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Curing Concrete

Everything around us has the tendency of slipping off their health and needs to be taken care and this applies on concrete too. Hence, today, in this blog, we will discuss all that you should know about the concrete curing, its meaning, its process, its do’s and dont’s and much more.

Meaning of Curing Concrete

Curing of concrete can be understood as the process of keeping up with the moisture and temperature conditions of concrete for a normal hydration reaction. The purpose of the exercise is to ensure that concrete could start developing hardening properties gradually. In the process of curing the concrete, the important components which are required to be taken care include: moisture, time and heat.

Having explained the meaning of curing the concrete, many might wonder why is it even crucial. Here are some of the reasons:

  • To ensure that the concrete does not cry out at a premature stage because of reasons such as solar radiation and wind.
  • To ensure that the temperature of concrete is being maintained as required. This is done with the help of the hydration process.
  • To ensure that concrete becomes hard enough and bonds well with the internal materials and is not exposed to any sort of damage.
  • To make concrete that is durable, crack free and impermeable. 

Process of Curing Concrete

Those who wish to understand the process of curing the concrete, the entire process can be split into three main steps:

  1. Initial Curing:

    This step takes place in between the concrete placement and final finishing of concrete to bring down the loss of water from the finished surface. The surface stays safe against drying till the time it is covered with bleed water. 

Hence, at this stage, the process of curing should begin right after the bleed water sheen becomes absent. Initial curing is mostly done for concrete which demonstrate low or negligible bleeding, increased air contents or water-lowering admixtures. The exercise of initial curing brings down the probability of plastic shrinkage, cracking and misting of the surface.

  1. Immediate Curing:

    This step is performed post finishing, however, prior to concrete’s final setting. This is the time when surface evaporation is required to be brought down but the concrete is not prepared to have a plastic or fabric covering.
  2. Final Curing:

    As the name suggests, this is indeed the final stage. It is deployed post final finishing as well as final setting. This stage allows the usage and applications of curing compounds such as saturated burlap coverings, additional wet coverings or liquid membrane.

This three-step process can further be understood in following divisions:

  • Fogging
  • Natural covering
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Application of membrane-forming curing compounds
  • Live steam
  • Heating of coils
  • Covering of surface with concrete insulation blankets

Do’s and Don'ts of Curing Concrete

As you put yourself into the process of curing the concrete, it is crucial to know the instructions. You should know the things you should do and should not. Listing down some of the do’s and don'ts:

  1. You should spray new concrete with water: This is a very common yet crucial step to cure concrete. One should spray it with water frequently, ranging from five to ten times a day, for the first week. This helps the moisture of the concrete to evaporate gradually.
  2. You should keep the new concrete covered: In case you are not having ample time to water your concrete, you must keep it covered so that the evaporation of water becomes slower. You can use 4mm thick polyethylene sheeting or a concrete curing insulating blanket for the same. You must keep removing the cover sheet regularly, water it, re-apply the cover sheet and repeat the process for seven days.
  3. You should pond cure concrete slabs: This process is considered as one of the best ways to cure the concrete. In this process, temporary berms are formed around a new concrete slab and then the surrounding area is flooded with one foot of water. The task of spraying water on the new concrete could be done in three days with the help of pond curing. However, this process may not be meant for everyone as it calls for a bit of precision and experience.
  4. You should make the process simpler with the application of a curing compound: This is again one of the simplest methods of curing the concrete. If other methods appear difficult or fail to work out for you, you can use curing compounds to cure the concrete. These compounds help in the prevention of water evaporation and gives it ample time to cure at its own consistent pace.
  5. You should not miss controlling joints in concrete slabs: The end goal of curing the concrete is to avoid cracking of concrete. This purpose may get diluted if you miss out on controlling the joins of the concrete slabs. You can use the metal tool to perform this exercise.
  6. You should not allow new concrete to get too cold: Your whole effort of curing the concrete may go in vain if you cannot protect it against the drop of temperature. The drop in temperature or too much cold can become an obstruction in the process of hardening the concrete. Hence, you should pour concrete when the temperature is expected to remain on a higher side, preferably above 50 degrees Celsius.
  7. You should not overburden the concrete in the first 30 days: Young or new concrete takes time to bond and harden up internally. Hence, for the first one month, avoid painting or putting too much pressure on the surface of the concrete as it can lead to the failure of all the prior efforts.

If you are a builder or work in the construction field, you will understand how important it is to take care of the concrete, even if it is precast concrete. While some may believe it is difficult to cure precast concrete, but if you know the process well and follow it religiously, you can cure any sort of concrete in the best, long-lasting manner.

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