A long, cold winter can wreak havoc on more than diets and holiday budgets -- for those who have paved concrete driveways, multiple freezes and thaws over a short period of time can magnify small cracks and lead to some significant structural issues if not quickly repaired. However, the thought of braving this cold weather to patch or repave your concrete driveway may be more than you can bear. Read on to learn more about the logistics of patching concrete during cold winter months, as well as a few situations in which it may make sense to put this project off until the spring thaw.
Is it possible to patch a concrete driveway during winter?
Although concrete doesn't require the same high curing temperatures as hot mix (or even cold mix) asphalt, wet concrete does need to be kept at an above-freezing temperature for several days after application in order to reach optimal hardness. During winter, this cure temperature can be accomplished in one of a few ways.
If a concrete heating blanket is available for rental, this may often be the best option -- albeit an expensive one. These blankets are designed to protect the still-drying concrete from the elements while keeping it at the constant temperature needed to achieve full cure. The use of a concrete blanket can help you achieve the same result whether you're paving in the dead of winter or on a hot, dry summer day.
Some contractors will also use antifreeze to temporarily warm the pour site, or even mix this antifreeze into the liquid concrete before application. While this method can get the job done in an emergency when few other options are available, it's likely you'll need to repair or replace this patch once more temperate weather has arrived.
When should you put off your patching or paving project until warmer weather hits?
If you're dealing with a fairly shallow pothole or degraded area, it's possible you'll be able to successfully patch this imperfection even during winter. Because your patch will be relatively thin, it won't require as much curing time as thicker paving projects, and the heat from the concrete mixing truck may be enough to keep the ready mix concrete at the proper temperature until it dries. Those who can afford the rental of a heating blanket should also be able to achieve the same result during just about any season.
However, if your driveway paving project is designed only to fix an inconvenience -- rather than fill a need -- it's often best to wait until warmer weather to help avoid extra cost and to minimize the need for further repair work.