Concrete set on construction site

Contrary to common belief, concrete doesn’t reach its optimum strength as soon as it has hardened – it needs time to properly cure. This means that you could be waiting at least 28 days before utilising your new surface, or risk damaging the hardened concrete. This could result in cracks, dents and other damages before the concrete has had time to adequately cure.

In this article, EasyMix Concrete Ltd are on hand to tell you approximately how long you will have to wait for your concrete to properly set before using the freshly laid surface, together with factors that could affect drying times and how to protect your freshly laid concrete from the elements while you wait.

How long does it take for concrete to cure?

Concrete will continue to increase in strength as time goes on. For concrete to cure properly, you’ll have to wait at least 28 days before walking or setting anything down on the surface. Within a week, the concrete will have only achieved 75% of its overall strength, so it’s imperative that you wait another three weeks before driving vehicles over it, setting a shed down or storing heavy machinery on it. Whether you’re using it for commercial or domestic purposes, 28 days is typically the recommended waiting time.

What factors can affect drying time?

Curing time can be greatly affected if  freshly laid concrete is continuously exposed to the elements from the offset. From the heat of the summer sun to the ice cold winter temperatures, your concrete could be at risk of cracking due to it improperly setting. The main factors are:

Exposure to hot temperatures – when concrete is too dry, it’s extremely prone to cracking, especially if it’s being used as a driveway, shed foundation, or somewhere to store heavy equipment. Dry concrete can be caused by prolonged exposure to heat. 

Laying concrete in cold weather conditions – if you have no choice but to lay concrete in freezing temperatures, ensure you’re adequately prepared. Speaking to a professional here at EasyMix Concrete Ltd will provide you with all the information you need should your project start in the winter months. It’s important that the fresh concrete doesn’t fall to a freezing temperature within 24-48 hours of being laid as this could also cause damage to your concrete in the future.

Not adequately protecting your concrete after it’s been laid – your concrete should be shielded from both the wind and rain and extreme temperatures. This will ensure it cures properly without being affected by the elements.

How can you protect freshly laid concrete?

There are many ways in which you can protect your freshly laid concrete from elements. Depending on the circumstances, one method will be better at protecting your concrete than others, and so it must be specifically tailored to the weather conditions you’re dealing with.

Extreme cold

  • Adequately prepare if you absolutely need to pour fresh concrete in freezing conditions
  • Erect a shelter which will protect it from ice cold winds
  • Keep an eye on the temperature of your concrete compared to the outside temperature – freshly laid concrete must not reach freezing point
  • Use concrete curing blankets and/or insulative blankets

Hot temperatures

  • Do not pour the concrete until late afternoon or early evening – the temperature at this time will be lower
  • Erect a structure which will cast some shade on the concrete while it cures. As the sun begins to set, this can be removed and then replaced the next day

Wind and rain

  • Cover with tarpaulin or polyethylene sheets and hold the perimeter down with bricks or wooden boards to prevent it from blowing away in high winds
  • Once the rain has stopped and the wind has dropped, remove the sheets to allow it cure further
  • If it begins to rain, or if the wind picks up, repeat the process

EasyMix Concrete Ltd are proud to supply Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, North London and the surrounding areas with high-quality concrete to help you get your project underway as quickly as possible. Whether you need freshly mixed concrete for commercial or domestic purposes, our expert team will be able to help.

For more information about the volumetric, readymix or commercial concrete we’re able to provide, together with floor screed mixed to exceptional standards, get in touch with us today – we’re always on hand to help.