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Old 06-02-2013, 06:38 PM   #1
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Help! Curing new concrete work


Hello,

Last Thursday I had some concrete poured in front of my house. Here are two photos:






When the pour was finished I asked the contractor about wetting the surface to allow proper curing. He told me that I didn't need to worry about wetting it down...

After they had finished and broomed it his foreman told me I could mist it with water after about three hours.

Here are my concerns:

1. No curing agent/membrane was applied to the concrete after finishing.

2. It has been in the 90*s the last few days.

3. The pour is monolithic, with plenty of re-bar, but no control joints were placed in it anywhere.

I started misting it a few hours after the pour was finished, and kept it wetted down all the next day with a hose and spray nozzle. When the contractor came by at the end of the day Friday (the day after the pour was finished) I again asked him about keeping it wet, as I was worried about proper curing in the excessive heat. He told me not to worry about it. he noticed I was keeping the surface damp, and told me that I didn't have anything to worry about if I was doing that. He then repeated that I didn't need to worry about wetting it.

I admit that I'm worried sick about this; I worked on a concrete crew for two years when I was a youngster, and I seem to remember that we always wetted and applied a curing agent to slabs, etc.

I looked on line and everything I see is talking about the necessity of keeping fresh concrete damp/wet. The day after the pour I kept the surface wet with a hose; the next day the concrete was hard enough to walk on, so I raided all of my wife's bath towels and covered the surfaces and edges with them, and have been keeping them soaked for the last two days:



I've been keeping them well saturated so the heat doesn't build up under the dark colors, and the towels are pretty old and I haven't noticed any color bleed when I lift them.

MY QUESTIONS:

Do I need to keep this work wet, and for how long?

Is what I am doing with the bath towels an effective way to go about this? Am i possibly doing damage by doing this? Again, it's been hot and breezy, and I think I would have trouble keeping white visqueen down.

As far as the contractor I chose: He has been in business 19 years, his license is valid and active, and no complaints listed on the California Contractors Board web site (I checked before hiring him). He took me over to a recent job done in my area; that customer was happy, and the work looked good. His office manager (his adult daughter) was very prompt in all e-mail and phone communication prior to the pour.
However:
I had arranged to have her bring the contract by the day the excavation and forming started (Wednesday) which she did. She didn't give me a copy then, but told me she would mail it out to me. I said fine.

When the contractor came by on Friday afternoon I paid him in full by check, which he had me write out to him personally, and not his company. I should have simply written it out to his company and handed it to him; instead, I wrote it out to him, and noted on the check (and my carbon) what the money was paying for.

I left two e-mails with the office manager over the weekend; one was a reminder to send me my copy of the contract, the other was a question about something I wanted them to fix (a very, very minor detail). So far I have had no response, either by mail or phone. Granted, it's the weekend and everyone deserves their time off. Still, she has been quick to respond previously, even over the weekend.

I admit that I'm really stressing over this. The last thing i need is a $5,000 pile of junk in my front yard (work is expensive here in the S.F. Bay Area; this guy was $1,300 less than some others). And I need to stress that the three guys he sent out to do the work were very professional (a foreman in his late 40's, another journeyman in his 30's, and a helper). Their finish work was very good, and, overall, I am very, very pleased with the workmanship.

(insert passing of time here)

OK...breathe...now that it's been a couple hours since I posted...I realize that whole post sounds like I'm going into hysterics...which I probably was...a little bit...anywaaaay...what I'm really concerned about is: (1) is it ok to use the towels and water like that and (2) how long does anyone suggest I keep doing the towel-and-water thing?

I'll wait till you're done laughing...

Alright. Time to lie down.


Last edited by clambake6; 06-02-2013 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:47 PM   #2
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Help! Curing new concrete work


Clam bake.... I'm not a concrete contractor... but I think you are correct in keeping it moist for about 3 days... it's what I've always done. For finish work, and your slabs look nicely finished, I don't like a plastic visquine because it puddles water and can blothch the finish.

I like a permeable/ breathable moisture containment like you did...

We both know that concrete hydrates... not drys.

If there is something I don't know, I'd love to know. The slabs might have been fine with no misting, but I think you've just given them a better cure.

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Old 06-02-2013, 10:08 PM   #3
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Help! Curing new concrete work


Whoever designed those step heights is a cruel bastard.

Nothing wrong with keeping it damp. You could just use a curing compound, bury it with dirt, or cover it with straw.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleveman View Post
Whoever designed those step heights is a cruel bastard.
Curiosity...?????
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
We both know that concrete hydrates... not drys.
Thanks MTN REMODEL LLC. Yeah, that's what has had me so freaked out. We poured when the temps were in the upper 70's, which was fine.

Unfortunately, it jumped into the upper 90's the next day, and has stayed there since. I know the concrete doesn't cure through evaporation, but it needs to retain the moisture for proper hydration/cure.

I was panicking because I thought the high temps, and a hot breeze, would suck the moisture out too fast without either a curing membrane of some kind, or water...

I hate to sound like such a chicken-little on this thing. The whole experience with the contractor was very professional: the site work was handled very well, the substrate and base were well compacted with a plate compactor, and it was wetted down before the pour.

The forming was very accurate, for slope as well as riser heights with only about 1/16" difference. Lots of steel in the forms, overlapped, and well tied. Corners were square. The short retaining wall and planter are plumb, which was important to me because I'll be facing those parts with brick.

And the finish work was great; very nicely done. The crew worked very smoothly together.

I just remember enough about concrete from 30 years ago to be dangerous...to myself. It might have been better to have leaned on the contractor's years of experience when it came to watering the slab, but I panicked about the wind and heat.

