Did you know: The preferred working temperature range for cement-based mortars and products is typically between 15oC to 25oC, not considering humidity and wind effects. They react and set slowly in cold temperatures (below 10oC), and very fast in hot temperatures (above 30oC).
Cold weather affects tile adhesives, grout, levelling screeds and waterproofing compounds, as well as the mixing liquid (water or additive used in the mix) and the substrate.
When mixed and applied in cold conditions, some cement-based products may not cure properly, remaining “wet” for extended periods. Some materials may never harden, even if heat is externally introduced later on in their setting/curing stage, whilst others may achieve their designed maximum strength and cure after the introduction of an external heat source.
To prevent installation failures, longer setting and curing times should be anticipated and catered for during cold months, i.e., foot traffic onto newly installed tiles and the installation of floor coverings onto newly installed underlayment compounds may need to be postponed slightly.
The correct product choice and working conditions are a prerequisite to achieving the desired outcome.
Always ensure that ambient conditions are above 15oC before mixing and application. Use warm water for mixing or heat the environment with industrial space heaters if lower temperatures prevail.
Store the materials, including primers and additives, in the same warm conditions prior to mixing and application.
When tiling under strict time constraints, consider using products with shorter curing times (rapid-setting products) to avoid time delays, or ensure that stringent controls are enforced to ensure too early disturbance of the tile or flooring installation.