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How Cold is Too Cold for Painting?

Sometimes, in the middle of a harsh winter, you experience a mishap or notice some chipped posts on your porch.  Winter months are treacherous on both you and the project. Putting aside your personal aversion to outdoor house maintenance in cold weather, how cold is too cold to paint

Too cold

There is no exact answer to this question as the answer varies from paint to paint. We suggest reading its can for warnings and guidelines on use. Latex paint generally needs a higher temperature than oil-based paints. Freezing air temperature can cause cracking or peeling, because the paint does not properly bind. That wastes both money and time!

However, working in direct sunlight will raise the listed temperature for the shade. The only stipulation is that the condition must stay consistently above the low for more than four hours while drying occurs. It's best if the temperature stays above it for over 48 hours.

  • Oil-based paints can be used between 40°- 90° F.
  • Latex can be used between 50°- 85° F. (Latex paint needs warmer weather to grant time for particles to coalesce.)
  • The best drying will occur when the relative humidity is 40% to 70%.
Other issues to avoid when painting in cold weather:
  • Moisture in the air will not allow paint to form on surfaces correctly.
  • A sudden drop in the temperature at night generates staining when certain ingredients in the paint rise to the surface.
  • Be careful using paint left in the garage. Once it undergoes a freeze/thaw cycle, observe the consistency, and discard of lumpy liquids.

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