Concrete is a great option when designing a new space or renovating an existing one. It is affordable, durable, and easily customizable. While planning your upcoming project, you’re probably wondering when you’ll be able to use the new space. So, how long does concrete take to dry? Let’s find out!
What is concrete?
Concrete is a combination of cement, water, sand, gravel, or other aggregates. These are mixed together to get the right consistency, and then they are poured into a mold to create a slab, wall, driveway, etc. Although concrete is a very solid material, it is actually quite porous. This means that it readily absorbs water, so it is important to protect it from moisture once it is poured.
Concrete dries and hardens through a process known as hydration. This is a chemical process that occurs when water meets the cement and other materials in the concrete. As a result of this reaction, chemical compounds are formed that cause the concrete to harden. This curing process takes several weeks or months, depending on ambient air temperature, humidity, and other factors.
Is drying and concrete cure time the same thing?
Yes, curing is the process of letting concrete harden naturally. During the curing process, you must protect the concrete from excess moisture, sunlight, and heat. You also need to keep pets and children away from it while it is curing, as they could cause damage or affect the concrete cure time. Excess moisture can cause the concrete to crack, so keep it as dry as possible. Similarly, the concrete should not be exposed to sunlight or heat sources like radiators and stoves that can cause the surface to bake or crack. This will prevent the concrete from hardening and curing correctly.
How long does concrete take to dry?
There are three stages to the curing process: wet curing, damp curing, and dry curing. Wet curing is the first 24 hours after pouring the concrete. Ideally, keeping it covered and out of direct sunlight would be best to prevent water from being absorbed and disrupting the curing process. After this initial period, you should remove the covering to allow air circulation.
It’s best to put a tarp down to protect the concrete from other materials on the ground. After the first day, the concrete has absorbed most of the water in the mix and is ready for damp curing. This is a period of up to two weeks where the concrete is kept moist. You can achieve this by covering the concrete with a damp tarp or using a sprayer with an extended mist setting to mist the concrete every couple of hours. As the concrete dries out, you should reduce the misting frequency until you only lightly spray it once or twice a day.
Finally, after two weeks, the concrete is ready for dry curing. This means keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from sources of moisture and heat. You should also keep pets and children away from it to prevent them from damaging the fresh concrete.
Factors that affect drying time
Several factors will affect the concrete cure time. One of the most significant factors is weather conditions. The ambient air temperature will affect the drying process. Warm temperatures on dry days will allow the concrete to dry faster. Cold temperatures or wet days can substantially extend the dry time for your project. We recommend planning your project during the dry season.
Some of the other factors that affect drying time include:
- the type of cement
- the grade of the cement
- the curing method used for the project
- size of the project
- the shape of the project
- thickness of the surface poured
While concrete can appear dry relatively quickly, it is not completely cured for about a month. Your concrete surface can be ready for foot traffic in as little as 48 hours, but we recommend waiting at least a week until the concrete is partially cured for anything heavier. After about 28 days, the concrete will reach its full strength.
Whether you’re want a new backyard patio to entertain friends and family or a new walkway along your garden bed, Saguaro Asphalt can help. We are knowledgeable about concrete curing times and will help you schedule your next concrete project to ensure your surface is ready for use when you need it. Give us a call at (520) 394-8480 to get a free quote for your next project.