Cement dries in stages that take about 30 days to complete. It takes one to two days for cement to dry enough for people to walk on and five to seven days before people can drive on it.
The weather has a large effect on how quickly cement completes the curing process. Factors such as rainfall, sunlight, wind and humidity are all contributors. Treatment of newly poured cement depends greatly on the weather conditions as moisture imbalances can cause cracking as the cement dries. Concrete will cure harder and stronger if it is allowed to dry slowly. If conditions are moderate, covering the cement with plastic protects it. If temperatures are 80 degrees or above, frequently watering it down with a garden hose keeps it moist and prevents cracking. In the right conditions, concrete will reach about 90 percent of the curing process within a week.
There are accelerator products on the market that help to speed up the drying process. Accelerators are chemicals added to a concrete mix that reduce the set time by increasing the rate of hydration. There is also Portland cement, which sets and hardens due to a chemical interaction with water. The curing process is the most important step in achieving strong and even cement.