© 2020 Elsevier LtdIn this study, the influence of a pre-rest period before heat curing (as a new parameter), on the physical properties, flexural and compressive strength, and microstructure of geopolymer mortars and pastes produced with alkali activation of fly ash were investigated. In this context, geopolymer mortar and paste samples were prepared and pre-rested under laboratory conditions for 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, and 28 days before heat curing. After the pre-rest period, the samples were subjected to heat curing at 75 °C in an oven, for 2 days. Mortar and paste samples exposed to a pre-rest period while in the fresh state before heat curing were compared with control samples without pre-resting. Water absorption, porosity, specific gravity, capillarity, flexural strength, compressive strength, and abrasion resistance tests were conducted on the geopolymer mortar samples. A reaction kinetics study using an isothermal calorimeter, XRD, and SEM analyses were performed on the geopolymer paste samples for microstructural investigations. Based on the results obtained, it was observed that the mechanical strength of the samples subjected to the pre-rest period before heat curing increased considerably compared to the reference (without pre-resting) samples. In addition, because of pre-resting, the capillarity coefficient, water permeability, and porosity of the samples decreased compared to the reference samples, and it was concluded that pre-resting improves durability-related properties. Moreover, the reaction kinetics and SEM analysis results, supporting the above findings, showed that a pre-resting period increases the geopolymeric reaction products and causes a denser microstructure.