Cold Weather Concreting
Whatever your projects over the next few months, they're likely to involve placing some concrete, and as we move toward winter, it's time to start planning for cold-weather construction. From protecting yourself from the cold to protecting your tools and building materials, cold weather really throws a spanner in the works of any job!
While you will no doubt be worrying about drying and curing times, air temperature while you're working, and the comfort of the crews on site, it's also essential to consider the lifetime effects of cold weather on materials like concrete.
For construction purposes, cold weather contingencies should be used in any climate where the freeze-thaw cycle occurs. Even if the area you're working in only gets cold enough to freeze and thaw repeatedly for a few weeks a year, concrete structures will be damaged by the cycle over time.
This means you must plan properly for the future of the structure you're building, even in temperate climates that experience annual cold snaps. Damage takes longer in climates that don't have brutally cold winters every year, but without the proper treatment, low-to-freezing temperatures can damage concrete right after it is placed and at any time after that.
The good news is there are plenty of contingency measures you can take to protect your concrete from being retarded by the cold now and damaged by the freeze-thaw cycle later.
Simple steps like adjusting your concrete mixture, using curing blankets, and warming your equipment can keep winter concreting jobs on time and on budget, while proper sealing should protect concrete for years to come.
The Effects of Cold Weather on Concrete
Cold weather for concrete is anything under 40°F, with some effects of cold weather beginning at 40°F-50°F. The initial results of cold temperatures on concrete include slow curing, plastic freezing, and potentially a reduced final psi. This can mean concrete that isn't fit for purpose in a worst-case scenario and will often cause severe delays and spiraling costs.
Over time, concrete that hasn't been designed to withstand the freeze-thaw cycle and isn't properly sealed may experience cracking, spalling, and scaling. While you can fix most of these issues with speedy concrete repair, it's best to avoid them entirely.
Best Practices for Cold Weather Concreting
Understanding the definition of cold weather concreting helps you determine when to adjust your process or when you can proceed as usual. If the average temperature is below 40°F, or if it drops below this temperature for long periods, you should account for the cold weather when placing and curing concrete.
Best practices for cold weather concreting include:
- Adjusting mix design
- Checking subgrade temperatures
- Heating mix elements (usually water) or using a heating mixer
- Avoid de-icers
- Maintain temperature while curing and setting
The Proper Curing of Concrete in Cold Weather
Not only does concrete cure slowly in cold weather, but it can also stop entirely under 40°F. In addition, freezing before curing to 500psi can irreparably damage concrete. After 500psi, your concrete can usually withstand one freeze-thaw cycle.
In addition to the general cold weather concreting tips above, tips for curing concrete in cold weather include:
- Keeping the ground warm
- Checking temperatures with an infrared temperature gun
- Warming tools
- Working as quickly as you can while keeping up standards
- Using curing blankets
Why Should You Cover Concrete in Cold Weather? Learn About Curing Blankets
Curing blankets are the easiest, most cost-effective, and simplest way to cure concrete in cold weather. Curing blankets are layered to trap warm air. They are made of polyester, foam, or closed-cell foam. Some are heated, although these tend to be more expensive.
Curing blankets are great at insulating concrete, with insulation quality shown via an R-value. White Cap stocks curing blankets of all kind in our 400 US stores and online.
Why White Cap
If you have further questions about cold weather concreting after reading these articles, White Cap can help. Work with a knowledgeable local White Cap representative to determine exactly what you need for your next job, with even the most changeable and extreme local weather conditions considered.
Effects of Cold Weather on ConcreteConcrete doesn't like the cold. Cold weather can slow curing, weaken concrete irreparably before it is cured, and even cause damage to older concrete long after construction. But you can take steps to negate the effects of cold weather on concrete. We'll discuss what the cold does to concrete, how these effects can be avoided, and the best ways to care for concrete in a chilly climate.
Best Practices for Cold Weather ConcretingCold weather concreting presents unique challenges. Temperature changes can impact concrete mixing, placing, and curing, so you must account for these differences to prevent issues with the results. We'll discuss how adjusting the mix and following best practices for cold weather concreting can help you avoid any problems.
The Proper Curing of Concrete in Cold WeatherDelays on site are irritating and expensive. So, how can you avoid them? This article will discuss properly curing concrete in cold weather without waiting a week or more. Read on to find out everything you need to know about curing concrete when temperatures are below 50F.
Why Should You Cover Concrete in Cold Weather?Laying concrete in cold weather can be complicated. Temperatures below 50°F, and particularly below 40°F, cause concrete to cure far more slowly than it would at a comfortable temperature. We'll discuss why that's the case, as well as how curing blankets can help your concrete cure quickly, even in the cold.
Don’t forget these other cold weather products and accessories:
For Additional Cold Weather Products: