A variety of steps is involved in concrete construction. One of the most important occurs after the concrete has been poured - the curing process.
Curing is the art of ensuring that concrete sets properly without drying out or freezing, either of which will have a negative effect on concrete strength. The process requires hydration - the chemical reaction between hydraulic cements and water - and temperature control. Excessive drying can cause the concrete to crack, while freezing can lead to scaling or concrete failure. The curing process normally takes 5 - 7 days after the concrete has been placed.
New concrete can be cured using a variety of methods:
1. Hydration using soaking hoses or sprinklers.
2. Covering with wet burlap.
3. Coating with commercial curing compounds to seal in moisture.
Curing compounds work by sealing the surface to prevent evaporation, and are generally available in permanent and temporary formulations.