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Coating Concrete When It’s Cold: What You Need to Know

in Concrete Solutions

Sometimes a fast-track job calls for coating concrete in less than ideal circumstances. Here are some key considerations for cold-weather product selection and application:

Water can be a problem

Concrete exposed to repeated freezing and thawing can be damaged by water that enters the surface.

If water fills a critical percentage of the concrete’s pore structure (usually 90% or more), the volume change that occurs during the freeze-thaw process can displace the concrete. This often results in scaling, spalling or other types of delamination.

How coatings can help

The primary defense against such damage is entrained air in the concrete mix design, but coatings can play a role as well.

By helping protect concrete from taking on large amounts of water, coatings can further alleviate concerns about freeze-thaw damage.

What to watch for

So how does cold weather affect the selection and application of coatings? According to Sean Meracle, architectural account executive for the Sherwin-Williams Concrete Products group, the surface temperature of the concrete substrate is one of the most important factors to consider.

“Coatings today generally offer enough flexibility to accommodate some degree of thermal movement once they’ve cured, but it’s the application phase of the coating life that is more critical,” Meracle says.

Low-temp coatings

While most coatings are manufactured for application at temperatures between 50 and 100°F, Sherwin-Williams provides a number of products that are formulated for application in colder environments.

“Many of our exterior water-based architectural coatings can be applied when the surface temperature is as low as 35°F,” Meracle says. “Our solvent-based concrete coatings can all be applied at surface temperatures down to 20°F.”

See a full catalog of concrete coatings on the Sherwin-Williams contractor website

More resources

Learn more about coating concrete in our companion articles:


This article was originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of the Sherwin-Williams CommercialPro newsletter. Get more business-building tips and info on products, services, discounts and project solutions on the Sherwin-Williams contractor website.

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