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June 22nd 2020

How Long Does Concrete Take to Set? Expert Advice from Concrete Specialists

How Long Does Concrete Take to Set?

In most cases, standard concrete (or full strength concrete) has a setting time of around one day, sometimes two days depending on the environment in which it is set. However, concrete reaches its full strength after approximately 25-28 days. You should be able to walk and perform normal tasks on concrete one week after its application. However, the concrete will only be at around 70-70% of its full strength, so driving heavy machinery on it is not advised during this time. 

However, concrete will continue curing for years

While its optimum strength is known to peak roughly a month after its installation, concrete will continue to harden and develop as time goes on. However, while concrete does continue hardening, it doesn’t necessarily benefit its structure, as it essentially becomes unnecessary.

Why does this happen?

Cement and water are mixed together (along with aggregates) to form concrete and during this, the cement particles begin muxing with the water which forms bonds. In turn, this makes the mix stronger, hardening as long as moisture is present (although, it is far slower).

Other factors that affect concrete setting time

One of the most important factors to address in concrete hardening is the role moisture plays. Concrete needs the right amount of moisture in order to set at maximum strength. Too much water will see the concrete cure too fast, resulting in poor overall structural integrity and strength, too little and the concrete will be much harder to work into place.

Understanding mixing and fast setting

Understanding how to mix concrete is essential in order for you to get the most out of it. In some jobs where the concrete must be used as soon as possible, concrete contractors will use accelerants to speed up the setting time. Although accelerants will reduce the overall strength of the concrete upon completion, the difference in strength is not noticeable and will not affect its structural integrity.

Using concrete blankets to speed up curing

Concrete blankets are very successful when speeding up the curing process. They work by maintaining the heat of hydration in the early stages of the curing stages. They also protect the concrete from colder temperatures, alleviating the threat of thawing which can negatively impact the structural integrity of the concrete. 

These blankets work for every concrete job and are easily portable, so you can take them to every job, whether it’s an indoor or outdoor project.

Tips on How to Speed Up Concrete Drying Time:

If you’re looking for ways to speed up the pace in which you concrete dries, try the following:

  • Getting your water mix ratio correct is essential to obtaining a fast and natural drying time. Too much water will result in poor performance and strength and too little will make it hard for the concrete to set naturally.
  • Do not cover or seal the surface on the concrete; as this typically causes the pores to become blocked. When this happens, the moisture takes longer to evaporate which results in longer drying times.
  • If your concrete project is set up inside, be sure to keep all windows, doors and openings shut and have the ventilation and air conditioning on. Alternatively, you can use dehumidifiers to eliminate moisture from the air. Both will aid the drying times.

Are you starting your own concrete flooring project?

Are you considering laying concrete at your commercial property? If so, we are able to help. At Concrete Flooring Solutions, we provide customers across the UK with affordable concrete flooring solutions, tailored to your requirements. With us, you don’t have to worry about understanding the ins and outs of concrete, drying times, set up, how to prepare the concrete base etc. 

After you have contacted us, we will take care of everything from laying the foundations to completing the project in a fast and efficient manner. Get in touch with our experienced concrete contractors if you’re looking for affordable concrete flooring solutions for your commercial property.

FAQs

Below are some of the most common questions asked by customers regarding concrete setting times.

How long does four to six inches of concrete take to cure?

As stated previously, concrete takes approximately 26-30 days to reach its full strength. If the concrete is professionally poured and floated, the curing process should be sound and ensure proper hardening of the concrete base.

Should I wet concrete while it cures?

It’s important that the mix is hydrated as the concrete hardens. However, it’s important to get your concrete ratio right in order to ensure a proper curing and hardening process. So, yes, you can apply water to concrete for the first week or so. This is known as “moist curing” and allows the moisture in the concrete to evaporate slowly.

How long does concrete take to dry to walk on?

Do not walk on concrete until at least 24 hours have passed to ensure no marks are made on the base. If you plan to operate heavy machinery on the concrete floor or base, please allow a further week to ensure it does not warp or buckle under the vehicle’s weight.

Does concrete take 100 years to cure?

No, this is a bit of a myth with the concrete industry. While concrete does continue to harden indefinitely, pore moisture has to drop below a certain level at some point and this isn’t typically 100 years.

How long does concrete take to set in a post hole?

We would advise waiting at least four hours before any weight or pressure is applied to the posts or fence holes. For best results, you should wait at least 24 hours before you continue hole and fence construction. The concrete needs time to cure and set before any third party forces are applied to the posts.

Does rain damage new concrete?

Yes, rain should not come into contact with freshly laid concrete. The concrete base is susceptible to water around 2 – 4 hours after it’s been mixed. You should source protection from the elements if you suspect rain (concrete blankets are good for this). However, rainwater will not affect or cause damage to the concrete if the finishing process has been recently completed.

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