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How to Handle Hot Weather Painting

How to Handle Hot Weather Painting

Summertime is prime time for exterior painting. But when comfortably warm weather turns hot, do-it-yourselfers have to work much more carefully — or else run the risk of early paint failure.

The problem? Paint needs to “cure” slowly to form the most durable paint “film”, but hot weather speeds up the drying process, cutting short the curing time. All too often, the result is a paint job prone to peel, flake, or otherwise fail prematurely.

When doing exterior painting, temps below 90 degrees F. typically don’t require special precautions. The concern sets in when the mercury climbs into the 90s, or beyond. At that point, every painter has to adjust the way he or she proceeds.

If you’re planning to paint in a hot spell, first check the paint can label to see the manufacturer’s temperature guidelines. As long as you aren’t completely outside your paint’s temperature tolerance, there are ways to work around the heat.

One smart strategy: Rather than completing all the surface preparation before starting to paint, spread out the prep work, reserving power washing, scraping and sanding for the very hottest parts of the days.

As for your painting, complete as much of it as possible in the cooler hours – typically, very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. (But when doing late-day painting, be aware that after sitting in the sun for hours, surfaces may be considerably hotter than the air temperature – and, possibly, too hot to paint successfully.)

Typically, at least one wall is shaded, even at high noon. Take advantage by working on the shady side of the house as much as possible, moving from one shady spot to another over the course of the day. This will help keep freshly applied paint from drying too quickly… and keep you a lot more comfortable, too!

Shutters and doors present other opportunities to dodge the heat. Rather than painting these items in place, consider removing them and painting them out of direct sunlight… or better yet, indoors. A garage or basement can serve as a convenient staging area for this work.

If you’re racing the clock to complete your painting – trying to beat an incoming heat wave, for example – there’s no better way to speed your project than by applying fewer coats. And that’s a realistic possibility if you switch from standard paint to a paint and primer product.

As is evident from the name, paint and primer products (also referred to as “self-priming” paints) are coatings that function as both types of coatings. These products allow you to get the same top quality paint job while applying one fewer coat, saving you tons of time in the process.

Of course, if the time you’ve set aside to paint is greeted by a true heat wave, you might be well served by waiting for more moderate weather to return.

On the other hand, if you’re really itching to pick up a roller or brush, think about turning your attention to some interior painting, where you can still get your painting “fix” in the air-conditioned comfort of your home!

Debbie Zimmer

Debbie Zimmer is editor-in-chief of the Paint Quality Institute blog. She's a widely cited authority on color, use of paints in interior and exterior design, and decorative painting techniques. She can be found on Twitter as @PaintQualityIns