Once set, concrete continues to harden (cure) and strengthen over time, frequently for several years. The concrete's strength is proportional to the water-to-cement mass ratio and the curing conditions. Concrete that is not watered or cured properly will have lower initial strength and may even become weaker over time.
Concrete gains strength because of the healing effect of water on the cement paste. As more hydration products are produced, the concrete becomes less porous and more resistant to heat and other forms of damage. The amount of water required depends on the type of mix used and the temperature of the mixture when it is poured. Concrete that is not watered enough will appear dry and be much weaker than if it had been watered adequately. Concrete that is watered too much causes the hydration reaction to slow down or stop completely. This allows the concrete to cure (harden) prematurely, before it has time to gain its full strength. Curing also produces some gasses which need to escape so they do not cause the concrete to blow out.
The rate at which concrete gains strength after setting varies depending on the type of mix used and the temperature during mixing and pouring. Concrete that is mixed and poured at cold temperatures will gain its first important load of weight sooner than concrete poured at warm temperatures.
After placing concrete, the strength of the concrete grows rapidly over 3-7 days. Moist-cured concrete that has been moist-cured for 7 days is approximately half as strong as uncured concrete. As long as the concrete is not exposed to air or water it will retain its strength for several weeks.
Concrete continues to cure for up to 28 days after placement. When concrete cures, it becomes more resistant to strain and stress. This is why it's important to allow concrete time to cure before exposing it to pressure or weight. Curing concrete also increases its resistance to heat; the higher the temperature, the faster it will cure.
The curing process begins when water is absorbed into the concrete mix. This occurs immediately after mixing and during initial setting of the concrete. The amount of water that can be absorbed by the concrete mix is limited only by the size of the aggregate particles. If there is excess water, it will cause "spongy" concrete that is very weak.
As the concrete sets up, it becomes an insoluble product that cannot be re-hydrated by any moisture in the atmosphere or water that has penetrated the surface. The only way to restore its strength is by rebounding it with fresh concrete.
Concrete continues to gain strength as it ages.
Concrete, in theory, never stops curing. In reality, concrete becomes increasingly stronger over time. The concrete will have achieved around three-quarters of its compressive strength after seven days, but you should avoid driving cars or heavy machinery over the surface until after 28 days. At that point, the concrete will be sufficiently strong to withstand ordinary use.
Compressive strength is the most important factor in determining how soon concrete can be used. As long as the compression test results are above 30 MPa (450 psi), you can pour any type of concrete into any shape, and it will be safe to use after just five days. But if the compression test results are below 30 MPa, then the concrete must wait at least eight days before it is safe to use.
Concrete continues to cure for up to one year after it has been poured. During this time, more and more of the calcium carbonate in the aggregate dissolves, leaving voids inside the cement paste. This means that the cured concrete is weaker than fresh concrete, but also much stiffer and less brittle.
Curing concrete also causes water molecules in the air to bond with the hydroxyl groups in the cement paste. These new bonds form additional connections between individual water molecules, which increases their ability to resist separation by increasing the water's viscosity.
Concrete strength rises with age as long as there is moisture and a proper temperature for cement hydration. After 28 days, compressive strength as a percentage of damp cured concrete. If you are not using letterhead, insert the sender's address one line above the date at the top of the letter. The sender's name and title are included in the letter's closure, so do not write them. Only the street address, city, and zip code should be included. Remember to keep your letters short and sweet!
Concrete ages prematurely if it is exposed to sunlight, air pollution, or both. Carbon dioxide gas that comes from vehicles driving over asphalt or other carbon-based materials can weaken concrete. So can sulfur dioxide gas that comes from coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities. Concrete that is exposed to oxygen-rich atmospheres will lose strength over time.
The best way to protect concrete structures against erosion by water is to use a protective coating. These days, many types of coatings are available for this purpose. They range from simple latexes to polyurethanes. Some concrete repair techniques also improve its appearance. For example, adding color to stained concrete makes it look new again.
As far as strengthening old concrete, the answer is yes and no. Yes, old concrete can be strengthened by adding more concrete. No, it cannot be made stronger by adding more material. It can only be done properly with fresh concrete. There are two ways to increase the strength of existing concrete: add more glass aggregate to the mix or add more cement.