Is Quikrete as Strong as Regular Concrete?

One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to working with concrete is: “Is Quikrete as strong as regular concrete?”

When you’re planning a project involving concrete, whether it’s installing a fencepost or pouring a slab for a garage, the question of whether to go with fast-setting or standard concrete pops comes up. Each type has its relative strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll want to have a good grasp on the merits of different concrete mixes before heading down to the hardware store and stocking up.

In this post, we’ll break down the differences between fast-setting concrete (Quikrete) and regular concrete, as well as examine how these differences impact the final strength and usability of each type.

Quikrete vs. Concrete

Quikrete

While Quikrete manufactures a wide variety of concrete and cement products, people often refer to fast-setting concrete simply as “quikrete”. Fast-setting concrete contains a special formulation of cement, sand, coarse aggregate, and sometimes an accelerator like calcium chloride.

Quikrete is designed to dry in a short time window – often in 20 to 30 minutes – and will cure enough to bear weight in several hours. It also typically doesn’t require mixing before use. That means you can pour the dry mixture in a post hole and then add the required amount of water on top of the dry mixture. This is a major advantage and time-saver, as you’ll be able to skip the labor-intensive mixing process.

truck bed with concrete mix and wheelbarrow
Quikrete is ideal for smaller DIY projects. [Source]
If you’re setting fence posts, installing a mailbox or lamp, then Quikrete will make the job significantly faster and easier than standard concrete.

As far as strength is concerned, the good news is Quikrete offers similar strength to standard concrete mixes. Concrete strength is usually measured in psi – pounds of force per square inch – which gives you a measurement of the concrete’s compressive strength.

Standard Concrete

Standard concrete uses a basic formulation of cement, sand, and coarse aggregate. A typical ratio is one part cement, two parts sand, and four parts coarse aggregate. A precise amount of water is then added to the mixture, which is then hand or machine mixed in a wheelbarrow or mixing machine.

This type of concrete isn’t designed to dry quickly, so you’ll need to wait between 24 and 48 hours for it to dry, and up to a week for it to cure enough to bear heavy weight. Unlike fast-setting concrete, you’ll need to mix the concrete before applying it. This can be a labor-intensive process, especially if you’re working on a larger project with a lot of concrete. If you have a lot of concrete to mix, then buying or renting an electric concrete mixer will save you a lot of hard work.

Standard concrete mix is pretty versatile stuff and can be used for everything from installing a sidewalk or steps to pouring a slab for a driveway or garage. It can also be used for smaller jobs like setting fenceposts, but the longer dry times make it somewhat impractical for these tasks.

When it comes to strength, there is some variation depending on the specific concrete mix. Standard mixes will harden to around 4000-5000 PSI, although specialized products will harden to 6000-10,000 PSI.

Strength

As mentioned previously, concrete strength is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). This is a measurement of compressive strength, which is the capacity of a material to withstand loads that tend to reduce size. In other words, how strong the material is when it’s pushed together like a garbage compactor.

concrete slab under construction
Larger projects, like pouring a concrete slab, are better suited to standard concrete mix. [Source]
After you pour concrete, its strength will increase as it dries. The initial drying period takes place as the concrete transforms from a semi-liquid paste into a solid.  Of course, the amount of time this takes will depend on the type of concrete your using.

This initial drying period results in concrete that ‘set’. This means it’s solid enough to handle light-duty, but it hasn’t yet reached its full strength. Concrete that’s reached its final strength has completed the curing process – which can take up to a month.

Keep in mind that concrete doesn’t cure on a linear scale. The first 3 to 7 days is when the majority of the curing takes place and after 7 days it’s typically strong enough to handle vehicular traffic.

When comes to the question of is Quikrete as strong as regular concrete, the answer is essentially yes. If you look at standard concrete vs Quikrete, you’ll notice that both have similar compressive strength ratings. Quikrete fast-setting mix has a final compressive strength of 4000 PSI, which is the same as Quikrete’s standard concrete mix.

Of course, the two mixtures will take significantly different timeframes to reach that strength level, so although the final strength level is the same, you’ll have your final cured strength much faster with the fast-setting mix.

Price

Whenever you’re undertaking a DIY project, the cost is an important consideration.

This is one area where standard concrete mix trumps fast-setting mix hands down. An 80-pound bag of standard concrete mix sells for about $5, while a 50-pound bag of fast-setting Quikrete sells for about $6.

This might not sound like much of a difference, but when you’re undertaking a large project, the costs can add up pretty quickly. If for example, your project requires 50 bags of 80-lbs mix, using standard concrete mix will cost you $250. If you were to use a fast-setting mix, the same amount of concrete would cost you $480.

Scale this up for a larger project like pouring a slab or building a sidewalk, and you can see how the cost of fast-setting concrete can become excessive.

Wrap Up

To wrap things up, to answer the question is Quikrete as strong as regular concrete, the answer is yes. Quikrete has similar compressive strength to standard concrete mix once the curing process is complete, which takes place significantly faster for Quikrete.

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