To achieve top-notch architectural concrete--whether it's horizontal or vertical--don't make the mistake of overlooking or slighting the importance of the concrete curing process. Improperly cured concrete looks bad, and it may have such problems as increased permeability and reduced wear resistance. VERTICAL ARCHITECTURAL CONCRETE Most vertical concrete can be cured by leaving the forms in place, normally for 12 to 72 hours. If you do so, be sure to sprinkle the outside of absorbent wood forms with water. If you can't leave the formwork in place, or if you can't keep wood forms moist, strip them as soon as possible and cure the concrete using another method. Alternatives include water cures and spray-applied curing compounds. COLORED FLATWORK Except for exposed-aggregate surfaces, where most of the wet curing methods can often be used, it's generally inappropriate to pond or sprinkle decorative flatwork, since the added water interferes with the development of uniform color. Instead of using wet cures, consider applying an appropriate curing compound. SELECTING AND USING CURING COMPOUNDS Always check with the curing compound manufacturer to make sure the product you're considering can be used safely on architectural concrete. Hydrocarbon-based curing compounds turn yellow, and even some acrylic-based curing compounds yellow over time. And only clear curing compounds can be used, since fugitive dyes and pigments are sure to harm architectural concrete.