Exterior Painting in Cold Weather

This guide is for those beginners who want to paint their exterior in cold weather without making any mistake and want to achieve the best out of their work. This guide is best for amateurs who are afraid to paint in cold weather environment.

If you’re a home builder or remodeler who has to paint during the colder months, you may have a new project in mind. While painting during the summer months can be a bit of a challenge, the cold weather months can be even more difficult.

exterior painting in cold weather

You are likely to have fewer people around to help, and the products can be more difficult to work with in the cold. But this doesn’t mean that painting in cold weather can’t be done. There are a few things you can do to make sure that your painting projects get completed.

Prepare the area before you paint

In order to get the most out of our paint you’re going to want to make sure that the area you are working on is as clean as possible before even trying to apply the paint. You will also want to make sure that the surface that you are painting onto is level and has been checked for cracks, holes or any other imperfections.

To ensure these aspects we recommend always checking with a professional painter to test for these conditions before starting and then preparing your work area in such a way that no liquids can enter into your cleaning work space because this can lead to false results for example by using a window cleaner solution on an object which is not glass, And if you do find something unusual during your testing process, let us know and we will give you our best advice on how and where to proceed next!

Remove Mildew

Remove mildew. Mix chlorine bleach and water (1 tsp. bleach to 1-quart water) in a heavy-duty plastic bucket. Use a scrub brush or old toothbrush, wearing protective equipment (gloves, eye protection and a mask), to scrub away the mildew on wood siding or any outdoor building surface.

For an outdoor surface, mix 10% bleach solution for paint removal come in handy when removing excess paint from most surfaces. It also works well at removing mildew stains without strong odors.

Caulk and prime the surface

Caulk around windows, doors and trim. Scrape away dried out caulk and apply fresh caulk where needed. Then prime bare wood using the recommended primer by the paint manufacturer or skip priming if you are using a self-priming paint.

What cold weather does to exterior paint?

Extreme cold temperatures do not play along with coats of paint. While the ground may be covered in a delicate dusting of snow and icicles hang from rooftops, a billowing layer of steam can rise up from freshly-applied paint – because the low temperatures make it difficult to apply and smooth on thick layers of different paints.

Water-based paints such as latex are affected by negative temps because water turns into ice when frozen. On the other hand, oil-based paints will become thicker when exposed to low temperatures; this means it is extremely difficult to make even or smooth applications.

To keep paint from freezing in below-freezing temperatures, you can add an antifreeze chemical which makes them freeze-resistant at recommended levels.

Maintaining a comfortable temperature in your house can be difficult. On one hand you’re trying to save money by not heating your home to scorching temperatures, but on the other you don’t want the place freezing so cold your fingers twitch trying to turn on light switches.

painting in cold weather

Often people have separate heaters they use when they only need a little warmth and air coolers when they need it really cold. But what are some easy ways that can help you achieve this?

Can we use frozen paint?

Water-based paints usually hold up alright in the freezer but they won’t last forever! If a previously frozen water-based paint becomes lumpy or just seems like it’s not mixing right, it may not be usable anymore. This can happen when that particular batch of paint has lost its ability to emulsify and so it won’t be curing properly.

Paint gets colder than you’d think – water based paints even at 32 degrees Fahrenheit! Anything above this temperature will start to form ice crystals which result in a more solid consistency that is nowhere near as smooth as liquid paint.

Any oil-based paints are gonna be much more resistant to this freezing action. They take anywhere from 2 to 15 days to fully harden but once they do, they’ll keep a lot better in cold weather, so if you live in an area with a lot of winter weather enjoy using them!

Recoat in cold weather

Painting with oil-based paints in a cold environment requires more time than painting during the summer. These paints dry slower, meaning you’ll have to wait longer before you paint again, otherwise the new layer may get soggy.

It’s best to only paint when the temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit so that wet paint doesn’t freeze before it dries. The ideal temperature for alkyd/oil-based paints is 75 degrees, but some can take up to 2 days to dry in chilly weather.

We recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations for re-coating so that you don’t end up being frustrated by your paintings.

Just because it’s bright outside doesn’t mean areas of your structure that are exposed to sunlight will remain the same temperature as areas that are in direct contact with solar radiation! Differing physical conditions between indoors and outdoors can be a factor when it comes down to drying times and recoating schedules.

Some of best paints for cold environment

Many major paint manufacturers have special paints that are tailor-made for cold weather use. Most of these paints are rated for temperatures no lower than 30 degrees, so it is best to use one of these paints in such circumstances rather than normal mixes that contain additives for freeze resistance or extra thinning.

You need to be aware of the minimum curing temperature for the paint you intend to use. Don’t put a fresh coat on when the weather is at or below that temperature. Your project might take longer than expected because it won’t cure as quickly – and even paint that does end up drying may not perform well in lower temperatures.

Contact your local home improvement center or find one online and look for paints specifically designed for freezing climates if that’s what you need to complete your project because they are specially formulated so you can use them in colder climates with confidence.

