It’s November. You’re standing outside of your house, probably wearing a light jacket because the temperatures have started to plummet, and are thinking, wow, this house could really use a coat of paint. And then you remember that your conventional wisdom says that painting a house during the winter is a no go. Why? Because for Connecticut, the winter usually holds the wettest and the coldest months of the year—two things that are not good for painting, and not just because it makes for a miserable painting environment but also because it’s just not good for the paint or for the house.
So, does that mean that fall and winter are off limits for painting? Does painting have a season? Let’s take a look at the factors that affect whether or not you can paint during the winter and when your cutoff date should be.
In most states, most of November’s daily temperatures will still be above 35 degrees Fahrenheit. There are some brands of paint that have improved ingredients that make it possible to paint down to this temperature—but you have to buy that type of paint and it is usually more expensive than other types of paint. In most of the Northern United States and definitely in New England, you should not paint if it is colder than 35 degrees F, if you have the paint that is specially formulated to resist cold and moisture.
Summer is, of course, the most popular time to paint. The warm weather is great for paint and the chore of painting can be mitigated by fun summer activities like swimming in a pool or having a barbecue once the work is done. But for those that have particularly hot summer or for whom the prospect of standing outside all day in summer weather is just not appealing, when can you paint? Do you have to endure the heat, or is painting in the winter actually a possibility?
Most paint manufacturers formulate their paint so that it works best when applied above 40 degrees. In the past, it used to be 50 degrees, but most paint companies have improved their formulation so that it far exceeds the original estimations.
Another major factor when it comes to whether or not you should paint is how widely the temperature fluctuations during the day. If it is over a hundred degrees during the heat of the day and drops to almost freezing by midnight, the paint is not going to be happy. If this is what your summers are like, it is probably best to wait until the more moderate temperatures of fall.
In New England, November is usually the cut off, unless you have a set of particularly warm days. In other parts of the country, where it remains warmer, later in the year, painting during November and even early December may be possible.
Moisture is another major factor that affects your painting season. For those with very wet summers, it may not be possible to paint during summer months, as the walls never dry out enough to accept the paint properly.
The same can be said about winter, however, even if you are having a relatively warm winter. If there has been enough snow or sleet that the walls are not dry, even if your temperature exceeds 35 degrees, it is likely not a good idea to paint. Keep in mind that even if you touch it and it feels dry, it might not and is likely not dry on the inside.
Don’t forget to keep forecasts in mind as you are planning your painting schedule. Your paint will still be drying and curing come nightfall, so just like you do not want the temperature to drop below 35 degrees at night, you do not want a rain shower to come along and re-wet your paint.
The fall is a great time to paint, as long as it is not too cold or wet. Make sure you have plenty of time for your paint to dry before it does get too cold or too wet and you should be fine.
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