Can Pavers Be Installed in the Winter?

Winter is the time for cozying up around the fireplace and hot chocolate. It’s the time for outdoor shinny and skating. Want to know a little secret? Winter is also the time for installing pavers.

As a matter of fact, with the right conditions, winter is the best time to install pavers. The question really isn’t can you install pavers in the winter, but why aren’t you considering it!

Why Winter Makes Sense

  • Bargains. Who doesn’t like a great deal? Winter is a slow season for home improvement projects and that means there are lots of deals to be had. Shops want you to help keep their inventory moving and they’ll pay you to do so by way of discount. There’s a good chance that you can pick up a great deal during the winter for materials to install your pavers.
  • Dormant Lawn. One of the major concerns with backyard projects is damaging the lawn. Good news! The risk is lower if you work on your yard during the winter. That’s because your grass will go into a dormant state during the winter, typically from November to March.
  • No Rain or Mud. Many people think that if they install their pavers during the spring, they’ll be ready for the summer barbecue season. The problem with spring is too much rain and mud. A little bit of rain is completely fine – in fact, it would be impossible for some areas to be completely dry whatever the season – but heavy rain will make it near impossible to install pavers due to difficulty compacting the base (being too moist and soft) and erosion.
  • Eager Contractors. Want your pavers installed by professionals? Give them a call this winter! If you call them in spring or summer, they won’t be around to take your call because they’ll be too busy working on someone else’s yard. Not only will they pick up your call in the winter, they may offer you a discount, won’t make you wait, and will give you their undivided attention.
  • Maximum Enjoyment. Are your pavers for a new patio? By installing your pavers in the winter, you can enjoy your new outdoor space as soon as the weather warms up. Who wants to wait until next spring or summer? Crank up the fire pit for those crisp, spring nights and send out those invitations for that summer barbecue already!
  • Just-in-Time Sealing. New pavers need approximately one year to rid themselves of efflorescence (the white powdery stuff), so you’ll want to wait one year after installation to seal them. By installing pavers during the winter, you’re able to seal them just before the next winter season, and protect them from all that the harsh winter may bring!

The Big Issue: Frost

While we encourage everyone to consider installing their pavers in the winter, we must admit, it may not be for everyone. As we mentioned earlier, heavy rain – typically a spring problem – is one obstacle to paving work. The other issue – a winter problem – is frost.

Frost makes it difficult to prepare and compact the subgrade. Without proper compaction, your base will eventually collapse and you’ll find yourself with shifted or sunken pavers.

The other issue with frost has to do with ground instability. Frost will cause the ground to expand. If you install your pavers over a frozen ground, you can expect the whole lot to sink once the ground thaws and shrinks. You’ll get much steadier results by working with a ground that’s not frozen.

If you live in an area that sees freezing temperatures during the winter, you’ll want to pick a different season to install your pavers. But if you live in an area with mild winters, by all means go for it!

The Thing About Mortar

Pavers can be installed either by setting them over a bed of sand or laying them permanently in mortar over a slab of concrete. For sand-set installations, as long as there’s no frost, you’re good to go. But for mortared installations, you’ll want to check the temperatures first.

Mortar needs temperatures higher than 40°F to set properly. Anything lower may lead to mortar failure, and that means you’ll have to redo the installation.

Since mortar is downright more finicky to work with, we always say go for a sand-set installation. But if you like the stability and permanency of a mortared installation, choose a time in the winter with average temperatures of 50°F for best results.

Don’t Let Winter Stop You

We know that most people don’t associate winter with outdoor projects. But when it comes to installing pavers, there are only two impediments that you have to worry about: heavy rain and frost.

As long as the weather is dry enough and the temperatures are warm enough in your neck of the woods, there’s no reason why you can’t install pavers in the winter and reap the benefits of bargains and more!

Have Fun Out There!