After pouring concrete, I've always thought to keep it damp to allow slow curing. Recently I heard that this is a no-no and watering should not be done. Any information would be useful. ... Also, if one is to add a sealer, when should this be done? During the curing or after a total hardened finish?
If a curing compound or cure & seal is applied early, the watering will have little positive effect on the concrete. As a matter of fact, it can have negative consequences quite often. For the old-fashioned watering approach to be effective, you need to keep the entire concrete surface wet at all times for at least 72 hours. If you allow it to dry, and then spray it with cold water, the slab can be subjected to thermal shock from the instant temperature variation, negating any potential benefit of keeping it moist.
The more modern approach is to apply a curing sealer to the concrete as soon as physically possible. Personally, I've been using a water-based sealer for many year now that I typically put on within an hour of the final brooming of the concrete. Others still use solvent-based sealers as their choice, which really shouldn't be applied until the slab can support a human's weight without damaging the slab IMO.
There are other sealers that are intended for long term sealing, most of which require the concrete to cure between 7-28 days before application.
I hope that was confusing enough...........
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