If you’re like me and live in a place where winter temperatures regularly dip below freezing, keeping the decking trade going through the off season can be challenging to say the least! To get a jump on the competition, here are a few tricks that will get your footings set before the first day of Spring!
Choose the right concrete mix
Quikcrete has a number of blends designed for specific applications. In the deck building industry, we use structural concrete blends such as:
- Concrete Mix (No. 1101)
Fast-Setting Concrete (No. 1004-50)
FastSet™ Concrete Mix (No. 1004-51)
FastSet™ DOT Mix (No. 1244-56, 1244-81-extended)
Green Concrete Mix (No. 1101-63)
QUIKRETE® 5000 High Early Strength Concrete Mix (No. 1007)
Crack Resistant Concrete Mix (No. 1006-80)
Fiber-Reinforced Deck Mix (No. 1251-80), Polymer Modified Fiber-Reinforced Deck Mix (No.1251-81)
Our options here are basically FastSet and 5000 if you’re looking for something that is appropriate for footings and sets in cold weather. The standard mix “concrete mix” is used for most applications in decking, and you’ll see from the data above that it sets to 4,000 PSI at 28 days, while 5000 mix sets to 5000 PSI. That’s a 20% improvement. Next, you’ll see that it reaches 1500 PSI 3x faster than standard mix. This is a huge advantage when you’re working in cold weather which can shorten cure times. In effect, you’ll have very little difference in how your footings set in winter if you simply change blends.
Add Heat and Insulation
Try concrete blankets, straw, or other heating solutions. The genius innovator Dr. Decks up in Washington uses upside down 5 gallon buckets with drop lights suspended in them to add heat to the top of the footings while they cure! There are also ICF forms that provide some insulating value, but I haven’t tried them.