After Concrete Pour

What is meant by curing concrete and how do I do it?

Curing concrete is essentially keeping the moisture from evaporating out of the concrete prematurely. This is begun immediately following the completion of the finishing process, the same day the concrete is poured. This can be done by several different methods, although not every method is ok to use for every job.

  • Moist curing is where most people get the idea that they should spray their freshly poured slab with water. The correct way to moist cure is by flooding the slab and maintaining the water on it for approximately 1 week or by the use of sprinklers, which must run continuously for about the same amount of time, not allowing the surface of the concrete to dry at any location for the duration of the cure process. If the top of the concrete is sprayed and let to dry and repeatedly, more harm than good may be done as this contributes to possible cracking from the expansion & contraction of the slab, among other reasons.
  • Another method is by covering the concrete with a "blanket". This is both figurative and literal as there are special blankets that can be used that will trap the moisture in the slab and help keep the slab from freezing in cold climates. You can also use visqueen with a minimum thickness of 4 mil (white or clear in color to reflect sunlight) to prevent the moisture from evaporating, but the edges must be covered and secured. Most commonly used is a liquid cure compound though. This is sprayed on the top of the slab in even coats and acts as a figurative "blanket", trapping the moisture in. For decorative concrete, this is the most advisable method. See later section on which cure is right for you for explanation.
  • The last method is a combination of the previous two methods, where you can use wet burlap or wet straw piled 6" thick to cure the concrete. Similar to the flooding method, extreme caution must be used to not allow these products to dry out for the duration of the curing process. If they do dry out, they could have the exact opposite of the desired affect by actually pulling the moisture out of the slab prematurely.
  • Proper reinforcement used (e.g. rebar or fiber reinforcement).

Why should I cure my concrete?

There are several reasons why, but most importantly is because you will help to create as durable and long lasting a product as possible. By not curing your concrete, you are more likely to experience a myriad of different types of unwanted cracking, efflorescence and other surface blemishes.

What method of cure should I use for my concrete?

Not every method of cure is advisable, especially when colored concrete is concerned.

Colored Concrete
You shouldn't cover the slab with a blanket, burlap, plastic or straw as it will discolor the surface and you will see where each item was resting on the surface of the slab. In addition, moist curing is not advisable as it will lead to blotching.
Stamped Slabs
Water cannot be used as the release agent will repel the water. If an antique release (colored powder) is used in the stamping process, this will usually suffice as an adequate cure under normal conditions.
Broom Finished or Hard Troweled Colored Concrete
A liquid cure agent, such as Cureseal-W, should be used. The actual cure used will depend upon the desired sealer as some cures are not compatible with some sealers. Let our dispatcher or salesman know if you would like a "wet look" gloss sealer or a semi-gloss look.
Plain, Uncolored Concrete
Any method used should be ok depending upon jobsite conditions and which, if any, sealer is wanted.

What should I do to the concrete after it's been poured?

Decorative Concrete with color, stain, or stamp work
The concrete will need to be sealed afterwards. This sealer will need to be maintained on a regular basis. The regularity of maintenance will depend upon the amount of traffic on it and the type of sealer used as well as other environmental conditions. If stamped or stained, you will need to clean the concrete prior to sealing it. Ask our salesmen or dispatcher for recommendations on which sealer to use. Your concrete contractor should be able to clean the slabs and apply the sealer for you.
Broom Finished Colored Concrete
Water cannot be used as the release agent will repel the water. If an antique release (colored powder) is used in the stamping process, this will usually suffice as an adequate cure under normal conditions.
Broom Finished or Hard Troweled Colored Concrete
You will want to make sure you apply a cure compound (see above section on curing). Ask our sales staff which is right for you. The cure compound should be applied after the finishing process is complete, before the contractor goes home the day of the pour.

If you have any other questions or concerns regarding concrete, our business, please do not hesitate to call our office at (209) 524-3177 or email us through our Contact Us page.