How Soon Should I Water Concrete After Pouring? A Guide to Curing Concrete

FACTS CHECKED BY  NICOLE PAV 

If you’re pouring concrete as part of your next project, it’s vital to add water at the right time. If you get this wrong, it could easily result in the finished product being cracked, weak, and lacking structural integrity.

There are a few simple tips you can follow to ensure you are watering your concrete at the right time. This article will teach you the right way to water concrete after pouring. 

Things to Check Before Watering: Curing Concrete

Curing is the process of protecting fresh concrete from factors that may affect its hydration. The entire process usually takes around a month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it during this time. 

After just a day or two, the concrete will be able to withstand foot traffic, but you should wait about a week before allowing vehicles and other heavy items to use it. At this point, the concrete slab is partially cured, meaning you can use it at its full potential. It takes another few weeks before being considered fully cured.

Curing has a significant effect on the outcome of a concrete project. It’s responsible for making the slab durable, healthy, and sturdy. Proper curing involves maintaining the proper temperature and moisture over a certain period.

How Soon Should I Water Concrete After Pouring: Curing Methods

There are various methods for curing concrete, and each one is best for different circumstances.

How Soon Should I Water Concrete After Pouring:Water cure

The water cure method involves flooding or mist spraying the concrete. It’s a highly effective way to address the evaporation rate, as it simply restores any lost moisture into the slabs.

Pond-cure

This common method involves forming temporary berms around the slab. The area inside these berms is then flooded with water. It is the most time-effective method.

Large construction projects use the pond-cure method to speed up the process.

Large construction projects use the pond-cure method to speed up the process.

Cover

Materials such as sand, burlap, straw, and canvas cover the new surface. The chosen material is wet throughout the curing period, helping retain and restore moisture.

Waterproof paper or plastic film seal

One of these materials is applied to the concrete slab as it begins to harden. This method prevents water from escaping but may cause discoloration. Avoid doing this on surfaces that need to be aesthetically pleasing.

Concrete that has experienced discoloration.

Concrete that has experienced discoloration.

Chemical membranes

This method is performed by applying a specific mix of chemicals to the concrete mixture as soon as possible. These compounds work to create a chemical reaction, keeping the right level of moisture in the slab.

Things to Avoid

Now that you know some ways to cure concrete, it is also important to remember what not to do!

Paint

Throughout the entire one-month-long period, any paint or stain used on the concrete surface could have a huge effect on the moisture and chemical makeup of the slab. It’s also fairly likely the paint will peel off, so you’re better off avoiding it completely.

Let it get too cold

It would be best to never pour concrete in air temperatures below 10 degrees Celcius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s also preferable that these conditions be met for at least five to seven days after pouring, so be sure to plan.

Add excessive weight

While it may be tempting to walk and drive on new concrete as soon as it hardens, it’s important to remember that it takes a lot longer for it to become strong and durable. Wait 24 hours to walk on the new slab and 7-10 days to drive on it. Heavy traffic like trucks and RVs are best kept off for the full 28 days of curing.

Skip control joints

Control joints are essential for preventing concrete cracks. Curing alone is often not enough – you should place control joints at the appropriate locations to reduce cracking as much as possible. 

A slab of concrete that’s become cracked over time.

A slab of concrete that’s become cracked over time.

How Soon Should I Water Concrete After Pouring?

It’s easy enough to read about the various concrete curing dos and don’ts, but putting them into practice is another challenge. The exact optimal time for beginning the watering of concrete depends on a variety of factors, including temperature, rain, and humidity.

The concrete and chemical compounds also have an effect. As a general rule of thumb, if the surface is ready to be walked on, it’s probably time to start applying water. Professional concreters can draw on experience to determine exactly when this is, but as a DIYer, make sure to wait at least 12 hours. 

One indication you could use is to test if it’s pliable. Press down on the slab with your finger or hand, and if it doesn’t react in any way, chances are it’s ready for the water. Continue regularly applying water for about 7 days.

Concreter waters a freshly laid slab.

Concreter waters a freshly laid slab.

Conclusion

This post has given an in-depth overview of the concrete curing process and how soon you should water concrete after pouring. If you want to solidify further your knowledge of concreting, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Need Buying Guide?