To avoid confusion let’s make something clear, concrete doesn’t dry – it cures. Drying is a physical reaction while curing is a chemical reaction. When water is introduced to the cement portion of concrete the chemical reaction begins. Because curing is a chemical process and not a physical one, concrete doesn’t require conditions you’d imagine.
Concrete doesn’t need warm temperatures or sunlight to cure and can set in the rain. Concrete’s curing properties are so strong that concrete can theoretically cure underwater. At the correct temperatures most concrete is cured enough for foot and vehicle traffic within 2-3 days of installation though the actual curing process will go indefinitely.
Though it cures as opposed to dries, temperature plays a large role in concrete installation and can greatly affect curing. Too cold and the curing will take too long. Slow curing means brittle concrete that’ll never set properly. Concrete that sets in below freezing temperatures without any insulation will need to be dug up and repoured.
Too hot and the moisture in the concrete will evaporate too quickly, causing weakness and crack-inducing shrinking. If it’s too hot when the concrete is poured it might have to be replaced. Repouring concrete will cost time and labor so never attempt to pour in temperature extremes.
As we learned above temperature does affect concrete curing but what temperature is too cold to pour concrete? What about too hot?
The ideal temperature range for pouring concrete is 40 to 60 degrees over a 24-hour period. Between 40 and 60 allows the water to slowly evaporate from the concrete but is not cold enough to slow down the chemical process of curing. While it’s feasible to install concrete above 60 degrees, it’s normally not a good idea to install in temperatures below 40.
Ultimately your concrete contractor will determine the best day for install by using a combination of forecasts and local knowledge. Your concrete contractor wants happy customers and doesn’t want to take the financial hit of re-doing your job, A reputable contractor will only schedule installations during viable winter days.
In Colorado temperatures regularly go past 40 degrees in the winter, making year-round Colorado concrete installation viable no matter what the calendar says. If you need to replace your Colorado parking lot now, don’t wait until spring, call Colorado Pavement Solutions to explore our options today.
Get Your Winter Concrete Questions Answered
Colorado Pavement Solutions has been helping Colorado customers pour concrete for years, including the colder months of December through February. We have the people, skills, and tools to plan a winter install and give you an excellent job every time. Give us a call today to get your concrete project started, even if it’s a little chilly out.