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When Is the Best Time of Year for Concrete Work?

Published on September 5, 2014,

If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to pour your new concrete patio, September may just be when you should seize the moment.

The key to pouring perfect concrete is (among other factors) to avoid extreme weather. Unless you’re a seasoned pro, that pretty much rules out months like July and January, when the temperature is either boiling or freezing most of the time.

Here’s why: In freezing weather, the water in wet concrete will (predictably) turn to ice, expand, and cause cracks in your brand new surface.

To combat this, some contractors will take measures to get the concrete to set before nighttime comes and the temperature plummets, such as using hot water in the mix, adding fast-drying chemicals, and even using tents and space heaters. However, it’s definitely not a job for amateurs.

In hot weather (that is, temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit), you’ll have a different but equally perilous set of problems on your hands. The problem is not the temperature itself; concrete isn’t like plastic or chocolate, melting in the sun. The issue is actually that the top of the concrete will set faster than the bottom, causing a civil-war-style split as the top portion shrinks while the bottom stays still. The result: a shaky, quaky slab of concrete unfit for much.

Of course, concrete can still be poured in steaming temperatures, if you know how to prevent this staggered drying process. It can be done by using extremely cold water to mix the concrete, then keeping the slab moist with a sprinkler or wet burlap for as long as a few days. It takes a practiced eye to know if the concrete is curing too fast, however.

With scorching and freezing weather ruled out for the best possible results, that leaves the spring and fall for optimal concrete pouring. April and May tend to be big months for concrete work, with the temperatures firmly above freezing but not usually climbing into the nineties yet.

Nonetheless, rainy conditions can present challenges, since too much moisture on a newly poured slab can weaken the final product. And since May is the second rainiest month of the year, there’s a fair chance Mother Nature will decide to mess with your project.

With its generally mild temperatures and lower rates of precipitation, September wins the contest as the best month of the year for concrete work. So if it’s July and you’re having visions of a freshly poured driveway, you may want to wait a couple months for concrete-pouring primetime to come around.

Of course, Shamrock Construction Solutions is glad to take charge of your concrete projects at any time of year. We’re experts in the installation of driveways, slabs, walls, foundations, patios, sidewalks, steps, curbs, and more, so if you want to make sure your project comes out rock solid, contact us today!