Whether you plan to create a concrete walkway or a simple path, you might not think you can do either in the colder months. However, concrete projects can be done all throughout the winter as long as you plan wisely and take steps to ensure that your project is done properly. Use the following pointers to complete your concrete project successfully.
Prepare the Ground
The first thing you need to do if you want to undertake a concrete project in the winter is to make sure the soil is not frozen. Frozen soil, as it warms later on, can make cracks in the concrete a possibility over time. Take a few readings with a soil thermometer to ensure that the ground temperature is above freezing when you are ready to begin.
To warm the soil, you can place curing blankets and tarps on top of the area you plan to work in. If you are still not sure that the soil is warm enough, you might think about using a synthetic sub-base to avoid problems. However, if you use a synthetic sub-base, ensure that you don't leave it outdoors to become cold; place it on the ground right before you start working.
Choose a Suitable Mix
While there are many types of concrete you can work with, in the winter it is important to pay attention to the amount of water in any mix that you select, as you want to do everything you can to prevent freezing. A good choice is a ready-mix concrete that has a high cement-to-water ratio so that there is less water in danger of freezing.
Consider an Accelerator
To lower the chances that the concrete will freeze, you might also consider using an accelerator containing calcium chloride so that the concrete will set more quickly. However, you might opt not to use an accelerator if you are working alone; the concrete may start to set before you're even done pouring and smoothing the concrete. If you have a lot of people working on the project and can complete the task quickly, an accelerator might be a good choice.
Cover Your Concrete
After you've finished pouring, it is vital that the concrete dries properly. This can be a challenge even in the summer, but in the winter you need to ensure that the concrete and the sub-base both stay warm enough for the concrete to set without freezing over.
To do this, you can cover the project area with plastic tarps as you would in the summer months. However, for added protection, you might also cover the area with insulating blankets; you can even use electric curing blankets. Cover the blankets and the tarps with wood planks so that everything stays in place as the concrete sets.
Use the information here to assist you with your winter concrete project. If you have more concerns about supplies or how to protect your concrete during colder months, chat with your concrete supplier like Island Ready-Mix Concrete, who should be able to give you more suggestions about what your next steps should be.