How long does concrete take to set before the rain?

So how long does concrete take to set before the rain? Can you pour concrete while it is raining? Water is a key component of all concrete together with sand and cement. However, after they are mixed, you need to dry them out completely before you can use them.

Typically, it takes 4-8 hours to dry cement. However, bigger projects may take longer. For example, if you are applying concrete for your garage or pathways, you may need to wait for days before you can use it. In another instance, 4 inches of concrete pathways can take as much as 28 days before it can set.

This is why it is very important to not pour concrete during the rainy season. The pouring rain can compromise the strength of your concrete and increase the tendency for dusting and scaling to develop. Once the damage has been done, it will be hard to rectify.

Tips When Pouring Concrete in Rain

Even with the presence of modern weather forecasting technology, there are times when the rain suddenly pours. Rain showers, for example, can develop without warning especially during the rainy season.

If rain is forecasted, you better postpone a large concrete pour until conditions get back to normal. Even if rain is not predicted, you should be ready with covers as part of your preparations. Make sure to seal the edges so rainwater can’t flow underneath.

Before the project begins, make sure that you already have surveyed the construction site. This helps you to identify areas where you can keep your cement safe just in case the rain suddenly pours. Moreover, you should have a contingency plan in place.

How to Handel Rain After Pouring Concrete

Here is how you should act when the rain pours down on your freshly placed concrete.

Avoid working the rainwater into the surface of the concrete. This is the biggest mistake most people ever make. Working water into the surface can most likely wash out the concrete that hasn’t completely dried yet. Moreover, it can weaken the density, mixture, and structure of your project.

Don’t pour dry cement onto the concrete to soak up surface water. Doing this will only weaken up the top layer. Just because there is water on top of your unfinished concrete doesn’t mean you could eventually pour cement to harden it up. Most likely, the dry cement will form weak lumps. Later on, you will find it hard to remove these lumps.

Use a float to push the water off the edge of the slab before you start to finish. This helps remove rainwater more effectively without scraping off the unfinished concrete on your driveway.

Solutions For Rain-Damaged Concrete

The worst thing that can happen to your concrete is when it is completely damaged by the rain. For sure, the water will wash out at least 30 to 40 percent of the surface. The following are the most common problems when the rain pours before the concrete has completely dried up.


Surface dusting happens when the dried cement tries to separate from the surface because of sudden rainfall. To remove specks of dust, you simply need to mop out the surface of your concrete. The bad side of dusting is that the particulate matter from the surface can mix up in the air and cause irritation.

Surface Scaling

Scaling happens when the unfinished surface of hardened concrete is scraped as a result of being exposed to the rain before it has completely dried up. Flaking can also happen due to exposure to a very low temperature or thawing. Generally, it starts as localized small patches which late become larger.

It can expose more areas when not given attention right away. If this happens to your garage area or concrete pathway, you need to recoat it sooner. The issue can grow bigger as your vehicle passes by it from time to time.

Craze Cracking

Craze cracking happens when random cracks develop on the surface of your concrete. This could be due to ordinary wear and tear, or it can also happen when the rain pours to a block of unfinished concrete.

How long does concrete set before you can use it?

The amount of waiting time for concrete to be finally put to use depends on a variety of factors. For example, thinner applications can dry more quickly than thick ones. The following are other factors that you need to take into consideration.

  • Size – How big is your concrete project? Are you applying concrete for your garage or your pathway?
  • Mixture – How dense is your mixture? Are using pure cement? Or are you mixing sand and cement?
  • Time – Are you applying concrete during hot weather days? If you are trying to apply concrete during the cold winter months, the low temperature can affect the drying rate of your concrete.

On average, concrete can take 24 to 48 hours to set. This is for pathways and garages with average thickness and standard mixture. During this time, you may start walking on the surface but due to t eh nature of concrete consistency, it is essential to avoid heavy equipment during this period.

This helps prevent damages to your concrete as mentioned above. As much as possible, cover your concrete in case the rain starts to pour. Prevention is better than curing the damage later.

Water can prevent the moisture in the new concrete from evaporating. Hence, there is a tendency that the rainwater can get mixed up with the cement on the surface and prevent the middle from drying up. As soon as you step on it, the concrete will eventually sag or crack.

If you have already completed the finishing process, rainwater may no longer cause damage. But you have to make sure that the slabs are left untouched. Are you planning to apply concrete on your pathways, patios, or garage? Stay tuned for more tips on how to handle concreting projects.

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