Aside from the composition of the mixture itself – specifically, the aggregates used – the method used to cure concrete is one of the biggest factors that influences its durability in the long run. There are six major methods you can use to cure concrete for more durability. At Interstate Concrete and Asphalt, we deploy these methods regularly and hope that you’ll benefit from our expertise.
One of the most common methods used for curing concrete is spraying. This technique is utilized to ensure proper moisture content throughout the curing process, particularly in hot, dry climates where evaporation is a very real concern. It’s one of the simplest curing methods as it relies on sprayers or nozzles to add water to the concrete that is being cured, but it’s essential to apply the right amount of water at the right times.
2. Wet Covering
Wet covering is also utilized to ensure the proper moisture content in curing concrete, but rather than directly spraying, it involves laying materials like hessian (a coarse hemp or jute fabric) on top of the concrete surface. This is only done once the concrete hardens enough to support the fabric without causing damage, and the goal is to prevent the surface of the concrete from drying out, thereby providing moisture to the entire structure as it cures.
3. Membrane Curing
Whereas a wet covering is soaked with water to keep the concrete moist, a membrane is slightly different in that it keeps the water that is already in the concrete mixture from evaporating into the air. These membranes go on as a liquid and form solid or semisolid impermeable membranes once they have set. These membranes can be oil or water based, and the water-based membranes tend to be more popular because they are easy to remove after the curing has completed. Oil-based membranes must be etched, sandblasted or chipped off, which results in extra labor.
4. Water Curing
Water curing takes the spraying process a step further and involves either creating a pond on top of the concrete or using a sprinkler system to continuously apply water to the surface of the concrete. This is only ideal for thin concrete, such as flooring slabs. The addition of water prevents the surface from drying prematurely and allows the concrete to be more durable as it cures.
5. Sheet Curing
In this method of curing, a sheet is applied to the surface of the concrete. Polythene and plastic sheets are by far the most common, although curing blankets with added insulation also exist. The sheets or blankets are applied to the surface of the concrete immediately after the top layer has hardened, and they are impermeable, so they prevent water loss during the curing process.
6. Formwork Curing
In standard construction that requires pouring thick concrete, formwork curing is the most popular and most effective curing method. That’s because the hydration temperature tends to be extremely high, and it simply involves leaving the formwork in place throughout the curing process to prevent moisture loss. It can be used alongside other curing methods where necessary, as well.
These methods of curing do not represent all of the methods utilized in concrete construction and building, but they are six of the most common methods. They all serve the purpose of helping the concrete maintain a uniform temperature and moisture level as it cures, which ultimately gives concrete its durability. If curing becomes an issue and you need some guidance, or if you’d prefer to hand off your upcoming project to a capable partner, give us a call!