As you prepare for that home improvement project, you may wonder if the cold winter weather will affect your ability to pour and set concrete. Freezing temperatures can significantly impact the concrete pouring process, but with careful planning and preparation, you can still successfully complete concrete work during the colder months. This article provides tips to help you determine if you can pour concrete in winter conditions for your specific project. 

Learn techniques to protect your concrete pour and allow proper curing and strength development even when temperatures drop below freezing. Discover how to create an environment conducive to quality concrete work regardless of the season. With the right information and strategies, you can pour strong, durable concrete during winter and keep your project on schedule.

Can You Pour Concrete in the Winter?

Prepping the Area

Before pouring concrete in colder months, proper preparation is crucial. Clear the area of any snow, ice or standing water that could interfere with curing. Use salt or de-icers to melt away frozen patches.

Insulate the ground with thick insulation boards or straw to prevent the concrete from freezing against the cold earth. Enclosing the area with insulated shelters helps regulate temperatures too.

Heated Concrete

Heating the concrete mix itself is one of the best ways to pour in winter. Many ready-mix suppliers offer heated concrete designed for cold weather projects.

The hotter temperature slows setting times, allowing you to work longer before the concrete hardens. Just be aware heated concrete can set too quickly once it begins curing.

Curing Process

Proper curing is essential for cold weather pours. Concrete gains strength slowly when temperatures dip below 50°F.

Use insulating blankets to trap heat escaping from the concrete’s hydration process. You can also erect heated enclosures or warmth tents around the area.

Never use salt, fertilizers or other chemicals to thaw frozen concrete – this can seriously compromise the strength and longevity.

Timing Matters

Pay close attention to weather forecasts before scheduling your pour. Aim for a window of milder temperatures, avoiding sudden cold snaps or freeze/thaw cycles.

Morning pours are better in winter, giving the concrete valuable hours to cure before cooler nighttime temperatures arrive. Avoid pouring when rain, snow or freezing conditions are expected within 24 hours.

With the right preparation and precautions, pouring concrete is possible through the winter months. Just take extra care to create an ideal curing environment until the concrete fully sets and gains strength.

How Cold Is Too Cold for Pouring Concrete?

Minimum Temperature Requirements

Concrete requires specific temperature conditions to cure properly. Most contractors follow the “20-degree rule” – concrete should only be poured if temperatures will remain above 20°F (-6.7°C) for the next 24 hours. Below this temperature, the concrete may freeze before it has a chance to fully cure.

While concrete can technically be poured below freezing in some cases, the risks increase significantly. Frozen concrete is extremely weak and brittle. It may not bond properly to reinforcement materials like rebar either.

Factoring in Wind Chill

Air temperature alone doesn’t tell the full story. Wind chill can rapidly draw heat away from freshly poured concrete, causing it to freeze much faster. Windy conditions below 40°F (4°C) can be problematic.

Contractors may need to take extra precautions like enclosing the area, using insulated blankets, or even heating the area to counteract wind chill effects. Some may wait until a warmer, calmer day to pour.

Checking the Ground Temperature

Even if air temps seem okay, the ground itself may be frozen from recent cold snaps. Concrete poured onto frozen ground runs the risk of being pushed out of position as the ground thaws and settles.

It’s wise to check ground temperatures at least 6 inches down before pouring. The soil should be thawed and no colder than 35°F (1.7°C). Otherwise, the concrete pour may need to be postponed.

Gradual Curing Is Key

Pouring concrete in moderately cold weather (35°F to 50°F) can work if precautions are taken. The key is allowing it to cure gradually over several days. Sudden temperature swings – from hot to cold or vice versa – can cause contraction, expansion, and cracking issues.

Contractors may need to use insulating blankets, heated enclosures, or even embedded heating coils for large pours. Frequent monitoring and adjustments are necessary to control the curing rate.

While it’s possible to pour concrete at lower temperatures, the challenges increase significantly below 20°F. Proper preparation, insulation, heating, and gradual curing are absolutely essential to prevent issues. Many contractors opt to simply wait for warmer weather when possible.

Tips for Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather

Prepare the Site

Proper site preparation is crucial for successful cold weather concrete pours. Clear the area of snow, ice, and any standing water that could freeze and compromise the concrete. Use straw, insulating blankets, or a temporary heated enclosure to protect the pour site and trap warmth.

Use Hot Water

Mix the concrete using hot water, ideally around 165°F (74°C). The heat from the water will help offset the cold temperatures and slow the rate at which the concrete cools and sets. Be careful not to scald the cement with excessively hot water.

Consider Heated Concrete

For extremely cold conditions, you may want to use heated concrete mix delivered by a ready-mix supplier. The concrete is heated before loading into the truck, allowing it to be poured while still warm and workable.

Enclose and Insulate

After pouring, immediately enclose and insulate the concrete. Trap the initial heat of hydration by erecting insulated wind shelters or heated tents around the pour area. Line the top with insulating blankets to prevent surface cooling.

Avoid Early Freezing

Freshly poured concrete is most vulnerable to freezing in its first 24 hours before the initial set. Keep close watch over temperature and conditions during this critical period. Use supplemental heat sources like heaters or insulated blankets as needed.

