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Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?

 
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:44 AM   #1
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Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Hi everyone, thanks for your input. Was trying to think of a new trade to learn to do during winter months. I live in Wisconsin where sometimes it gets as cold as -35F or more at the worst times but is constantly 10-20 all winter. Can I build decks in the winter and have a quality product? Thanks for your input.
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:54 AM   #2
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Why not, if you don't mind working in the cold and can dig footings, you good to go.

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Old 11-12-2019, 12:50 PM   #3
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


yes you can, but....

frozen lumber, frozen ground, very cold weather will all slow production way down and make grading etc difficult at best.

likely affect the end product quality wise.
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:16 PM   #4
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Quote:
Originally Posted by benzbuggie View Post
Hi everyone, thanks for your input. Was trying to think of a new trade to learn to do during winter months. I live in Wisconsin where sometimes it gets as cold as -35F or more at the worst times but is constantly 10-20 all winter. Can I build decks in the winter and have a quality product? Thanks for your input.
Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
yes you can, but....

frozen lumber, frozen ground, very cold weather will all slow production way down and make grading etc difficult at best.

likely affect the end product quality wise.
-35 below you up in da nort woods??? or just playing with the chill factor.

Once the frost sets in Footings will phuck you everytime. Most of the state is 'moraine' earth. Chit is just shy of concrete hard when it's dry. Might as well be concrete when frozen. Seen d6 cat single frost finger spend an entire week strip frozen ground to make way for a basement foundation. Bad winter frost was 24-30" deep.

Typical rule of thumb up there is 1" of frost for everyday below 25 degrees for un-covered ground. Now if there is 3-5"+ of consistent snow cover, frost is usually in the 4-8" range. Even then good luck. Have had to do it and it sucks then sucks some more. Even with jack hammers. If you can cover the general area and even heat it ... you might, at best, get the frost to recede at 1" per day. Best bet is to plan, way ahead, while there is no frost. Cover well with frost blankets and hay, then hope for the best.

Framed and built decks year round in Wisconsin. Treated lumber is always wet and frozen. If it's just structural no big deal, beyond normal shrinkage when it un-thaws and dries out. Normal yards that'll be frozen from being outside. Saving big money or let's do this? Might be unfrozen from being inside .... but why????

Synthetic decking, composite just need to be careful. The more plastic in teh decking will always be trickier as the temp drops. Cedar was always best to work with in the winter, but that's fallen from favor-popularity.

Beyond that, no tools work that well at or below 0 degrees. 20-25 average for highs usually no issues, except for taking care of moisture issues in the air lines. Start and end of day issues normally with that as the temps are their lowest. Then there is snow removal, warm days when the ground turns to mud and your boots become clod hoppers with2-3" of mud stuck to the bottoms...all day long. Tracking that chit on the deck.

Nothing really all that favorable for building decks in the winter. Chit find someone with commercial accounts to plow snow for. Just make sure you're in on the salting end. Better chance of making more doing that than decks imho.
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Old 11-13-2019, 08:22 AM   #5
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Are you talking about decks for homeowners or builders.

I did builder decks for a few years and worked on them all year. Not as much fun in the dead of winter but still something you can do.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:15 AM   #6
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


I'd find something else to do in the winter up there, basements, interior trim, whatever. Even in central Texas it sucked building decks in the winter, fortunately winter comes in short spurts here.
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:01 AM   #7
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


I've covered ground to keep if from freezing so I could get footings in, but if it's already frozen deep, I'd think you'd need something like a steam lance and boiler. I wouldn't want to do it.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:15 PM   #8
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Sorry I don’t have cold weather experience, but I did work in Alaska for a summer.

The common mentality for the year-round employees was to make a bunch of money, working crazy overtime hours in the summer months... then draw unemployment till winter broke.

Maybe do all your deck designs, bids, permitting, scheduling, etc in the winter and then batch build decks like lightning!!

As far as another trade, it’s hard to go wrong with cabinets and interior trim. Easier to stay warm


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Old 11-13-2019, 09:43 PM   #9
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Actually, small garden sheds are something that can be built year round, and can be placed in winter.

