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Will portland cement cure without using any water? Answered

I'm using used railroad ties  for a landscaping border. No pressure/tension involved. The ties I got are rotted inside and in one side and have good appearance on their other three sides. I was considering using portland cement to fill in the voids, but would like to minimize how much water used to cure the cement in order to prevent further rotting of the tie itself. Would the cement cure if I don't use any water?



Best Answer 4 years ago

It will harden after a time but it won't work too well. The curing will be non-uniform and it will crack, shrink and probably fall out in chunks.
Here's how I would do it: place the ties on blocks (rotted side up) so air can circulate around them. Make a 50-50 mix of mortar sand and cement (you need the sand to help reduce shrinkage and cracking), add just enough water to make the concrete workable. Pack the concrete into the voids and while still wet whack the sides of the tie repeatedly with a hammer to help the mix settle into the the smaller voids.
Once the concrete has hardened, coat the rotted side and concrete with a layer of roofing tar.
Let everything cure for another week or so and they should be ready for use. Just don't grab hold of the tarred side, it will develop a skin but will remain soft for months or years.

Adding sand is a great idea. And I like the idea of adding a minimum amount of water to speed up the curing process. I'm also going to seal the ties with driveway sealer.


4 years ago

Real railroad ties were made and treated to sit on a railroad bed for your life time.

Worry about weeds or something that may matters.

Electric motor varnish mixed with sand and moderately heat cured
uses no water at all  ...  and ....  is an insect repellent to boot. .

no as portland cement is powder ....water wont rot it any further mixed with cement..it will actually dry it out a bit as the cement cures

Thank you for responding.

1.Yes moisture in the air will set it. (JM)

2 the cement will set very rapidly and any water in it is unlikely to effect the sleeper.

Yes Portland cement will cure without adding water, it will get the moisture it needs from the environment however it will take time.

Since you are planning to use the railroad ties for landscaping I don’t think moisture in the Portland cement will be your problem, moisture in the soil will rot the ties no matter what you do.


Thanks for responding with an answer...while alerting me to possible pitfalls. I am coating all surfaces with driveway sealer to prolong their life.