Important Winter Masonry Tips to Consider

Planning on getting any masonry work done during the winter this year? If so, it’s important to understand how the cold weather could potentially affect the outcome of the job. While masonry work can be done at cold temperatures, it requires some special steps to ensure the mortar acts the way it is supposed to. As cold weather masonry suppliers, you’ll want to be sure you’re prepared for what the season has in store.

The colder the weather gets, the more it slows the hydration of the mortar. Should the water in the mortar freeze, it could create a change in the volume that results in the mortar expanding. This expansion could crack the mortar, which would prevent a sufficient bond between the mortar and the masonry units, which would, in turn, compromise the integrity of the entire structure.

As such, it is important for cold weather masonry suppliers to ensure the work they do in winter months meets best practice standards for cold weather jobs. The workers must, for example, ensure the masonry and concrete supplies for cold weather jobs stay dry and that the mortar remains above 40°F for as long as possible.

Tips for storing and handling masonry and concrete supplies for cold weather

  • Always keep materials on planks, and cover them with tarps to prevent moisture from rain or snow entering.
  • Thaw out frozen lumps of sand by heating them and breaking the clumps when necessary.
  • Try to use bulk-delivered dry mortar ingredients.
  • Heat the masonry materials before use to ensure proper cement hydration.
  • Set mortar on heated surfaces to prevent freezing during application.
  • Wet masonry units that have high absorption, but do not saturate them. Other materials should remain dry before installation.
  • Do not use calcium chloride as an accelerator for mortar for masonry structures.

Tips for mixing mortar in cold weather

  • Try to mix smaller amounts of mortar at once to prevent water absorbing into the materials and causing frost formation.
  • Carefully track mortar temperature to prevent it from excessively drying due to any heat applied.
  • Use speed hydration with high-early-strength cement or with an accelerator or admixture.
  • Heat sand or water to ensure mortar remains above 40°F. When using heated water, mix it with cold sand in the mixer to prevent flash set from happening before you add the cement.

Protecting the structures once built

  • Cover new masonry walls with plastic to prevent moisture from permeating the masonry when temperatures rise above 32°F.
  • Cover walls with a 1-inch-thick insulation blanket, or keep a heated area of 40°F or more surrounding it for two days after installation if temperatures are between 0°F and 20°F.
  • Install windbreakers if you have any reason to expect wind speeds of more than 15 miles per hour.

These are just a few examples of some of the extra steps you will need to take when working with a cold weather masonry supplier. For more information about getting masonry work done in the winter, contact our team at Beavertown Block Co., Inc.