How Long Does Concrete Take to Cure Before You Can Drive on it?

How Long Does Concrete Take to Cure Before You Can Drive on it

Concrete is a mixture of some elements. It takes a while to dry or cure because of the components of the mixture. Concrete is used in the construction and development of buildings mainly.

It can also be used to create roads, bridges, etc. Before you walk or drive on new concrete, you should wait for some time. How long does concrete take to cure before you can drive on it?

It takes between 7 days for concrete to cure before you can drive on it. In the event that you need to drive on your concrete, give it 7 days to cure. After that, you can drive a car on it but do not drive or park heavy machinery on your new concrete until after 28 – 30 days.

What is a Concrete Floor?

Concrete is defined as a composite material that comprises cement, water, and aggregate. Aggregate in this use refers to a mixture of gravel, sand, or rock.

When these three materials are mixed together, they form concrete. Concrete is a thick paste that gets hard with time. It is used in the construction of buildings, dams, roads, bridges, and many other things.

Now, a concrete floor is a floor in which a flat slab is made from concrete, which might be precast in a factory or poured in situ.

Concrete floors are used widely because they are very strong, rigid, fire-resistant, easy to maintain, last longer, and many more.

Concrete floors can be in three forms: suspended upper floors, ground or basement floors, and suspended ground floors.

Types of concrete floors include pre-tensioned planks, in-situ concrete solid floors, pre-stressed concrete floors, flat plate floor, and precast floors.

How Long Does Concrete Take to Cure?

Ideally, concrete takes 24 to 48 hours to dry. It is not ideal for you to walk or drive on it before it dries fully. Drying or curing of concrete is however a continuous process, it takes more time (in days) to actually settle and be hard.

A short answer for this is that concrete never cures completely. It is a continuous process. As it dries day by day, it keeps on hardening.

The hardening of concrete is a process caused by the reaction of water and particles of cement. The bonding of cement particles with molecules of water leads to the hardening of the concrete.

The reason it does not get hard immediately is that there will always be moisture bubbles in concrete (no matter how tiny), so even if the concrete has achieved what is known as full strength, it will actually keep on getting harder.

What you should be asking is how long does concrete take to get hard for whatever purpose it was intended for. If it was intended to be driven on, you want to know how long it will take before you can drive on it.

If it was intended to be walked on, you want to know how long it will take before you can walk on it also.

Good news! Your concrete will be ready for use in a short time. After 24 – 48 hours depending on the weather, your concrete should be hard enough for you to walk upon, without sinking.

It will reach 70 percent of its full strength in about 7 days or more.

Before you can drive on it, you will however need to give it more time. A minimum of 28 days is enough waiting period for you to drive on your set concrete. It also applies to moving really heavy equipment on the concrete.

There are some factors that affect the curing process of concrete. Because concrete is a mixture containing water, it gains strength as long as hydration occurs. Be informed that too much water in the mixture will lead to weak concrete.

Some of the Factors that Affect the Curing Process

1. Freezing Temperatures

Concrete is highly affected by extremely cold temperatures. If the temperature is too cold, your concrete will form cracks and eventually get destroyed.

Make use of some sort of insulation or shelter to keep the surface area warm as much as you can.

2. Hot, Dry Weather

Your concrete will also crack when it is under severe heat and in dry conditions as well. It is helpful for you to make use of shelter to mitigate the effects of the harsh weather.

3. Mix Design

Some people use “accelerants” to boost the curing process too. This will only speed up the time it takes to set but it will not be as strong as the concrete that is left to set normally.

It has often been suggested that you need to wait for at least 24 hours before you walk on new concrete. Toys, bicycles, skateboards, pets with claws, etc. should be taken far from the new concrete.

In fact, you should wait for 3 days minimum before you do any excess activity on your new concrete.

Should I Drive on my Concrete After Installing it?

Of course not, you should never drive on your concrete immediately after it is installed. Well, unless you purposely want it destroyed or damaged. Give it some more time to fully set and harden before you should walk on it, not to talk of driving on it.

How Long Does Concrete Take to Cure Before You Can Drive on it?

Before you should drive on concrete, give it time. 28 days is perfect and ideal. This is because the tires of a vehicle are really strong and heavy and they can cause damage to the concrete if it has not been set fully.

What Happens if you Drive on Concrete Too Soon?

A lot of concrete professionals have suggested that you should wait for a minimum of 7 days before you park or drive a car on your new concrete.

Why 7 days? In 7 days, your new concrete will be very close to full strength and so it can carry some heavy things.

This 7-day waiting period is not applicable for heavy machinery and equipment. Heavy-duty vehicles like trucks, buses, trailers, etc. should not be parked on new concrete before 28 days.

You should wait for 28 days minimum before you can drive heavy machinery on your new concrete.

Here are a few things that will happen if you park, walk or drive on your new concrete too soon:

  • It might crack
  • The joints might break
  • Footprints and tracks will be created in the concrete
  • The future strength of the concrete will be weakened.

If you drive too soon on concrete, you risk getting it damaged. It will definitely crack.

Can You Drive on Concrete After 3 Days?

Yes, concrete can cure after 3 days but three days is too soon for you to drive on a newly-constructed concrete floor.

New concrete is actually designed to reach 90% of its full strength after 7 days. After then, you can drive on it but you should not drive on it from the 7th day.

Before you park heavy equipment or machinery on new concrete, you should wait for 28 days minimum.

Can I Drive on Concrete After 5 Days?

No, you should not drive on a concrete floor that has just made 5 days ago. You can walk on it but driving on it is not advised.

However, if the weather was too hot and you are convinced that the concrete is OK to drive on, you can however, drive at your own risk. It is better to wait for 7 days before driving on a newly constructed concrete way.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it is dangerous to drive or walk on new concrete too soon. You might end up wasting the whole work and your time and money will be wasted also. Just give it time to cure before you carry out an excess activity on it.