Concreate, Inc. delivers concrete polishing and custom staining for both commercial and residential projects primarily in Virginia and Maryland (but also up and down the East Coast). We work hand in hand with with designers, architects, project managers, general contractors, tradesmen, and home owners alike from start to finish. We welcome the opportunity to serve your polished concrete needs in every way possible.

icon_widget_image Monday-Friday: 8am to 5pm; Sunday: CLOSED icon_widget_image 835 A Grove Rd. Midlothian, VA 23114 icon_widget_image 804-767-8301 icon_widget_image info@thisisconcrete.com

When Can I Use My New Concrete Floor?!

When Can I Use My New Concrete Floor?!

Polished concrete floor in a modern commercial building.

Typically, you can walk on freshly poured concrete after about 24 hours, but it takes 28 days to cure and dry completely. You want to avoid putting extremely heavy items on the floor for about a month.

Key Takeaways:

  • You don’t want to put heavy items on concrete until it’s fully cured
  • You can walk on it after about 24 hours
  • Heavier items should wait for up to a month
  • Using your concrete floors too early could cause damage

A fresh, newly poured, beautiful concrete floor is almost irresistible, especially if you’ve been waiting a while to finally get it done. You’re excited it’s poured, and you can’t wait to start walking on it, storing things on it, and finally being able to use that space. 

But is it yet time?

If you’ve ever seen footprints in dried concrete, you should know that someone couldn’t resist that urge and used the concrete flooring before it was ready. It’s tempting, but you don’t want to ruin your long-awaited concrete project before it’s even had a chance to cure.

This begs the question: How long should you wait until you can walk on new concrete? 

We’ve put together this handy guide to answer this question – but first things first.

The concrete process

Concrete is a versatile material widely used in construction, including roadwork, sidewalks, yards, patios, garages, and commercial areas for smooth and even flooring. 

Concrete work involves a sequence of steps, including batching, mixing, transporting, compacting, and pouring. 

Once a contractor pours the concrete, the process of curing begins. 

Curing is maintaining adequate moisture and temperature conditions long enough in fresh concrete for proper hydration. Curing helps achieve desired concrete properties. 

In fact, concrete never completely cures – it’s constantly hardening. For practical purposes, however, it reaches a point where hardening becomes so slow that it’s unnoticeable. 

Concrete curing timeline

Understanding the concrete curing timeline is key to helping protect your concrete.

1. After a few hours

Concrete begins to dry immediately after it’s poured. The floor may appear dry shortly after this stage begins, but it’s still wet and fragile under the surface. Some contractors do finishing work, like adding decorative stamps, at this stage. This process requires experienced, accomplished hands to achieve proper results.

2. After 24 to 48 hours

Concrete usually is dry enough to walk on after between 24–48 hours. Forms can be removed after 24 hours, and people can walk on the surface. 

However, it’s still not ready for heavy objects or any twisting or dragging motions. Avoid using bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, scooters, or high heels, and don’t move in any furniture or other hefty items for at least five days.

If decorative stamping has been done or there has been more moisture than usual in the air, you should wait longer before walking on your new floor. 

3. After 7 to 10 days

Concrete is considered partially cured after seven days. The concrete is drying below the surface but with unnoticeable differences in appearance and performance. 

At this stage, the concrete can safely hold traffic from most vehicles and equipment as long as they are not excessively large. Items that are extremely heavy shouldn’t be used on this surface yet.

5. After a month

Concrete takes at least 28 days to reach its maximum strength and to be considered fully cured. The concrete will be ready for any type of traffic at this stage. 

If you’ve taken proper care of your concrete for those first 28 days, you can expect it to last for up to 60 years before it will need to be replaced.

How to speed up concrete drying

Clearly, an issue with concrete is the time it needs to cure. Twenty-eight days can feel like an eternity to wait, especially in a busy commercial area. But if you don’t wait the proper amount of time, structural failures will eventually cause further delays.

To boost the efficiency of your project, you will need to find ways to speed up the concrete curing timeline that won’t compromise the project. There are several options.

  • Choose the perfect weather: As science dictates, things dry faster in warmer, sunnier conditions. This is also true with concrete. If your project can wait until the weather is consistently warmer and drier, it’s a good idea to put it off until then.
  • Add calcium chloride: Calcium chloride accelerates the cement hydration process. You can add it to the mixture to help the concrete cure and dry faster.
  • Dehumidifying: A dehumidifier reduces the level of moisture in the air, expediting concrete moisture evaporation and speeding up the drying process. This is ideal for enclosed areas. 
  • Use a heater: A gentle amount of heat should give your concrete the boost it needs to quicken the drying process in case of extremely cold weather.

Concrete dos and don’ts

The table below shows the best practices to help protect your concrete:

    Dos Don’ts
  • Spray new concrete with water
  • Cover new concrete
  • Pond cure concrete slabs
  • Apply a curing compound
  • Don’t skip control joints
  • Do not paint or stain concrete in the first month
  • Don’t subject new concrete to excessive weight
  • Don’t let new concrete get too cold (temp should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 7 days)

Walked on it too soon?

It is, of course, advisable – not to mention logical – to stay away from wet concrete, but accidents do happen. In other cases, that damp concrete is irresistible for some people not to make their permanent mark on.

While this may all seem relatively harmless, it can have significant consequences in the future, including injuries due to unlevel surfaces. Not to mention that marked concrete may be off-putting and send the wrong message to visitors.

Repairs to the concrete are necessary after walking or driving on it too soon after it was poured. You may need a professional concrete contractor to ensure the efficiency of the whole process. The key is finding the right people to do the job.

This is concrete!

At Concreate, we do everything with concrete but pour it – surface prep, grinding, polishing, staining, joint work, and resinous floors. If you want to dress it up and make it your finished floor or make it suitable for another flooring application, we can help! We are your go-to industry experts with a deep network and decades of experience. Contact us for more concrete details.