How To Paint When It’s Cold Outside

by | May 6, 2019 | Knowledge Base

If you want a quick way to protect your home, increase its value, while also making it look good, there’s no better way than a good old fashioned paint job.

But what about painting when it’s cold outside – can it be done?

We get this question a lot and there is a good chance that if you’re asking, you likely fall into one of two categories:

The first is that spring has sprung, and you are ready to start improving your home with a fresh new coat of exterior paint and are wondering how soon you can get out and start.

The second is that you found yourself so busy over the summer that renovations ended up getting pushed into later in the fall and now you’re wondering if it’s too late to start.

Regardless of what situation you’re in – you really want to know how cold is too cold? Well that depends on the substrate and the product.

The Substrate

The substrate refers to the underlying layer, or the surface you are painting.

The chemical makeup of different substrates may require different types of paint, which in turn may have different requirements, limits, and affect how a type of paint will perform under different temperatures.

A whiteboard for example, is typically composed of enamel steel. Using a dry erase marker on this type of substrate will allow the markings to be easily wiped clean, compared to a permanent marker which can be much harder to remove. The difference lies in a polymer within the chemical makeup of the ink, which reacts differently to the substrate (the whiteboard composed of enamel steel).

Type of Paint

Two of the most common types of paint used in residential exterior work are latex and acrylic paints.

If you are wondering what would be best for you, check out our post on selecting the best type of paint for your next project.

The ideal temperature for applying latex or acrylic paint is between 10°C and 29°C with overnight temperatures not dipping below 10°F for 48 hours. There should be a relative humidity of between 40% to 70% for the best drying to occur.

Most paint manufacturers have low temperature exterior paints. These special low temperature acrylic paints can be applied to surfaces with temps between 3°C and 5°C.


As always, you will also want to consider the prep work involved to ensure an optimal finish. This is often a rushed part of the process, but arguably the most important one.

Before undertaking any painting project, you will want to make sure you have all the materials you need to clean the substrate.

We at ArmourCo take great pride in our thoroughness of preparation. Check out our post about proper preparation guidelines for different substrates.

Final Advice

  • Temperatures should not dip below the recommended level for at least 48 hours.
  • Air temperature and surface temperature are very different and many surfaces can be colder than the air. For example, metal substrates could be several degrees cooler than the air temperature.