How long does a concrete floor take to dry?

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Polished Concrete Flooring

A concrete floor is an addition many homeowners and businesses are opting for. And no surprise when you consider how easy they are to install and maintain.

Robust and strong, concrete floors can look simply beautiful once polished to a delightful shine. Using specialist chemicals on the surface, a concrete floor can take on the appearance of marble and other materials.

Like many home improvements, the materials used sometimes need time to set or cure before they are used so that they offer the maximum strength in the setting in which they are used. Concrete floors are no different so how long do they take to cure? What affects this drying time?

Is the concrete floor dry?

There are many factors to look for when attempting to answer this question all of which will point to one thing – humidity or moisture content in the concrete.

Concrete can take some time to dry depending on various factors as discussed below. The moisture content or humidity in the concrete can be tested with a relative humidity meter giving a relative humidity (RG) reading. Most concrete floor experts will agree, that this RH reading needs to be less than 40% before any top layers of materials can be added and so on.

The curing or drying time of concrete will be affected by:

  • Type and mix of concrete – not all concrete floors or applications use the same mix. For example, a slab that uses a dense water mix will take several months to dry out completely, unlike a drier mix that will take far less time.
  • Depth – the depth of which the concrete has been laid will also affect drying time. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the concrete, the longer the drying time.
  • Weather – even with concrete laid indoors, if the weather has been days of prolonged rain and cold, concrete floors can take longer to dry than when the weather is dry.
  • Temperatures – again, cold and frosty weather can make drying concrete inside an unheated building difficult, with the natural process of drying taking longer. As concrete dries, it will also release moisture into the air thus, releasing this vapour or condensation from a building is important.

Unfortunately, the factors above are usually given as part of someone’s ‘expert’ opinion. Concrete floors are made using a moisture rich concrete and thus, allowing it plenty of time to dry is important.

A reputable concrete floor company will lay a concrete floor to exact measurements; they will know how deep the floor is, they will know the moisture content, they will take into account the conditions at the property and so on. This means they will give you an answer to this question that can be trusted.

Someone casting a ‘knowing glance’ over a slab of concrete they know nothing about and saying it’s dry is not an opinion to be trusted.

How to have a better idea of concrete floor drying times

The technicalities of concrete floors and their drying times will vary, and so we suggest you do the following:

#1 Take note of the day it was laid, the conditions, the thickness of the floor and so on. These factors will combine to give you a better idea of drying time

#2 A relative moisture meter (RH) is used by many companies to assess the moisture in the concrete floor they have laid. With this RH value, they will be able to give a more accurate idea of drying time.

#3 If you are working on the concrete floor not long after it has been laid, you will need to be aware the moisture content of the slab could still be very high – and this moisture will need to come out.

Making your concrete floor into something extraordinary

Grey concrete floors are perceived as being bland, boring and sterile as well as simple being too industrial looking for a domestic home, for example.

But, with polishing and other chemical treatments, your concrete floor can go from ordinary to extraordinary. In fact, many concrete floors look like they have been constructed from far more elaborate and expensive materials.

However, you only get the superior quality and robustness if you have a floor that is well-laid and, before any further work is done to it, it has cured enough for it not to spoil the final effect.

Working with a reputable concrete floor company with vast experience and expertise will surely see your concrete floor being an amazing addition to your home or business.