Can You Lay Bricks in the Winter?

November 24, 2021

We often get calls this time of year from customers asking whether we can perform brickwork for them in the winter months. Many of them assume that freezing temperatures, sleet and snow prevent us from working. These homeowners are only half correct in their assumptions.

Laying brickwork in winter isn’t ideal, but it is still possible for the most part.

This post will teach you everything you need to know about our duties in the winter months.

How winter affects bricklaying

Winter takes a toll on many aspects of the bricklaying process. These are a few of the things we need to consider:

  • Mortar curing issues: The primary concern with bricklaying in the winter is the mortar. Colder temperatures slow the hydration of the cement in the mortar mixture, which extends the curing time. Mortar mixed in colder temperatures also has lower water content and increased air content, reducing strength early on.
  • Frozen ground: The ground tends to heave and settle as it freezes, creating an unstable surface for bricklaying. If a bricklayer puts warm mortar on frozen ground, the mortar will take a long time to cure and may even crack.
  • Cold ingredients: We need warm ingredients to perform our masonry work. Heating water and sand isn’t much of an issue in the winter, but it’s more difficult for contractors to heat the prepackaged cement and hydrated lime components of mortar.

Steps for laying brickwork in winter

Just because winter affects bricklaying doesn’t mean we can’t work in the cold. In addition to bundling up, these are the precautions we take to ensure the job is performed correctly in the winter:

  • Check the forecast: The first step is to check the weather forecast. We don’t need to take any precautions if the temperature is above 36°F, but if it’s below 36°F, we need to heat our mortar ingredients before heading to the jobsite and keep the mortar at a temperature of at least 36°F.
  • Clear off the surfaces: Masonry units and mortar should never be laid directly on frozen ground or on ice or snow. Before work begins, we must clean off the surface and potentially use heating blankets to warm up the ground to an appropriate temperature.
  • Protect your materials: Protection beforehand means keeping the masonry units and mortar in warmer temperatures. While we’re laying the bricks, we may set up windscreens and use blankets to keep them at an appropriate temperature. Once everything’s installed, we’ll often use heating blankets to keep the freshly-laid bricks warm overnight.
  • Mix small amounts at a time: It’s more convenient to make large batches of mortar at once—but that’s not recommended in the winter months. It’s much easier to maintain the correct temperature for a small mortar batch than a large one.

Hire our team for masonry work throughout the year

Regardless of the outdoor conditions, be sure to hire Langenfeld Masonry & Concrete. With nearly 40 years of industry experience, you can trust that your residential project is in good hands with us. Contact us today to get a quote or to learn more about how winter affects bricklaying.

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