Painting In Cold Weather


Court-Hampton Painting answers many questions related to exterior painting in cold weather in this post. As the weather turns from summer to fall a lot of people wonder if they can still paint outside. Even if it is possible, people wonder if it is a good idea to either hire exterior painters or attempt a project themselves and attempt painting in low temperatures.

It is possible to be successful when you’re painting in cold weather as long as you have some knowledge about tools for low temperature painting, paint products, and substrates to be painted. Don’t worry that is why you are reading this post!

Exterior Painting Of Garage In October
Exterior Garage Painted In October

Why paint in cold weather?

There are many reasons why people choose to paint in the cooler seasons. Maybe it was an unbearably hot and humid summer (happens every year it seems in Toronto) which made it difficult to paint. A lot of homeowners like to prepare their home for selling in the spring market before the spring actually hits (a smart idea) and would like to add curb appeal now instead of rushing around in the busy spring painting season. Customers call us in the fall to paint their exterior as they would like to seal up the exterior surfaces that can be damaged in winter by snow and even salt.

Please note that since our painting company is located in Etobicoke Ontario Canada all references to temperature will be in Celsius.

Tools for low temperature painting.

There are some tools that can help you beyond you’re local weather man and are listed below. One tool we could add to the list is a thermal imaging camera but these tend to be expensive, especially for a DIY project.

  • A very handy tool to have in your paint bag is a digital infrared surface temperature gun. These are very handy and inexpensive. They can be a great starting point to see what the surface temperature of the substrate you are about to paint is. They have their limitations as you can see in this video below. Keep in mind you also have to consider the air temperature, the material temperature, as well as the substrate temperature when cold weather painting.
  • Another must have tool which works all year round but is especially helpful deciding if you should go ahead with painting in lower temperatures is a moisture meter. Lets face it the fall season can bring very wet weather and also the dew point increases dramatically. A moisture meter can tell you the moisture content of what you are about to paint. Here is a short video about how Court-Hampton Painting uses moisture meters before doing exterior painting on your home.

Paint products to use in cold weather.

There are a vast amount of paint and painting products out there you can use for painting in the cold but we will only talk about what Court-Hampton Painting uses in the field successfully.

  • For paint we use Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Low Luster. It is rated to paint in temperatures as low as 4.4 degrees Celsius. This paint is self priming on bare wood which is great because we want to remove any variable that can cause paint failure. Most primers that you would use for bare wood priming aren’t always made for cold temperature exterior painting.
  • For specialty primer where you need to paint bare metal, rust stains, or anything problematic we use Zinsser Cover Stain Oil Based Primer. It is rated to prime in temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius.
  • If we need to use wood filler, wood epoxy or caulking we check the temperature limitations of these products before we start the job as the formula for these products are constantly changing. Here’s a pro tip. Download the paint or paint products TDS or technical data sheet prior to starting you’re exterior painting.

Substrates to be painted in cold weather.

What you are painting (the substrate) will usually determine if you can successfully paint in cold weather. Of course another thing to think about is the size of the entire painting project. You don’t want to start a 2 month long exterior painting job in October as you’ll run out of good weather!

  • Wood doesn’t get as cold to the touch as metal will. For this reason Court-Hampton Painting prefers painting exterior wood in the colder weather. Along with the fact that we can eliminate the need of primers for bare wood and the typical 4 hour recoat time makes wood a desirable candidate for painting in the cold. Just use you’re moisture meter and start a little later in the morning to avoid the morning dew. Windows, doors, frames and any vertical wood surface is a great option. Staining decks and fences can also be a success in colder weather as the hot weather can cause the stain to flash dry.
  • Stucco and EIFS is desirable to paint in cooler weather and turns out well. Our company has completed many exterior stucco painting projects in the fall season.
  • Metal can be done but think about how cold it will become at night and if the paint will cure. Always test a brush stroke and do an adhesion test the next day.
  • Masonry can also be done but we don’t like painting any substrate that comes into contact with the ground (or even goes down further then the ground). The reason being is that it is just too wet and masonry can really retain mositure.

We hope this helps anyone considering painting in cold weather. The team at Court-Hampton Painting Inc.

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