Just mentioning the words "cold-weather enclosure" is enough to give many masonry contractors the shivers. The high labor cost involved in erecting, maintaining, and dismantling enclosures and productivity lost in the process convince some of these contractors to stay home when the temperature plunges below freezing. But a growing number of contractors in the northern United States are finding that it pays to work through the winter. They are using a variety of enclosure systems to protect their workers, walls, and materials. OBJECTIVES Winter enclosure of masonry construction has several objectives:
  • to achieve temperatures high enough to facilitate cement hydration in mortar (when it's not enough just to heat the mixing water and sand)
  • to protect the wall
  • and to improve the comfort and efficiency of masons and tenders.

Materials commonly used in constructing enclosures include wood or steel framing elements and various plastics, such as reinforced-polyethylene, nylon, or fiberglass.When selecting an enclosure system, masonry contractors should answer the following questions:

  1. Are you laying a masonry veneer wall on an existing structure or laying a loadbearing masonry wall?
  2. What type of scaffolding are you using?
  3. Are you constructing a high-rise or low-rise building?
  4. Will the entire building be enclosed or just the work area and adjacent wall?
  5. How long will the enclosure remain in place?
  6. Do you plan to reuse the enclosure system again and again?
  7. Will the system need to withstand severe winds or heavy snow?

By answering these questions, a contractor can pinpoint exactly what his needs are, and can design an effective cold weather enclosure system.