Can you lay concrete in the winter?
With the cold weather setting in, you may be wondering “Can you lay concrete in the winter?” Whilst it’s true that low temperatures can cause concrete to lose strength and durability, there are ways you can minimise any damage. Read on to find out more.
The risks of laying concrete in cold weather
Laying concrete in the winter isn’t ideal since the cold weather can impact its quality and condition. Damage can occur if the concrete cools below freezing point. Often, it will be unusable at this stage. Below freezing, the process of hydration slows down, leading the concrete to become weaker. The water inside of the mix may freeze and expand, potentially causing cracks, crumbling and scaling. This results in a poor standard of concrete that is unsuitable for use in many applications.
How cold is too cold?
At Doncaster Quickmix, many people ask us “Can you lay concrete in the winter?” However, the answer isn’t always simple since it often depends on exactly how cold it is outside. Usually, temperatures below 5°C are very challenging for laying concrete. These temperatures are common between October and February. The good news is that they don’t drop below freezing point very often, which means that you can usually proceed with laying concrete. You’ll need to follow the proper processes to ensure that the concrete maintains its strength and stability. Protecting the concrete is key to ensuring it retains its structural integrity.
Protect freshly laid concrete from freezing
When laying concrete in winter, it’s essential to protect it from freezing for at least the first 24 hours. This will help to ensure that the hydration process isn’t disrupted. If ice forms in the mix and hydration slows down, the concrete could lose around 50% of its strength, causing permanent damage.
Allow the ground to thaw
Allowing the ground to thaw before pouring the concrete is essential during the winter months. If the ground is frozen or covered with snow or ice, don’t risk placing the concrete. The frozen ground will settle when it thaws, which makes the concrete vulnerable to cracking. Plus, when fresh concrete is laid on a cold surface, it will set more slowly.
On the day you want to pour the concrete, check that no frost has developed overnight. Check the cavities in the ground thoroughly. We recommend laying down thermal blankets the evening before since this will insulate the ground and stop it from freezing. Heated blankets usually include an insulating layer on top that effectively traps heat, keeping the blanket working quickly and efficiently to thaw the ground.
Use thermal blankets after laying concrete in winter
When temperatures are at their lowest, you may decide to place thermal blankets over the concrete. Concrete blankets are common in both domestic and commercial settings. They work by keeping the concrete at the right temperature during the winter months. Since the concrete setting process happens quickly, you may only need to hire one for a few days. Usually, a single blanket is enough but, however, for some jobs, multiple blankets may be necessary. Windbreaks are also sometimes used during cold temperatures.
Use ground heaters
Ground heaters are often considered essential when laying concrete during the winter months. Often used in commercial settings, they can allow building work to continue just as it does in the summer. Ground heaters thaw frozen ground, leaving it softer and easier to work with. There are several types of ground heaters, however, the one most commonly used by construction companies is the hydronic heater.
This type of heating method is useful since it’s flameless and provides dry, hot air to the ground that requires heating. A hydronic heater can be hired or bought outright, depending on how much you intend to use it. For domestic projects, hiring a heater is most common. For commercial projects, it may be most cost-effective to purchase a heater.
If using heaters, it’s a good idea to remove them gradually. This ensures that the cured concrete can cool at a gradual pace. Concrete that cools too quickly may crack, causing it to look unsightly and impact its structural integrity. Slowly reduce the heat until the concrete is allowed to reach air temperature.
Source the highest quality concrete in Doncaster or Rotherham
If you’re wondering can you lay concrete in the winter, get in touch with Doncaster Quickmix. We’re one of the leading concrete suppliers in Doncaster and Rotherham, supplying the highest quality concrete to domestic and commercial customers throughout the region. Our ready mix concrete can be made to your exact specifications in our fully automated batching plant, making sure it meets the demands of your project perfectly. Whether you’re building a house or extension, laying a driveway or creating a patio, we can ensure that the concrete we supply to you is suitable for the job.
You can collect concrete from our site on Tickhill Road in Maltby. Alternatively, we can deliver it to your location either the same or the next day, providing a highly convenient service. This allows you to commence your project without delay.
Whilst laying concrete in the winter can be difficult, it is usually possible as long as the correct measures are taken. Concrete can be poured even during the coldest months of the year in the UK. If you require expert advice on laying concrete in December, January or February, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. Call us on 01302 972997 (Doncaster Office) or 01709 807977 (Rotherham office) to speak to one of our advisors. You can also send us a message via the website. We can answer all your questions and queries and arrange the swift delivery of concrete to your site.