How Long Concrete Should Cure Before Driving On It
In the minds of most homeowners, the realm of concrete curing is something often misconceived and misunderstood. Often, the concrete pourers don’t give adequate instructions, while other times, the instructions they may provide are simply incorrect. Because of this, most homeowners are left with questions such as how long concrete should cure before driving on it, how to know if it’s cured fully, among other questions regarding the concrete pouring process. This article will seek to answer those questions while providing an outline of the nuanced concrete curing process.
Drying Versus Curing
One of the biggest misconceptions in this field is about the concrete curing process itself. Many people seem to think that the terms “drying” and “curing” are interchangeable. This could not be further from the truth.
The method of curing refers to the hardening of the powder mix from a paste-like substance to a hard rock-like substance. Furthermore, curing begins when water touches the concrete powder and ends when the levels of moisture within the concrete have fallen. This misconception is often responsible for the mishaps that occur on dried (yet still curing) concrete.
Knowing When It’s Ready
As a general rule, it’s recommended that you wait at least a week before driving on your concrete. This also applies to any skateboard, bicycle, car, or other transportation methods that concentrate weight in specific areas. While the concrete may be hard to the touch, extreme weight combined with a higher-than-desirable moisture content in the concrete can lead to damage.
Keep in mind that the concrete probably won’t fully cure by the end of a week. On average, the edges still retaining moisture for longer than the center areas.
How To Speed Up the Process
There are various ways that you can speed up the curing process. One of the best ways is to tweak the cement mix to cure faster. Adding less water will make the concrete cure faster, although this method has a tradeoff. The less water content in the mix, the more brittle the concrete is. The trick is to balance the water content of the concrete with the humidity of the air so that the moisture content balances to a quicker-than-average drying mixture. Another suggestion could be to add calcium chloride to the mix, which acts as a catalyst to speed up the hydration of the cement.
In short, leaving concrete anywhere from a week to a month is an appropriate curing time, depending on your concrete mix, the presence of calcium chloride, and the overall humidity of the area.
Cement curing can often be a confusing task since there are many different opinions on how long concrete should cure before driving on it. If you have any questions, commercial concrete staining companies in Portland, such as Concrete Staining LLC, are licensed to help you take the stress out of concrete curing and staining.