3 Secrets to Successful Cold Weather Concrete Projects

The great part about pouring concrete in the off season is that there are a lot of concrete companies with extra capacity, who are often willing to give steep discounts to winter warriors. Although concrete installation is usually considered to be a summer season project, by using the proper techniques, concrete work can be done any time of year. So long as there is a supply of concrete to be had and the temperature is not too cold, the following tricks can yield outstanding results.

1. Know Your Weather Patterns

Concrete takes about 28 days on average to fully cure. Concrete work can be safely done in temperatures ranging down to average daily temperatures of 40 degrees F, and even when the air temperature does not get up to 50 degrees F for more than half of one twenty-four hour period.

Failure to attain and sustain these minimum air temperatures can result in concrete that does not cure properly. When concrete is improperly cured, it does not get dense enough, and is prone to cracking, peeling, scaling and buckling. To determine whether temperatures will be in the required range, it is a good idea to look at extended forecasts, and be prepared to closely monitor air temperatures and take precautions if temps dip.

Precipitation and humidity play a part, too, since part of curing is that the concrete dries, the moisture moving up through the slab and evaporating from the surface. Concrete with a lower slump (less water) is harder to work because it is drier, but it also cures better in cold or high humidity conditions.

2. Use Additives

There are certain additives, like calcium chloride, or nitrates, that can help the concrete to cure into its proper crystalline structure in shorter time period. Fly ash, sand, and other accelerators can be added to the mix at the plant to help the concrete cure faster or more slowly. These options are relatively inexpensive for the benefits they provide.

3. Protect Your Work

Depending on the conditions, it is advisable to cover the entire concrete installation with straw for insulation along with tarps to keep the concrete from cooling too quickly. When the temperatures will be low for sustained periods, water-proof heated blankets can be used to keep the concrete warm.

The key is to keep the concrete from cooling too quickly or freezing. Rapid temperature changes can weaken the concrete before it can set. With careful planning, however, concrete placed at lower temperatures can actually be stronger than at higher temps. For more tips or assistance, talk to companies such as Bonneville Asphalt & Repair.