When the sun is shining, it makes perfect sense to make the most of it by getting some work done outside – gardening, landscaping, renovating, building; now is your chance to get the job done!
The great weather can be a great chance to do some concrete work, be it resurfacing the driveway, adding a new pathway, building a backyard pool or creating a new entertainment area.
However, while you may feel that the hot, and sometimes even extreme temperatures, we experience in Summer will be extra beneficial by helping your concrete mix to cure quicker, the heat can actually play havoc with your desire to get the job done.
Why? Allow us to explain.
The concrete formation process
Because your concrete mix actually needs to be able to hydrate as part of the curing process. The “formation” of concrete happens as a result of the formation of crystals. This formation occurs when the concrete absorbs water.
When the temperature is really hot, the concrete absorbs water a lot faster and so the crystals are forced to form quickly and so don’t form as strong as they should.
During concrete formation, water also evaporates from the surface. When temperatures are too hot, this evaporation happens far too quickly and so your concrete placement is left with a weak surface layer, vulnerable to shrinkage and cracking.
However, it is feasible to navigate these issues.
Here are our top 3 tips for placing concrete successfully in hot water:
Place your concrete during the cooler parts of the day
In the summer, temperatures are at their coolest in the early morning and late evening – this is your prime time to place your concrete. Your concrete mix will be able to stay cooler and most importantly, you will be able to allow your concrete to set without the glare of the sun, which can cause all sorts of trouble.
Be ready to lay down the concrete quickly once it has arrived/is ready to pour to prevent increases in temperature if it is left to suit.
Ensure it is and can stay hydrated
As we mentioned above, concrete absorbs water as it forms, and in the hot weather, it does so even faster. One of the most common mistakes that people make when placing exterior concrete is that they do not wet the subgrade enough, often wetting only the bare top level of the placement.
You need to wet everything prior to placing the concrete as well as applying an evaporation retarder once the concrete is down to try and slow down evaporation as much as possible to enable the ideal setting environment for your concrete.
Even your equipment needs to stay in the shade
Another frequent mistake people make is using equipment that has been exposed to high temperatures, including wheelbarrows, shovels, screeding machines and chutes which have laid in the sun for hours. This can spell disaster.
If you wet down your concrete and concrete placement area, you will find the mix sticking to your mega hot equipment as you ship it in. The temperature of your concrete mix will increase rapidly as it makes contact with your equipment.
Every piece of equipment you intend to use should stay in the shade before laying your concrete.
Keep it cool, keep your cool – that’s the golden rule for placing concrete! The sun sure helps work get done, and if you follow our top tips, it will serve to be a friend instead of a foe when completing concrete works.