The winter months are great for plenty of outdoor activities, but painting isn’t one of them. Paint is a collection of chemicals that respond to their environment, and extremely low temperatures are far from ideal. There’s a reason why professional paint crews work hard to schedule all paint jobs before the winter season arrives, but life doesn’t always wait for ideal conditions.
Winter painting can be tricky and complicated, but it isn’t impossible. There are solutions if you need to touch up a spot of damage in an emergency or are forced into exterior repairs during the least hospitable times.
Know What Can Go Wrong
The best way to avoid problems is to know what you can reasonably expect could go wrong.
While many water-based paints can be applied to temperatures all the way down to 35˚F, some paints, particularly most that are solvent-based, cannot be applied at these temperatures. Most will struggle to dry properly or may cure improperly. You can see results like a cracked, filmy effect, exceedingly slow and wildly inconsistent drying times, bad color uniformity, and even water spotting in latex varieties without low application temperature formulations.
Plan for Successful Painting in Winter
Even in winter, some days are sunnier than others. Meticulously applying a coat of paint in the overcast cold will have a worse outcome than waiting for the warmest part of a relatively sunny day, usually between 10 AM and 2 PM. Look ahead at the weather forecast, too. If there’s a two-day sunny window before a week-long cold snap, it is not the time to paint. Even after drying water-based paint requires about a month to cure fully, low temperatures interfere dramatically with the process.
Even still, the weather forecast can be unpredictable. The last thing you want is the work of rectifying any damage and redoing the work in the spring. Always refer to and abide by manufacturer application instructions which indicate the temperatures that paint can be applied. Remember that these temperatures must be maintained at air and surface until initial drying, which can be as short as a few hours – but can be as long as 48 hours (or more) depending on the product – always refer to the manufacturer’s application instructions!
Revisit in Warmer Weather
In most cases, it’s best to go for an in-a-pinch touch-up done as cleanly as possible, then revisit the full paint job in spring with the help of seasoned professionals. Stone Valley Painting excels in addressing damage from painting in suboptimal temperatures and can help you develop a full plan of attack.