Does concrete strengthen by drying out?

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Posted on 18 February 2021

Concrete is one of the strongest materials in the world and is used to create a wide range of robust and long-lasting structures. Ideal for various types of construction, including houses, pavements, skyscrapers, bridges and dams, the strength of concrete rarely fails to hold up. If you’re about to embark on a domestic or commercial building project using this popular material, you may be wondering does concrete strengthen by drying out. Read on to find out the answer to this common question. 

Does concrete get stronger as it dries?

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Yes, concrete continues getting stronger as it ages. Whilst most of the strength gain happens within the first few weeks of its lifecycle, it continues getting stronger, albeit at a slower rate, for several years. Concrete hardens a little bit more every day. Strengthening happens due to a process known as ‘hydration’. This involves the cement fragments reacting with the water they’re mixed with. The cement bonds with the water molecules, leading the concrete to become harder. Once concrete’s poured, it needs adequate time to set and develop solid chemical bonds before it can support or withstand weight or force. That’s why it’s so important to let the concrete dry properly.

How long does it take concrete to dry?

Although concrete technically never stops hardening and getting stronger, it usually reaches a practical strength where it can be used in various applications by around 28 days. The drying process can take several weeks A good rule of thumb is that concrete takes around a month to dry for one inch of poured concrete. The concrete gains approximately 75% of its compressive strength after roughly seven days, however, you shouldn’t risk driving or using heavy machinery on it until after 28 days. 

What happens if concrete doesn’t dry properly?

If concrete doesn’t dry properly, the top 30-50mm of the surface can deteriorate and crumble. This leads to the strength and robustness of the structure becoming compromised. As a result, it might not meet the required safety and structural standards. Contractors must ensure that poured concrete is allowed to dry properly before a heavy load is applied to the surface. Therefore, it’s important not to risk putting any weight on concrete before 28 days. Give the concrete plenty of time to dry and harden if you want to ensure it is structurally safe and meets all the required industry standards. Failing to do this can seriously impact the success of your project and lead to wasted resources.   

Can I speed up concrete drying time?

There are a few ways to help concrete dry more quickly. However, you should keep in mind that water evaporating too fast can compromise the concrete’s strength. This can result in cracks appearing. You can only speed up the drying process so much. If you want to accelerate the process as much as possible without comprising the strength of the concrete, there are a few things we can recommend. 

These include pouring the concrete in warmer, sunnier weather. It will dry quicker than in colder weather. You could also place a heater nearly the concrete to raise the temperature and speed up the drying process. Another method some people use to speed up the concrete drying time is to add calcium chloride, which is an accelerating compound, to the concrete mix whilst it’s still wet and before it’s poured. The accelerant can help concrete to harden faster.

What materials can be added to concrete to make it stronger?

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Although the question does concrete strengthen by drying out gets asked a lot we also often asked if there’s anything that can be added to concrete to make it stronger. Whilst concrete is usually strong enough on its own, it can crack under excessive pressure. Similarly, it can crack under the wrong type of pressure too, sometimes fracturing or bending under tension weight. If you want to make sure concrete is as strong as possible, there are a few solutions. 

One is choosing nano-concrete, which involves molecular materials being poured into the mix to enhance its strength. Some nano-concrete mixtures contain ethylene or polyethylene particles. Post tensioning (rebar or cable) is another option, involving incorporating steel into the concrete mix to strengthen it. Alternatively, fibre reinforcement can help. Fibres are added to the concrete when it’s being mixed to strengthen the material. If you need expert advice on strengthening concrete for your project, simply get in touch with our team. We have years of experience in the concrete industry and we possess a huge amount of knowledge and expertise. 

Choose Doncaster Quickmix for domestic or commercial concrete

Are you looking for reputable concrete suppliers in Doncaster or Rotherham? If so, look no further than Doncaster Quickmix. We’ve been supplying high-quality concrete to domestic and commercial clients throughout the region for many years, building a fantastic reputation for our services. Not only can we mix your concrete to suit your exact specifications, but you can rest assured that it will meet BS8500 standards too. 

When you choose Doncaster Quickmix for concrete in Doncaster or the surrounding areas, excellence is guaranteed. Whether you need a small batch of ready-mix concrete for a home DIY project or you’re a contractor laying concrete flooring for a large car park, you can rely on us to assist you. We’ll aim to tailor our service and product to your unique needs.

Contact us

We hope that we have answered the question “does concrete strengthen by drying out” for you. If you’re ready to discuss your concrete requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0132972997 (Doncaster) or 01709807977 (Rotherham) to talk to one of our friendly and helpful team. Alternatively, email us here and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible. You can also send us a message via the contact form on the website. Our fleet of trucks is ready and waiting to deliver your concrete to your site. 

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