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ANSI/ACI 308-92(11/24/93)(Reapproved 1997)

Standard Practice for


Curing Concrete (ACI 308-92)(Reapproved 1997)
Reported by ACI Committee 308

Bryant Mather
Chairman

Roger E. Carrier R.W. Kriner Owen Richards


Richard H. Danforth AT. Livingood Arthur P. Seyler
L Blake Fentress* R.H. Mills Luke M. Snell
Jerome H. Ford Glenn E. Noble William L Trimm
Steven H. Gebler Dixon OBrien, Jr. Lewis H. Tuthill
Gilbert Haddad H. Celik Ozyildirim Robert J. Van Epps
Richard E. Hay William S. Phelan Frank T. Wagner
Samuel B. Helms

Members of the committee voting on the 1991 revisions:

Richard W. Kriner
Chairman

Ronald L. Dilly Kenneth C. Hover Laverne R. Mertz


Jerome H. Ford Leonard M. Johnson H. Celik Ozyildirim
Steven H. Gebler Irvin S. Kaufman, Jr. Gary D. Pfuehler
Gilbert Haddad Frank A. Kozeliski William S. Phelan
Samuel B. Helms James A. Lee Ephraim Senbetta
Edward P. Holub Bryant Mather Luke M. Snell

Curing is the maintaining of a satisfactory moisture content and tem- CONTENTS


perature in concrete during its early stages so that desited properties may
develop.
Basic principles of curing are stated; commonly accepted methods pro-
Chapter l-Introduction and referenced standards, pg.
cedures, and materials are described . Requirements are given for curing 308-2
pavements and other slabs on ground; for structures and buildings; and for l.l-Scope
mass concrete For each of these categories, methods, materials time, and 1.2-Need for curing
temperature of curing are stated Curing reqirementsfor precast produ cts, 1.2.1-Satisfactory moisture content
shotcrete, preplaced-aggregate concrete, refractory concrete, plaster, and
other applications are given.
1.2.2-Favorable temperature
1.3-Referenced standards
Keywords: bridges (structures); builings cement-base paints; cold-weather 1.3.1-ASTM Standards
construction; concrete construction; concrete pavements; concretes; curing;curing 1.3.2-ACI Standards and Reports
compounds; curing films and sheets; hot-weather construction; insulating
concrete; insulation; mass concrete; moist curing; plaster; precast concrete; 1.3.3-AASHTO Materials Standards
refractory concretes; reinforced concrete; sealers; shells (stuctural forms);
shotcrete; slab-on-ground construction; slipform construction; standards; steam Chapter 2-Curing methods and materials, pg. 308-4
curing; stucco.
l Adopted as a standard of the American Concrete Institute August 1981 to
supersede ACI Standard Recommended Practice for Curing Concret e (ACI
ACI Committee Reports, Guides, Standard Practices, and 308.71), in accordance with the Institutes standardization procedure. Revised by
Commentaries are intended for guidance in designing, plan- Expedited Standardization Procedure effective July 1, 1986, and Mar. 1, 1992.
ning, executing, or inspecting construction and in preparing Copyright 1980 American Concrete Institute.
specifications. References to these documents shall not be made All rights reserved including rights of reproduction and use in any form or by
in the Project Documents. If items found in these documents any means, including the making of copies by any photo process, or by any elec-
are desired to be a part of the Project Documents, they should tronic or mechanical device, printed or written or oral, or recording for sound or
be phrased in mandatory language and incorporated into the visual reproduction or for use in any knowledge or retrieval system or device,
Project Documents. unless permission in writing is obtained from the copyright proprietors.
308-2

