If you are laying your own concrete you might be wondering, how long does it take for concrete to dry? You might be wondering how long you need to leave it before you can walk or drive on it.
The answer might surprise you. Typically, concrete will be dry enough to walk and drive on after 24-48 hours. However, concrete can take up to 28 days to reach its full strength and hardness.
Here is our guide on everything you need to know about how long it takes for concrete to dry.
How Long Does It Take For Concrete To Dry?
You might have thought that once you lay the concrete you simply leave it to dry. But concrete needs consistent care to ensure it cures correctly. As the concrete hardens, the water in the mix rises to the surface. If the concrete dries out too fast it can cause cracks in the concrete.
For the concrete to properly cure you need to keep it wet and warm. Keeping the concrete between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week. The longer you allow the concrete to cure the harder and stronger it becomes.
You will only need to actively care for the concrete for the first week, but it will take about 28 days to reach full strength and hardness.
The First Week
If you, or a concrete pouring contractor, have installed a concrete driveway, walkway, or patio in your home, the first week of care is critical. To ensure you get the best results you will need to do the following things.
Protect the surface by covering the concrete with curing blankets or wet burlap. This is especially important in higher temperatures where your concrete may be losing water. If you live in a colder climate you will want to ensure you keep the concrete warm to prevent the water from freezing which will ruin the concrete.
Do not walk on it for at least three days. Keeping the concrete covered will discourage people from walking on it. Also, consider condoning off the area around it. This also includes pets.
Don’t drive or drag equipment across it for the first seven days. Keep heavy equipment off for at least 28 days.
If you have stamped or decorative concrete you will need to wait more than a week to do anything with it.
The Slump Test
The slump test is especially important if you are doing a DIY job. If the concrete mix is too wet it will never be strong, no matter how much it cures. The slump test measures the consistency of the concrete. Always conduct a slump test before laying concrete to ensure you don’t waste precious time and money.
The Perfect Slab
You might have been surprised to find that concrete takes at least 28 days to dry properly. And that you need to give care and attention to your concrete during the first week after laying it. But if you follow our guide you will have no issues getting your concrete perfect. If you enjoyed this article check out our tools and home improvement blog.