Concrete is one of the best possible materials for constructing a driveway, garage, or sidewalk. This clear superiority stems in large part from the incredible durability and damage resistance of concrete. Yet many homeowners overestimate the strength of concrete, treating it as though it were completely invincible to damage.
This attitude overlooks the fact that concrete can be subject to many different forms of damage if not protected properly. Fortunately, many different strategies exist for protecting your concrete, and thus extending its lifespan. The curing process — including the use of curing compounds — will predict future durability to a large degree.
Once the concrete has hardened, many homeowners choose to apply sealers to further boost damage resistance. If you would like to learn more about these two strategies for protecting concrete, read on. This article will help to expand your concrete knowledge by discussing the key differences between curing and sealing.
Once forms have been erected, and the concrete poured into place, it must be allowed to cure undisturbed until it has reached a fully hardened state. To a large extent, this process takes place passively. In other words, you and your contractor will have to wait several days until the concrete has finished the process of crystallizing.
Yet the conditions under which the curing process takes place will play a huge role in its ultimate strength. The key factor here is evaporation. If too much water evaporates out of the surface, plastic shrinkage cracks will occur. This network of fine cracks will mar the appearance of the concrete.
Excessive evaporation will also result in much weaker concrete. As time goes on, such concrete will be more prone to developing forms of damage such as cracks, potholes, and spalling. To control evaporation and promote even curing, many concrete contractors utilize what are known as curing compounds.
Contractors apply these liquid compounds to the surface of the concrete shortly after pouring it into the forms. First, however, the surface must be leveled and smoothed through the use of bull floats and other tools. The compound may then be applied by a worker armed with a sprayer wand.
A curing compound acts to limit the volume of water lost through evaporator. The curing compound does so by forming an impermeable liquid membrane on top of the concrete. Curing compounds have been proven to improve the internal strength of concrete by increasing the curing time, allowing the water and the cement to combine more thoroughly.
Curing compounds clearly yield stronger concrete. Yet, that doesn't mean that these compounds will prevent all forms of damage. Physical damage caused by objects striking the surface of the concrete can still lead to cracks and chipping. Likewise, exposure to substances such as water and motor oil can weaken and ultimately damage the concrete.
To prevent such forms of damage, wise homeowners often choose to have contractors apply a sealer to the surface of their concrete. A sealer forms a hardened layer on top of your concrete. This physical barrier protects the concrete from shocks while also preventing damaging substances from coming into direct contact with it.
Sealer will effectively extend the lifespan of virtually any concrete surface. To get the best results, however, you will want to consult with an experienced concrete contractor about the right type of sealer for you. A variety of different sealers exist on the market, each with a particular set of strengths and weaknesses.
Curing and sealing represent two key ways to get the most from your concrete investment. For more information about the right curing and sealing methods for your concrete, please contact the experts at Jimenez Concrete Inc.