2.1-Scope requirements are given for curing according t o curing


2.2-Water curing methods and materials, according to method of construc-
2.2.1-Ponding or immersion tion, and according to the use to be made of the hard-
2.2.2-Fog spraying or sprinkling ened concrete.
2.2.3-Burlap, cotton mats, and rugs
2.2.4-Earth curing 1.2-Need for curing
2.2.5-Sand and sawdust Curing is the maintaining of a satisfactory moisture
2.2.6-Straw or hay content and temperature in concrete during its early
2.2.7-Termination stages so that desired properties may develop. Curing is
2.3-Sealing materials essential in the production of concrete that will have the
2.3. l-Plastic film desired properties. The strength and durability of con-
2.3.2-Reinforced paper crete will be fully developed only if it is cured. No action
2.3.3-Liquid membrane-forming curing to this end is required, however, when ambient con-
compounds ditions of moisture, humidity, and temperature are
2.4-Cold weather protection and curing sufficiently favorable to curing. Otherwise, specified
2.5-Hot-weather curing curing measures shall start as soon as required. Tem-
2.6-High-pressure steam curing perature control must be exercised to prevent freezing of
2.7-Low-pressure (or atmospheric-pressure) the concrete until it develops a compressive strength of
steam curing at least 500 psi (3.4 MPa).* Following this the concrete
2.8--Evaluation of curing procedures must be kept sufficiently warm so as to produce the
2.9-Criteria for effectiveness of curing required strength at a specified age. Other aspects of
2.9. l-General favorable temperature are given in Section 1.2.2.
2.9.2-Strength basis 1.2.1 Satisfactory moisture content-The amount of
2.9.3-Maturity-factor basis mixing water in the concrete at the time of placement is
2.10-Minimum curing requirements normally more than must be retained for curing. How-
ever, excessive loss of water by evaporation may reduce
Chapter 3-Curing for different constructions, the amount of retained water below that necessary for
pg. 308-9 development of desired properties. The potentially harm-
3.1-Pavements and other slabs on the ground ful effects of evaporation shall be prevented either by
3.1.1-General applying water or preventing excessive evaporation. Fig.
3.1.2-Curing procedures 1 shows the effect of air temperature, concrete tem-
3.1.3-Duration of curing perature, relative humidity, and wind velocity, on surface
3.2-Structures and buildings evaporation rate. When these factors combine to cause
3.2. l-Scope excessive evaporation of some of the mixing water,
3.2.2-Curing procedures shrinkage cracks may occur in the plastic concrete. Fig.
3.2.3-Duration of curing and protection 1 will aid in evaluating these effects and guidanc e on
3.3-Mass concrete evaporation rate levels is given in its caption. Failure to
3.3.1-Scope prevent such excessive evaporation frequently causes
3.3.2-Temperature control plastic shrinkage cracks and loss of strength in the
3.3.3-Methods and duration of curing material near the surface.
3.4-Other construction 1.2.2 Favorable temperature-The rate of cement
3.4.1-Precast units hydration varies with temperature, proceeding slowly at
3.4.2-Vertical slipform construction cooler temperatures down to 14 F (-10 C) and more
3.4.3-Shotcrete rapidly at warmer temperatures up to somewhat below
3.4.4-Refractory concrete 212 F (100 C). Concrete temperatures below 50 F (10 C)
3.4.5-Cement paint, stucco, and plaster are unfavorable for the development of early strength.
3.4.6-Shell structures Below 40 F (5 C) the development of early strength is
3.4.7-Insulating concrete greatly retarded and at 32 F (0 C) little strength
3.4.8-Concrete with colored or metallic surfaces develops. There is some evidence that curing for a
shorter time at a higher temperature will not be as
beneficial as longer curing at a lower temperature in
CHAPTER l-INTRODUCTION AND terms of final strength (see Fig. 2). Autoclaving at
REFERENCED STANDARDS temperatures above 325 F (163 C) greatly accelerates
hydration and may produce strengths in a few hours
l.l-Scope
*See Powers T.C., Prevention of Frost Damage to Green Concrete, Reunion
This standard describes practices to be followed in Internationale des Laboratoires d Essais et de Recherches sur les Materiaux et
curing concrete. Since concrete is used for many pur- les Constructions RILEM Bulletin 14, 120-124 (March, 1962), (PCA Res. Bull.
poses and under widely varying conditions of service, No. 145).
STANDARD PRACTICE FOR CURING CONCRETE
308-3

deg C
15 25 35

40 5 0 6 0 70 8 0 9 0
Air temperature, deg F

To use this chart:


0 7
I. Enter with air temp- *
erature, move up to
relative humidity GO.6

2. Move right to concrete 0.5


temperature
0 4
3. Move down to wind
velocity
0.3
4. Move left: read a p p r o x
rate of evaporation

Fig. 1-Effect of concrete and air temperatures, relative humidity, and wind velocity on the rate of evaporation of surface
moisture from concrete. This chart provides a graphic method of estimating the loss of surface moisture for various weather
conditions. To use the chart, follow the four steps outlined above. When the evaporation rate exceeds 0.2 (1.0
measures shall be taken to prevent excessive moisture loss from the surface of unhardened concrete; when the
rate exceeds 0.1 (0.5 such measures may be needed. When excessive moisture loss is not prevented, plastic
shrinkage cracking is likely to occur

equal to those obtained at 28 days of curing at 70 F (21 The temperature of the concrete during its early
C). However, autoclaving is a special case, since at such stages is affected by various factors such as: the ambient
elevated temperatures and pressures there are chemical temperature, the absorption of solar heat, the hea t re-
reactions which produce products that are not formed at leased by the hydration of the cement, and the initial
lower temperatures (see 1.3.2.6). Methods of accelerated temperature of the materials. Evaporation of mixing or
curing of concrete compression test specimens are given curing water at the surface of the concrete can produce
in ASTM C 684 (1.3.1.11). a significant cooling effect, which is beneficial as long as
308-4 ACI STANDARD