Small enough to build in your garage and haul to the site.
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Old 11-22-2019, 07:18 PM   #10
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


I will build anything outside here in Ontario during the winter and have done for forty years this year. Around our parts winter is just another season and in Canada, between winter and crappy weather it makes up a big part of the year. I am still booking work for the winter. However, You plan your work around the weather on a daily basis. LOL! If it’s snowing like crazy I stay off metal barn roofs until the sun comes out! Production sucks some days but it all works out in the wash.
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Old 11-22-2019, 08:14 PM   #11
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Quote:
Originally Posted by benzbuggie View Post
Hi everyone, thanks for your input. Was trying to think of a new trade to learn to do during winter months. I live in Wisconsin where sometimes it gets as cold as -35F or more at the worst times but is constantly 10-20 all winter. Can I build decks in the winter and have a quality product? Thanks for your input.
I once built a deck when the temps went all the way down to 45 degrees – I was young, inexperienced and hungry.

Here’s my rules for working in cold temps:

-35: there’s no need to get out of bed. If I had to go out it would only be to keep an appointment with the crematorium or move to a warmer climate.

0 degrees - yeah right. I might look out the window – I can see cold!

1 – 10 degrees: see zero degrees (above).

11 – 31 degrees: Hit the start button on my remote… wait 20 minutes… run the 10 feet to the warm truck (expletives the whole way helps you stay warm). Pull into the client's heated garage and get to work (we’re an interior remodeler and we only work between 62 and 68 degrees).

32 degrees and above: shorts weather – as long as it’s sunny! If it’s not sunny, see 11 – 31 degrees (above).

I deliver the best quality result at a consistent 66 - 67 degrees.

Took 20 years in this business before I could implement my rules for working in cold temps. Now that I’ve been doing it for nearly 31 years, I’m thinking about adding rules for working in humidity!
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Old 11-22-2019, 08:35 PM   #12
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


I built outside for a number of New England winters. For me, the trick was to have the permit pulled and the piers in place before the frost got more than 6" deep if it was a deck of any size. If it was just a few piers we would sometimes set them in the winter but it's hard and really expensive to keep the ground temps up for a proper cure.

It's not really worth working below 10 degrees as the tools are finicky and the guys just won't get enough done in a day to justify the costs unless you have a customer that's willing to pay 10-20% more to get the job done before spring. There are additional challenges to installing materials correctly(gapping for expansion, frozen wood trim splitting, etc) but again, those can be accommodated for the right price.

It's probably better for your profits and keeping the guys happy to book as much inside work as you can for the coldest months but you can certainly do outside work. The company I work for does timber frame and that's 100% outside and they install at least 50 weeks a year.
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:22 PM   #13
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


With camaraderie, you can do anything.

Without camaraderie, the frozen nail gun won't be funny at all, because there will be nobody there to appreciate you relating to Russian soldiers pouring vodka in their rifles to keep them from freezing. It'll just be you, freezing, not having any fun.

Count me as one more vote for finding something else to do. If I were stretching a large job into November and had to get the deck done before Christmas, I'd make it happen in NJ, but where you're at, I'd probably try to find anything else to fill the time.

Good luck!
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Old 12-01-2019, 09:26 AM   #14
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Yes you can but I can suck too. -35 wtf no way. Compressor would be frozen. Cordless won't work an so on....I build all year around But not usually below 20. But then again it doesn't really get that cold here in Philadelphia.

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Old 12-31-2019, 10:41 PM   #15
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Cut ends off a barrell and burn scrap over pier location till earth is warm eough to drill
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Old 01-01-2020, 07:56 AM   #16
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


We build fences a c couple of times over the winter here (Michigan). Gotta keep a pick axe and good spud bar with you to break through those first few inches of frozen ground. Too much inside work available here to seek them out as jobs though. I just take them when they come along and we need very fast easy money.

Much simpler to book a good basement finish or a couple of madre bathrooms that will keep the guys inside for the worst eight weeks of the winter though.



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Old 01-01-2020, 04:02 PM   #17
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Can't you dig a small hole put some charcoal in it with lighter fluid and fire it up?


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Old 01-01-2020, 08:39 PM   #18
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Footings need to be dug below the frost line. If you are having -35 temps a bonfire won't thaw the ground deep enough to dig. 42 - 48 " depth is required for those footings.
You can't dig in that ground, can't pour in that ground without the concrete freezing.
Save your $$$ when you are working and vacation in Florida for a month or so.
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:51 PM   #19
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


Helicial piers

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Old 01-01-2020, 09:28 PM   #20
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Re: Can You Build Decks In Freezing Cold?


I'd give a left nut to be able to use helical peirs out here.


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