Is It Too Cold to Paint Outside?

When the temps drop, questions crop up in the stores about painting in colder, fall weather. People are unsure how long they can effectively paint outside as the year crawls toward winter. After all, who wants to paint outside, only to find out in the spring that it has to be redone because the paint blistered and peeled?

Don’t worry! There’s still time to get one more project in, but there are some things you need to know before you paint outside as the temperature drops.

The Right Paint

The cooler the temp, the more important it is to use a low temp exterior paint. Traditional exterior paints could only be applied as low as 50°, but many paint companies have formulated paints that can be applied in the 40’s and sometimes even the 30’s. RepcoLite’s ENDURA is rated for temps down to 36 degrees and Benjamin Moore’s AURA and REGAL are rated for temps down to 40 degrees.

Important Reminders

  • Temperature ratings include night time temps. You’re looking for temps that reach 36 (or 40) or higher and remain that way for 6-8 hours after application. This allows the paint to dry and form the protective film on the surface. Also,  the temperature rating is for the surface temperature, not just air temperature.
  • The best time to paint is between 10 AM and 2 PM. By starting at 10, you give the dew time to dry before application and the surface you are painting has time to warm up to at least the minimum temperature. By quitting at 2, you are giving the paint enough time to dry before dew sets in again.
  • The short paint window is critical as the temperature drops because paint takes so much longer to dry as it gets cooler.
    • Latex takes 4 hours to dry at 70°
      • It takes at least 6 hours if it is 60° or below
    • Oil takes 8 hours to dry at 70°
      • It takes about 48 hours in cold weather
  • Paint in the sun! We normally tell people to paint in the shade, but as the weather gets cooler, it is actually a benefit to paint in the sun. The sun will help the paint dry and cure better. And it doesn’t hurt that your hands will stay warm too!

You can have great success painting outside well into the fall. It’s just important to be aware of the limitations and conditions that have to be worked around. If you follow the above tips, you will be able to squeak in that one last project before snow flies.

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