(by Robert Gutmann)
It’s that time of the year again! When project team needs to start asking each other what are the proper products that we should be using to keep construction going during colder days and nights!
The basic question is – What are the appropriate materials and installation techniques to be using along with their limitations? In most cases the technical data sheets will provide basic information like minimum and maximum installation temperatures. It is important not misinterpret this. Is the manufacturer referring to air (or ambient) temperature, which is measured 4ft from ground level or the surface temperature that the product will be applied to? These are two very different measurements that can easily be mistaken for each other. Work surface temperatures can also be affected by being in full sun or full shade.
Considering the wind chill on a cold New England day is not advised. The only effect wind chill has on inanimate objects, such as metal or plastic, is to shorten the amount of time for the object to cool. The inanimate object will not cool below the actual air temperature. In other situations, manufacturers may offer primers or additives that will allow you to install the materials in colder temperatures.
Once the appropriate materials have been approved and they are shipped to the job site, they need to be stored properly. In general, all materials should be stored in a dry, room temperature area. But what is “dry” and what is “room temperature”? A general rule of thumb is that anything below 55°F is not considered room temperature. The relative humidity or amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is a bit harder to pinpoint as it is directly dependent on the temperature. In general, 30-40% relative humidity is acceptable. For specific materials, a representative should be consulted.
At the installation stage, it is important to understand that the installation temperatures most likely apply to how long it takes the products to cure, set, or adhere to adjacent materials. Nighttime temperatures can dip far below daytime temperatures which can cause failures in the materials. It is also important to note that even mechanically fastened materials have a minimum installation temperature, as nearly all materials have expansion and contraction qualities.
When it comes down to it, make the call or send an email to a trusted industry professional that has expertise in the area in question and refer to sources that are known industry standards such as ASTM, ANSI, BIA, FM Global (to mention a few).