When Is It Too Cold to Paint Outside?




Last Updated on February 1, 2021

If you are planning to paint your home during the cold season, it is important to check the temperature before proceeding. The temperature is one of the biggest factors to consider when painting the outside of your home. Paint tends to react and perform very differently in low temperatures than in warmer weather. If the conditions are too cold, you may end up wasting time and money to redo the same project. 

So when is it too cold to paint outside and what are the negative effects of the low temperature to paint? Moreover, does it affect all paints, or are there specific types of paint that you can use during colder months? Find the answers to these questions below. 

Question #1: When Is It Too Cold to Paint Outside? 

Generally, if the temperatures outdoors reach below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, applying paint is not recommended. But keep in mind that the ideal temperature range is different depending on the type of paint. To understand better, here’s a quick overview of the basic types of paint, their ideal temperature range, and their advantages and disadvantages. 

Type of PaintIdeal Temperature RangeAdvantages Disadvantages
Latex PaintBetween 50 to 70 degrees FEasier to use and work withDries quickerNot as durable as oil-based paint
Water-Based PaintAt least 50 degrees FShorter dry timeEasier to clean upCan retain smooth appearance for a long timeRequires specific conditions to cure properly
Oil-Based PaintBetween 45 to 90 degrees FVery durableMore resistant to low temperaturesLonger dry timeDifficult to clean up (requires use of paint thinner or turpentine)

So when is it too cold to paint outside? The answer depends on the type of paint you will use. If you are going to use latex paint or water-based paint, anything lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold. For oil-based paint, the limit is 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and anything lower would be considered too cold.

For water-based, however, make sure that the temperature would not reach below 32 degrees Fahrenheit at night for the following days. This is because water-based paints require several days to cure. So even if the temperature during the day is ideal, it won’t result in a good film if it gets too cold at night. 

Question #2: How Does the Cold Affect Paint?

The cold temperature can cause several problems to paint and its application. For one, oil-based paints tend to become thicker and harder to apply. This can cause stiffer brushing and less coverage for every gallon. Low temperatures can also cause water-based or latex paints to freeze. However, a way around this is to add a paint additive that contains a chemical that can resist freezing.

Painting in colder weather can result in mildew or staining. It can also affect the curing process of both oil and water-based paints. See, if they don’t cure properly, you may notice several problems with your painted surface, including the following:

  • Peeling
  • Color inconsistencies
  • Blushing
  • Bubbling
  • Poor coverage
  • Cracking
  • Low sheen

Additionally, if the temperature reaches below 55 degrees F, the speed of the paint’s curing will be affected. It will take longer to dry, and the surface will stay wet for a longer period. This means it will be prone to dirt, insects, grime, and other debris. Moreover, the cold temperature around your property can also reduce the life expectancy of paint. As a result, you might be repainting the same project sooner than you planned. 

Question #3: Best Type of Paint During Colder Days

While the cold days aren’t exactly the most ideal time to paint outside, you can still proceed with your task and expect good results. Due to the many advancements in materials, many manufacturers are already offering paints that you can apply to your home’s exterior even in temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you really must paint during the cold weather, you can use specially formulated latex paint or acrylic latex paint. 

A specially formulated latex paint have coalescing agents that help and improve its curing elements during low temperatures. This is a better and more reliable choice than using standard paints and mixing them with freeze-resistant additives. Take note, however, that the temperature should not go lower than the minimum recommended temperature during the application and the whole curing process. 

Conclusion

When the temperature reaches below 50 degrees F, it is too cold to paint outside using latex and water-based paint. If you are going to use oil-based paint, make sure that it isn’t below 45 degrees F outdoors. For colder conditions, you can still paint outside using acrylic latex paint. Just make sure that the temperature doesn’t go beyond the 35 degrees F mark.

With the many types of paint available in the market, it is crucial to read labels. Before buying and using a product, make sure that it is rated for your expected temperature. Also, while paint products are approved for use in cold conditions, other materials or tools (brushes, rollers, etc.) are not. Thus, they may not work as well in low temperatures. So if you want your project to be a success, know the temperature, know your products, and use the correct tools. 

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