Concrete may take a lifetime to cure as it is continually hardening. However, a time comes when it has to ‘dry' completely, or the hardening process slows down and becomes less noticeable. How long does concrete take to dry may, therefore, be answered in different ways based on various aspects.
This article sought to cover the basic aspects that you need to know about concrete cure time. So, read through if you have also been asking the question, “How long does concrete take to dry?”
How Long Does It Take for Concrete to Fully Cure?
The question of how long does it take for concrete to fully cure is a common one among most project or homeowners. The truth is, concrete never stops curing but instead continues to harden enough for only the right tools to penetrate through. The reason behind this is that cement has particles that mix with water, and as long as there is that reaction, bonds continue forming.
Concrete Curing Time
Concrete cure time is not given as a concrete one. However, the standard industrial case for concrete curing time is 28 days. At the seventh day too, the concrete will have cured up to about 70 percent full strength or greater. This should, however, not be counted as the answer to how fast does concrete dry because the ingredients to the mixture play a big role too.
There is also a need to answer the question, “How long does it take for concrete to settle?”. In essence, the time is determined by various factors. The factors include moisture levels, the mixing design, and temperatures as explained below:
Moisture is a key player in determining how long for concrete to cure. If the water used was not sufficient enough, the concrete cure time will be faster but will result in weaker overall strength. Conversely, if the moisture or water content is too much, it will weaken the concrete top layer and may cause flaking.
How fast does concrete dry if the temperature is a factor? This is another question whose answer may shed more light on the impacts of temperature changes on how long for concrete to cure. In the case off hot ambient temperatures and winds, the evaporation of moisture is accelerated, which in return speeds concrete settling time.
The Mixing Design
How the concrete and water are mixed has a lot to do with how long the concrete will take to settle fully. How it is done is itself determined by several factors, and they are trickled down to the curing time.
If the mix design uses accelerants, for example, the concrete may take less time to cure. The accelerants, in this case, are used if the area is required to be usable as soon as possible. In this case, the accelerant does the job of fastening the concrete curing and settling time.
When accelerants are used, however, they may result in a weaker overall strength. Nevertheless, the curing acceleration needs will be met in the end.
Do’s and Don’ts of Curing Concrete
DO spray your new concrete as many times as you can. Ideally, spraying it between five to 10 times a day for the first seven days is advisable if it is too hot. If the concrete was poured during cold weather, too much spraying is not recommended.
DO cover the new concrete if it is rainy or too damp. This is called true moist curing, and with a concrete curing insulating blanket or black polyethylene sheeting will help. Covering concrete helps to trap and slow moisture evaporation.
DO pond curing of concrete slabs. This is done by forming temporary berms around the new concrete slabs and then flooding the area inside them with up to one foot of water. Three days of pond curing may be equal to seven days of moist curing.
DON’T skip control joints in concrete slabs since, despite all precautions, some cracks may still occur. To prevent them, though, you can fix control joints at select locations for guiding the inevitable cracks. This will help you to preserve the beauty of the slab too.
DON'T allow the new concrete to get too cold, especially if your locality is prone to unexpected cold fronts. The best weather for pouring concrete is usually when it may remain at above 50 degrees and for between five to ten days. If you cannot avoid pouring it during cold weather, you should cover it and avoid too much moisture.
Concrete curing and settling are both important aspects if one needs to achieve stronger and durable concrete. With the relevant information as to what may alter the curing time and how long does concrete take to dry, you can now go ahead with your DIY or professional concrete project. Care should be taken all the time even if you are sure the concrete has passed the maximum number of settling days.