Pouring concrete is the most important part of any concrete project. There’s a lot that can go wrong, but if done correctly concrete can stay in good condition for years. We often get the question: Can it be too hot or too cold to place new concrete? In short, yes.
One of the most common factors that the average DIY person overlooks is the outside temperature when pouring concrete. This is a mistake because the temperature has such a profound effect on the curing process. Let’s take a closer look about why temperature matters and go over some best practices for pouring new concrete.
The general consensus is that if the outside temperature is between 50°F and 90°F it’s ok to pour concrete. It is possible to pour concrete outside of that temperature zone, but there are extra steps that have to happen to ensure that the concrete cures properly.
Cold weather makes it very difficult for concrete to cure because the water in the mixture will either freeze or stay moist for extended periods of time. If the temperature is below 32°F (freezing point) it’s best to wait for a warmer day.
If you absolutely must pour concrete in cold weather, it’s best to find ways to artificially increase the temperature around the concrete. There are a number of ways to do this. One of the best tricks is to use hot water when mixing your concrete.
If it’s really cold consider covering your wet concrete with a sealed plastic tarp. Space heaters can then be used to trap hot air inside the tarps seal. This will help keep your concrete warm, and will allow the curing process to happen in a timely manner.
It’s also worth mentioning the concrete mix that’s being used in this scenario. If you know the temperature conditions aren’t going to be ideal, consider using a quick drying concrete mix. That way you’re not waiting weeks for your concrete to set.
Heat can also be a problem. If the temperature outside is greater than 90°F, you’re going to have to take some extra precautions to ensure that your concrete sets correctly.
The issue isn’t with the concrete or the mixture getting too warm. It’s that a warmer temperature will cause the top layer of your concrete mixture to dry more quickly than the bottom layer. As a result your concrete will almost certainly crack and the final product will be significantly weaker than it should be.
The best way to avoid cracking is to keep your concrete mixture moist as it sets. There are a number of ways to do this. Methods like a sprinkler, manual hose use and covering the concrete in wet burlap are all effective.
How long you have to keep artificially moistening the concrete depends on the temperature. If it’s very hot and not very humid you may need to keep the process going for several days.
Pouring your concrete and giving it the appropriate conditions to cure are crucial to the success of any concrete project. The outside temperature makes a massive difference, so be sure to do your research before you decide to pour your mixture. Remember, if it’s not a time sensitive project it’s well worth it to wait for the optimal temperature window.
Of course, if all of this seems a bit overwhelming you can always hire professional concrete contractors. Reach out to Razorback Concrete at www.razorbackconcrete.com to learn more.