1.3.1.8 C 192-Standard Practice for Making and


deg C Curing Concrete Test Specimens in the Laboratory
1.3.1.9 C 309-Specification for Liquid Membrane-
Forming Compounds for Curing Concrete
6000 1.3.1.10 C 597-Test Method for Pulse Velocity
Through Concrete
1.3.1.11 C 684-Test Method for Making, Ac-
34.5 celerated Curing, and Testing of Concrete Compression
0
Test Specimens
27.6 1.3.1.12 C 803-Test Method for Penetration
Resistance of Hardened Concrete
1.3.1.13 C 805-Test Method for Rebound Number
of Hardened Concrete
1.3.1.14 C 873-Test Method for Compressive
Strength of Concrete Cylinders Cast-in-Place in
Cylindrical Molds
1.3.2 ACI Standards and Reports-These are found in
69
. the ACI Manual of Concrete Practice
1.3.2.1 207.1R-Mass Concrete
1.3.2.2 302.1R-Guide for Concrete Floor and Slab
40 60 80 100 120 Construction
Curing temperature, deg F 1.3.2.3 305R-Hot-Weather Concreting
1.3.2.4 306R-Cold-Weather Concreting
1.3.2.5 506R-Guide to Shotcrete
1.3.2.6 506.2-Specification for Materials, Pro-
Fig. 2-One-day strength increases with increasing curing portioning, and Application of Shotcrete
temperature but 28-day strength decreases with increasing 1.3.2.7 517.2R-Accelerated Curing of Concrete at
curing temperature. Reference: Structures and Physical Atmospheric Pressure
Properties of Cement Pastes (Verbeck and Helmuth, Pro- 1.3.3 AASHTO Materials Standards-These are found
ceedings, Fifth International Symposium on the Chemistry in AASHTO Materials Standards, 13th Edition, 1982,
of Cement, 1968, V 3, p. 9) Parts I and II, respectively
1.3.3.1 M182-Specification for Burlap Cloth Made
evaporation is not so great as to cause lower ultimate From Jute or Kenaf
strength or cracking either due to plastic shrinkage or 1.3.3.2 T26-Method of Test for Quality of Water
excessive surface cooling. to be Used in Concrete
It is preferable to avoid curing temperatures very
much higher than the average temperature of the con-
crete anticipated during its period of service and to
maintain a reasonably uniform temperature throughout
the whole mass of concrete (see 3.3.2). CHAPTER 2-CURING METHODS
AND MATERIALS
1.3-Referenced standards
1.3.1ASTM Standards-These are found in the Annual
Book of ASTM Standards 2.1-Scope
1.3.1.1 C 31-Standard Practice for Making and Various materials, methods, and procedures for curing
Curing Concrete Test Specimens in the Field concrete are available but the principles involved are the
1.3.1.2 C 39-Test Method for Compressive same; to insure the maintenance of a satisfactory mois-
Strength of Cylindrical Concrete Specimens ture content and temperature so that desired properties
1.3.1.3 C 42-Methods for Obtaining and Testing may develop.
Drilled Cores and Sawed Beams of Concrete The two systems of maintaining a satisfactory moisture
1.3.1.4 C 78-Test Method for Flexural Strength of content are: 1) the continuous or frequent application of
Concrete (Using Simple Beam with Third-Point Loading) water through ponding, sprays, steam, or saturated cover
1.3.1.5 C 94-Specification for Ready Mixed Con- materials such as burlap or cotton mats, rugs, earth, sand,
crete sawdust, and straw or hay, and 2) the prevention of ex-
1.3.1.6 C 156-Test Method for Water Retention cessive loss of water from the concrete by means of
by Concrete Curing Materials materials such as sheets of reinforced paper or plastic, or
1.3.1.7 C 171-Specification for Sheet Materials for by the application of a membrane-forming curing com-
Curing Concrete pound to the freshly placed concrete.
STANDARD PRACTICE FOR CURING CONCRETE

2.2-Water curing rain.