When painting the exterior trim on your house, it’s best to use relatively stiff brushes with nylon, polyester, or Chinex bristles. They tend to work well with thicker paint. It’s important to note that the temperature must be slightly above the minimum recommended curing temperature for paint for the entire curing process to take place.

If you apply a coat of paint in 45-degree weather but then the temperature drops to 40 degrees an hour later, it may not cure properly although it will eventually dry.

Temperature of surface matters the most

When considering the temperature of the outside air when painting a room, think about how much colder it gets on those walls or ceilings. This is because the paint actually absorbs the cold from around it and that can make greenhouses seem like an ice-skating rink in comparison.

Painters aren’t always lucky enough to deal with perfect 90-degree weather conditions on spring days and warm breezy nights. Rather than cursing your luck or suffering in cold or hot, ugly weather, many painters are using inexpensive infrared thermometers to take the guesswork out of painting in questionable temperatures.

Artistic license will not give you a reprieve from running a paint analysis first before spraying. The minimum application temperature specified on your paint can relate not only to the air temperature but also the temperature of the surface to be painted.

Often, the wall or ceiling surface is colder than the air, especially if there is wind. If the air is 55 degrees, but the wall surface you’re painting is only 40 degrees, it’s as though you’re painting in 40-degree weather.

Track the weather before starting

Though sunny days are generally considered ideal for painting, don’t let that make you think you can never paint in the rain. Acrylic paints dry quickly, so if you can’t put off a project till tomorrow, fear not! Just make sure to consider drying time before you sit down to a fresh coat of primer or washable paint. It’s also important to keep your near-future forecasts checked in case persistent fog or rain happens to coincide with your off-the-cuff painting day.

Do a bit of research on the weather in your area during the next few weeks and figure out which days will be the hottest. Then, choose those days to paint your project to ensure that you get even coverage over all surface areas for optimum results. Remember there is no point painting on a cold day or even in the shade when it’s freezing because the paint simply won’t dry quickly enough and it’ll end up looking streaky.

Build a bubble

When you’re painting in cold weather, there’s a simple way to keep the temperature up so that you can get your painting done faster. All you need to do is make a tent out of 4-6 mil plastic sheeting supported by something like 2x4s or zip poles over the area where you’ll be working, and then use a space heater inside the “tent” to warm the area up to about 70-80 degrees. It works just like an indoor painting booth.

You can save some bucks by heating your area up to 70-80 degrees while you’re in the middle of painting something. This is done by venting the area to get it up to temperature and then turning off the recirculation fan so as not to circulate any fresh air. The space heater will then heat the air gradually, thereby achieving a steady temperature throughout the paint job.


When the paint is not well-mixed, you may see chalky spots of incompletely-dried paint. If you paint very cold climate, you may also see a lot of bubbles in the paint, which is called ‘blushing’. The problem has to do with the chemical process of curing and drying the paint. Paint is a two-part product, which means that the components of the paint need to chemically combine to form a solid material. If the temperature is too cold, the chemical process of curing and drying will be slow. You will see a lot of blushing and chalky spots. In order to properly prepare the paint for application, it’s important to ensure that the components are properly mixed together. Never buy paint that has been sitting around for a long period of time. Always use fresh paint.

The temperature has a significant impact on the paint. The higher the temperature, the faster the paint dries. In addition to the temperature, there is another important factor that you should take into consideration. How thick is the paint? The thinner the paint, the faster it dries. Keep in mind that some paints dry faster than others. However, if the temperature is higher than what it’s recommended to paint, the paint will dry even faster than expected. In the worst case scenario, it may not adhere properly to whatever it is you’re painting.

In 40 degrees paint will dry much quicker than in 50 or 60 degrees. But if it is 40 degrees the paint will not dry completely in the time frame that you specified. The paint will still be tacky after you have left it for the time frame you have specified.  If the paint is still tacky at the end of these time frames then you will have to scrape the paint of and then sand the surface ready to start again. This can be a hassle but is something that you will not have to worry about if the paint is dry.

Outdoor Painting is always best when the weather is calm. Whether you are a hobbyist or working as an artist, you can ensure the best results when you have the right working environment. Painting outside should be planned in advance and you need to know what the best conditions will be before you start.

The drying time for paint before freezing depends on the paint type, moisture content and the temperature. New latex paint can take up to 2 weeks before freezing point. High quality latex paint can dry in as little as 2 days. High quality alkyd paint can take up to 10 days. Latex paint freezes at -31 degrees. Alkyd paint freezes at -10 degrees. Make sure the temperature is taken with a thermometer right on the paint surface, because the actual temperature can be 5 degrees lower or higher.


These were some tips which you should keep in mind while painting exterior surfaces in cold weather and amateurs should follow each tip explained in this easy to understand guide in order to achieve the best results out of their work after completing it. Still if you have any confusion regarding exterior painting in cold weather you may ask in comments section and I make it sure that you get your answer in time. Till next time adios my painter fellas!

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