Exterior Painting in Cold Weather

exterior paint cold weather

Painting the outside of your home is obviously something that you don’t want to screw up. There are a bunch of different factors you’ll want to consider when painting the exterior of your home, such as paint type, paint color, sun exposure, cleaning your walls, but the weather/time of year is another huge thing to consider when painting your exterior. Living in Colorado, you’re definitely aware that it tends to get pretty cold on occasion, especially at nighttime. Cold weather can impact a bunch of different aspects of exterior painting, all of which you’ll want to be aware of to make sure you get a nice, well-painted home.

How Cold is Too Cold?

When it comes to exterior painting in cold weather, there is a lower threshold for when the paint won’t cure correctly.

You have the metaphorical “green light”, so to speak, to paint as long as it’s above 35 degrees.

Many paints with low curing temperatures do not have additives, allowing for a superior finish.

However, this "35 degrees" refers to the lowest temperature you’ll get that day. A common misconception is that you can paint when the daytime high is above 50 and the overnight low is below 35.

However, the daytime high isn’t the only temperature that matters. You should also consider the overnight low, which should remain above 35 degrees since exterior paint typically won’t fully dry and cure in half a day.

Temperature-wise, while you won’t face any problems during the paint application, you will encounter difficulties during the drying stage. Paints stop melding or coalescing if the temperatures are too low, even higher than 35 depending on other factors. Other factors, such as the brushes and type of paint, can make a difference in the results, too.

Uncured paints can also expose your home to unwanted moisture. Dew forms on surfaces overnight because cold air doesn’t retain water vapor as well as warm air. When the moisture evaporates, it causes ingredients to come to the surface, creating stains and hindering adhesion.

For exterior painting in cold weather, the key is to pick a paint designed for cold (35-degree) weather that is water-resistant. The formula lets the paint cure on time and wicks moisture away from your home. These paints have twice the moisture resistance as standard latex coatings.

painting in cold weather

The Best Paints for Cold Weather

Many major paint manufacturers offer special paints that are formulated for cold weather.

However, as we discussed earlier, most of these are rated for temperatures no lower than 35 degrees. If you’re going to be exterior painting in cold weather, it's best to use one of these specially-designed paints. A paint that's designed for lower curing temperatures will be much more reliable than standard paints mixed with additives for freeze-resistance or thinned for easier application.

Note that the temperature must be at or above the minimum recommended curing temperature for the entire curing process, not just during application. If you add a fresh coat of paint in 45-degree weather, but then the weather turns colder an hour later, the paint may not cure properly even though it will eventually dry. It’s important to track the weather and especially note the night-time low temperature.

Additionally, you’ll want to use a specialized paintbrush when painting with these cold-weather paints. Because paints are thicker in lower temperatures, it's best to use relatively stiff brushes with nylon, polyester, or Chinex bristles, all of which tend to work well with thicker paint.

Tracking Local Weather Guides

Before beginning work on your project, you’ll want to check local forecasts and find a stretch of a few days when temperatures will be their highest and the sun will be out, as both of these will help speed up the drying process. You'll ideally need to have a few days in a row when temperatures don't drop below the minimum for the paint you are using because you also need to factor in drying time for multiple coats.

Plan each coat for times when the sun will be shining on the area you are painting. Direct sunlight quickly raises the surface temperature of most building materials. In hot weather, sunlight should be avoided, but in cold seasons it's preferable to paint in direct sun. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and throughout the day southern-facing walls will get near-constant sun. Painting north-facing or shaded parts of your home might be a little more difficult, so here’s where it’s especially important to understand when a good weather window is.

cold weather exterior house paint

Best Seasons for Exterior Painting

Generally, spring and fall are the ideal seasons for painting just about everywhere in the country. These seasons are when the weather is warm and the sun is not strong enough to overheat the surface that you are trying to paint. This is especially true in Colorado, where we frequently get very intense sunlight. It's also less likely that you’ll encounter temps dipping too low, so you can ensure that your paint will cure properly and your home will look great.

Ultimately, the best season depends on where you live. For instance, if you live up in the mountains in Colorado, spring still might be a little too cold and you’ll want to wait until summertime. If you’re somewhere in the Denver area, however, you might be able to get away with starting a little earlier in the year or going a little later.

Experienced Colorado Painters

Here at Colorado Painting, we take pride in providing long-lasting exterior paint jobs and reliable customer service. We know Colorado (we're locals) and we know painting – hence the name. We’ve assisted homeowners all across the front range of Colorado for decades. We strive to not only meet but exceed your expectations with every project in terms of quality, price, and communication.

Exterior painting in cold weather can be tricky. At Colorado Painting, we are continuously learning about the best products and application methods so that our customers get the paint job they want when they need it.

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