If application of water is selected, the economics of Cotton mats and rugs hold water longer than burlap
the particular method should be considered for each job with less risk of drying out. They are handled much the
since the availability of water, labor, curing materials, and same as burlap except that due to their greater mass,
other items will influence the cost. The method selected application to a freshly finished surface must wait until
must provide a complete and continuous cover of water the concrete has hardened to a greater degree than for
that is free of harmful amounts of deleterious materials. burlap.
Where appearance is a factor, the water must be free of 2.2.4 Earth curing-Wet earth curing has been used ef-
harmful amounts of substances that will attack, stain, or fectively, especially on comparatively small jobs of slab or
discolor the concrete. * Care needs to be taken to avoid floor work. The earth should be essentially free of par-
thermal shock or excessively steep thermal gradients due ticles larger than 1 in. (25 mm) and should not have
to use of cold curing water or high rates of evaporative injurious amounts of organic matter or other substances
cooling. Several methods of water curing are described that will damage the concrete?
below: 2.2.5 Sand and sawdust-Wet clean sand and sawdust
2.2.1 Ponding or immersion -Thoug h seldom used, the are used in the same manner as earth curing. Sawdust
most thorough method of water curing consists of total containing excessive amounts of tannic acid should not be
immersion of the finished concrete unit in water. Ponding used. Sand and sawdust are especially useful where car-
is sometimes used for slabs such as culvert or bridge penters and form setters must work on the surface since
floors, pavements, flat roofs, or wherever a pond of water such coverings help to protect the surface against scars
can be created by a ridge or dike of earth or other and stains.
material at the edge of the slab, or where there is a 2.2.6 Straw or hay -Wet straw or hay can be used but
stream of water as through a culvert. Damage from there is the danger that wind may remove it unless it is
premature or sudden release of ponded water should be held down with screen wire, burlap, or other means.
avoided. For example, if the ponded water leaks out, the There is also the danger of fire if the straw or hay is
slab might not get proper curing and the water might allowed to become dry. Such materials may cause dis-
soften the supporting soil, or damage the surroundings. coloration of the surface for several months after
Curing water should not be more than about 20 F (11 C) removal. If these materials are used the layer should be
cooler than the concrete, because of surface temperature at least 6 in. (150 mm) thick.
stresses which could cause cracking. 2.2.7 Termination-Saturated cover materials shall not
2.2.2 Fog spraying or Sprinkling-Fog spraying or be allowed to dry out and absorb water from the con-
sprinkling with nozzles or sprays provides excellent curing crete, but at the end of the required period of wetness
when the temperature is well above freezing. So long as shall be allowed to dry thoroughly before removal so that
the concrete surface is cooler than the atmosphere in the the concrete will dry slowly.
enclosure, steam at atmospheric pressure will cause a
film of moisture to be present on the surface. Lawn 2.3-Sealing materials
sprinklers are effective where water runoff is of no con- Sealing materials are sheets or membranes placed on
cern. A disadvantage of sprinkling is the cost of the water concrete to reduce the loss of water from the concrete by
unless there is an ample supply available for the cost of evaporation. There are advantages in the use of sealing
pumping. Intermittent sprinkling is not acceptable if materials for curing that make their use preferable under
there is drying of the concrete surface. Soaking hoses are many conditions. For example, if the moisture is sealed
useful, especially on surfaces that are vertical or nearly in, there is less likelihood of harmful drying due to
so. Care must be taken that erosion of the surface does failure to keep the covering wet. Also sealing materials
not occur. are often less costly and are easier to handle and can be
2.2.3 Burlap, cotton mats, and rugs-Burlap, cotton applied earlier, often without any other initial curing. In
mats, rugs, and other coverings of absorbent materials arid regions they are particularly useful for curing flat
will hold water on the surface, whether horizontal or work on a moist subgrade and for massive structural
vertical. These materials must be free of injurious concrete. Common sealing materials are described in the
amounts of substances+ such as sugar or fertilizer that do following sections. Forms left in place serve to reduce
harm to the concrete or cause discoloration. Burlap loss of moisture from surfaces in contact with the forms.
should be thoroughly rinsed in water to remove soluble 2.3.1 Plastic film-Plastic film is light in weight and is
substances or to make it more absorbent. Burlap that has available in clear, white, or black sheets. The film should
been treated to resist rot and fire should be considered meet the requirements of ASTM C 171 (1.3.1.7) which
when it is to be stored between jobs. The heavier the specifies a 0.0040 in. (0.10 mm) thickness. Thi s spe-
burlap the more water it will hold and the less frequently
it will need to be wetted. Double thicknesses may be l See McCoy, W. J., Mixing and Curing Water for Concrete. Chapter 43 of
Significance of Tests and Properties of Concrete and Concrete-Making Materials,
used advantageously. Lapping the strips by half widths ASTM STP 169B, 1978, pp. 765-773 with 24 references.
when placing will give greater moisture retention and aid See also ACI 201 Guide to Durable Concrete, Chapter 2, for more infor-
in preventing displacement during high wind or heavy mation on substances that attack concrete.
cification does not mention black sheeting, but black through repeated use, are evident if the paper is held up
issatisfactory under some conditions. White is more ex- to the light. When the condition of the paper is ques-
pensive but gives considerable reflection of the suns rays, tionable, it should be used in double thickness.
whereas, clear films have little effect on heat absorption. 2.3.3 Liquid membrane-forming curing compounds-
Black should be avoided during warm weather except for Liquid membrane-forming compounds for curing con-
interiors, but has advantages in cold weather because of crete should comply with the requirements of ASTM C
its heat absorption. Care must be taken not to tear or 309 (1.3.1.9), when tested at the rate of coverage to be
otherwise interrupt the continuity of the film curing. used on the job. Such compounds consist essentially of
Plastic film reinforced with glass or other fibers is more waxes, natural and synthetic resins, and solvents of high
durable and is less likely to be torn. volatility at atmospheric temperatures. Adequate ven-
Where appearance is of critical importance, concrete tilation should be provided and other safety precautions
should be cured by other means because the use of should be taken. The formulation must be such as to
smooth plastic film usually results in a mottled form a moisture-retentive film shortly after being applied
appearance. This may not be serious in pavements, roof and must not be injurious to portland-cement paste.
slabs, and curb and gutter, and may be prevented by White or gray pigments are often incorporated to provide
occasional flooding under the film. Combinations of heat reflectance, and to make the compound visible on
plastic film bonded to absorbent fabric help to retain and the structure for inspection purposes. Curing compounds
distribute the moisture released from the concrete and should not be used on surfaces that are to receive ad-
condensed on the curing cover. ditional concrete, paint, or tile that requires a positive
The plastic film should be placed over the wet surface bond, unless it has been demonstrated that the mem-
of the fresh concrete as soon as possible without marring brane can be satisfactorily removed before the sub-
the surface, and should cover all exposed surfaces of the sequent application is made, or that the membrane can
concrete. It should be placed and weighted so that it serve satisfactorily as a base for the later application.
remains in contact with the concrete during the specified The compound should be applied at a uniform rate.
length of curing. On flat surfaces such as pavements, the The usual values for coverage range from 150 to 200 sq
film should extend beyond the edges of the slab at least ft per gal. (0.20 to 0.25 Tests to determine
twice the thickness of the slab. The film should be placed compliance with the requirements of ASTM C 309 are
flat on the concrete surface, without wrinkles, to min- made at the coverage to be used in the field, or if not
imize mottled discoloration. Windrows of sand or earth, stipulated, at 200 (0.20 When feasible,
or strips of wood should be placed along all edges and two applications at right angles to each other are sug-
joints in the film to retain moisture in the concrete and gested for complete coverage. On very deeply textured
prevent wind from getting under the film and removing surfaces, such as used on some pavements to improve
it. In lieu of this procedure, it is acceptable and generally surface friction properties, there may need to be two
more economical to use a narrow strip of plastic film separate applications each at 200 (0.20
along the vertical edges, placing it over the sheet on the with the first being allowed to become tacky before the
horizontal surface and securing all edges wit h windrows second is applied. Curing compound can be applied by
or strips of wood. When the covering is to be removed, hand or power sprayer, usually at about 75 to 100 psi (0.5
the strip can be pulled away easily leaving the horizontal to 0.7 MPa) pressure. If the job size warrants, mechanical
sheet to be rolled up without damage from tears or application is preferred because of speed and uniformity
creases. of distribution. For very small areas such as repairs, the
2.3.2 Reinforced paper-Reinforced paper should compound can be applied with a wide, soft-bristled brush
comply with ASTM C 171 (1.3.1.7). It is composed of or paint roller.
two sheets of kraft paper cemented together with a For maximum beneficial effect, liqui d membrane-
bituminous adhesive and reinforced with fiber. Most forming compounds must be applied after finishing and
paper sheets for curing have been treated to reduce the as soon as the free water on the surface has disappeared
amount of expansion and shrinkage when wetted and and no water sheen is visible, but not so late that the
dried. The sheets can be cemented together with bit- liquid curing compound will be absorbed into the con-
uminous cement as desired to meet width requirements. crete. If the ambient evaporation rate exceeds 0.2
Paper sheets with one white surface to give reflectance hr (1.0 (S ee Fig. 1) the concrete may still be
and reduce absorption of heat are available. A reflec- bleeding even though the surface water sheen has dis-
tance requirement is included in ASTM C 171. Rein- appeared and steps must be taken to avoid excessive eva-
forced paper is applied in the same manne r as plastic poration. If membrane-forming compound is applied to
film (see Section 2.3.1). It is permissible to reuse a dry-appearing surface, one or the other of tw o un-
reinforced paper as long as it efficiently retard s loss of desirable conditions may follow: a) evaporation will be
moisture. Tears are readily discernible and can be effectively stopped but bleeding may continue, resulting
repaired with a patch of paper cemented with a suitable in a layer of water forming below the layer of cement
glue or bituminous cement. Pin holes resulting from paste to which the membrane is attached; such a con-
walking on the paper or from deterioration of the paper dition promotes scaling; b) evaporation will b e tem-
STANDARD PRACTICE FOR CURING CONCRETE 308-7

