How Our Masonry Contractors Overcome Winter Weather Challenges

Jan 24, 2020

For masonry contractors, snowfall and freezing temperatures pose challenges to outdoor construction projects, but simple changes in operating procedures can help overcome these obstacles. Here are four ways our stonemasons manage quality control in winter weather.

Cover and Insulate Our Work Area

The greatest challenge for our masonry contractors working in winter conditions is keeping materials at consistent temperatures. According to Construction Junkie, it’s ideal to maintain masonry units at above 20°F while grout and mortar should be kept above 40°F. Maintaining steady temperatures allows the mortar to dry evenly, and is especially crucial for colored mortars because changes in drying temperature can impact the look of the finished wall. 

During winter, when necessary, we will cover our finished walls with plastic tarps to prevent moisture from entering. If temperatures are below freezing, we cover the wall with insulated blankets. Depending on the severity of weather conditions, we may even use tents and portable heaters to protect the project as it cures. 

Select Materials for Cold-Weather Performance

Dry masonry units are highly preferred for construction projects taking place during cold-weather because wet units may freeze and crack before they’re allowed to set. 

Since low temperatures affect the mortar’s hydration rate, it’s possible that water within the mortar can freeze before it’s fully absorbed. To avoid cracks in the mortar due to freezing, our masons are careful to keep the water content below 6% during winter conditions. 

All masonry contractor materials should be kept above freezing temperatures during construction, so we often heat our materials as we work. If materials become frozen, we thaw them before use, carefully monitoring the warming process to prevent overheating. 

 

 

Ensure Supplies and Materials are Protected 

Protecting our supplies and materials that are waiting to be used is equally as important as protecting a finished wall. We avoid storing materials directly on the ground by placing them on planks and/or pallets, and above where moisture can reach. Similar to protecting our worksite, we, when necessary, completely cover our materials in plastic tarps and use insulated blankets, tents, and heaters. 

Additionally, we keep other tools at above-freezing temperatures to prevent delays. For example, water can freeze inside of hoses if not insulated properly, and cold weather diminishes the operating life of battery-powered equipment.

Prioritize Personal Safety and Comfort

Winter weather can not only damage masonry projects and materials, but it also threatens our masonry contractors’ performance and safety. 

That’s why we advise our masons to cover all exposed skin and wear insulated outerwear including layering, and wearing hats, and gloves, paying close attention to the ears, nose, hands, and feet. 

We require our workers to take frequent breaks in warm areas (or around those portable heaters!) to allow their body temperature to warm up. We use the buddy system and work in pairs as mechanisms to quickly recognize health and safety issues. 

Why Choose Phoenix Masonry?

Coloradoans are no stranger to winter weather conditions. We’ve developed expert techniques to help combat the chill and ensure our work remains uncompromised all year round. With Phoenix Masonry, you can expect thoughtful advice when choosing materials, and collaborative teamwork on your masonry project. Are you looking for masonry contractors with a strong reputation for integrity and high-quality work? Contact us for a bid today.