Extend Curing Time

Cold temperatures slow the curing process, so be prepared to allow more time than usual before removing forms or subjecting the concrete to heavy loads or stresses. Follow published guidelines for cold weather curing, which may recommend extending times by 50% or more.

Use Accelerators Wisely

Non-chloride accelerating admixtures can help speed up the set time, but use them judiciously. Too much accelerator can cause issues like excessive shrinking and cracking. Follow manufacturer guidelines closely.

Curing Concrete in Cold Temperatures

Low Temperature Effects

Pouring and curing concrete in cold weather requires special precautions. When temperatures drop below 40°F (4°C), the chemical reactions that cause concrete to harden and gain strength slow significantly. Subzero temperatures can halt the curing process entirely until the concrete warms up again.

Prevent Freezing

Frozen concrete loses much of its strength and durability. To prevent freezing, you’ll need to enclose the area and provide supplemental heat. Insulated blankets or heated enclosures trap radiant heat from the concrete’s exothermic curing reaction.

Proper Curing Time

In ideal conditions around 70°F (21°C), concrete typically cures enough in 24-48 hours for light foot traffic. However, cold weather slows this process considerably:

Give the concrete ample time to fully cure before removing enclosures and exposing it to freezing temperatures.

Heated Concrete Mix

Using hot water in the concrete mix provides an initial heat boost. This helps offset the chilling effects of low ambient temperatures during curing. Some contractors also add non-chloride accelerating admixtures to speed up setting times.

Cold Weather Best Practices

Beyond enclosures and heating, there are several other best practices for pouring concrete in winter:

With proper planning and cold weather concreting methods, durable concrete can be successfully placed year-round. Just allow sufficient cure time before removing cold weather protections.


At Rhino Concrete Lafayette, we understand the challenges of cold weather concrete projects. With our expertise and specialized techniques, you can achieve high-quality, durable concrete even when temperatures drop. Don’t let winter weather delay your plans – our team has the knowledge and preparation to ensure success.

We use the right materials, equipment, and methods to keep your concrete mix design and curing process on track. Our professionals carefully time the pour, use proper insulation and heating, and incorporate appropriate additives to achieve excellent results in cold conditions. We constantly monitor the weather and adjust our approach as needed.

Whether you’re pouring slabs, footings, or other structures, Rhino Concrete Lafayette can help you complete beautiful, strong, and long-lasting concrete work regardless of the season. Our finished projects are built to withstand harsh winter conditions and stand the test of time.

Let us handle the complexities of cold weather concreting for you. Contact Rhino Concrete Lafayette today to learn how we can make your winter concrete project a success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you pour concrete if it freezes at night?

Pouring concrete if it freezes at night is not advisable without proper precautions. Concrete needs to be kept at temperatures above freezing for the initial curing period to achieve its required strength. Freezing temperatures can cause the water in the concrete mix to freeze, which can lead to cracking and a weakened structure. If you must pour concrete in such conditions, it’s essential to use thermal blankets or heated enclosures to maintain an appropriate temperature, ensuring that the concrete can cure properly and achieve its intended strength.

Is winter a good time to pour concrete?

Winter is generally not considered the ideal time to pour concrete due to the challenges posed by cold weather. Low temperatures can slow down the curing process, which is crucial for the concrete to reach its desired strength. Additionally, the risk of freezing temperatures can compromise the integrity of the concrete. However, with the right precautions, such as using heated enclosures, thermal blankets, and additives designed to accelerate curing in cold conditions, it is possible to pour concrete successfully in winter. Proper planning and measures are essential to ensure the concrete sets and cures correctly despite the cold.

How strong is concrete in winter?

Concrete can still achieve its full strength in winter if proper precautions are taken during the curing process. The strength of concrete is highly dependent on maintaining adequate curing temperatures, even in cold weather. By using heated enclosures, thermal blankets, and specially formulated additives, the curing process can be managed to ensure that the concrete reaches its designed strength. Without these measures, the concrete might not cure properly, leading to a weaker structure. Therefore, while concrete can be strong in winter, achieving this requires careful management of the curing conditions.

Can concrete survive winter?

Yes, concrete can survive winter if it has been properly cured and protected from freezing during the initial curing phase. Once fully cured, concrete is quite resilient to winter conditions, including freezing and thawing cycles. However, if the concrete is not adequately protected during its early stages, it can suffer from cracking and reduced strength, compromising its durability. Ensuring that concrete is well-cured and shielded from harsh weather during the first few days is crucial for its long-term survival and performance throughout winter.

Is it better to pour concrete in the hot or cold?

Pouring concrete in moderate temperatures is generally ideal, but if choosing between hot or cold, each has its challenges. Hot weather can cause the concrete to set too quickly, leading to potential cracking and reduced workability. On the other hand, cold weather can slow down the curing process and risk freezing, which can weaken the concrete. With proper precautions, both conditions can be managed: in hot weather, using retarding agents and keeping the concrete moist can help, while in cold weather, using heaters and thermal blankets is essential. Ultimately, moderate conditions are best, but with the right techniques, concrete can be poured successfully in both hot and cold weather.

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