porarily stopped but bleeding may continue resulting in 2.7-Low-pressure (or atmospheric-pressure) steam
map cracking of the membrane film, requirin g reap- curing
plication of the curing compound. In some highway work, Low-pressure or atmospheric-pressure steam curing is
the applicable specifications may allow water-soluble covered in detail in ACI Standard 517 (1.3.2.7). Atmo-
linseed-oil base membrane-forming compounds t o be ap- spheric-pressure steam curing is commonly used in the
plied before the water sheen has gone. When forms are manufacturing of concrete product s to accelerate early
removed, the exposed concrete surface should be wet strength development.
with water immediately and kept moist until the curing
compound is applied. Just prior to application, the 2.8-Evaluation of curing procedures
concrete should be allowed to reach a uniformly damp ASTM C 156 (1.3.1.6) may be used for comparing the
appearance with no free water on the surface and then water-retention effectiveness of concrete curing mater-
application of the compound should be begun at once. ials.* Maintenance of a satisfactory moisture content by
Pigmented compounds must be stirred to assure even dis- direct application of water, either by spraying, ponding,
tribution of the pigment during application, unless the or wet covers, has often been stated to be the ideal
formulation contains a thixotropic agent to prevent method. Such methods are satisfactory only so long as
settlement. the presence of water is continuous and the concrete
does not dry out to such a degree that the development
2.4-Cold-weather protection and curing of desired properties is prevented. Intermittent wetting,
In cold weather concrete should be cured and pro- especially after an initial 2 or 3 days of satisfactory
tected from freezing in accordance wit h ACI Committee curing, will allow continued strength gain although not as
306 (1.3.2.4). Although concrete exposed to cold weather rapid as continuous curing. Intermittent curing during
is not likely to dry at an undesirable rate, particular early stages of curing is likely to result in surface cracks
attention should be given to maintaining satisfactory and reduced service durability.
moisture in concrete that is undergoing the protection The efficiency of curing with plastic or reinforced
required by ACI 306. Concrete should be protected from paper sheets depends on the extent to which they seal
freezing at least until it develops a compressive strength water in, or are in contact with the concrete. Any leakage
of 500 psi (3.4 MPa); nonair-entrained concrete should at the edges or joints between the sheets, or through
never be allowed to freeze and thaw in a saturated tears or pin holes will reduce the efficiency. The same is
condition. Air-entrained concrete should not be allowed true for liquid membrane-forming compounds, if the ap-
to freeze and thaw in a saturated condition before plication is not uniform or not at the proper rate; loss of
developing a compressive strength of 3500 psi (2 4 MPa). moisture through thin or uncovered spots reduces the
These factors should be considered especially for curing efficiency. Also, if the application is delayed too
concrete placed late in the fall. long there may be substantial water loss before the sur-
face is sealed.
It is not always possible to determine the degree of
2.5-Hot-weather curing
curing efficiency since the atmospheric conditions during
Concrete should be cured in hot weather in ac-
the time of curing play a major role in curing. During
cordance with the provisions of the report o f ACI
rainy or foggy weather little or no effort is needed to
Committee 305 (1.3.2.3.). Since hot weather leads to
achieve curing, although protection of the surface against
more rapid drying of concrete, protection and curing are
washout or erosion in heavy rainfall may be needed. For
critical. Water curing, if used, should be continuous to
a very low humidity environment particular care should
avoid volume changes due to alternate wetting and be taken to prevent excessive moisture loss from the con-
drying. The need for adequate continuous curing is
crete.
greatest during the first few days after placement of
concrete in hot weather. During hot weather, provided 2.9-Criteria for effectiveness of curing
favorable moisture conditions are continuously main- 2.9.1 General-Curing will be effective, by definition,
tained, concrete may attain a high degree of maturity in if the moisture content and temperature that were main-
a very short time. tained allowed the desired levels of concrete properties
to develop and prevented the undesirable cracking, dust-
2.6-High-pressure steam curing ing, scaling, and crazing that can resul t from failure to do
High-pressure steam curing, or autoclaving is covered so. Such consequences, if the result of improper curing,
in detail in the report prepared by ACI Committee 516 usually are caused by failure to maintain a satisfactory
(1.3.2.6). This curing process is used in the production of moisture content in the concrete immediately adjacent to
some concrete masonry units, asbestos-cement pipe, and surfaces. Therefore, this Chapter has primarily dealt with
lightweight cellular concrete. Products made with ap- methods and materials for preventing concrete surfaces
propriate mixtures and cured by autoclaving are char-
*See also Carrier, R E., Turing Materials, Chapter 44 of Significance Tests
acterized by reduced drying shrinkage and increased
l

