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Can I drive on concrete after 3 days?

How Long Will My Concrete Driveway Take to Build?

Burnaby Blacktop > Blog > Concrete Paving Services > How Long Will My Concrete Driveway Take to Build?

Mar 14, 2022

This will depend on the extent and complexity of the project itself, the expertise of the concrete contractors you hire, and the condition of your driveway (if excavation or removal is needed or not). Typical concrete projects for residential use normally take 1-3 days. Curing time adds to the time required before new concrete can be used. To understand this better, you first need to understand the process of concrete driveway paving.

Concrete Driveway Paving

If you are opting for a concrete driveway, the surface will last longer if the concrete is built on solid, level, well-drained soil. A gravel base is then laid and inspected by the concrete crew. Once the crew builds up forms that will determine the shape of the concrete, it is ready for pouring. The concrete is then poured followed quickly by what is referred to as screeding. A flat board, power tools, and hand tools are used to flatten and smooth the surface. This process is ongoing throughout the process as the concrete sets quickly.

Factors to Consider When Opting for a Concrete Driveway

Thickness: An even thickness is important to avoid cracks over time. How thick it should be is most frequently determined by the contractor, based on a few key questions they will ask. Thickness is also determined by what sort of vehicle or equipment the driveway will be supporting. There may be more than the average car involved, many times concrete slabs are laid down to accommodate larger vehicles like RVs.

Mixture: There are several options to consider, and it can get a bit daunting. There are three basic tips to be aware of, first, know the difference between concrete and cement. Cement is only one ingredient to concrete, which also includes gravel, sand, and water. Having just the right proportions of these materials is critical for strength.

Driveway Longevity: A concrete driveway is not a cheap prospect; it is an investment in your property. There are things you can do to keep it attractive and functional for a longer period. The first consideration is to hire a reliable and experienced contractor like Burnaby Blacktop. Another important consideration is knowing how to prevent water damage. Keep standing water away from your concrete as much as possible with proper drainage. Regular maintenance is always a good idea. Stop the cracks from expanding by filling them and sealing them as they occur.

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Expansion Joints: Concrete joints are used to prevent cracking and enhance the strength and performance of the concrete.

Setting and Curing: Although there are initial setting times for concrete, it never really stops curing. Full strength concrete is generally recognized to occur at 28 days. The “setting” time is between 24 to 48 hours. After seven days, concrete is cured to about 70% of full strength or more. Although people and pets won’t leave footprints at this point, you should avoid parking your car during this time. You should probably wait 28 days before parking heavier equipment or RVs.

What Are the Main Factors that Determine the Success of a Concrete Driveway?

Three of the most important factors that determine an effective, long-lasting driveway are:

  • The Contractor: Choosing the right contractor is critical, and it isn’t easy. You need to determine if the one you hire is qualified, reliable, and trustworthy. It is important to make yourself do a little research, read the reviews, and find out what others’ experiences were. The right contractor will be able to let you know how long it will take.
  • The Ground: There is nothing like a solid foundation to build on. If you are not sure, this might be the time to get the contractor involved. Preparation of the base aggregate and drainage is where experience is critical.
  • The Mixture: An experienced contractor understands the proper proportions of materials for the strongest possible concrete.

How Long Will a Concrete Driveway Take to Build?

To give you an exact answer, as it depends on your project, you should contact Burnaby Blacktop. Send us a form request, with your project details and we will try to respond as soon as possible with a time estimate and paving quote. You can give us a call at 7788550513 or fill out the form online with all your paving details to get a written estimate.

How Long to Wait Before Driving on New Concrete

drive on concrete

Concrete driveways offer many advantages over asphalt including a longer lifespan, easier maintenance, and endless decorative options. But one of the unavoidable downsides is that a new concrete driveway can’t be driven on a day or two after placement. In fact, depending on the weather conditions and concrete mix, you should wait a week or longer for the concrete to cure before you can expose it to traffic.

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When will your new concrete driveway be ready for your vehicles? And can you damage the concrete by walking or driving on it too soon? Here’s what you need to know.

Why does concrete need to cure?

Fresh concrete sets within hours after it’s poured. But despite its rock-solid appearance, it hasn’t yet developed the strength needed to resist impact and weight. Properly curing the concrete improves its durability and wear resistance by retaining moisture in the slab so that the concrete continues to gain strength.

After pouring a concrete driveway, most concrete contractors will apply a liquid membrane-forming curing compound to the surface to slow water loss. Other curing methods include covering the concrete with wet curing blankets and continuous sprinkling with water. The entire curing period for a concrete slab takes about a month, but your concrete will be ready for most foot and vehicle traffic sooner.

Learn more about the importance of curing concrete and how it’s done.

  • The first 2 days: This is the time when your concrete driveway is the most vulnerable, especially the first 24 hours. Cordon off the fresh concrete to prevent people, pets, and vehicles from entering the area.
  • After 48 hours: Concrete is okay to walk on, but it’s still curing and gaining strength. Keep all wheeled traffic, including cars, bicycles and skateboards, off the surface.
  • After 7 to 10 days: At this point the concrete has gained enough strength to support a car. Avoid driving near or across the edges of the driveway, since those areas are still weaker.
  • After 30 days: Your concrete driveway is now strong enough to support all normal foot and vehicle traffic, with the exception of heavy commercial vehicles, like garbage trucks and moving vans. This is also a good time to seal the concrete because enough time has elapsed to allow evaporation of the mix water not required for hydration.

When can I walk on a new concrete driveway?

