Concrete Drying Time and Weather: What You Should Know

Concrete is a common element in building projects, whether foundations, sidewalks, roads or buildings. While it’s a highly versatile material, there are some specific conditions in which the concrete must be installed if it’s to perform to the required standards.

The weather conditions, especially temperature, can significantly affect the quality of a concrete installation and its long-term durability. Here’s an overview of what you should know about concrete drying time and temperature.

How weather affects concrete curing

Concrete contractors generally consider the best temperature for pouring concrete to be between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but will work in warmer conditions (at least to a certain point).

Extreme heat and cold both pose different sets of challenges to concrete pouring.

Freezing temperatures make it impossible to complete a concrete job correctly. Concrete must harden to at least 500 psi before it freezes, and newly poured concrete will typically freeze long before it reaches that level of hardness. When the concrete freezes before fully curing, the damage is usually irreparable, and the concrete could lose up to half of the strength it was designed to have if poured in workable temperatures.

Frozen ground is also an issue concrete contractors must consider. Even if the air temperature is above freezing, the ground could still be frozen, which could increase the amount of time it takes for the concrete to fully cure. In addition, when the ground does eventually thaw out, this could result in the ground settling or repositioning, causing the new concrete to crack as it shifts around.

Finally, pouring on top of snow, ice or standing water can result in some significant issues with elevated moisture content in the concrete, which can weaken the concrete once it’s finally cured.

There are also challenges associated with pouring concrete when the temperature is too hot.

Hot weather can result in the formation of cold joints, which decreases the setting time. This can lead to a reduced strength and overall durability of the concrete, as well as lower compression strength.

Because the moisture in the concrete evaporates faster in hot weather, this could increase drying shrinkage, which also increases the risk of cracking and other types of damage.

When temperatures will regularly exceed 77 degrees Fahrenheit, concrete contractors need to either wait until the weather gets cooler to get the job done, or put a complex, rigorous plan together to execute the installation despite the conditions.

This means there will need to be sufficient manpower to deal with the concrete installation, making sure it stays reasonably moist throughout the process. Concrete work may have to occur at night, or at least when it is not a peak time for air temperature during the day. Control joints must be spaced closer together than joints used in cold weather, and sunshades or windbreaks should be used whenever possible to mitigate the conditions.

For more information about the challenges weather can pose to concrete installation, including the relationship between concrete drying time and weather conditions like air temperature, contact the team at Bri-Mic Construction, Inc. today.