As temperatures drop, many assume that concrete work must come to a halt. However, at Baja Concrete, we’re here to demystify the process and shed light on how concrete can be successfully poured, even in colder weather.

The Science of Concrete Curing

Concrete is not just a material; it’s a mixture that undergoes a chemical reaction known as hydration. When water is added to cement, it forms a paste that coats the aggregate (sand and gravel) and, as it hydrates, it hardens into the solid material we know. This reaction emits heat, which helps concrete to cure and gain strength.

However, the curing process is temperature sensitive. The American Concrete Institute defines cold weather as a period when the air temperature has fallen to, or is expected to fall, below 40°F (4°C) during the protection period. The protection period is defined as the time required to prevent concrete from being affected by exposure to cold weather.

Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather

When temperatures dip, the hydration process slows significantly, and if the water in the mixture freezes, the concrete’s potential strength can be compromised. That’s where our expertise at Baja Concrete comes into play. We follow strict protocols to ensure the integrity and durability of the concrete, regardless of the weather.

1. Use of Air-Entrained Concrete

Air-entrained concrete is specifically designed for freeze-thaw cycles. It contains billions of microscopic air cells per cubic foot, which give the frozen water inside the concrete room to expand without causing damage.

2. Adjusting the Mix

We can use warm water and aggregates to increase the temperature of the concrete mix, helping to kickstart the hydration process.

3. Accelerating Admixtures

Adding accelerators to the mix can speed up the setting and strength gain, reducing the risk of freezing before the concrete has set.

4. Proper Curing is Critical

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial, especially in the first 48 hours. We use insulated blankets or heated enclosures to keep the heat of hydration in and cold air out.

5. Post-Pour Temperature Monitoring

We continuously monitor the temperature of the concrete to ensure it stays within optimal curing range.

The Bottom Line

With proper planning and techniques, concrete pouring isn’t limited to warm weather months. Baja Concrete adheres to best practices that align with ACI guidelines, ensuring that your concrete project is handled expertly, regardless of the weather.

Interested in starting your concrete project in Charlotte, even during colder months? Contact us at Baja Concrete at 704-591-9317 to discuss your cold weather concrete needs. We’re equipped and ready to deliver high-quality, durable concrete work, any time of year.

For more insights and professional advice on concrete solutions, visit our website at www.bajaconcrete.com.

References:

  1. American Concrete Institute (ACI) – Guidelines for Cold Weather Concreting: ACI Concrete Resources
  2. Portland Cement Association (PCA) – Cold Weather Concreting: PCA Cold Weather Concreting
  3. National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) – Cold Weather Concrete Tips: NRMCA Concrete in Practice Series
  4. The Constructor – Civil Engineering Home provides an article on pouring concrete in cold weather: The Constructor on Cold Weather Concreting
  5. Concrete Network – General Tips for Cold Weather Concreting: Concrete Network Cold Weather Tips