Exterior painting in cold weather
ContractorsInsurance No Comments

We’re well into the winter months, now, but work goes on. Some of the toughest challenges contractors face in the cold months is how to work with materials like concrete and paint that have trouble curing in frigid temperatures. It is possible, however, to do painting during the winter months. Here are some tips and tricks for exterior painting in cold weather so that your contracting business doesn’t freeze with the temperature outside.

Exterior Painting in Cold Weather

You can paint in cold weather, but you need to carefully plan and prepare before doing so. Cold weather is anywhere between 35 to 50 degrees. Paint has difficulty drying in such temperatures, and there are other problems that can arise as well. This happens because most paints are based on materials that become viscous at lower temperatures. This means that some paints are going to require thinning. Latex paints can in fact freeze in cold weather, requiring additives to thaw them out.

Is the Paint Usable?

If your paint has gone through a number of freeze/thaw cycles, it may create serious problems and become unusable. If the paint is lumpy in consistency, it has become unusable and will need to be discarded and replaced. If it is still smooth, it may still be usable, though again, it could freeze and require special additives for use.

exterior painting in cold weather


Drying time is much slower in cold weather, meaning it’s going to be much longer before you can apply a second coat. At ideal 75 degree temperatures latex paint requires four hours to cure. If the temperature is below 50, you are looking at anywhere from six hours to two days before the paint cures and can be recoated (using alkyd paints extends the time to the 2-day mark).

Problems with Cold Weather Painting

In addition to slow drying, you may experience film cracking, problems with the uniformity of the color, water spotting, powdery film development, uneven coating and other issues. The best way to address these issues is to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the paint to ensure that it can be used in the temperature in which you’re working. Track the temperature of the surface as well as the surrounding air (they can be significantly different). Try to paint in the morning to early afternoon. This will be when the weather is most ideal.

Make sure that you prep before painting any type of exterior. Pre-heating the area can be a big help. Set up your scaffolding, cover the surface and heat the area. Try to keep the temperature stable throughout the recoat and drying process. Keeping the paint warm enough is key to ensuring it dries properly.

exterior painting in cold weather

Of course, you want to make sure that your workers observe all OSHA standards for safety, especially when working on scaffolding or high up. You want to avoid falling debris, accidents from slips or trips and other potential job hazards. It is also vital to carry painter’s insurance to make sure that you are covered when accidents happen.

Free General Liability Insurance Quote