At Elite Finisher, we realize that many homeowners ask the question "what time of year is best to paint my home"? Spring can be rainy, summer can be humid, fall is nice and cool... Late spring and summer are classic exterior painting months. With precipitation low and temperatures warm, paint cures at the proper rate. During the fall, the high and lows are less than other seasons, so it's an excellent time to get to work.
You may have questions about having the exterior of your home painted during the winter months; maybe you have to prep for sale or have damage that could become worse over the winter.
You might even assume that it isn’t a good idea to paint your home in the winter or that you should wait for warmer weather. The fact is, exterior house painting can be done in winter months, as long as the outside temperature is 35 degrees or higher, but you must use the right type of paint or hire a professional painter.
It's all about the paint
Improved paint technology lets you push down as low as 35 degrees F (as long as you buy a certain type of paint). As a general rule, in Northern states, stop around November. In Southern states, stop around December.
Paint manufacturers recommend a minimum outside temperature for painting. As paint quality and technology has improved over the years, so too has the minimum temperature point. For a long time, it was recommended that you never paint a house when the ambient temperature is 50 degrees. Today it's pretty safe to say you can paint your home in temperatures down to 40 degrees, and with some premium paints, it can be applied down to 35 degrees.
But our general rule of thumb is to paint your home in the dead of winter unless it's unavoidable.
Painting in temperature fluctuations
Temperature highs and lows are important but even more important is the fluctuation between temperatures. Paint is not happy when temperatures during the day are 90+ degrees and then suddenly drop to the mid 40's at night. The southwest climate is a good example of this. You can (and likely will) see bubbling, chipping, flaking, etc. when painting in these extreme conditions. Paint just likes a nice, happy, and consistent temperature point to cure at.
For this reason, early fall may be a good time of the year in your location to paint. Daytime and nighttime temperatures are often closer than during other times of the year.
What about moisture?
It can be a problem with all the above issues just mentioned. Paint should only be applied to a dry surface. Your painting surface can become moist by direct rain, humidity in the air, snow or any other of nature's events. After a hard rain, wait at least one full day before painting. Sometimes when the surface does not feel wet, the underlying material may still have moisture, especially if its a porous wood or material.
Remember, moisture happens indirectly, too. Dew forming over night or in early evenings can quite easily mess up exterior paint jobs even though it was a nice dry 75 during the day. Strategizing for success is your best course of action.
Tip: you'll want to look at the weather forecast for the next day as well. What might be great today, could be terrible by 2 am. Remember that your paint needs to cure and dry for a period of time.
Paint just likes a nice, happy, and consistent temperature point to cure at.
What do the pro painters say?
If you run across a painter that will work during any climate, you should probably pass and inquire with the next company. Professional painters are good at stretching seasons, but it just not smart or possible to paint at all times of the year.
In cold, snowy climates such as our own here in Minnesota, you should not find professional painters working on the exterior of homes at all (though we've seen some neighbors attempting this...) It is just too cold for the paint to cure. And if you do try, you may find that the paint flakes off. Instead, this is the time for interior painting.
Pro painters typically block off the Mid-October to the end of March for interior only work. Not only do they not suffer in crummy weather, but their work also does not suffer.
If tackling this project on your home, here are three tips to help get you prepped:
The temperature of the substrate (painting surface). The temperature of the siding on your home may be below the temperature of the air. This is a factor you should consider and keep careful watch of the weather forecast.
Time to dry
Paint takes longer to dry in colder temperatures, so there must be sufficient drying time before temperatures begin to drop in the evenings. Again, take notice of the weather and its forecaset and start your day as early as the painting surface will allow.
Materials should be stored at room temperature. Paint, caulk, patching and other materials used in painting your home should be stored at room temperature overnight. This is a “working temperature,” meaning that these materials go on smoothly and you enjoy a seamless application with beautiful results.