Concrete needs to be cured in order to increase its strength and permeability. If this is not done properly, it can affect the quality of the concrete and your final product. We take you through some of the important steps and considerations.
Always be aware of the temperature of the environment in which you are working and the temperature of your mixture. The warmer the mixture and the warmer the environment, the faster the concrete will set. This means that you can control and adjust the setting time by adjusting the temperature of the water you add. It’s important to note that if you’re working with a smaller volume of concrete, your water will adjust to the temperature of the room.
To increase the strength of your concrete, make sure you use as little water as possible. The more moisture there is in your concrete mix, the longer it will take to set.
It is critical that you keep the concrete damp for at least a week, this is known as the curing process. Curing is the method of controlling the rate and extent of moisture loss from concrete during cement hydration. Common methods of curing include ponding or spraying the surface with water.
Wrapping the piece in plastic is one way of making sure the water does not evaporate. You can also lay a damp cloth over the piece. Check the concrete after 24 hours. If the surface is drying out, spray it with water and cover it again.
Do the test
Ultimately, experience is the only teacher when it comes to knowing when concrete has set, however, there are a few things you can do to check:
• If you scratch it with a sharp object and it easily penetrates, it's not set.
• If it scratches fairly easily, but it feels hard, you have an initial set.