Concrete is one of the strongest materials in the world, making it a popular choice amongst many construction projects. It becomes stronger as time goes on, and is often considered a more aesthetic option relative to other materials of the same caliber. Successfully pouring a concrete slab that is durable against weathering and traffic takes several steps. To ensure that the slab remains crack-free for as long as possible, curing is one of the most important elements.
As aforementioned, an integral part of the concrete pouring process is curing. Curing is responsible for the durability, stability, and strength of concrete slabs. It refers to the process of providing the concrete with the correct moisture, time, and temperature for it to develop its desired properties. Depending on the intended use, the variables of moisture, time, and temperature will change. For the most part, curing time ranges from 72 hours to 2 weeks. Other elements will vary as well depending on the size of the slab, the density, etc.
Curing and drying, though similar, mean slightly different things when it comes to concrete. Curing is defined as the process of supplying a new concrete slab with the right levels of moisture, temperature, and time to develop the properties needed for a specific project. Drying, on the other hand, is supplying the right conditions for the concrete to reach the right levels of moisture during the hardening process. Depending on what it is being used for, different types of concrete projects will require the slabs to have different amounts of moisture in them.
Keeping concrete moist is essential to the concrete curing process, but too much water and the concrete may not form in the way it needs to. If it loses too much moisture through evaporation, it will not cure properly and will become prone to cracks. Many construction specialists recommend watering it down five to ten times per day, for the first week, starting 2-4 hours after it has been poured. The first two to four hours lets the concrete “finish”, which refers to the setting process. If it is predicted to rain before the first two to four hours have passed, the slab should be covered to protect it from too much moisture.
Concrete curing is generally considered a finished product after 28 days (for 4 in. thick slab). However, the thicker the slab of concrete, the more time it takes to cure. Curing time compounds itself, meaning the time can double and triple exponentially. The industry rule-of-thumb for estimating curing time is one month of drying for every inch of concrete. Thus, a 7-inch slab of newly poured concrete would roughly take 7 months to be fully cured.
To ensure proper curing, there are several key things to ensure optimal results.
To avoid premature cracking and structurally unstable concrete, there are some practices to avoid.
A-Core Concrete Specialists have been serving the Mountain West and surrounding states since 1974. Our dedicated team of professionals works to assist you in any of your concrete construction needs. We offer services in concrete cutting, drilling, pouring, scanning, grinding, grooving, and so much more. For any of your concrete needs, call us today.