and Properties of Concrete and Concrete-Making Materials, ASTM STP 169B, 1978,
sulfate resistance. pp. 774-786 with 9 references.
STANDARD PRACTICE FOR CURING CONCRETE 308-9

Studies have shown that the transformation is concrete to excessive variations in temperature. If stresses
reasonably correct when adequate information is avail- due to variations in temperature excee d tensile strength,
able about the concrete mixture, moisture loss does not cracking of the slabs will occur. The selected method of
occur from the concrete, air temperatures are not ex- curing will affect the variation in temperature of the
treme, and the concrete temperature remains relatively concrete; therefore curing methods should be selected to
constant. The following information must be available in minimize early variations in temperature under condi-
order that an estimate of the in-place concrete strength tions normally encountered.
can be made: a) The strength-time relationship of the 3.1.2 Curing procedures- If needed in order to main-
concrete under standard laboratory conditions; b) A tain a satisfactory moisture content and temperature, the
time-temperature record of the in-place concrete. These entire surface of the newly placed concrete should be
may be obtained by use of expendable thermistors or treated in accordance with one of the water curing or
thermocouples cast at varying depths in the concrete. The sealing methods described in Chapter 2 or a combination
location giving the lowest values should be the source of thereof, beginning after finishing operations have been
the temperatures used in the computations. completed and as soon as marring of the concrete will
Other properties of concrete, such as the degree of not occur.
permeability, resistance to abrasion, resistance to freezing Under usual placing conditions either sealing materials
and thawing, and resistance to sulfate attack, are also or continuous curing under wet burlap, cotton mats, rugs,
improved by curing. Consequently, curing beyond that or other similar material may be used.
needed to develop a certain strength is often desirable. If plastic shrinkage cracking starts to develop, the
It should not be surprising that the length of curing concrete should be initially cured by fog spraying (Sec-
prescribed for different types of concrete varies. In each tion 2.2.2), sprayed with an evaporation retarding com-
instance, the recommended length of curing is based on pound, covered with pre-soaked burlap or cotton mats,
what is practical and yet sufficient. or measures taken to reduce the effective temperature or
wind velocity or both. Exposed surfaces of the slab
2.10-Minimum curing requirements should be entirely covered, and kept wet or sealed until
Natural curing from rain, mist, high humidity, low firm enough to permit foot traffic without damage.
temperature, moist backfill, etc., may be regarded as Mats used for curing may either be left in place and
sufficient to provide ample curing when its effect is at kept saturated for completion of the curing, or may be
least the equivalent of keeping the concrete moist for the removed at the end of an initial curing period and the
first 14 days if made with Type II cement, 7 days if made concrete surface covered with liquid membrane-forming
with Type I cement, or 3 days with Type III cement, if curing compounds, plastic sheeting, reinforced paper, wet
kept above 50 F (10 C), unless otherwise prescribed in earth, or straw, or water.
the project specifications. 3.1.3 Duration of curing-For daily mean ambient
temperatures above 40 F (5 C) the recommended mini-
mum period of maintenance of moisture and temperature
for all procedures is 7 days or the time necessary to
CHAPTER 3-CURING FOR attain 70 percent of the specified compressive o r flexural
DIFFERENT CONSTRUCTIONS strength, whichever period is less. If concrete is placed
with daily mean ambient temperature 40 F (5 C) or
3.1-Pavements and other slabs on the ground lower, precautions should be taken to prevent damage by
3.1.1 General-Slabs on the ground include highway freezing as recommended by ACI 306 (1.3.2.4).
and airfield pavements, canal linings, parking-lot slabs,
driveways, sidewalks, and floor slabs on grade in build- 3.2-Structures and buildings
ings. Slabs have a high ratio of exposed surface area to 3.2.1 Scope-Concrete in structures and buildings in-
volume of concrete, and, without measures to prevent it, cludes cast-in-place walls, columns, slabs, beams, and all
the moisture loss due to evaporation from the concrete other portions of buildings except slabs on ground which
can be so large and so rapid as to result in plastic are covered in 3.1. It also includes small footings, piers,
shrinkage cracking, and have a deleterious effect on retaining walls, bridge decks, railings, wing walls, and
strength, abrasion resistance, and frost resistance. Rapid tunnel linings and conduits. Not included are mass con-
loss of moisture from the fresh concrete may also result crete, precast concrete, and special constructions as
from inadequate moistening of some subgrades prior to described in Section 3.4.
placement of slabs. To prevent such loss of moisture 3.2.2 Curing procedures-Under usual placing condi-
from fresh concrete in slabs, and to provide reserve tions, curing should be accomplished by one or a com-
moisture for curing, the subgrade should be prewetted bination of methods from Chapter 2.
and, after finishing the slab, curing should be begun as When additional curin g of underside surfaces is
soon as possible. required after removal of forms, either apply liquid
The high ratio of exposed surface area to volume of membrane-forming curing compound promptly or
concrete can also result in subjecting inadequately cured sprinkle sufficiently to keep continuously moist.
308-10 ACI STANDARD