You should wait at least 24 hours before walking on a standard trowel- or broom-finished concrete driveway. For decorative stamped concrete, you will need to wait an additional day or so to allow the excess release agent to be rinsed off. Any foot traffic before then, especially scuffing or twisting of your feet on the surface, must be avoided because it can leave permanent marks. Keep your pets off the concrete, too, because their claws can dig into the surface. Wait at least three days before allowing bicycles, scooters, or skateboards on the driveway because the wheels are more likely to damage the still-curing concrete.

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When can I drive on a new concrete driveway?

Typically, you’ll be able to drive and park on a new concrete driveway seven days after placement. By that time, your concrete will have attained about 70% of its potential strength. Still, you’ll need to take some precautions until the concrete has reached full strength. Before driving or parking heavier vehicles on the driveway, like RVs and large trucks, you should wait at least 28 days. Also avoid driving near or across the edges of the driveway, since those areas are more vulnerable to damage.

What factors affect concrete curing time?

Weather conditions and the concrete mix design have the greatest impacts on curing time. Concrete cures best at air temperatures above 50° F. At colder temperatures, the curing time will lengthen significantly or curing may stop altogether (see Why Is Cold Weather a Problem When Pouring Concrete?). Ideally, schedule your concrete driveway to be placed when temperatures will range between 60° to 80° F.

The water-cement ratio of the concrete mix is also a factor. Contractors will sometimes add more water to a mix at the jobsite to improve its workability. However, a mix with too much water can have a negative impact on concrete strength and durability and prolong the time it takes for your concrete to cure and dry. Water-reducing admixtures are a better alternative to keeping concrete workable during placement without the need for extra water.

Is it possible to speed up the curing process?

Because curing is a necessary chemical reaction important to the strength development of concrete, you should give your concrete driveway all the time it needs to fully hydrate. However, if you have no option other than to place your driveway during a period of cold weather, there are several ways to speed up the curing time, including the addition of hot water to the mix and the use of a nonchloride accelerator. Learn more about curing concrete in cold weather.

drive on concrete

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What happens if I drive on concrete before it cures?

You can damage your concrete driveway, both structurally and aesthetically, by driving or walking on it too soon. At a minimum, you may leave tire tracks, footprints, or scuff marks in the surface. At worst, the concrete will crack and its strength will be compromised. Unfortunately, this damage will be permanent, which is why it’s critical to be patient and follow the guidelines recommended by your concrete contractor, especially during the first week after concrete placement.

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Is it worth the wait?

Not having anywhere to park for a week or so as your concrete driveway cures can certainly be an inconvenience, but when you consider that the life expectancy of a concrete driveway is 40 years or longer, that short wait is a small price to pay for decades of service. Plus, when compared to asphalt, concrete driveways require less downtime for routine maintenance over their lifetime. If the ability to use your new driveway soon after placement is a priority, consider installing a concrete paver driveway, which can driven on immediately after installation, unlike poured-in-place concrete.

How Long It Takes to Cure Concrete?

Driveway Paved By Concrete Contractor Minneapolis St Paul MN

Concrete is a wonderful material. When it is installed, it is soft and almost liquid, so it’s easy to place inside the forms and can be finished with several different surface textures. When it has completely cured it is strong and hard and resistant to impact and weight. Between those two states there is a curing time that is needed for the concrete to develop its full strength and hardness. At Richfield Concrete, we understand that you are eager to start using your new Minnesota driveway, patio, sidewalk, or other concrete project. We’re also eager for that, but need to give you the information you need to avoid damaging your new concrete during that curing period.

Curing Concrete Driveway Minneapolis St Paul MN

Guide to what you can and can’t do once your concrete is installed

  • For the First Two Days – Although your new concrete will become solid fairly quickly, it has little strength and hardness for the first two days. During that time, especially during the first 24 hours, keep all traffic off the concrete. Any damage to the surface of the concrete will be permanent. That means adults, children, and pets, too. Richfield Concrete will put up warning tape, but once we’re gone from the worksite, it’s up to you. Children and pets are always immediately attracted to your new concrete slab, so be sure to ask your neighbors to keep their children and pets off the fresh concrete. Many concrete projects end up with footprints of children and pets if this is ignored. For the first few hours, this is even more critical. Many homeowners keep a constant eye on their project during this time. Falling leaves, tree sap, and wild animals like squirrels, crows, and other birds can also scar the surface, especially in the first 24 hours.
  • For the Rest of the First Week – After two days, you can feel free to walk on your new concrete. It’s tough enough at that time to resist scars from walking. However, avoid twisting or skidding shoes on the concrete during that time, and keep bicycles, skateboards, and other toys off the surface. Do not drive on the concrete for the first 7 days. Leave the warning tape in place to let delivery vehicles and others know that they need to stay off your concrete.
  • After One Week – After 7 days, it’s OK to drive on your new concrete with normal passenger vehicles. Avoid driving near or across the edges of the driveway, though, since those areas are still weaker. Also, avoid skidding things on the driveway or dragging sharp objects on the driveway, since they can still scar the surface.
  • After 30 Days – When 30 days have passed, your new concrete will have developed almost all the hardness and strength it will have, and you can use it in any normal way. You should avoid allowing heavy trucks, like garbage trucks or moving vans, on your residential driveway. It’s not designed for that kind of load. After 30 days, the curing agent applied to your driveway will have dissipated, so that’s a good time to apply concrete sealant for the first time.
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Richfield Concrete – Building Top Quality Concrete Projects that Last

At Richfield Concrete, we want your new concrete driveway or other project to look great from the very beginning and for many years to come. Once we leave your home after installation, we want you to know how to care for your driveway, starting from the very beginning. The last thing our concrete crew will do before leaving will be to give you detailed instructions for caring for your new concrete. If you follow those instructions, you’ll be assured of the best care you can give it. Contact Richfield Concrete today for a free, no-obligation consultation on your project. We’ll help you make your best decisions from the very start and throughout the process.

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