Concrete is one of the most flexible materials you can choose, with its use spanning over many domestic and commercial applications. Whether it’s required for a new concrete driveway or foundations of a building, it’s possible to control the way the mix sets. Here are a few of the techniques involved.

Concrete expert guides - Can you control how concrete sets? | MaguireDrying Speed

Concrete needs to dry in the correct way to influence its overall strength once set. Speeding up the process without taking careful consideration over whether the concrete has properly dried may only serve to cause structural issues. However, many projects, especially those undertaken in the construction industry, are under time constraints. Therefore, there are some methods used to help speed up the setting time for the concrete. These include timing this part of the project for when it’s warmer and drier, naturally speeding up the process. You can also decrease the ratio of water to cement, but this may also reduce the workability of the concrete. Speak to a concrete expert about getting the balance right without damaging the strength of concrete for its intended use.

Admixtures

Many people adjust the ratio of the raw materials in the concrete mixture to control how it sets. However, you can also select admixtures to help it behave in the way you need it to. This includes adding fibres, which give the concrete additional reinforcement as it sets, often used for supporting structures. You can also add retarders in those cases where you want to slow down the setting process while reducing water bleeding, which can be problematic as the concrete dries. Equally, you could also choose accelerators, which speed up setting times, rather than interfere with the amount of water or temperature of the poured concrete.

Workability

One of the best things about using concrete is its workability, moulding into a variety of shapes. Again, the use of admixtures is highly useful for increasing the workability with plasticisers used to give it greater flexibility. This works by reducing the attraction between cement and aggregate, allowing the mixture to flow more freely. Some people add more water, but this will decrease the strength of the concrete. To assess how workable you need your concrete to be, it depends on how it’s being poured to form the desired shape of the structure. For example, if formwork is being used, compaction may be required to remove air trapped at corners. Concrete must have the right level of workability to let you handle it with ease, placing and finishing the mixture in the right way without negatively impacting on its strength.

Need expert advice?

At Maguire, we’re a trusted concrete supplier for London and Surrey, working across locations such as Wallington, Biggin Hill and Uckfield. We offer a variety of concrete solutions, including certified concrete which can be tailored to your project needs. Get in touch now to discuss your requirements and receive a free, competitive quote.