During the cold winter months, flooring and other over-concrete applications can be especially challenging. From transport to storage to installation and cure, special care must be taken when substrate and ambient temperatures are cool.
Best practices include checking a product’s technical data for ideal storage and installation temperatures. The industry standard minimum temperature is 50°F (10°C) for ambient, substrate, and material temperatures. Cooler temperatures tend to lengthen drying and/or cure times for bonded materials. To facilitate drying, always circulate the air above the surface, and never blow air directly on the surface of a material as it cures.
Typically, liquids such as epoxies, primers, additives and sealers should not be allowed to freeze. Always check a product’s technical data for confirmation, and check with the product’s manufacturer to see if frozen liquids can be evaluated for installation suitability. Damaged materials that cannot be installed should always be disposed of in accordance with prevailing regulations.
Most cementitious, polymer-modified powders, such as underlayments and toppings, are stable to freezing temperatures. However, it is typically advisable to store them at temperatures above 50°F (10°C). When very cold, polymers may not perform as intended, possibly resulting in product failure. Additionally, products may not have a workable consistency and will take longer to set.
For these types of powder materials, it is best practice to avoid installation when temperatures will fall below 40°F (5°C) within 48 hours after installation. It is also generally not recommended to use warm water to compensate for cold temperatures, as this can impair the workability of the products.
While most flooring adhesives are freeze/thaw stable (check the adhesive’s technical data for confirmation), it is typically necessary to protect them from excessively low temperatures and multiple freeze / thaw cycles. It is best practice to use heated transit and heated storage.
Check with the adhesive manufacturer to verify the recommended procedure for frozen materials. Often, adhesives can be thawed gradually at room temperature and installed, provided they resume their original consistency.
While tenting and temporary heat is always an option in colder temperatures, note that heat sources that use fossil fuels and heat sources that are not properly vented can leave behind oily, bond-breaking residues on the surface of the substrate. Properly vented propane or natural gas heaters are best. Check with product manufacturers to verify proper temporary heating methods.
by Tivona Schneider, Technical Communications Supervisor
Tivona has been with ARDEX since 2010. Her areas of expertise are product documentation and jobsite recommendations, and she has been certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration. Tivona and her team of technical writers produce all technical documentation for the company, including technical data sheets, labels, project-specific recommendations and technical updates.