Thanks again for your post; it really sets my mind at ease.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:12 PM   #6
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Help! Curing new concrete work


Quote:
Originally Posted by cleveman View Post
Whoever designed those step heights is a cruel bastard.
The riser heights are 4 3/4". I think the code for min./max. here is 4" and 7 3/4", so it's closer to the minimum.

The design mimics a wood and brick structure that was there before (I salvaged the brick to face the planter and retaining wall). It actually walks a lot more comfortably that it might appear.

This was the old structure, built 22 years ago, and which had become unsafe:


I could have rebuilt everything with wood and the existing brick for a lot less money, but I'm 57 now and the maintenance needed in 10 or 15 years is going to be more than I want to do. hence, the concrete.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:19 PM   #7
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Help! Curing new concrete work


My preference is for no steps. If I can't have that, then I have standard (7 1/4") steps.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:22 PM   #8
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New version looks great... and cut out the whining at 57.... YOU'RE YOUNG.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:37 PM   #9
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Help! Curing new concrete work


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Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
and cut out the whining at 57.... YOU'RE YOUNG.
Ahh, yeah...

I'm actually still doing fine, and I'm about 1/4 way through a complete interior and landscape remodel. I could have done the form work for this part of the project but i didn't want to tackle that pour by myself.

I am sort of looking to the future with how I do things on the remodel. I spent a total of 35 years in the trades, 32 of them as a painter. I know that isn't nearly as much as some guys do but, between the damage diabetes has done to my feet, and ladder work has done to my knees and feet, I'm definitely giving some consideration to how much maintenance I want to do down the road.

Thanks for the compliment on the work. I've had lots of compliments on the design. i'll post a couple pics when I get the brick facing on.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:42 PM   #10
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Help! Curing new concrete work


Every time I've poured concrete and after finishing the surface and waiting for the surface wetness to go away, I laid a sheet of poly plastic over it and weighted down the edges.
I would keep it watered down for 4-5 days, you need to cover the concrete with something because simply "misting" the surface the water misted on will evaporate in about 15 minutes and is all but useless in 90 degree heat.
Once the concrete has SET in a few hours or overnight, you can hose water it under the plastic sheeting a couple of times a day or so.

Not properly curing the concrete is probably the biggest reason the stuff chips, spalls easy, crumbles and cracks.
I have concrete I poured for my dog area that has zero cracks, spalls etc after about ten years in Iowa, because I mixed the concrete right, and i kept it wetted down with plastic on top for 4-5 days.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Every time I've poured concrete and after finishing the surface and waiting for the surface wetness to go away, I laid a sheet of poly plastic over it and weighted down the edges.
I would keep it watered down for 4-5 days, you need to cover the concrete with something because simply "misting" the surface the water misted on will evaporate in about 15 minutes and is all but useless in 90 degree heat.
Once the concrete has SET in a few hours or overnight, you can hose water it under the plastic sheeting a couple of times a day or so.
Wolf...I agree with ya and I do the same on a garage or SOG that gets a flooring. Also, I'll do that after a day of set, but I've had trouble with "blotching" on a broomed or high finished surface from sorta the pooling of water under plastic. I've had the same problem with tiling and colored grout.

Admitedly, ya sure gotta keep spraying it when it's low humidity (Colorado) and 90 degrees.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
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... i kept it wetted down with plastic on top for 4-5 days.
I laid the towels down after the concrete had set, and I've kept them soaked for the last three days (they seem to retain the water well). Do you think a couple more days with the same method will do the trick?
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Old 06-03-2013, 04:04 AM   #13
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Help! Curing new concrete work


curing agents & wet cures are fine & often times used when conc's placed but, in your instance, my $$'s on the contractor,,, bear in mind i've never placed stairs in my life that's why i'm putting a long ramp beside our home i do like the design of the steps, too - who's idea was that ? ? ?

from what i read in your post, there's 2 good things about the curing process you chose: 1, it gave you something to do ; & 2, your bride gets to re-towel your home

IF the urge ever strikes you again, set up a lawn sprinkler
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Old 06-03-2013, 04:18 AM   #14
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wolfie, going to bow to your expertise re CO conc but here in GA, we regularly place 9" & 16" conc w/no plastic/wet cure - just curing compound,,, biggest reason there's no random cracking ? proper timing & placement of JOINTS !

ft drum i( upstate NY ) was the 1st roller compacted conc job in north america,,, don't see conc out the back end of an asphalt spreader every day then watch a blacktop roller smooth it,,, we had lawn sprinklers set on stands for a 7d wet cure w/no plastic or curing compound,,, biggest reason no random crking ? proper timing/placement of JOINTS !

IF anyone's thinking wet cure, burlap or straw's best w/lawn sprinklers,,, plastic sheeting's for rain,,, imo, it often ruins the finish & discolors the conc
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:19 AM   #15
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Help! Curing new concrete work


Everything looks great to me, other than I "might" have sawn a few joints in the vertical walls/curbs. The steps should likely crack at the corner where the risers and treads come together, and are generally hardly visible, so a saw cut there often looks worse.

As for curing, you can't do much better than you have.......

Leave the towels on for 3+ days, and make sure they stay wet. As soon as the concrete is allowed to dry on the surface, curing will no longer help. Many people think that you can simply "feed" the concrete a little water twice a day and that it's going to do some good, but as soon as it dries the first time, any additional watering is just a waste of time and water.

I generally avoid plastic as well, as it's likely to leave stains on the concrete for quite a while............

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