Will Paint Dry in Cold Weather?


If the climate where you’re painting happens to be particularly cold, then you’d be right in thinking that it’s going to have an effect on drying times. So what temperatures can paint withstand?

Most oil-based paints require the temperature to be above 45°F (7°C) in order to dry, and most latex-based paints have a delayed drying time below a temperature of 50°F (10°C). Painting in weather that’s too cold may result in the paint becoming blotchy or cloudy, and it may also cause the color and sheen to change.

In this article, you’re going to learn about:

  • The effects of painting in cold weather
  • How long paint takes to dry in cold weather
  • Specially formulated low-temperature paints
  • Best practices for painting in cold conditions

The Effects Of Painting In Cold Weather

When the temperature plummets, painting is probably the last thing on your mind. But if you’re planning on giving your home a fresh coat of paint, it’s important to be aware of how cold weather can affect both the paint and the painting process.

Alkyd and oil-based paints are made with oils and resins that become more viscous at lower temperatures, making it difficult to apply the paint evenly. Water-based paints are susceptible to freezing in cold weather, but you can add freeze resistance by mixing in a paint additive containing an antifreeze chemical.

For alkyd/oil and water-based paints to cure properly, both rely on a specific temperature range. If it dips below that point, the chemicals in the paint won’t mix properly. This can cause things such as poor coverage or peeling paint.

How Cold Is Too Cold?

When temperatures are cool, paint takes longer to dry. This is because the chemical reaction that makes the paint dry is slower in cooler temperatures. So if you’re painting in a cool room or outside on a chilly day, be prepared for your paint to take longer to dry than usual.

However, there is a point where it’s too cold for the paint to dry at all. Most paints have a minimum temperature requirement to dry properly without issues. For latex paints, that temperature is usually 50°F (10°C). On the other hand, oil-based paints typically have a lower minimum temperature of around 45°F (7°C).

Spray paints, on the other hand, have an even wider range of recommended temperatures that can be used in, from as low as 35°F (1°C) up to 95°F (35°C). During colder days, the trick is to place the spray-painted item in a room above 50°F (10°C) in between coats so that it can properly dry.

How Long Does It Take Paint To Dry When It’s Cold?

The general rule of thumb is that paint will take twice as long to dry in cold weather than in ideal conditions. So if you’re used to your paint drying in an hour, expect it to take two hours or more to dry when painting in cooler temperatures.

Alkyd and oil-based paints take longer to dry in cold weather, so you may have to wait more than 48 hours before applying a second coat. To avoid any problems, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. In addition, be sure to keep an eye on the temperature and humidity levels.

Extreme heat or cold can cause problems with the paint, resulting in a less-than-perfect finish. The paint dries too rapidly in hot weather, and bubbles can form. If it’s too cold, the paint takes longer to dry, attracting dirt and grime.

Either way, the overall life expectancy of the paint is reduced. As for humidity, less is more. High humidity levels can cause several problems, from leaching to compromised protective qualities. In extreme cases, the moisture in the atmosphere can even slow the evaporation of solvents, leading to a poor finish. Aim for a humidity level between 40 and 70 percent to avoid these issues when painting outdoors.

Is There A Difference between Painting Indoors And Outdoors?

Yes, there is a big difference between painting indoors and outdoors when the temperature is cold. When painting inside, you have much more control over the temperature and humidity levels. You can also use heaters to keep the area warm and dry.

However, when painting outside, you’re at the mercy of the weather conditions. In addition, it’s much harder to keep the area clean when painting outdoors, which can lead to problems with the paint adhering properly.

Best Paint For Low Temperatures

In the dead of winter, when the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter, it can be tempting to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy. But painting in cold weather can be immensely satisfying for those who enjoy a challenge or have painted walls in dire need of a fresh coat. And with the right paint, it can be surprisingly easy too.

Major paint manufacturers offer special paints formulated for cold weather, most of which are rated for temperatures not below 35°F (1°C). These paints are more reliable than standard paints mixed with additives for freeze resistance or thinned for easier application. Fortunately, Sherman Williams and Benjamin Moore offer a paint product series specifically designed for cold weather conditions.

SuperPaint, Duration, A-100 Exterior, and Resilience from Sherman Williams are all great choices for painting in weather no colder than 35°F (1°C). For projects requiring paint in weather no colder than 40°F (4°C), MoorLife, Super Spec, and MoorGuard from Benjamin Moore are excellent options. Whichever brand you choose, using cold weather-specific paint will result in a beautiful, long-lasting finish.

How To Paint In Cold Weather

Wintertime is the perfect time to tackle those home improvement projects you’ve been putting off all year. But if you’re planning on painting your walls, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are some tips and tricks for painting in cold weather.

1) Choose the right paint. Choosing a paint specifically designed for the temperature conditions is important if you’re painting in cold weather.

2) Prepare your workspace. Make sure you have plenty of space to work in and that the area is well-ventilated. You don’t want to work in a cramped space with limited air circulation as this can make the job even harder and increase the quantity of toxic paint fumes.

3) Check the weather. Before you start painting, check the forecast to ensure the temperature will be above freezing for the project’s duration. Big problems can occur if the temperature falls below the minimum required overnight. This is true for paint that went on smoothly during the day. Keep temperatures above the minimum rating for curing times and a few days after the application for best results.

4) One important factor is the air and surface temperature. If it’s a cold day, it’s not enough to just check the forecasted air temperature. You’ll also want to measure the surface temperature of the area you’ll be working on. This is especially important if there’s any wind, as this can further lower the temperature of exposed surfaces.

Painting in colder weather than recommended on the paint can result in a poor finish, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Luckily, there are many infrared thermometers on the market that are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, making temperature-checking a breeze.

5) Close off the area if needed. One of the best ways to ensure that your painting projects are successful is to create your greenhouse. You can create a bubble around the area you hope to paint, trapping heat and creating a stable environment.

You can build a frame with 2 by 4’s or by using zip poles, and then put a small space heater in the area to warm the building surface and the air. Don’t make the area too hot. You want the temperature to be in that optimal 70-80°F (21-27°C) range.

6) Use additives if needed. When the paint is exposed to cold temperatures, it can thicken and become difficult to work with. This can lead to an uneven finish and a lot of wasted paint. The good news is that there are some simple ways to counter this problem.

For water-based paints, simply add a small amount of Floetrol to keep things flowing smoothly. For oil-based paints, Penetrol works just as well. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for how much additive to use, and you’ll enjoy a flawless finish even in the dead of winter.

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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