A lot of people suppose their work is done once they pour concrete. After all, they used the Sakrete calculator to estimate how much concrete they needed, mixed their Sakrete concrete according to the instructions, poured and smoothed it, and are now just waiting for it to dry. If they want it to turn out the way they envision, however, they need to focus on curing the concrete as much as pouring it.
Setting Properly Takes Time
On average, the chemical reaction that happens between the cement and the water that binds it takes about 28 days. How the cement is treated at that time can make the difference between it setting properly or becoming brittle and prone to cracking.
Hydration is Vital
From the moment the concrete is poured, it starts to lose liquid from evaporation. The moisture content of the concrete is vital to its curing correctly. If the water evaporates from the surface too quickly, it will not cure properly. Two liquid evaporators are low humidity and the sun, both of which often happens on concrete poured outdoors.
New Concrete Needs Routine Spraying
You should hose down your concrete several times per day for the first seven days. This is called “moist curing” and it slows the evaporation process of moisture within the concrete. Concrete that is moist cured can sometimes become up to 50 percent stronger than concrete that was cured with no dampening. Moist dampening should only be used when concrete is poured in warm to hot weather.
Poured Concrete should be Covered Up
The only time you concrete should be exposed to the weather is when you are adding water to its surface. Excepting then, it needs to be covered up. This not only protects it from debris falling in, but it also slows evaporation. The simplest approach is to cover it up with a standard tarp, but you can buy concrete insulating blankets. This method can be used for both horizontal and vertical applications.
Pond Curing is the Best Curing Method
Pond curing includes immersing your concrete in liquid. Build a berm around the area you poured concrete and cover it with one foot of water. The curing rate using this method is half that of moist curing. You do have to keep the water level constant.
Curing Compounds Work Well
A curing compound is an additive that is sprayed directly on the poured concrete and creates a film barrier to keep water from evaporating, which enables consistent curing. The type of application depends on the type of curing agent used.
Sakrete concrete poured and cured properly will provide a strong, durable, and reliable slab of concrete for decades. Making sure both are done properly, however, is the key to success.