As the warmer months start to descend and winter starts approaching, many homeowners are looking to get a few last-minute tasks done around the house before the cold weather arrives.
One question that sometimes comes up is whether it’s possible to lay a patio in the winter?
The answer is yes – you can lay a patio in the winter, but there are a few exceptions! There are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind if you want your patio.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the greatest ideas for laying a patio in the winter.
Best Time Of Year To Lay A Patio
If you are on a budget, then the best time to build your patio is in the colder months of the year. This is because the building materials such as bricks, blocks, and slabs tend to be cheaper during this time. However, if you’re not constrained by budget, then the best time of year to lay a patio is in the spring or summer when the weather is nicer.
Minimum temperature for laying mortar
The range of 70°F + 10°F is the minimum temperature to lay your mortar, and the optimum conditions for placing and curing masonry mortar are 70°F plus 10°F. When it’s below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 5 degrees Celsius), masonry materials must be heated; otherwise, the mortar will take longer to set.
Here are a few tips to consider if you are thinking of laying your patio:
1. Don’t Lay Your Paving On Frozen Ground
Did you know that the ground underneath your pavers expands during the winter freeze and thaw cycles?
This can cause your paving to move and crack. By waiting for the ground to thaw, you’ll avoid this issue.
Moisture on the ground can be an issue when laying a patio in the winter.
Make sure the ground is dry before you start. If there is moisture on the ground, it can freeze and cause your patio to crack.
Use a paving membrane – If you’re worried about moisture seeping through the cracks in your paving, you can use a paving membrane to waterproof it.
Related: What Is The Best Paving For Patios?
How to stop pavers from heaving
If the pavers don’t settle back into their correct places, the base or surrounding area might require further work to enhance drainage. Landscapers can remove pavers that have risen or sunk, add or remove sand, and reinstall them in a mild degree of frost heave.
2. Cover the ground or the paving with hessian or carpet
If you have decided to install your patio in the winter, then you are going to need to prepare the ground well. Covering the ground with a hessian or carpet will stop the frost from getting to the ground and will help to keep the area warm.
Where possible, use the thickest hessian you can buy or even some old carpet.
If you’ve already laid paving that day and the cement is still curing, this is a must-do procedure. It’s also a good idea to cover the pavement sub-base to avoid it from freezing and expanding.
Use a Heating Cable to Keep Your Patio Warmer – If you’re worried about the temperature dropping too low, you can use a heating cable to keep your patio warm. This will allow you to work in colder temperatures.
3. Cover The Ground With A Tarpaulin if you Know It is Going to Rain
Make sure you check the weather report the day before you lay your patio. If you know that it’s going to rain, cover the ground with a tarpaulin. This will prevent the moisture from seeping into the ground and will keep your patio area dry.
It’s simple to put a tarpaulin, or tarp, over a patio with some grommets, eye-bolt screws, and rope. If you have a gazebo or pergola, you can tie the tarpaulin to the frame(s).
The tarp may be extended from the house’s eaves to a neighboring fence to cover the patio. Your patio shade will endure at least one season as long as the tarp is secured firmly enough that wind can’t tear its grommets.
4. Increase the Cement Content Ratio of your Mix
Since the weather is so cold, you will be fighting against the elements to get the cement mix to cure properly. This is why you might want to increase the cement content ratio of your mix. This will help to ensure that the cement sets properly in these conditions.
Use A Mortar Mix With A Higher Strength – When using a mortar mix, you can choose one with a higher strength to help it set in cold weather conditions. This will give you a little bit more leeway when working in colder temperatures.
Add Some Accelerant To The Mortar Mix – Another way to help your mortar set in colder weather is by adding some accelerant to the mix. This will speed up the setting process and will help the mortar to cure properly in these conditions.
Related: Concrete patios
How long does concrete need to cure before freezing?
Well-portioned concrete mixtures should reach this strength within 24 to 48 hours depending on the curing temperatures. As a result, it is critical that newly placed concrete be kept free of ice for the first 24 to 48 hours or until it reaches a compressive strength of around 500 psi.
How to tell if concrete froze
In order to tell if your concrete froze you will normally see ice-crystal imprints on the surface. If the concrete is still wet, you might see a frosty bloom on the surface.
If you don’t see these ice crystals, it doesn’t mean that the concrete didn’t freeze. You can use a hammer to test the concrete’s hardness. If it’s still soft, then it means that the concrete hasn’t had enough time to cure and it has frozen.
Will cement set if it freezes?
If your concrete is being poured on frozen ground, then this will cause problems. When the ice melts, the earth beneath it settles, leaving your concrete vulnerable to cracking. In addition, wet concrete sets more slowly when placed onto a cold surface.
Related: How To Lay A Patio (WITHOUT CEMENT)
5. Try to Lay your Patio on Days Where it is 3 Degrees C or Upwards
If you can, try to lay your patio on days where it is 3 degrees C or upwards. This will help to ensure that the patio sets properly and doesn’t crack in the cold weather conditions.
The curing temperature is crucial for how fast cement cures, so if you can only improve it by a single degree Celsius, this will make a huge impact.
6. Use Cement Frost Proofer
Did you know that you can purchase cement additives that will help to protect your patio from frost and freeze damage?
There are a few different types of cement frost proofers on the market, and they all work in a slightly different way.
What is a Frostproofer?
The term “Frostproofer” refers to a liquid additive that is used to speed up the setting and hardening processes of masonry, concretes, screeds, and rendering. They are extremely effective in cold weather conditions and can be used to cure concrete in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Celsius.
