6 Homeowner Tips for Exterior Painting In Cold Weather

Watching paint dry takes patience, but if you are the one applying it, it is a labour of love. Usually, the best time to paint a house is during the warmer months, giving you the best chance of success and the most effective results. Sometimes the timing doesn’t work out, and we are left with painting when the temperature drops.

Do you have an outside painting project that needs to get done despite the chill in the air? It does make the task a little more challenging. With the right tools, outdoor paint, and expertise, you can still get the job done.

Here are six tips for exterior painting in cold weather.

Tip #1: Start with the Right Product

It used to be that paint was not recommended to be put on in the colder months. Still, advancements in acrylic resins and other ingredients allow applications in lower temperatures. Lead-based and alkyd paints have oils and resins that can become thicker when cold, making them harder to apply smoothly. Acrylic paint has water in it and can freeze, but there are antifreeze chemicals that can be mixed in to prevent this.

Low-temperature acrylics can be used, but you must cure them first to acclimate them to the cold by leaving the can outside for a few hours before using it.

Tip #2: Paint During The Warmest Part Of The Day

Even cold days get a high-temperature point, depending on wind direction and cloud cover, so watch the forecast to see when you hit the peak high for your painting day. Choose a day when the sun is out for the best results. Even better, plan to do your exterior paint project when you have several sunny, clear days to have the highest temperature on these cold days.

It is a good idea to follow the sun’s path as you paint, so it shines on what you have just covered and follow with your paintbrush as it goes around the house.

Tip #3: Paint On Days Where Temperate Doesn’t Fluctuate Drastically

Cold painting is enough of a challenge, but you don’t want to have to deal with major temperature fluctuations. When the temperature drops fast at night, dew can form before the paint dries, which is not good. There are moisture guard paints that extend the moisture resistance of the paint so consider using it if you know there will be a big drop.

Tip #4: Allow For Longer Drying Times

Exterior paint takes several hours to dry, and in the warmer months, you have no problem getting a second coat on the same day. With colder temperatures, this process slows down, so you need to be patient. Cold weather can cause dew to form on the paint, and it doesn’t allow the water in the paint to evaporate very quickly. You also don’t want to paint over any dew as it will trap moisture under the paint film, causing a blotchy, patchy appearance.

If the next day is sunny, you may want to let it dry into the evening and hit the second coat the following day when the temperature rises again.

Tip #5: Sunlight vs Shade Temperatures

It isn’t a big deal in the warmer months, but when it turns cold, the temperature can be drastically different in the shade as opposed to the direct sun. Consider this when applying the paint as it affects when and what part of the house to paint and will also dictate the drying times. You can get an infrared thermometer to test the exterior wall temperature. They are not too expensive and handy for measuring the temperature using an infrared beam against any surface. This will allow you to better time your painting application.

Tip #6: Wrap The House

This may seem like an extreme solution, but it doesn’t have to be. You can use 2x4s and six mil poly to construct a temporary structure and create a bubble outside the wall. This can be moved around each day as you paint different walls. If you have any scaffolding or long ladders, you can use them too, and a portable heater can be plugged in and put inside to temporarily raise the temperature as your work. Always maintain the temperature while the paint is drying and monitor the heater so it is safe and there is adequate ventilation.

Painting an exterior of a house is a challenging job that involves reaching, climbing, and stretching and is very physical. It only gets more challenging on a chilly day, but if you need to get that colour on, follow these tips for exterior painting in cold weather to help you manage the temperature and produce a great finish.