Wondering Why Your Concrete Won't Set Properly? It Could Be Too Dry

Concrete is a mixture of sand, gravel and water with cement to create a solid, stone-like mass used in foundations, pavements, bridges and smaller, decorative objects. Cement is a powdered combination of clay and lime. Mixed with water, cement becomes mortar and is used to bond stone, brick or tile together. In order for your concrete to set into a hard, strong slab, a chemical process in the cement needs to take place, called curing. This process requires adequate hydration of the cement so a gel is formed. While there are three common ways to cure cement, they all require a bit of moisture curing to ensure the concrete is durable and as impermeable to water as possible. Contact professional concrete providers, such as those from Robar Enterprises Inc, for further assistance.

Moisture Curing

If you are laying concrete in a very arid or hot environment, moisture curing is not only required, it may be the best way to create a concrete that is strong enough for its intended use. When the water evaporates too quickly, small gaps or holes may be left in the concrete. These areas can later be filled with precipitation that may erode the aggregate or freeze and expand, causing damage to the slab.

Pavement and bridges need to be strong enough to withstand tons of pressure. Moisture curing is done by covering the newly poured concrete with water. Now you can control the rate of evaporation of the standing water and the water that is in the concrete. This will give the cement in the concrete enough time to turn to gel to replace any water-filled gaps between the aggregate before hardening.

Sheet Curing

Sheet curing of cement is done by placing large, plastic sheets over the wet concrete. The plastic sheeting reduces the amount of evaporation that takes place, slowing down the drying process. It can also protect the concrete from dust and debris being captured and ruining the finish. While there still needs to be moisture under the sheeting, not as much is necessary. This method is good when trying to keep enough water cover the concrete is difficult or not possible.

Membrane Curing

Membrane curing involves spraying a compound comprised of wax, resin and rubber onto the new concrete. Like sheet curing, it is used to slow down the evaporation process. However, if there is not enough water in the cement to begin with, the membrane coating cannot guarantee the concrete will cure to a degree to be strong enough to use for driving on or as the foundation to a home.

Always start the curing process of concrete with added water. Once you are sure the gel is forming, go ahead and place plastic sheets or spray a membrane to save on water usage. You will end up with a much more sustainable result that will require very little maintenance.