Concrete Curing: 2 Frequently Asked Questions

Proper curing is an essential aspect of producing durable, attractive concrete. Unfortunately, the importance of the curing process remains poorly understand by many people. If you would like to increase your knowledge of concrete installation techniques, and avoid the need for costly repairs down the line, read on. This article will provide answers to two frequently asked questions about concrete curing. 

What makes curing so important?

Curing is one of the most vital parts of ensuring that your concrete turns out the way it should. Improperly cured concrete tends to be much weaker, with a high likelihood of succumbing to cracks, spalling, and other forms of damage. Curing helps to prevent this by promoting the formation of crystals within the concrete. Such crystals greatly increase both the concrete's rigidity and strength.

Crystals are formed through a chemical reaction known as hydration. In order for hydration to happen, adequate water levels must be promoted inside of the concrete. This allows the Portland cement to form the desired crystalline structures, thus promoting a greater degree of internal strength. Adequate curing also increases the concrete's resistance to shrinkage cracks.

Shrinkage cracks are a common and unsightly problem that occurs as concrete dries. During this process, water moves upward through the concrete—a phenomenon known as "bleeding." Shrinkage cracks tend to form when the rate of surface evaporation is greater than the rate of bleeding. Curing is the most effective way to ensure harmony between these two processes, and thus to keep unwanted cracks from forming.

What does the curing process involve?

Concrete can be cured by means of two general methods—water and plastic sheet curing. Water curing is the older of the two methods, as well as the easiest to accomplish. It involves a constant application of water to the surface of the concrete. This can be done either by flooding the entire slab with water, or by arranging misting devices around its perimeter. So long as the surface is provided with an adequate degree of moisture, you can improve the concrete's strength by up to 50 percent.

Plastic sheet curing takes a different approach to the management of moisture. Here plastic is used to tightly cover the surface of the concrete. This eliminates the evaporation of water out of the concrete, thus negating the chances of cracks and improving the strength of the concrete. It is important to note, however, that plastic sheet curing is only effective when the plastic is touching the concrete evenly at all points. Bubbles, wrinkles, or other irregularities will contribute to discolored patches of concrete. 

For more information, contact professionals like ACPLM.