best practices for painting in hot and cold weather conditions
It’s summertime in Pennsylvania at the moment, and we’re experiencing temperatures in the high 90’s. (For those readers who don’t use Fahrenheit as their temperature unit, that’s around 35 Celsius.)
Many of my furniture painting friends on social media are sharing how they’re sweating their buns off in their garages and backyards while they’re working on painting projects. In my painting Facebook groups, people are starting to post images of projects that went sideways due to intense heat, and are seeking troubleshooting help.
Today, I’d like to share some best practices when painting in less than ideal weather conditions. Believe it or not, you should pay attention to the weather when you paint!
Let’s begin with what’s happening right now – hot weather conditions. You want to try to avoid painting anything in an environment where the temperatures are higher than 70ºF/21ºC.
First, your paint products may dry faster than normal. As you’re brushing your product out, it will dry faster than you can spread it out, causing brush strokes and streaks to form. This is especially problematic when you’re applying a liquid topcoat to your surface, like High Performance Topcoat or Arm R Seal.
You also run the risk of your paint blistering, crackling and bubbling in the heat. (Now crackled paint may be an aesthetic you’re trying to achieve, but if it’s not, avoid the heat.)
So if you’re working in a garage or outside in your driveway, try to have a fan blowing on your piece or perhaps bring in a portable air conditioner unit to your space. Not only should it be running while you’re painting, but while the finish dries and cures as well.
Let’s talk about the opposite conditions now – cold temperatures. While your paint may not bubble or blister in cold temperatures, there are other issues that may arise. First, your products will take longer to dry in the absence of heat. Too much heat is a problem but so is not enough heat. Longer dry times prolong the duration of your project, which can equate to a deadlines not being met or a backlog of projects that need to be completed.
Cold temperatures can also cause issues with your paint products in their containers. Water based products can freeze, creating a slushy in the container. Your product winds up developing clumps like mashed potatoes. If that happens, the product is ruined and should not be used again.
Bringing in a portable space heater helps with this issue. Again, having a climate controlled area will help your paint products last longer while they’re in storage on your shelves.
When it’s particularly humid outside due to rain or general moisture in the atmosphere, working with paint products can be problematic. Products will take longer to dry because of the moisture in the air. You may also trap moisture in between layers of your products, causing hazing and cloudiness in your finish.
ideal painting conditions
As a furniture painting professional, I recommend painting in conditions that are 70ºF and 70% humidity. These are the temperature parameters that General Finishes advocates for on all of their literature for their paint products. I also feel that is transferrable to Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint products too.
Now I know that everyone may not have access to a climate controlled area, and your options may be limited. Try your best to paint on days when the weather isn’t extremely hot, humid or cold. Perhaps you can outfit your garage to be a bit more climate-controlled. Heck, I painted out of my living room for the first 3 years of my painting career! It was well-worth the hassle of dragging a piece out and putting it away again to ensure my paint finish turned out well.
I hope these suggestions help you understand why you may be having issues with your paint projects on bad weather days. Hopefully you’ll be able to paint in a climate controlled environment to ensure your paint finishes turn out their best they possibly can!