concrete Take to Cure?
Concrete doesn’t reach its full strength instantly after hardening – it has to go through the curing process first. That means you have to wait a little longer before putting any weight on it – so if you’ve just laid a driveway, keep your car away from it for the time being and read this article to learn all about the concrete curing process.
Curing times for concrete
Technically, concrete never stops curing. In fact, concrete gets stronger and stronger as time goes on. But, as far as we’re concerned, to reach a practical strength, most industrial concrete mixes have a 28 day curing period.
After 7 days, the concrete will have gained around three quarters of its compressive strength, but you should refrain from driving vehicles or heavy machinery over the surface until after the 28 day mark.
For domestic mixes – driveways, for example – you can expect the concrete to be set within 24-48 hours. But again, you should give it the full 28 days before using it to park the family car. You might think it’s strong enough after taking a test-stroll over it, but overloading your concrete before it’s fully cured could undo all the hard work you’ve put into its construction.
What factors affect the curing process?
Curing is mostly dependent on moisture. By retaining moisture content, hydration – the chemical reaction between water molecules and cement – will continue. Concrete gains strength for as long as hydration takes place, so for the initial curing period, maintaining the presence of moisture is important.
But too much water can lead to weaker concrete. It’s a tough balance to attain, so consulting a professional is definitely the best way to go.
Here are some more factors which can affect the curing process:
• Hot, dry weather – concrete will crack when it’s too dry, and hot weather – from a prolonged heatwave, for instance – will cause this to happen quickly. In these conditions, you should erect a shelter and keep the concrete reasonably damp to mitigate the effects of any arid weather conditions.
• Freezing temperatures – conversely, freezing temperatures will also interfere with the curing process. If you pour concrete in the winter, then you should plan ahead so that the temperature is not allowed to reach freezing point in the first 24-48 hours. Shelter and some form of insulation will help – as will keeping the forms in place for as long as possible so that heat is distributed evenly. Allowing concrete to freeze or rapidly cool can cause it to crack, so enlisting the services of professional concrete suppliers is recommended to ensure your concrete is cured correctly.
Curing concrete is an important process, and the type, quantity and application of your concrete will influence how it is cured. By seeking the advice of reputable concrete suppliers, you can be sure that your chosen concrete mix will meet your expectations for years to come.