Screeding in cold weather
Screeding in cold weather. If you are a subscriber to our newsletter, you will be well aware that we covered this issue in this month’s edition, but it is such a relevant topic right now, I thought I should share it here too for the whole world to see! Before I go any further, I should really point out that if you aren’t already signed up to the newsletter, you are missing out – it’s full of great educational content, special offers and written by yours truly! I don’t think you need any more reason to sign up than that – go on, you know you want to…you can sign up at the bottom of this page 😉
Back to the matter at hand
Back to the matter in hand, in typical January fashion, the weather is pretty rubbish right now, and set to get worse. As you are almost certainly aware, these cold conditions can wreak havoc on site. But fear not, as I (with a little help from director Andy) have put together a little piece on our top tips for avoiding mishaps. Hope you enjoy…
Don’t let the cold weather stop you in your tracks when laying your screed this winter, read our top tips for avoiding mishaps
The biggest problem that the cold weather can cause for a screed layer is a delay in drying time. This is because if the air that is directly in contact with the screed is cold, it will be able to “hold” less water as it evaporates from the screed, and so the drying of the screed will be slowed. It is therefore important for the air to be as warm as possible and “moving”. The secret then, is for the area to be well ventilated with moving air and for this air to be warm. Manufacturers will often recommend conditions of 21deg C and 65%RH or similar for optimum results.
A word of caution though, although it may be tempting to try to force a screed to dry more quickly by whacking the heating up the moment it is laid down, the very conditions that facilitate rapid drying are the same ones that can cause problems, particularly cracking, in the early life of the screed. Many screeds need to be “cured”, often under polythene during their early life. Curing is, effectively, creating the worst drying conditions possible so that the screed doesn’t dry before it has gained enough strength to resist the shrinkage that can result from drying.
Even when a specific curing method is not essential for a particular screed, early drying must be done with caution and in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations.
Laying a Screed in Cold Conditions
If you are laying a screed in cold conditions follow these tips to avoid mishaps, or worse, major screed failure:
- Screeds should never be laid when the air temperature falls below 3°C and the floor temperature below 5°C;
- Always allow for extended drying times in cold conditions, to allow the screed to dry completely and reach optimum strength – it is better to wait a few extra days than risk damaging the screed by trying to make it dry more quickly;
- Do not bypass the curing stage if this is what the manufacturer recommends;
- Keep the area well ventilated with warm, moving air (where possible);
- Always test the screed to ensure that it has dried properly and developed the required characteristics.
There you have it, our top tips for avoiding mishaps on-site during these cold winter months. I hope you have found this useful.