Pouring concrete in cold temperatures doesn’t sound all that difficult until you’re given the task to do it. If you’re planning to lay a new sidewalk or concrete your stairs in the winter, it’s imperative that you learn what steps you need to take before a cold weather pour. Even if you’re working through a paving company like Imperial Paving, you should even have an understanding of how to care for the concrete to prevent cracks caused by freezing temperatures. Here’s a guide to reference before your project gets underway:

It’s All in the Mix

The temperature in the air can affect your water-to-cement ratio. If it’s less than 50 degrees outside for more than half of the day, make sure to has a low slump in the concrete and use a small water ratio. This helps to prevent bleeding and it could reduce how long the concrete takes to cure and set.

Don’t Pour over Ice

The American Concrete Institute defines cold weather concrete as concrete that is exposed to weather that is less than 50 degrees for more than half of the day for three days in a row. So many precautions must be taken with cold-weather pouring that there’s an entire ACI section dedicated to it so that the finished product develops its required strength.

One thing that you should never do if you want strong concrete that sets properly is to pour it over ice. You may like your beverages over ice, but snow and frozen ground can affect the concretes strength and durability. You’ll need to use efficient heaters to thaw the area you’re working with before starting your pour.

Determine If the Concrete Needs to Be Protected at Specific Temperatures

You must be prepared to protect the poured concrete after it’s poured and before it sets. The amount of heat that will be needed for the concrete to effectively dry and harden depends on the mixture being. You will need to refer to the directions to see if strength requirements need to be met and if there is a specific temperature requirement.

Using Curing Blankets and Heated Enclosures

A majority of concrete is poured outdoors because when it is poured properly it can withstand the harsh elements. Unfortunately, if you pour fresh concrete and it freezes just 24 hours after it’s laid, the entire slab will lose more than half of its original strength. It’s best to use curing blankets that will prevent freezing for the best curing. Insulation is needed for 3 to 7 days after the cement is poured.

Use a Breathable Sealant

If you live in an area prone to extreme cold, it’s crucial that you apply a breathable sealant on top of the cement so that it can help to prevent curing failure challenges. The breathable sealer will help to evaporate moisture so the mixture sets faster than normal.

The key is to pour the concrete at the right time and the right temperature. Freezing temperatures, the wrong ratios, or simply not giving the mixture time to bleed before setting can all affect how successful your efforts are. Keep each of these tips in mind as you start planning for your cold weather pour.