Hot Weather Masonry Construction

I find it impossible to have a short conversation or to write a short technical article on hot weather masonry work and masonry mortar. It is too important a subject. Instead, as in the case with cold weather masonry work, I’ll hit the highlights and then provide a short list of readily accessible internet references.

Hot weather defined: “Normal” masonry construction is generally thought of as having ambient temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees F. The American Concrete Institute, ACI 530.1, considers hot weather conditions when the ambient temperature exceeds 100 degrees F or 90 degrees F with a wind velocity greater than 8 mph. Of course, there may be building codes and specifications that vary.

The Brick Industry Association, in their Tech Note 1 states, “The primary concern during hot weather is rapid evaporation and absorption of water from the mortar. ……without sufficient water, cement hydration slows or stops, which reduces the bond strength and extent of bond between brick and mortar”. Naturally compressive strength suffers as well. And, remember, the purpose of mortar is to bond the masonry units together.

In hot temperatures the mortar actually requires more water than at cooler temperatures to achieve a given workability or plasticity. Despite this increased initial water demand, the mortar may be more difficult to use and the board life and stiffening time is shortened. This is due to the increased water loss brought on by the higher temperatures of the masonry units, their associated higher absorption rates, and naturally, the higher evaporation rate into the air.

Significant problems that are brought on by hot temperatures include:

  • Surface drying of the mortar joint. Dehydration of the mortar joint leads to weak (lower strengths) and non-durable mortar. The resulting hardened mortar surface is prone to excessive weathering, higher absorption, and may present a “sandy” surface.
  • Rapid and excessive drying within the body of the mortar joint leads to lower durability of the mortar and as mentioned above, decreased bond between the mortar and the masonry unit.

Both scenarios can create non-durable and low quality mortar and can lead to reduced buckling strength of a wall that is concentrically loaded. It also reduces the wall strength under horizontal and wind loading.

Considerations for masonry work in hot weather:

  • Shade the materials and mixing equipment from direct sunlight.
  • Provide conditions that will produce mortar below 120 degrees F.
  • Keep the masonry sand in a damp loose condition.
  • Use cool mixing water. You can use ice to cool the mixing water but do not let ice be batched into the mixer.
  • Prior to batching mortar, rinse the mixer with cool water.
  • Cool the transport container (wheel barrow) and the mortar boards and tools with cool water.
  • Retemper the mortar using cool water.
  • Use mortar within 2 hours if initial mixing

Hodgson Concrete

  • Office: (334) 281-5141
  • Dispatch: (334) 281-0730
  • Fax: (334) 281-1911

Kirkpatrick Central

  • Office: (205) 423-2630
  • Dispatch: (205) 323-8394
  • Fax: (205) 423-2626

Kirkpatrick Northern

  • Office: (256) 582-3274
  • Dispatch: (256) 582-3274
  • Fax: (256) 582-3309

Walker Concrete

  • Office: (770) 506-7125
  • Dispatch: (770) 506-7125
  • Fax: (770) 507-9340
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DBA: National Cement Company of Alabama, Inc.