Can they do brick in cold weather?

kristinvaJanuary 12, 2010

We have had a real cold snap here over the last month or so and the builder has been waiting to do the masonry (chimneys, porch supports, and foundation). Tomorrow it is supposed to pass 45 degrees for a high and stay that way a few days, and I think they are planning to start. Will we be okay to do this if the night temps are still in the 30s? We are not using Portland mortar - going with lime. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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The sections of wall with brick must be tented and heated to at least 40ËF.

Se Brick Institute technical bulletin in link below.

This is not to say that masonry contractors will not try to get away with less if the builder/homeowner doesn't know any better. I've seen bricks being laid on above freezing days where the nighttime temps fall to the 20Ës F. overnight. Then, the next morning, I've seen them use blowtorches to try and melt the ice crystals in the mortar.

Are you ok to lay the bricks in the day and forget about the nighttime temp? Absolutely not!

But why do I suspect the contractor will tell you, "We do this all the time. No problem."? Sigh. Either tent or wait till the weather is consistently above freezing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bricks and Weather Technical Note 1

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 9:47AM
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Not only does the wall have to be heated. But the bricks and water should be heated too before they're laid.

I watched a neighbour building his 4,400 sf home in deepest winter. At first, the masons carefully tented the areas where they were setting the manmade stone. But, as I concluded, once they realized the "builder" (an electrical contractor) didn't have a clue, they just laid the stone without protection, without heating. Saved them money and time. Within two years, you could walk up to the house and see the mortar full of holes, deteriorated, and shrinking away from the stones.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 9:59AM
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I learned the hard way and can see where I did not make my guys tent and heat over the winter. I too am in Va. I can tell where my mortar froze-now it looks a different color in that whole section! I wish I knew now what I didn't know then. ABOSLUTELY make them tent and heat!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 10:56PM
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"Can they do brick in cold weather?"

CAN one do brick in cold weather?
Can one do brick WELL in cold weather and guarantee the results?

Which is why seasoned, professional, and smart masons would never think of doing brick in winter....

Unless they are desperate, have no other jobs going on, and would fail in their businesses if they didn't take that serioius risk...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 11:13PM
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"Unless they are desperate, have no other jobs going on, and would fail in their businesses if they didn't take that serioius risk"...

Classic example of self indulgent contractors looking after their own interests without consideration of a quality, long lasting project,(with the customers interests in mind).

If the house is tight to the weather with decent underlayment/flashings install, the builder needs to show some patience here. It's what's behind the brick that keeps the wall cavaties dry anyhow, no real reason to take risks with mortar joints failing at this point. Wait for warmer temps consistently well above freezing at night.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 10:27AM
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Gosh I learn so much from this forum!!! This would have never occurred to me. Very good thing to know :)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 6:10PM
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