The simple answer to this question is that after 24 to 48 hours, people should be able to walk on the surface; after 7 days, slightly more pressure coming from a car should be fine; and after 28 days, the concrete should be fully cured, or dry, and ready to tolerate any weight. However, things are never simple, are they? The truth is concrete never stops curing, it will be undergoing the process forever.
What Process is Necessary for Concrete curing?
The drying, or curing, process of concrete is called hydration. This process begins the moment the dry concrete mix is combined with water. This process lasts for a few weeks until the concrete is completely cured.
The way the process of concrete curing works is the particles of the cement act in response to the water that it is mixed with. As the two bond together, the concrete becomes harder. This process goes on forever because every time cement particles make contact with moisture it continues to form bonds- but after about 7 days of being poured, concrete should be about 70% or more cured to its full strength, and after 28 days it should be fully cured.
What Factors Can Affect the Concrete drying?
Concrete curing time is not always the same- it varies depending on certain factors that are unique to each situation. These factors are moisture levels, temperature, and mix designs.
Moisture particles are what interact with cement particles to dry the concrete. When there is too much water, the concrete will dry faster which leads to weaker concrete once dry. When there is too much water, the top layer of the concrete will be weaker. Therefore, the right amount of moisture is vital in getting the desired concrete strength once curing is complete.
Hot temperature will also make concrete curing time vary. If the temperature is too hot, water will evaporate out of the concrete mix which dries the concrete faster. However, when concrete dries too fast, it results in weaker results. And so, knowing how outside temperature might affect results will facilitate corrections to ensure a successful pour and curing process.
It’s important to note that once the mix is ready, there will only be one hour to pour before the concrete begins to harden. It’s essential to work quickly, with intention, and efficiently. However, the pour time will drop to 30 minutes if it is too hot.
Mix designs will make concrete dry faster. There are accelerants that can be added to the mixture to make concrete dry faster than usual. These accelerants are good to use when projects need to be ready faster than usual and there is no time to waste. These mix designs will result in a slightly weaker result than concrete that is allowed to dry on its own.
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