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Spraying Paint in the Cold – A Complete Guide

With the cold months ahead most painters whether hobbyist or contractors will not be doing outdoor work. However, there are times when you can’t avoid the need for outdoor work and so you may wonder how to best effectively spray outdoors in the cold weather without adverse effects.

Spraying Paint in the Cold Tip 1 – Select a proper Paint Product to Apply in Cold Weather

Most paints are designed to be applied to a surface that is within certain temperature parameters and generally speaking the suggested temperature range is usually fairly warm (north of 50 degrees Fahrenheit is common for most standard house paints and stains). Applying paint to the surface when it is significantly cooler than suggested can cause problems with your paint adhering to the surface. That is why the first practical thing to look into is whether a paint company can offer a product that has more forgiving surface temperature needs when being applied.

Spraying Paint in the Cold Tip 2 – Know Your Surface Temperature when you will be Applying Paint

As we have already mentioned cold surfaces create problems for paint effectively adhering. While choosing a paint that will perform well when applied to a cold surface is one solution you should also be aware of the surface temperature when you go to apply paint. Specifically, be sure to check the surface with a surface thermometer prior to painting. This will help ensure you do not experience adhesion problems due to a cold surface. Additionally, you may find the surface your painting may not be as cold as you may fear as the outside of a home can often be warmer than the surrounding air due to heat escaping from the home and similar factors.

Spraying Paint in the Cold Tip 3 – Consider Keeping Your Paint Warm Whenever Possible

While cold surfaces can create adhesion problems, cold paint can be thick and hard to spray. In general drops in temperature result in increased viscosity and thickening of coatings. When spraying paint in the cold this can create problems getting a good finish from your work as the thicker material can be harder to atomize. To fix this problem you can try to keep your paint in a warm area or you can also consider using a proper paint heater. A paint heater will enable the material to stay warm despite cold outdoor temperatures.

Spraying Paint in the Cold Tip 4 – Evaluate options to heat the work area you will spray

An additional way that you can make spraying paint in the cold more effective is to look into options to heat your work area. Depending on the type of work you are doing you may have to create containment for your work area anyway. If you have a way to enclose heat you could consider renting a large air replacement unit to warm the area you will be painting. By heating the area you will be painting you can potentially warm the surface so that you can potentially spray paint on a surface at a temperature that is more common for common paints.

Spraying Paint in the Cold Tip 5 – Choose Solvent Based Formulations

While solvent based is not always as ideal because of the greater VOC’s that are contained in solvent based and the need for thinner to properly clean up paint when your finished working, when it comes to being tolerant of low temperatures solvent based products are typically superior. From not freezing at low temperatures (water based could freeze at temperatures below 32 degrees), to being more likely to be able to adhere to a cold surface solvent based paint products will generally be better suited for cold weather spraying.

Spraying Paint in the Cold Tip 6 – Properly Prepare Equipment for storage

You will want to ensure you clean and store your equipment so that nothing freezes in your lines while being stored. If you will be using a water based product you will want to add a product called pump armor to the final water you use to flush the pump. If you will be using solvent based products you may also want to consider adding solvent based pump armor to prevent any potential freezing of material in your spray equipment.

Final thoughts

Ultimately spraying paint in the cold is not ideal as there are additional unique challenges you will face from ensuring the surface is warm enough for the paint to be applied, to getting material to spray effectively, to storage challenges. However, if you have decided that you will have to spray in the cold, then utilize these 6 tips to ensure you get good results and minimal headaches while spraying paint in the cold.

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