Effect of Cold Weather on Concrete

Successful construction crews operate year-round, and Pennsylvania sees every season’s extremes. You’ll have to work through a frigid Pennsylvania winter sooner or later, so it’s crucial to understand how the temperature affects construction processes.

Will concrete set in cold weather? What temperature is too cold to pour concrete? Union Quarries can help you learn about construction processes and how they impact your projects.

Can You Pour Concrete in the Cold Winter?

You can pour concrete in the winter, but you should know a few things beforehand. Concrete forms from a chemical reaction between cement and water — cold weather can interfere with the reaction.

Cold concrete takes more time to set and strengthen, and this larger time window brings other problems. The concrete you pour will weaken if it freezes within 24 hours of application. The freezing and thawing will warp the concrete, causing cracks and deformations.

What Temperature Is Too Cold to Pour Concrete

Concrete sets and forms best between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Concrete will cure at 30 degrees, and if the air temperature is between 30 and 40 degrees, you’ll want to make sure your mixed concrete maintains a temperature of between 55 and 60 degrees. At between 0 and 30 degrees, you should maintain your concrete at 60 to 65 degrees. There isn’t a “lowest temperature” to set concrete in, but if you’re pouring concrete in sub-zero temperatures, ensure it maintains a temperature between 65 and 70 degrees.


too cold to pour concrete

Tips for Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather

Concrete will set in cold weather because you can work around the air temperature. Consider your materials and facilitate a warm workspace. Here are a few precautions you can take to mix, pour and cure concrete successfully in the winter:

  • Store materials in a warm, dry place, so they are easier to keep warm at the job site. 
  • Develop a complete temperature control plan before starting. 
  • Heat the ground or surface where the concrete will go. 
  • Add extra cement for a hotter reaction. 
  • Use hot water.
  • Soak up any excess water with a squeegee or shop vac to avoid freezing or evaporative cooling.
  • Cover the concrete in a heated windproof and weatherproof enclosure.
  • Use accelerate-set concrete. Normal-set concrete needs two days at the right temperature to dry when covered and three days when exposed. With accelerated-set concrete, you can maintain for only one day unexposed and two days exposed.
  • Monitor the temperature often. 


What to Avoid When Doing Concrete Work in the Winter

Now that you have a few tips for smooth wintertime concrete pouring, let’s look at some habits you should avoid. Do not:  

  • Allow the concrete to freeze.
  • Pour the concrete onto cold or frozen ground. 
  • Remove coverage framework before the concrete reaches the desired strength. 
  • Use cold tools. 
  • Seal the concrete before reaching its cure temperature.


Choose Union Quarries to Provide Your Quality Concrete This Winter

Planning to pour concrete this winter? Purchase your concrete from Union Quarries. As Pennsylvania’s top ready-mix concrete supplier, you can count on us for materials that keep your project on schedule. Request a quote online to get started.


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