For vertical and other formed surfaces, after the Such procedures hav e been described by ACI
concrete has hardened and while the forms are still in Committee 207 (1.3.2.1).
place, form ties may be loosened and water should be For heavily reinforced concrete elements such as
applied to run down on the inside of the form if blast-off pads, heavy machinery foundations, an d load-
necessary to keep the concrete wet. Immediately fol- transfer girders, it is desirable to avoid high temperature
lowing form removal, the surfaces should be kept rise during the first few days, but internal concrete tem-
continuously wet by a water spray or water-saturated peratures as high as 130 F (55 C) are frequently found in
fabric. Liquid membrane-curing compound may be used such elements. However, due to the large amount of re-
if authorized by the specifications for the work or inforcement in such construction, these high temper-
otherwise properly approved. Such authorization or atures may not be harmful.
approval should not be given when the concrete has a 3.3.3 Methods and duration of curing-Water curing
water-cement ratio of 0.4 or less by weight.* may be used to keep horizontal or sloping unformed
3.2.3 Duration of curing and protection-When the surfaces of mass concrete continuously wet. Water
daily mean ambient temperature is above 40 F (5 C), spraying, wet sand, or water-saturated fabrics can be
curing should be continuous for a minimum of 7 days or used. The use of a liquid membrane-forming curing
for the time necessary to attain 70 percent of the compound may be permitted if the surface is not a con-
specified compressive or flexural strength, whichever struction joint, or provided the membrane is removed by
period is less. If concrete is placed with daily mean sandblasting before casting the adjacent concrete. The
ambient temperature 40 F (5 C) or lower, precautions appearance of a membrane-coated exposed surface may
should be taken as recommended by ACI 306. For some also be a factor to consider.
structural members, such as columns where high strength For vertical and other formed surfaces, after the
[6000 psi (41 MPa) or greater] is required curing periods concrete has hardened and the forms are still in place,
may be increased to 28 days or greater to allow develop- the form ties may be loosened and water should be sup-
ment of the required strength of the concrete. plied to run down on the inside of the form as necessary
to keep the concrete wet. Immediately following form
3.3-Mass concrete removal, the surfaces should be kept continuously wet by
3.3.1 Scope-Mass concrete is any volume of cast-in- a water spray or water-saturated fabric.
place concrete with dimensions large enough to require Curing should start as soon as the concrete has
that measures be taken to cope with the generation of hardened sufficiently to prevent surface damage. For
heat and attendant volume change to minimize cracking. unreinforced massive sections not containing pozzolan,
Its most frequent occurrence is in piers, abutments, dams, curing should be continued for not less than two weeks.
heavy footings, and similar massive constructions. Usually Where pozzolan is included as one of the cementing
the cement content (or total cementitious material con- materials, the minimum time for curing should be not
tent) will range from about 200 to 500 lb per (about less than three weeks. For construction joints, curing
120 to 300 Mass concrete also includes some should be continued until resumption of concrete place-
tremie concrete placements and some large girders and ment or until the required curing period is completed.
columns where high strength, high cement content, and For heavily reinforced massive sections, curing should be
moderate sized aggregates are required. Due to the heat continuous for a minimum of 7 days as described in Sec-
generated in such large masses, temperature control tion 3.2.2.
assumes considerable importance if harmful thermal
stresses are to be prevented. The curing practices 3.4-Other construction
described below should be followed. 3.4.1 Precast units-A precast concrete unit is one that
3.3.2 Temperature control-For very large unreinforced is cast, cured and finished in a place or position other
structures, such as dams, where the design criteria are than that which it occupies in service. Typical precast
such that it is necessary to establish a reasonably stable concrete units are pipe, block, brick, and structural
and uniform temperature throughout the mass as soon as members such as channels, single- and double-tees,
practicable after placement, particularly to avoid columns, and floor and wall panels. These units are
cracking, the internal temperature during hydration generally given accelerated curing in order to achieve
should not rise more than 20 to 25 F (11 to 14 C) above economical reuse of forms and casting space.
the mean annual ambient temperature. To achieve this, Due to the variety of units and methods of manu-
various steps may be taken including: facture, different curing procedures are used. Concrete
block, brick, precast pipe, and other units are removed
a) Use a low cement content from the forms immediately after casting, allowing most
b) Use a pozzolan or other mineral admixtures of the surface of the unit to be exposed to ambient con-
c) Cool the concrete materials
d) Use ice instead of mixing water * See Klieger, Paul, Early High-Strength Concrete for Prestressing,
e) Use embedded cooling pipe in the concrete Proceedings, World of Conference on Prestressed Concrete, San Francisco , July
1957, A5-1 to AS-14 (PCA Res. Bull. No. 91).
f) Use low-heat cement
STANDARD PRACTICE FOR CURING CONCRETE

