The First Two Days
The first 24 to 48 hours are critical for ensuring the strength and durability of your concrete. This is typically the time it takes for concrete to reach around 500 psi (pounds per square inch), at which point it will be better able to resist permanent damage. Until the concrete reaches this point, avoid walking on it and keep any furniture and equipment off of its surface. After two or three days, you can usually begin walking on it.
If it’s especially cold or hot outside, look for concrete curing blankets for sale in your area. These will keep the concrete at the right temperature and moisture level while it sets over the first few days.
After One Week
Most concrete reaches about two-thirds to three-quarters of its final strength at the one-week mark. It’s important to keep the concrete somewhat protected during this time. Although you can walk over it, you should avoid setting heavy equipment on it or even driving over it if possible.
Stamped concrete and other decorative concrete may need a full week to harden enough to walk on. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s directions before use.
Concrete is typically considered fully cured after about 28 days. This is when you can begin storing heavy objects on it and driving over it like normal. However, it will continue to grow harder as it ages, each year growing stronger than the last.
The temperature at which you work with concrete is one of the most important factors in how quickly it sets. Cold temperatures will cause it to cure more slowly, while very hot, dry temperatures will cause it to set unevenly. Ideally, you should wait to pour the concrete until the temperature is between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you buy a concrete curing blanket for sale and follow other precautions, however, you can work in slightly cooler or warmer weather. Keep in mind that you should never pour concrete over frozen ground (or snow or ice). You’ll have to warm the ground with heaters or wait for it to thaw before pouring.
In addition to shopping for concrete curing blankets for sale, there are other steps you can take to keep your concrete from freezing before it cures. Some people use heated enclosures to protect the concrete and keep it warm. It’s also important to make sure the temperature stays above freezing for at least a few days after removing your blankets or heated enclosure to allow it to set correctly.