GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Pouring a Slab Right Before Winter

17whippoorwill | Posted in General Questions on

Building house in Southern Maine, first floor will be modular, delivery next spring, but daylight basement can be poured now, then covered until spring.

Is this a good idea, is exposure to winter a problem, any particular weatherizing steps, or should we wait until spring?


GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. walta100 | | #1

    If you wait tell spring understand concrete take 3 or 4 weeks to reach strength that will support your new home.

    I do not know what the risks are should the ground freeze below your footing some of the risks may be better understood by your local people as they will understand the local conditions best.


    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #2

      Concrete toughens up pretty quickly. It varies by mix but typically you get something like:
      3 days - 50%
      7 days - 65 to 68%
      14 days - 85 to 90%
      28 days - 100%

      We strip the forms 48 hours after p0uring and start framing a couple of days later. The only thing we are cautious around are tall walls getting backfilled.

      As Walter said, the risk of having the ground around a new foundation freezing depends a lot on what's underneath. A walkout basement is pretty hard to insulate temporarily. I'd lean towards waiting until spring.

  2. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #3

    I have seen daylight basements in southern Maine heave with frost when not enclosed before winter. But those were not built with proper frost protection. Do you have frost-resistant details, or is your foundation design dependent on a heated interior to keep the ground from freezing? (Which is not a code-compliant approach, but very common for walk-out basements.)

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #5


      Isn't even a code compliant basement where the footings are installed deep enough to meet local frost level requirements still at risk of frost heave from the interior before the building above is completed?

      1. Expert Member
        Michael Maines | | #6

        Malcolm, good question and I don't have a good answer. I know that frost will extend deeper than the frost line we design to. When designing frost-protected shallow foundations there are different rules for heated vs. unheated buildings. But for foundations that extend below the frost line, there are not different requirements for heated vs. unheated buildings so I believe it should be safe from heaving, especially if there is also sub-slab insulation installed.

  3. drewintoledo | | #4

    I was thinking about doing the same; adding the decking and a sump pump on an extension and then covering with something like this:
    You can purchase up to 200' x 200' seamless material. If the UV wouldn't kill it, I'd move it to my under slab barrier when the builders were ready to frame.

  4. 17whippoorwill | | #7

    Thanks for all your input.

    It seems the foundation will be on 'ledge', which, according to our 30+ experienced builder (not building-science experienced), is not effected or does not incur frost heaves. I've rocked his boat with questions for more than a year, so I'll have to simply let it go. The good news is that based on the current progress, I would wager there is no way he'll excavate, no less pour it until spring.

    1. dfvellone | | #8

      I poured my monolithic slab-on-grade in mid November in zone 6 (upstate NY.) Like you, bedrock was very shallow, and I had also installed a substantial crushed stone base with ample drainage. Effectively, there was nothing to heave.
      Pouring concrete in freezing weather poses some challenges, but with the use of heated water and an accelerator you can do it, although at increased cost. I'd wait until spring unless it absolutely has to happen now, and I absolutely wouldn't pour in the deep cold of winter.

  5. krom | | #9

    Helped a friend a few years back, who's modular didn't arrive on time.
    The walkout basement was poured late in the year, and by time the house got there it was too late, the ground had heaved and raised some of foundation several inches, cracking above a door.
    Without a house above it, or backfill against it, you are pouring the footer on the surface, even if it will be 10' below grade when done

  6. arnoldk | | #10

    I will be pouring my slab on grade shortly where temperature are dipping just below freezing at night. I have been ensured that it's possible and there should not be any issues but it does cost more due to the additives and the type of concrete they need to use.

    I do want to point out that both our house and detached garage will have a frost protection skirt 4 feet out from the footing and insulation under the entire slab. We're moving ahead because I want to get this project moving and plan on building through the winter.


Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |