The old joke about Canada is that there are two seasons: winter and construction. But the fact is that construction doesn’t have to be limited to the warmer months. While it’s possible to achieve most types of commercial construction goals all year round, winter construction poses some challenges that require a bit more time and forethought. To help you with your cold-weather projects, we’ve put together this list of how winter weather can affect commercial construction.
Newly poured concrete that’s exposed to freezing temperatures can end up half as strong as concrete poured in warmer weather. You’ll want freshly poured concrete to be given at least 24 hours of moderate temperatures to allow it to set properly. During winter commercial construction like this may require the use of shelter, artificial heating and/or concrete blankets.
Paint is another construction material that can be negatively affected by freezing weather. Not only does the cold cause paint to dry more slowly, but it can also make it difficult to achieve a proper finish. Cold weather can also make the paint more sensitive to mold problems. If you absolutely have to paint in freezing weather, bringing in some external heating sources is a must.
Cold weather can play games with brick mortar by preventing moisture from fully incorporating into the mixture. This can lead to weakened mortar strength and serious problems down the line. One old bricklayer trick is to preheat the bricks before laying them. You can also employ brick coverings and external heating to increase the temperature.
Ground that’s broken and graded when frozen could settle once warmer weather arrives. The ice particles in the soil will prevent it from being properly compressed. If these steps need to be taken in freezing weather, attention will need to be paid to ensuring the ground is properly compacted before building on top of it. Big problems can result without proper attention.
Like many materials, drywall has a tendency to slightly shrink in cold temperatures. This can lead to problems with expansion once the temperature rises, so gaps need to be left when hanging drywall in the cold. Ideally, you would hang drywall in temperatures over 10 degrees Celsius. If working in colder temperatures, ⅛” gaps need to be left between the drywall sheets.