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How Should Masonry Construction Be Planned for in Cold Climates?

How To Plan Your Masonry Construction for Cold Climate?

Masonry construction: It means building structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by mortar. Masonry is a construction term that refers to the use of brick, concrete blocks, structural clay tile, and stone. Mortar holds these materials together.

Masonry construction is defined as an art of construction in which building units, such as clay, bricks, and sand-lime brick.

As cold weather arises, builders must take precautions when doing masonry construction. By changing, equipment, procedures, and supplies, mason contractors can avoid the seasonal delays associated with cold weather. This permits better utilization of resources, particularly manpower.

The goal of the cold weather construction plan is to eliminate or minimize the undesirable effect of cold temperatures on materials and people in a cost-effective manner. The mason contractors must evaluate the techniques for construction in cold weather.

Plan for Cold Weather Masonry Construction

Depending upon the situation and climate condition the following can be considered strategies:

  • optimize masonry material selection for cold weather performance
  • protect materials
  • heat materials
  • protect work areas
  • heat work-area and in-place work

(a) Optimize the selection of masonry materials for cold weather performance:

Masonry units are typically selected on the basis of aesthetic or structural properties rather than consideration of performance in cold weather. However, knowledge of how mortar and unit properties interact in cold weather enables the mason contractor to modify the construction procedures to accommodate the specified materials.

(b) Protect and heat materials: 

All masonry materials should be protected from rain, snow, and ice. Masonry units and packaged mortar materials should be securely wrapped in canvas or polyethylene tarpaulins and stored above the reach of ground moisture. Masonry materials may need to be heated prior to assure cement hydration mortar. At a temperature of fewer than 40 degrees, F. Water in barrels or tubs can be heated. It is the most easily heated material and can store significantly more heat (per unit mass) than the other materials used in mortar.

Sand is typically delivered to the work site in a damp, loose state. Even though sand piles are covered, it may be necessary to heat sand to thaw frozen when temperatures fall below freezing.

Generally, sand is heated to about 50 degrees, F, although higher temperatures are permissible as long as the sand is not scorched. Sand piles can be heated using steam heating systems, heated pipes with sand on top of them, or electric heating pads.

Masonry materials should not have any visible ice on the bedding surfaces when used now should the temperature of masonry units be less than 20 degrees F. to avoid rapid temperature drops in mortar or grout. The units should be kept dried although very high-absorption fired-clay brick may need to be wetted but not saturated prior to use.

(c) Protecting work areas and construction sites:

Windbreaks, heated wall coverings, and plain and heated enclosures are used to maintain adequate mortar temperature and to improve the comforts and efficiency of masons and laborers.

The level of protection required depends upon the severity of the weather encountered. Under the general requirements for construction, the code requires that at the end of the workday, all completed or partially completed masonry must be covered to prevent moisture intrusion at the end of the day.

While enclosures and heat are not required at all temperatures, heated enclosures can be used to meet the required material temperature targets, provide for better quality masonry, improved conditions for craftworkers, and working conditions uninterrupted by weather.

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