Frostproofers work by penetrating the surface of the material that they are applied to, and then start to set and harden once they come into contact with water. This process helps to prevent frost damage and freeze-thawing, which can cause a number of problems for concrete such as cracking, pitting, and scaling.
One type of cement frost proofer is a liquid additive that you mix into your cement mix. This additive helps to insulate the cement against cold weather conditions, which will help to prevent it from cracking.
Another type of cement frost proofer is a coating that you can apply to the surface of your patio. This coating helps to trap in the heat, which will stop the concrete from freezing.
Both of these additives are designed to be used in conjunction with each other, and they both have been proven to be effective at preventing freeze damage.
If you live in the UK, you can purchase a Frost Proofer from Wickes, Screwfix, and B&Q. The most popular Frost Proofer is one made by Everbuild, Sika, and Maxrete.
7. Use “non-frost susceptible” sub base
What is a “non-frost susceptible” sub-base?
This is a term that is used to describe a type of sub-base that won’t freeze and crack in cold weather conditions.
There are a few different types of sub-base materials that can be used, but the most popular one is asphalt. Asphalt is a material that is made up of small stones and gravel, which helps to prevent it from freezing.
In order to create a “non-frost susceptible” sub-base, you will need to:
- Lay a layer of asphalt over your existing patio or driveway.
- Add a layer of gravel on top of the asphalt.
- Cover the gravel with a layer of sand.
This will help to create a strong and durable foundation for your patio that won’t freeze and crack in the cold weather.
Frost resistance is one of the most important features that distinguish type 1 MOT and limestone scalping. Non-frost susceptible paving sub-base materials are available from your supplier.
8. Don’t Lay Paving In Heavy Rain
Do not lay a patio in heavy rain as this will cause huge problems. The compacted concrete may become saturated, causing level paving slabs to move and sink. A lot of rainfall is likely to wash the cement out of the mortar.
Concrete that has not been compacted will be more susceptible to rain damage. Laying concrete with a wet surface is particularly dangerous, as any water left on the surface might cause deterioration of the concrete and jeopardize a level and floated finish. Even worse, if too much additional water penetrates into the mixture, it can result in poor overall strength.
What is the best mix for laying slabs?
The best mix for laying slabs is 6 parts sharp sand to 1 part cement. You should also use a plasticizer to make the mixture more workable. To make a batch of mortar, mix the cement and sand together first, then add the required amount of water. Mix everything together until you have a thick, smooth consistency.
Can you lay bricks in the rain?
No, It is not recommended to lay bricks in the rain. The mortar will not set correctly and the bricks may become displaced. If you absolutely must lay bricks in the rain, make sure to use a waterproof mortar.
Finally, be sure that any new brickwork is completely protected from the elements. If the brickwork is exposed to water for an extended period of time, the chance of leaching, cement residues, and efflorescence will rise, resulting in an unattractive finish.
Can you lay a patio in the winter?
Yes, you can lay a patio in the winter. However, it is important to take into account the weather conditions and ensure that the ground is sufficiently thawed and dry before beginning construction. Patios constructed in the winter should be sealed with a sealant specifically designed for colder climates.
Can you lay slabs in the rain?
No, you can not lay slabs in the rain. Aside from continuous light rain, there have been no other issues. Patio construction in heavy rain may lead to a variety of difficulties.
The cement content can become saturated, causing level paving slabs to shift and sink. Heavy rain is liable to wash away the cement content from the mortar, significantly reducing its strength.
Can I leave my patio furniture outside in the winter?
Yes, If the metal on your patio furniture is made out of aluminum, it can withstand colder temperatures and does not rust. However, if your furniture is made out of cast iron, it will rust. Teak and other hardwoods are also vulnerable to cold weather, so it is best to bring them inside if possible.
Will pavers heave in winter?
Yes, pavers will heave in the winter. Ice expansion is responsible for the formation of frost damage and heave. When water becomes ice, overall volume rises. This might result in the following: Paver and stone pathways may fracture if they are old or of low quality.
How long before I can walk on new patio slabs?
Concrete takes 28 days to fully cure, at which time your new patio will be in its maximum compressive strength. However, it is usually advised that you avoid walking on it for at least 24 to 48 hours so that it can dry and strengthen and become the stunningly laid patio you have invested so much effort into.
What if it rains after laying slabs?
If the rain falls after you have laid your slabs, the water will damage the surface and compromise the adhesion between the slab and the mortar. In this situation, the rain will force the water to go under the slab and up through the joints, which will cause a lot of problems like efflorescence and spalling.
Can I use salt on my concrete patio in winter?
Salt can be used on indoor concrete floors to prevent ice formation. It is not recommended to use salt on outdoor concrete as it will damage the surface over time. Concrete that has been damaged by salt will have a white film or haze over the entire surface.
This film is known as efflorescence, and it is a common problem with concrete that has been exposed to salt. In extreme cases, the entire surface can flake off, revealing the aggregate below.
Is a sealant necessary for a patio in winter?
While a sealant is not necessary for every patio, it is recommended for those constructed in colder climates. A sealant will protect the patio from the elements and extend its life. Be sure to select a sealant that is specifically designed for colder climates, as they are formulated to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Winter’s a good time to lay a patio if you are on a budget since the materials will be much cheaper to purchase.
Just make sure the ground is thawed and dry before you start, and be sure to seal the patio with a sealant specifically designed for colder climates.
If you follow the tips above, your patio should last for years to come – even in the cold winter weather.
So what do you think?
Are you ready to start building your dream patio?
If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment below.