Spray Painting In Cold Weather (How To + Our Best Tips)

Not every project arises under ideal conditions. Sometimes you'll have to spray paint in the winter.

Cold has a negative impact on finished product, paint flow, and paint adhesion; it thickens the substance and slows drying times.

This article explores how to achieve the best results when spray painting in cold weather.  

Spray painting is a liquid coating used for complete coverage and rust protection. The paint is kept in a pressurized aerosol can and layers relatively evenly. You can spray paint in cold weather, but it is not ideal.  

If you must spray paint in cold weather, plan your diy projects for the warmest part of the day. Spray paint in the afternoon; the mornings and evenings are too cold and don't receive as much direct sunlight.  

Plan ahead and try to ascertain when the air temperature will exceed 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot weather, the better the conditions are for spray painting.  

Spray Painting In Cold Weather

How Long Does It Take Spray Paint To Dry In The Winter? 

Cold weather slows spray paint drying times considerably. Because you cannot apply subsequent coats of water based paint or oil based paint until the last paint layer of water based paints or oil based paints has dried, this prolongs the project's life by a great deal.  

Different temperatures (warmer temperatures and cold temperatures) and how many coats you apply require different lengths of time to dry. The durations break down between temperature range like this: 

  • 35-50 degrees Fahrenheit takes up to 48 hours to dry.
  • 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit takes up to six hours to dry. 
  • 75 degrees Fahrenheit and above takes up to 4 hours to spray paint dry.

Immediately bringing a project indoors speeds up the spray paint drying time. A room temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit or higher gives you the shortest time between coats. 

Paint can be bone dry to the touch, yet still releasing the volatile organic compounds that made it a liquid when you applied it.

Follow the instructions mentioned in manuals for the rough weather like cold ones so must check the manuals before starting to spray paint in cold weather.

How To Successfully Spray Paint In Cold Weather

Extreme temperatures damage paint and compromise adhesion. Cold weather impacts paint's ability to adhere, but it also thickens the paint, making it viscous and difficult to spray.  

Which Spray Paint to Use?

Paint thickens in cold weather, making paint application harder and spottier. Make sure you select a cold-rated spray paint. Make certain that spray gun that you're going to use is clear because chances are ice might get struck into the gun during the cold weather.

Most paint manufacturer sell acrylic latex paint that you can use in temperatures as cold as 35 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Additionally, ensure that your stain is compatible with your project. Some spray paints work better on wood, some on metal, and some are multi-purpose.  

You can order various colors for many purposes of Krylon Latex Spray Paint from Amazon.com. Every spray paint can tell you the minimum surface temperature you can use it. Ensure the day is at least as warm as the designated temperature; otherwise, the paint will not dry correctly. 

Preparing the Surface

Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit impact spray paint adhesion. Your spray paint is already struggling to stick to cold surfaces; remove any further obstacles to adherence.  

Grime and grit negatively impact spray paint's ability to stick to a painted surface, so be thorough in your cleaning. Make sure to remove any loose dirt or residue from the object or area you are spray painting. 

Keep The Surface Warm 

Keeping both the spray paint and the painting surface warm ensures the best finish on your project.  

Neither the object nor the spray paint should be cold. Cold paint has adhesion issues, and painters apply more coats to compensate. The upper layers of paint dry while the base stays wet, causing the paint to crackle.  

Counteract this by keeping the paint and the surface warm as long as possible. Keep the paint and object indoors until you are ready to apply the paint.  

If the paint can is cold to the touch, float it in warm water. Spray paint is best stored at temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  

spray paint

Tips & Tricks For Spray Painting In Winter 

If you have to spray paint in winter, keep these tips in mind for the greatest chance of a successful project.  

Safety Precautions

Make sure you spray paint in a well-ventilated area. The cold makes this harder. Typically spray painting is done outside, but in the winter, the cold impacts the paint as well as the painter. Dress for the temperature if you must spray paint outside.  

Complete your project in a garage if one is available. Any indoor spot needs to be ventilated, and you should aim to wear a respirator mask. Spray paint contains fumes that are harmful for the lungs and should never be inhaled.  

Making It Stick

Maximizing spray paint adherence requires three major steps.

  • Keep the surface of the project warm as long as possible. Store the project inside until the moment you paint.  
  • Clean the surface well with drop cloth. Dirt, grime, and dust hinder paint's ability to adhere. Scrub all debris and residues clean. Wooden projects should be sanded smooth. 
  • Prime the surface adequately. Primer helps counteract the adhesion problem in cold weather painting. Priming creates a smooth surface where the paint can stick. Regardless of the weather (cold or hot weather), priming creates a blank slate that makes the spray paint color more dynamic. Use the primer generously. After you've prepared the surface by cleaning away loose dust and dirt, spray on an appropriate primer.  

Ensure the primer fits your project; some are specific to metal or wood. We recommend Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer as their top primer pick. You can purchase spray cans individually or in multi-packs at Amazon.com. Wait 24 hours after priming to apply your first layer of paint. 

Where Is The Best Place To Spray Paint During The Winter? 

Spray paint is toxic if inhaled, so projects are best done outdoors. Spring and fall are the ideal seasons for spray painting.  

  • Paint In A Garage 
    Applying spray paint in a garage allows you some control of the temperature without compromising ventilation. Additionally, you can leave the room after applying a coat, minimizing your contact with dangerous fumes. 
  • Prop open a door or a window and set up a space heater. The garage provides an element of protection against the cold and a defense against the unpredictable elements of winter.  
  • Dry The Paint Indoors 
    Colder temperatures slow the drying time of spray paint considerably. You'll need to apply more than one coat to your project, and each layer of spray painting indoors should be thoroughly dried before you add the next. Do not leave your spray-painted object to dry in the cold.
  • Instead, move it carefully indoors to dry after each coat. Ensure you store your project in a well-ventilated room, as spray painting fumes can be toxic. Not only will keeping your project out in the cold slow drying times, but it will also further hinder the spray paint's ability to adhere to the primer.  

How To Store The Paint During Cold Weather?  

Spray paint can and will freeze in the cold. Store your extra paint in a dark, dry indoor location instead of a shed or garage.

The room needs to be between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Basements and storage closets are ideal; your home's heating system keeps them warm enough to maintain the life of the paint.  

Always keep your spray paint cans upright. Cans kept upside down or left on their sides have shorter shelf lives. Properly stored spray paint lasts between 10 and 20 years, contingent on the brand.  

Common Questions About Spray Painting In Cold Weather

What is the lowest temperature you can use spray paint? 

Cold-rated paints are suitable for 35 degrees Fahrenheit or above temperatures. This measurement doesn't apply to just the air; it also applies to the surface of your project. Make sure both are at 35 degrees or higher.

Is Rustoleum spray paint good to use in cold weather? 

No, rustoleum spray paint is not recommended for use in cold weather conditions. The ideal temperature range for using Rustoleum spray paint is between 50°F (10°C) and 90°F (32°C). 

How long will the spray paint last if you did it during winter? 

A well-applied spray paint job lasts between 3-4 years. A properly cleaned and primed project will maintain its paint job, regardless of when you have applied the paint.  

In Summary

Cold weather spray painting is never ideal. If you must spray paint in the winter, take the appropriate measures to counteract the freezing temperatures and ensure a great finished product.