You can probably guess when you see footprints or handprints on dried concrete that someone touched the material before it was ready. Most people have questions about how long concrete takes to set or harden. When can you walk on concrete? When can you drive on it? How long before walking on concrete? These are just suggestions, not absolutes.
It is crucial to protect the new concrete while it is getting hard. It will last longer and look better for many years if you take good care of it now in these beginning stages.
How Long Before Walking On Concrete
Concrete never completely cures. As each day passes, the surface becomes harder and harder. When concrete is mixed with water, the cement particles react with the water to harden the concrete.
Concrete hardens after the cement bonds with the molecules of water. Although it may be considered at full strength, tiny moisture bubbles in the concrete will keep making it more challenging.
Concrete needs time to set enough to accomplish whatever your purposes are. Therefore, it is hard to guess when it is possible to walk on it without leaving footprints on it.
It will take a surprisingly short time to be ready. After 24 to 48 hours, concrete is usually dry enough for walking or driving on it. However, it dries continuously and fluidly and becomes fully effective after about 28 days.
Generally, it would not be a problem driving on it, though heavy equipment might not be safe to roll over it. Concrete is considered fully hardened after 28 days.
Factors That Affect Concrete Setting
What is the drying time of concrete floor under different conditions? The drying time for concrete varies depending on the circumstances. Several factors can affect how long concrete takes to dry. Here are a few:
The first 7-10 days are crucial to strengthening the concrete in the curing process, as it becomes most structurally strong.
Curing occurs as a result of the cement’s interaction with water. Concrete will cure faster if there is less water present. Consequently, you won’t get the strength you need or expect from your full-strength concrete because fewer bonds form. Too much water will cause concrete to cure more slowly and cause the top layer to flake off.
Read More: Best Tennis Shoes for Walking on Concrete
Hot temperatures promote evaporation, which speeds up the setting process. Wind also speeds it up. Moisture evaporates faster in hotter weather, so your concrete will cure faster. More importantly, the concrete mixture itself should not be too hot or too cold.
A specially designed concrete blanket will make your concrete hotter, which will speed up its curing time. The blanket is particularly useful during cold weather to speed up the curing process.
Last but not least, the concrete mix affects the setting time. It also depends on the chemical composition. If necessary, you can use an accelerant to accelerate the curing process. You may not get the same strength as concrete gets despite faster setting times while it cures naturally.
Read More: effects of standing on concrete
Timeline for Protecting New Concrete
Although the setting times can vary depending on the above factors, there are generally recommended times for walking on them.
After a Few Hours
New concrete will become hard enough to support some weight in a few hours. As a result, you will often see concrete workers standing on freshly poured concrete. However, the concrete at this stage is still fragile. The surface may seem and feel dry, yet it is soaked with water underneath. The concrete is not safe to walk on at this point.
After a Day
The concrete floor is ready for walking after 24 hours. If the concrete has been stamped with decorative stamps or if there has been a lot of rain, it is best to wait. The new paths should be safe for normal foot traffic at this point, but you should be cautious not to damage the surface.
Likewise, it is advisable not to use roller skates, skateboards, etc., on freshly laid concrete for the first 24 hours.
After Ten Days
Approximately 7-10 days after it is placed, concrete continues to cure. After a week, most forms of traffic can be safely allowed on new concrete without worrying about marking the surface.
It’s even possible to drive a vehicle on concrete after a week. However, larger vehicles should wait even longer. You won’t notice any changes in the concrete’s appearance or performance while still drying below the surface.
After a Month
Concrete is completely cured and dried after about 28 days. It reaches its optimum hardness at this time. It will still be susceptible to damage and marks. You can never repair damage at this stage.
If you take good care of concrete, it will last for about 50 years before it needs to be replaced again.
Concrete does not take long to become safe to walk on. It is advisable to wait at least 48 hours before walking on it.
It would be best not to ride bikes, scooters, or use other toys on the fresh concrete during this time. The surface will be strong enough to drive on in a week or two, but avoid hitting corners and edges that aren’t strong yet.