ditions. Some precast pipe, and vertically cast panels ACI 506 (1.3.2.5) (see 2.3.3).
remain almost completely enclosed in their forms for 12 3.4.4 Refractory concrete* -Refractory concrete that
to 24 hr before they are stripped. Channels, single- and uses portland cement as the binder should be cured in
double-tees, and horizontally cast panels represent an accordance with the procedu res described in Chapter 2 .
intermediate condition of exposure; although the units Refractory concrete that employs calcium-aluminate
remain in the forms, large areas are not covered or cement as the binder should be cured in accordance with
enclosed. Curing of such concrete units with large the instructions of the manufacturer of th e calcium-
surfaces exposed requires considerable care to assure that aluminate cement used. Normally, for such concrete,
an excessive amount of water is not lost from the surface curing wouId be complete in 24 hr after mixing.
throughout the curing cycle. 3.4.5 Cement paint, stucco, and plaster-The same fog
Although they could be cured at normal temperatures, spray device used for dampening the surface s to which
most precast units are cured at temperatures between these materials are applied may be used to moisten the
125 and 185 F (52 to 85 C) for periods of 12 to 72 hr. applied cement paint, stucco, or plaster after application.
Autoclaved units are cured at temperatures above 325 F Such water spray should be applied be,tween coats where
(160 C) for 5 to 36 hr. Recommendations regarding more than a single coat is used, and then two or three
curing procedures are discussed by ACI Committees 516 times a day for at least 2 days following completion of
and 517 dealing with high pressure and atmospheric the paint, stucco, or plaster application. Required
pressure steam curing, respectively (1.3.2.6 and 1.3.2.7). frequency of moistening depends on weather conditions.
3.4.2 Vertical slipform construction-Chimneys , silos, The curing should be started as soon as the applied
elevator shafts, and other structures erected using vertical paint, stucco, or plaster has hardened sufficiently not to
slipforming methods should be cured in accordance with be damaged by the spray. Application of excess water to
the procedures used in curing other vertical surfaces, the extent that it flows down the surface should be
recognizing the particular problem o f slipform construc- avoided. Frequently enclosing the work area to maintain
tion. A wet skirt of suitable length in contact with the high relative humidity will be sufficient.
concrete can be carried up by attachment under the fin- 3.4.6 Shell structures-Thin shells are unusually sus-
ishers platform, as could a system of sprays or fog ceptible to shrinkage cracking if improperly cured. In hot
nozzles. The walls for slipform construction for example, weather, preliminary fog spray curing, followed by wet
receive a short initial cure by the form. The use of a burlap or water curing is advisable. In cold weather,
curing compound is often necessary due to the short time special precautions against freezing such as protective
the concrete is protected by the form and wet skirt. How- blankets are required. At moderate temperatures [40 to
ever, the use of curing compound may not be desirable 70 F (4 to 21 C)], normal curing methods are usually
on the inside of certain silos due to possible fire hazard, satisfactory.
toxicity, or contamination of material to be stored there- 3.4.7 Insulating concrete-The surface of insulating
in, and on the outside of the silos because of color vari- concrete in which a dry unit weight o f 50 (800
ations that could result from uneven application of curing or less is attained, should normally be kept mo ist
compound. The inside of a silo can usually be kept above for a period of not less than 3 days using whichever of
40 F (5 C) during cold weather and enclosed to maintain the procedures listed in Chapter 2 is most appropriate.
a high humidity for curing. In some methods of construc- The insulating concrete should then be allowed to air dry
tion, the inside of a silo may need to be ventilated to before application of supplementary covering. Ponding or
avoid excessive buildup of heat. When this is done, the excessive water curing is not desirable since the concrete
vents should be arranged to keep drafts from the walls, may absorb considerably more water than is required for
which would tend to dry the inside of walls excessively hydration of the cement.
unless they are, in some way, water cured. 3.4.8 Concrete with colored or metallic surface-Such
3.4.3 Shotcrete-Shotcrete is usually placed in thin concrete requires special curing procedures to avoid
layers and has rough surfaces. Shotcrete surfaces should staining. The manufacturer of the coloring or surfacing
be kept continuously wet for at least 7 days. Liquid materials should be consulted regarding methods for
membrane curing is satisfactory where no additional avoiding such staining.
shotcrete or paint is to be applied and the appearance is
acceptable. Because of the rough surface, liquid mem-
brane-forming curing compound should be applied at a l Refractory Concrete: Summary of State-of-the-Art has been published. A
higher rate than on ordinary concrete surfaces, usually at summary with a Chapter on Curing, drying, firing, appeared in Concrete
International, V. 1, No. 5, May 1979, pp. 62-77.
about 100 per gal. (0.40 as recommended by