When is it The Right Time for Painting Outdoors?: Know How Weather can Help or Hurt with Outside Painting Projects

When is it The Right Time for Painting Outdoors?: Know How Weather can Help or Hurt with Outside Painting Projects

Not sure when painting outdoors is right? Changeable weather can seem to put outdoor painting projects on indefinite hold. Here’s a breakdown of how to work with the weather and, whenever possible, reap its benefits to fit any schedule.

Is Painting Outdoors Okay Right After a Rain?

Surprisingly, sometimes rain can be very helpful. If painting with a water-based paint (latex, acrylic latex or 100% acrylic), painting stucco or wooden fences can be easier with the dampness, particularly in hotter climates.

The reason? Water-based paint applied directly to a hot dry surface immediately separates the water from the balance of the paint’s ingredients. The wood or stucco acts like a sponge, leaving the rest of the paint to sit on the hot surface. Because the heat causes the water to evaporate very quickly, a proper bond between paint and surface is rarely achieved. When painting outdoors, the dampness from a recent rain can make all the difference.

To simulate the “just rained” conditions, use the mist setting on a garden hose nozzle to spray down the surface. Begin painting when the surface is no longer dripping wet but still damp. Paint projects will last twice as long with this method but this only works with water-based paints.

What is the Best Temperature for Painting Outdoors?

For best results, painting outdoors between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 22 degrees Celsius) is ideal. More importantly, be sure to always follow the sun. For example, if the front door is to be painted but it faces the sunrise, it is wise to wait with this painting project until the sun is on the other side of the house. By then, any morning dew will be gone (important when using oil-based paint) and the surface will have started to cool.

To prevent the solvent in oil-based paint from evaporating too quickly, it may help to add some Penetrol or other oil paint conditioner to keep the wet edge longer and enable the paint to flow better.

Can Too Much or a Lack of Humidity Cause Painting Problems?

Absolutely. High humidity and oil-based paint don’t mix. The surface moisture will be trapped under the dry paint film, causing the paint to blister when the moisture tries to escape. It’s a wise idea to wait for a drier day or, depending on the project, consider switching to a water-based paint. Even if there isn’t any surface moisture, high humidity can cause oil-based paint to take an excessive amount of time to dry.

Conversely, extremely low humidity can cause water-based paint to dry far too quickly. The addition of a latex paint conditioner such as Floetrol can help this situation. Just like an oil-based paint conditioner, Floetrol will extend the drying time of latex paint making it easier to use and prevent “dragging” when brushing or rolling.

Times When Painting Outdoors Should be Avoided Altogether

Painting outdoors in strong winds can have the paint end up everywhere but where it was intended, the worst case scenario being on a neighbor’s house or car. A clean up job like this can be very expensive so try to avoid any wind whenever possible.

Some other conditions where painting outdoors should be avoided:

  • excessive heat or cold
  • during a rain or snowfall
  • when rain or snow is imminent

Whether painting stucco, a fence or the trim on the house, painting outside isn’t difficult if the necessary precautions are taken and these exterior house painting tips are followed.