Once you’ve finished laying your concrete, the job isn’t over. In most cases, concrete must be both cured and sealed. Learn why you need to cure concrete and why sealing concrete is important before taking the final steps.
Why Is Curing Important for Concrete?
First, it’s crucial to understand what curing is. Concrete is a combination of water, cement and aggregates that react together to form a hard, sturdy material. For concrete to be effective, that water must permeate the material in a process called hydration. However, as the concrete dries, it loses the moisture within, making hydration less effective and leaving you with weaker, less durable concrete.
Curing helps prevent this moisture loss. It’s a process that involves keeping the moisture in the concrete as it dries. Properly curing concrete reduces shrinking, minimizes cracking and dusting and results in a stronger, more durable, generally longer-lasting product.
How Long Do You Need to Cure Concrete?
How long your curing process needs to be depends on a variety of factors, including current weather conditions, future anticipated weather exposure, strength needed and size of the concrete.
You want to cure your cement until it reaches at least 70% of its ultimate anticipated compressive strength. For Type 1 cement, that will mean at least seven days. For Type II cement, 10 days. For Type III, three days and for Type IV and V, 14 days. In colder temperatures, you may want to cure your concrete for a longer period of time. A common method of curing your cement is by keeping the surface moist continuously or by coating it with a curing compound.
Is Sealing Concrete Necessary?
So if your concrete is fully cured, do you need to seal it as well? It depends on the situation, but the answer is often yes. If you’re using concrete for exterior applications in PA, you should definitely be sealing it.
Sealing concrete means applying a liquid sealing compound on your hardened concrete surface after it’s completely cured. You’ll likely want a reactive penetrating sealer, which will actually get into your concrete to seal it off and prevent penetration by any other liquids. This process is important in general because you don’t want foreign liquids getting into your concrete and affecting its integrity, but it’s particularly critical in areas that are subjected to cold weather. If deicing products get into your concrete and then expand, they can seriously damage its surface.
If you want your concrete to look good and last long even in difficult environmental conditions, both curing and sealing are a must. Curing and sealing are not difficult, so they’re well worth the time and cost to protect your concrete.
Contact Union Quarries for Construction Material Help in Central PA
If you’re not sure what kind of cement you need or the best way to mix, cure or seal your concrete, Union Quarries is here to help. We’ve provided hundreds of thousands of yards of concrete over the last 50-plus years, and we can help you with all your concrete needs and questions, so contact us today!