Curing is very important to keep decorative concrete lasting as long as possible. It was not long ago that curing was avoided and curing compounds were used exclusively as sealers. Little was known about water-to-cement ratios, types of cures, or air entrainment admixtures. However, we have learned a lot and continue to learn increasing life cycle costs and providing a sustainable product is key to the continued success of decorative concrete and finding as well as curing will only increase the demand and the success of this phase of concrete.
Add to this the fact that most traditional curing methods did not work well on stamped, colored and stenciled concrete. Early stamping methods were also done exclusively with powdered release agents, and curing was not an option with membrane cure types. Early membrane compounds would discolor the concrete, which was fine for normal concrete but not for decorative concrete. Concrete manufactures and suppliers were more concerned about normal concrete and the up and coming laws affecting cures and sealers (SEPT 1999 VOCs) governing their use. As prices were rising almost monthly, not much effort was put forth to better the curing methods until the past few years.
The use of decorative concrete has increased the need for proper curing methods. Proper curing methods are now at the forefront of the concrete industry and it is important to find better ways to cure. With the use of liquid release agents, it has become much easier to cure certain types of imprinted concrete.
Curing of decorative concrete should be done as soon as possible after the final finishing of the concrete. This is when no visible damage will be done to the concrete surface that will affect the final appearance.
It is also important to mention that there are significant differences between curing and sealing. Curing holds moisture in the concrete while sealing keeps moisture out. Sealing should always be done according to the method by the sealer manufacturer. There are some curing products that are specified for both curing and sealing. These should have the allowed time between the cure application and the seal application. Sealers should also be compatible with the curing agent used or removal of the curing agents may be required. Early sealing on jobs can result in the sealer taking on a milky/white look in most cases. This is early hydration water being trapped and sealed in too soon.
*Content courtesy of Murray Decorative Concrete Supply, Inc.