Why winter doesn’t have to mean postponing all outdoor improvement projects

(BPT) – During the winter, some of the most avid DIYers take a break from outdoor projects. However, depending where you live and the type of project, it’s absolutely possible to get some projects completed — like pouring a concrete patio or sidewalk — so they’ll be ready to use when spring comes around. However, you should take extra steps, like being aware of the weather and making sure you use the right tools and products during colder months.

“Just because temperatures are lower doesn’t mean you have to wait until spring for all the concrete work you want to do,” said Austin Bushatz, district sales manager, Quikrete. “But you will need to take extra precautions to make sure your job is successfully accomplished.”

If working on projects like a concrete patio, driveway, sidewalk or steps is on your to-do list, here are tips you’ll need to keep in mind over the winter months.

1. Always check the forecast

For the few days around the day you plan to do your concrete work, look not only at the daily low temps in the forecast, but also the precipitation and humidity levels, as both temperature and humidity can affect the cure time for concrete.

2. Use the right kind of concrete mix

Stronger concrete, with a heavier psi, is a better choice during colder temps. For example, QUIKRETE 5000 has a mix design that allows for application even when temperatures reach below freezing. While curing time for concrete is typically slower in colder temps, QUIKRETE 5000 has a faster curing time than QUIKRETE 4000 — giving you the flexibility for walk-on time of 10-12 hours instead of 24 hours. With its commercial grade blend of stone or gravel, sand and cement, QUIKRETE 5000 is specially designed for higher early strength, making it ideal for cold weather application.

3. Mix with hot water

When you are mixing your concrete in colder temps, don’t just use cold water straight from your outdoor hose or faucet. Instead, opt for hot water from an indoor tap. This will help you be able to work the material more easily, even when it’s colder outside.

4. Follow the correct preparation instructions

Don’t be tempted to skimp on any of the required preparation steps just because it’s chilly outside. Follow all the recommended steps for prepping the area and applying concrete, including:

  • Create a form — Define the area needing concrete by forming it up, and make sure your forms are level.
  • Prep the surface — Clear loose soil or other debris, then use a layer of gravel and tamp down before spreading concrete.
  • Dampen the area — but make sure there is no standing water.
  • Mix the concrete — either by hand, or in a barrel mixer (for larger jobs).
  • Spread concrete evenly — using a straight two-by-four.

See complete instructions and a how-to video at QUIKRETE.com.

5. Protect the surface

After the concrete is set and you no longer see any sheen or moisture, apply QUIKRETE’s Acrylic Concrete Cure and Seal to help seal and protect the area during the curing process. This product will also protect your concrete from future staining.

If the temps will be below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), you will want to cover the area with plastic to protect it from freezing during the first 48 hours after you’ve set the concrete, while it’s curing. Humidity can also make a difference, so plastic sheeting is a good idea if there is a chance of precipitation

To further protect the surface during winter, especially in the northern parts of the country, avoid using any de-icing products or salt on or around your new concrete for the first 48 hours.

“Some winter weather may delay projects, like when it’s too cold or snowy — but you don’t have to halt all your outdoor work if you follow these tips,” said Bushatz. “Winter construction takes extra thought, but the payoff is that your patio or other project will be all done, when the warmer weather returns.”

Visit QUIKRETE.com for tips, instructions, how-to videos for concrete projects and more.