Cold Weather Painting Tips for Fall and Winter

Level Up Your DIY!

Cold weather painting requires special techniques and extra prep to make sure your finish looks professional. 

With a bit of extra care and time, you can work on your spray painting DIY year round. 

Let’s find out all the different steps needed to be successful when cold weather painting. 

cold weather painting
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Spray Painting in Cold Weather: How Cold Weather Affects Paint 

Paint is really meant to be sprayed in warmer weather.  Paint flows better because it becomes thicker in colder temperatures.  You could end up with orange peel results and paint splatter.   

Drying time is also slower and inconsistent.   

The results can also be affected in cold weather.  You may have poor color uniformity and even water spotting with water based paint.   

If you’re painting outside in freezing temps, you also run the risk of water based paint possibly freezing inside your spray gun.  Bad news! 

Cold Weather Painting Dry Times

Temperature

Latex Dry Time

75 F4 hours
50-75FUp to 6 hours
Less than 50 FUp to 48 hours

Most paints are best to use at 50F or above.  Anything less will not allow a paint film to form properly.  The lack of film will cause mildew growth, adhesion problems and reduce how long you paint will last/look good on your surface.

Lucky for us serious DIYers, there are paints now that are rated to as low as 35F!  Read on to learn about which brands are innovating for cold weather painting!

PRO TIP

In cold weather, paint gets thicker, so we recommend using 

floetrol (for latex paint) and penetrol for oil based paints. 


This will result in a more uniform and smooth spray and keep your sprayer tip/nozzle from getting clogged. 

Cold Weather Painting and What Temperature is Too Cold to Paint Outside?

Cold weather paints that are specially made to be applied in colder weather have ratings of about 32-35F as the lowest temp that you can use the paint.   

You definitely shouldn't be painting in temps less than what is recommended by the manufacturer.  Your results won’t look professional or last as long.  

Honestly, we don’t see why you would want to be outside in colder than freezing temperatures painting anyways! 

Can You Paint Inside when it’s Cold Outside? 

Yes!   

The temp outside will cause your interior to be colder.  You will have to heat up your space and surface to get the best results from your paint job. 

Where you have an interior wall that faces the outside (and the cold), you will need to pay special attention as the temp of that wall will be affected by the outside more than just a regular indoor wall.  

Can You Use Paint if it Froze? 

Maybe.   

Latex paint is water based, meaning it can freeze if you don’t store it properly.   

Oil based paint/primer, because it doesn’t have any water in it, can withstand colder temps.  It will freeze eventually, just at a much lower temp than latex paint.  

Freezing and thawing out paint can change the emulsion of the paint.  This affects makes the paint have a strange look and consistency to it. 

It also changes the quality of the bond between the paint and primer or your surface.   

The color quality can also change, being less bold or pigmented than before it froze.   

The durability and length of time that the paint will last can be reduced, so instead of it lasting 5-10 years, it might last 1-2. 

Storing Paint in Cold Weather  

Our advice is to carefully store your latex or oil based paint at room temperature, write the date you bought it and last used it on the can, and make sure to test a hidden spot before using it for touch ups. 

If the consistency of the paint is off, even after you've stirred it, then your paint is most likely garbage. 

Does Paint Dry in Cold Weather? 

Yes, paint dries in cold weather but you’ll be waiting a LONG time compared to how fast it dries during the warmer months. 

The paint will also dry inconsistently which means some parts on the same wall will dry faster than other parts. 

You have to be careful to wait long enough before applying a second coat.

Painting Temperature Interior  

The warmer it is, the faster your paint will dry.  Getting your painting area to at least room temperature (about 70F or 20C) will give you optimal results. 

Painting in cold weather in the interior of your house requires some prep work above and beyond the type of prep you would do if you were painting in the summer.

Pro Tips for Cold Weather Painting : Interior Painting in Winter

Here are our top 9 recommend prep tips if you want to paint during cold weather.

#1. Surface temperature matters! 

Get one of these handy infrared surface thermometers that measures temp on any surface using infrared light.  

This way you can figure out the best time of day to paint your surface based on the temperature at any given time.   

When I got mine, I goofed around with it, taking temps of everything, including people.  Fun times!

cold weather painting

#2. Heaters

Warming the surface you are about to paint will help the primer and paint adhere better to the surface.  Getting the surface and area you are painting to warm up is your goal.   

You can do this in a few different ways. 

#3. Ventilation 

Since it will be cold outside, don’t bother opening any windows.  Instead, use your fans to blow air through the space. 

Open another interior door to create a cross wind.  Turn on your furnace (if you have one) even just to blow air. 

#4. Use a high quality bonding primer to ensure the paint sticks to the surface you’re spraying

Primer is so important especially if you’re spraying paint in less than best conditions.  Make sure you buy a high quality bonding primer so that your paint bonds really well in the cold weather. 

#5. Make sure paint is rated for cold temps 

There are a few companies that make paint now that can be used in nearly freezing temperatures.  We think that’s great, because we don’t have to wait for spring/summer to do our DIY! 

#6. Use the right type of brushes and rollers 

We recommend nylon/polyester blend or chinex blend paint brushes.  The bristles are specially made for handling thick paint (like when it gets cold out) and work amazing with latex.  

#7. Build a plastic dome with sheeting to keep in the heat 

This is great!  You basically create a painting shelter out of plastic sheeting for each room or area you are painting.  

You can also use it to paint furniture.  The plastic keeps the heat in one small area, maximizing the temperature and saving a bit of cash on heating compared to larger areas. 

#8. Timing 

Try to paint when weather looks to be warmest for 48-72 hours straight.  Paint right at the beginning of the 48-72 hours to maximize the warmer weather.

#9. Work in the Middle of the Day and Follow and Paint in the Sun

In the colder, darker months, you want to use the light and heat from the sun to your advantage.  The best time is midday, between 10am and 2/3pm. 

This is the opposite of painting in spring and summer conditions, where you want to paint in the shade.   

This is because paint and primer stick better to the surface of your project a specific temperatures.   

Best Cold Weather Paints 

There are 2 cold weather paints that stand out after testing.  We recommend either Behr Cold Weather Paint or Sherwin Williams Cold Weather Paint. Get your late season DIY completed with professional results from these 2 paints.  Be aware that this type of performance and longevity doesn't come cheap.

Sherwin Williams Cold Weather Paints

Sherwin has created 5 exterior latex paints that are great for cold weather painting.  

Sherwin Williams exterior paint temperatures are rated for as low as 35 F.  The paints begin resisting moisture in 2 hours instead of 4 like most other paints because of their new moistureguard technology.  

If you're looking for which lines to grab, check out Resilience, Emerald, Duration, SuperPaint and A-100.

Behr Cold Weather Paint  

Behr Ultra exterior paint is rated for temps as low as 35 F.  The cold weather results are great and the paint will cure properly even at low temperatures.  

Conclusion

Cold weather painting can be done with a bit of extra prep and planning.  

You don’t have to wait for spring to get started on you next DIY project.  Take the boredom out of Fall and Winter and get painting! 


Level Up Your DIY!

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