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While many building supplies are meant to withstand severe temperatures, some are vulnerable to weather extremes and can potentially be damaged—or even ruined—if not properly stored or transported during the coldest months of the year. Water-based paints, wood stains, paint thinners, putties and caulking are obvious examples, but wood and glass can be damaged if exposed to frigid temperatures for a long period of time. While it is less likely, it is best to take precautions where possible when it comes to storing and transporting building supplies during this time of year.

Untreated timber and glass can crack or shatter if left in freezing conditions for too long, but any type of liquid is exceptionally vulnerable. If paint or wood stain is in a cold truck during cross-country transit or sitting on a loading dock or in an unheated warehouse for too long, it’s almost guaranteed to freeze. If paint freezes, it will not perform the same when thawed. However, it is important to note that different types of paint tend to behave differently.

Prepare your supply chain for winter

For contractors and buyers, work with suppliers to ensure they use transportation providers that offer shipment freeze protection. For suppliers, find a transportation partner that operates a heated trailer fleet with heated facilities. These are vital to keeping vulnerable supplies like paint at the correct temperature during transport. It’s also important to remember the different climates a shipment might go through on its journey to the endpoint, as a shipment of paint leaving Florida may not need to be heated but by the time it reaches the Midwest or Northeast, it very likely will need freeze protection.

Seek out the right carrier

Contractors should request the supplier use a transportation provider that offers freeze protection with heated equipment and facilities. Tell the supplier that the carrier needs heated trailers and docks so if there is a delay, the product will be protected. This option is in the supplier’s best interest too, as they won’t have to send a new shipment to replace damaged product or refund the buyer.

Some transportation companies may not offer a genuine protection from freeze service. Instead of investing in heated equipment and facilities, some providers simply use thermal blankets and are burdened with constantly moving freight to avoid the products from sitting still for too long. This increases the risk of the shipment not only freezing but being damaged in the process. A transportation provider with true freeze protection will have heated trailers, docks, service centers and warehouse facilities. This eliminates the need for a transportation provider to embargo freight or refuse pickup during extreme conditions. Freight embargoes delay shipments for extended periods of time and the freight will not move until the weather allows for the product to travel safely.

Plan ahead

Trying to find a carrier with heated trailers at the last minute likely won’t pan out in the supplier’s or buyer’s favor. Most transportation providers’ capacity is set for their normal customer base, so there is typically very little room for last-minute shipments. It’s best to plan ahead.

Also, keep an eye on the weather prior to any sensitive shipments, as winter storms can deter any well-laid plan. Keeping in constant communication ahead of these types of delays will keep everyone happy.

When it comes to transporting and storing building supplies during the winter months, it’s in everyone’s best interest—from the supplier to the contractor—to plan ahead and protect vulnerable products. Heated trailers, loading docks and warehouses are all available options and should be used to protect supplies from freezing or being damaged due to weather extremes.

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