Pavement, driveway, patio, or maybe a skating rink sounds like quite an alluring project if you have ample stretch of land and the favor of your HOA community. For smoother surfaces, concrete flatwork isyour best bet, but – and this is a major but – the weather, season, & temperature play a significant role in the curing and settling of concrete.
Sure, you can work with concrete at lower temperatures but prepare for trouble & make it double if the water in the concrete starts to freeze instead of curing by hydration. That will result in your concrete flatwork deteriorating & spalling by the spring as the freeze-thaw cycles take their toll.
1. Cement + WATER = Concrete
If you remember your chemistry lesson, water expands and occupies a larger volume when brought down to freezing temperatures. Imagine the effect of water expansion within the air void content of concrete. The result is excess internal compressive forces that will eventually give in to cracking in the structure of the concrete flatwork before it has even cured.
2. Concrete Utilizes Moist Curing
The purpose of hydrating concrete in specific amounts is to ensure the flatwork dries uniformly. Though it is perfectly safe to do it in warmer temperatures, it’s riskier in winters because, again, you face the issue of ice forming over the poured concrete. You can’t get a flat top on your pavement or patio if frost and freeze occur right before your eyes. That will lead to surface deterioration & raveling at unprecedented rates.
3. Warmth Is Required to Ensure Uniform Drying
When the weather is high in humidity and equally cold, the concrete will dry slowly, allowing the ice to form. True, concrete generates its own heat by an exothermic reaction with water, but it is insufficient to sustain the concrete drying for long. Heaters & fans would be helpful to dry off the excess water, but unless the uniform temperature is kept, your flatwork will cure in some places and crack in the rest. Not to mention the expenses accrued.
4. Bleed Water Needs to Be Drained Off
Therein lies the dilemma, concrete expels water as it dries and shrinks during the curing process, which is a good sign. But when it’s cold, evaporation rates decline & the water may start to expand at temperatures of 32-40F. The usual method is to keep guard with a sponge, drain that water off and pray the sun comes out and the wind picks up before nightfall.
5. High Risk, Terrible Reward
If you managed to get your local paving contractor to pour concrete flatwork for you in cold weather, then you might have been warned of the success rate of such endeavors. The more ambitious the project is, the more additives and aggregates are required to reinforce the concrete in winter curing and the higher your costs. Plus, winter pouring drastically reduces the life of your pavement. In the long run, it’s just a bad idea.
You know what a much better idea is? Have your existing asphalt & concrete driveways repaired for cracks and damages, courtesy of Quality Asphalt, before winters get another chance to aggravate your pavement’s condition further. Then with the spring melt, you can schedule a more thought-out concrete flatwork project that will certainly up your curb appeal in Appleton, WI.