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How to properly cure concrete for optimal strength?

Curing concrete correctly is the most important step in achieving maximum strength and durability for any concrete structure. Concrete curing refers to maintaining proper moisture and temperature conditions immediately after placement to allow the concrete to gain strength over time through hydration. Proper curing has a major impact on the properties of hardened concrete including compressive strength, permeability, wear resistance, and volume stability. 

Pre-planning is key

The concrete Campbelltown curing process begins before a single drop of concrete is ever placed. It is important to have a curing plan in place ahead of time that accounts for the schedule, necessary materials, and weather conditions expected. The concrete curing method, duration, and steps clearly outlined. All equipment like moist burlap, plastic sheeting, soaker hoses, or compounds should be ready for quick application.

New concrete moist 

It is critical to begin curing immediately after finishing and continue for the entire duration specified. Concrete begins to dry and harden as soon as it is placed. When the concrete is still plastic, ample moisture must be available for the hydration reactions that produce strong compounds. New concrete should be kept continuously wet for several days to maximize hydration. Lightly spray the surface with water or use wet burlap covered with plastic to keep moisture in.

Control temperature changes

It is important to maintain a temperature relatively close to that of the fresh concrete during placement. Drastic temperature swings or freezing conditions too soon negatively impact strength. Use thermostatically controlled heaters or insulation barriers if large temperature drops are expected during the curing period. Prevent excess heat buildup from direct sunlight exposure by using shading or reflective plastic sheeting.

Cure for the full recommended time

It is tempting to shorten the curing time once the concrete surface appears to be hardening sufficiently. However, additional curing time is necessary for adequate hydration within the full depth and to reduce shrinkage cracking. Follow ACI-recommended curing periods as a minimum duration. High-performance concrete mixes, hot weather, and structural members may require longer.

Avoid early loading or stress

Prematurely exposing concrete to loads and bending stresses before adequate strength has developed disrupts the curing process. Restrict foot traffic and avoid opening sections to vehicle loads or equipment until the concrete has cured for the specified number of days. Consult structural engineer recommendations if earlier loading is unavoidably required.

Check for Protection before Removing Forms  

Once forms are detached from vertical or overhead concrete sections, the exposed surface also requires proper curing measures. Before removing forms, burlap, and plastic or curing compounds are ready to coat the newly revealed surfaces to retain moisture.  While following proper curing methodologies should produce the expected results in concrete strength, it is wise to validate with compressive strength testing samples. Make sure cylinders were field-cured in the same manner as the larger placed area to get representative data. Continue curing test samples in the lab until the specified age before evaluating.