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.
How do you paint when it's cold? Let’s find out all the different steps needed to be successful when cold weather painting.
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.
Paint does dry but drying time is slow 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 temperatures, you also run the risk of water based paint possibly freezing inside your spray gun. Bad news!
Cold Weather Painting Dry Times
Latex Dry Time
|75 F||4 hours|
|50-75F||Up to 6 hours|
|Less than 50 F||Up to 48 hours|
Most paints are best to use at 50F or above. What happens if you paint when its too cold? Well, if you paint in temperatures less than the manufacturers states on the can, then paint film won't form properly on the top of your coats of paint. 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 is now interior and exterior paint that are rated to as low as 35F! Read on to learn about which brands are innovating for cold weather painting!
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 a temperature range of about 32-35F as the lowest temp that you can use the paint. These innovations in paint technology mean that you can paint your exterior in cold weather.
But, you definitely shouldn't be painting in temperatures 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! Interior painting can be done in cold weather temperatures. You don't have to wait until it warms up to repaint your walls or trim. But, there are a couple things to know before you start.
The temperature 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?
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 tempertures. 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. Cold weather also means that it'll take longer for your paint to cure and be fully hardened. You should store furniture, tables and other high traffic use items away in a warm room to let the paint cure properly.
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 temperatures of everything, including people. Fun times!
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.
- Space heaters
- Electric baseboards turned on
- Furnace turned on
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 temperatures
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.
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.
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!