Here in Colorado, with our unpredictable seasons, mid-spring snow days, and ultra-sunny summer days, the weather plays a big role in our lives. That goes for residential painting, too, given that paint reacts differently at varying temperatures.
We all know that Denver temperatures can drop well below zero, so when is it simply too cold to paint? Let’s dive into that topic here to decide the best time of year to paint in Colorado.
How Paint Reacts To Low Temperatures
Paint reacts to any extreme temperature, making it exterior residential painting difficult at certain times of year. Cold temperatures impact the drying and curing times for a coat of paint.
What Do Drying and Curing Mean?
Curing and drying paint are, while similar, not the same thing. When paint has dried, it means that the solvent has evaporated from the coating, leaving it dry to the touch. It’s at this stage that you can add another coat of paint, if desired.
When paint has cured, however, it means that it’s gone a step further than the drying process. Cured paint has reached its greatest level of hardness. Once a painted surface has cured, you touch it and use it as you regularly would without leaving marks or damaging the paint.
How Do Cold Temperatures Impact Paint Drying and Curing?
Cold temperatures prolong the drying and curing process for paint, often by several hours. So, you’ll also have to wait longer before you can apply a second coat of paint when you’re working in the cold. Inconsistent drying times are also common when you’re painting in cold weather, which can make it difficult to plan and carry out a residential painting project.
Other Cold Weather Effects on Paint
Cold weather can also impact the quality and consistency of a coat of paint. While painting in cold temperatures, you may notice:
- Film cracking
- Peeling or cracking
- Color inconsistency
- Poor sheen
- Increased paint thickness (for oil-based paint)
- Water spotting (for water-based paint)
More On Water-Based Paint
Water-based paint presents an added challenge in cold weather: at 32°F, water will freeze. If the water in your paint freezes, it simply won’t be able to dry. So, when you’re working with water-based paint, know that working in freezing temperatures is a flat-out no-go.
When Is It Too Cold To Paint?
Generally speaking, paint starts to perform differently than usual in temperatures below 50°F. In temperatures under this threshold, you’ll experience prolonged drying and curing times, as well as some inconsistency and potential water spotting.
For latex paint, you’ll need to be working in temperatures of at least 50°F. For oil-based or solvent paints, the temperature of your surface must be over 45°F for two days in order to achieve a smooth, uniform, and properly cured layer of paint.
The Best Time To Paint in Colorado
In Colorado, you’ll get the best exterior painting conditions from late March through October. Of course, depending on the year, warm temperatures may stick around through much of November, and snow season could stick around until April. As Denverites, we just come to expect fickle temperatures from the Mile High City.
The time of day that you choose to paint during can also make a difference in the success of your residential painting project. If you’re painting in the spring or fall, when temperatures tend to be lower, painting between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. gives you the best chance for optimal temperatures. In the summer months, when the sun is beating down, you’ll likely have to do the reverse of this to avoid painting in sweltering temperatures.
Paint For Cold Temperatures
If you have no choice but to paint in cold weather, there are paints available that have been specially formulated for use in low temperatures. Specifically, you can find water-based paint that can behave normally in temperatures as low as 36°F.
With water-based paint, you can also mix in a paint additive with an antifreeze chemical. This will prevent the water in the paint from freezing at low temperatures.
Still in doubt about residential painting in erratic Denver weather? An experienced Colorado painting team can help you make the right choice for your painting project.