Fast-Setting or Standard Concrete: How to Decide

Fast-setting and standard concrete
Should you use fast-setting or regular concrete? The answer depends on the project and its size.

Whether you’re installing a mailbox post or pouring a patio, the question of whether to buy fast-setting or standard concrete always comes up when you visit the home center.

Both bags may look similar, but understanding the differences in how they work will help determine which mix is the best for your project.


Fast-setting concrete

Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix is easy to use — just add water — and it sets in 20 to 40 minutes.

It’s the most efficient option for setting posts for things like mailboxes, fences and lamps. You just have to dig a hole for the post, pour in the dry mix and then soak with water.

Best of all, you can hang fence and other heavy loads on a post set with fast-setting concrete in just four hours.

Fast-setting concrete isn’t just simple and fast, it’s also durable and strong, reaching 4000 psi — or pounds of force per square inch —after a month. That’s stronger than the concrete used for foundations on most homes.


Standard concrete mix

Quikrete Concrete Mix also is easy to use and can be mixed in a wheelbarrow or tub, or a mixing machine.

Simply add 2.8 liters of fresh water to one 80-pound bag of Quikrete Concrete and mix thoroughly.

Standard concrete is great for general work, but it’s especially effective for large projects over 2 inches thick — like patios, sidewalks curbs and steps.

Standard concrete sets in 24 to 48 hours and curing takes about five days in warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or seven days in colder weather (50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
After curing, regular concrete also can withstand 4000 psi.

Remember: While the tendency is to use more water when mixing concrete to make it easier to pour and finish, the more water added to the mixture, the weaker the finished concrete will be. So follow the bag’s instructions for the right balance.


Danny pouring concrete
Fast-setting concrete is convenient for individual fence post repairs, but lower-cost, standard concrete mix might be best for large-scale fence projects.

While you can use fast-setting concrete or standard concrete for many applications, some projects are better suited for one product or the other.

Convenience comes at a cost. A bag of fast-setting concrete costs about a dollar more than regular concrete, though prices vary by store and location. So, if your project is small, the difference may not seem like much. But if the project’s big, you might be better served to use standard concrete.

Imagine that you’re building a privacy fence that requires 60 bags of concrete mix, and the fast-setting option is $1 more. Going with standard concrete could save you $60!

So, the decision is yours.

But remember: Whether you use fast-setting or standard concrete mix, stay safe — always wear protective glasses and rubber gloves.

Quikrete has an easy-to-use Concrete Calculator to determine exactly how many bags you’ll need. Just enter the square feet of your project, and Quikrete will eliminate any guesswork.

Further Reading


  1. I recently had to repair a length of fence that required two new posts be set. Instead of concrete, I used Sitka Post Mix foam. So easy and quick! Highly recommended.

  2. Don’t forget a dusk mask when you’re mixing your concrete! Its unlikely that a DIYer will ever develop issues from silica inhalation but the dust will irritate your throat and it is hard for your body to purge it from your lung tissue. If it’s just a bag it’s not a big deal but if you’re mixing a lot of it you’ll definitely want at least a cloth mask, or better yet a dusk mask with a metal bridge to pinch over your nose and make a nice seal.


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