How To Spray Paint In Cold Weather? (Painting Metal To Car Outside)

Professionals dislike spray painting in cold weather as the extreme temperature may bring additional challenges. Air and moisture are the main factors that influence spray painting, and both elements are un-friendly to your paint sprayer. As a result of the cold weather, the paint would not adhere to desired surfaces, and it would freeze instead of drying completely.

So, Do you have to give up on spray paint in cold weather? 

Not at all. Winter can be a good time for spray painting if you do it in the right way. Fortunately, after doing several large painting projects in cold weather, we would like to share our experience to help you with your upcoming painting projects.

Step By Step Guide For Spray Painting In Cold Weather

You might find yourself in a situation when you have no choice but to spray outdoors, which would lead you to wonder how to effectively spray paint outdoors especially for cars when it’s cold without risking adverse reactions. For your assistance, here is the step-by-step guide to spray paint in cold weather. 

How do you spray paint in the winter?

Spray painting in Cold weather

* Prepare The Surface For Painting

It is essential to have a clean surface for painting, meaning no dirt, dust, or moisture. For cleaning purposes, you can wipe down the surface with a clean cloth.

It is also good to close all the doors and windows in the room or area you will be painting a day before starting.

However, if you wish to paint the exterior of your home, then you will likely need an air blower to enable quick drying of the walls or other desired surfaces. Plus, sand your surface before you paint to get the maximum benefit out of it. 

* Remove Accessories And Decor Items

If there is anything you don’t want the paint to touch, move it to a different location. Or else, as an alternative, cover the stuff with a plastic sheet or drop cloth. In addition, you should take apart all wall outlets as well. Finally, you can use duct tape to cover door frames and windows.

* Test Your Paint Condition

will spray paint explode in cold weather

In general, temperature affects paint in many ways—the lower the temperature, the thicker the coating.

Paint spraying in cold weather can pose problems in getting a good finish because the thicker material may be challenging to atomize.

If you want to avoid this problem, try keeping your paint in a warm place, or you could also consider a paint heater. 

On the other hand, if there is no heater at your place, then fill a bucket with some hot water.

Next, submerge your paint container in the bucket to preserve the paint in its original state. Hence, the warm water won’t cause it to solidify, even when you take the paint outside for use. 

Depending on the temperature you live in, you can also change the water in the bucket every hour with hot water. What matters is that the paint should not clot, and if the paint clots, then spraying cannot be done.

* Make Use Of The Right Type Of Paint

spray painting metal in cold weather

Under extreme weather conditions, water-based paint performs poorly. A higher humidity level and lower temperatures can extend the time needed for paint to dry; however, hot weather can speed up the drying process.

The drying time of water-based paints can affect both performance and the outcome.

Although oil-based paint is less sensitive to cold weather, it may also freeze when the temperature drops. If this happens, you will need to thin the paint more than usual. However, it performs better than water-based paints in severe cold weather and dries quickly. 

* Inspection Of Your Paint Equipment 

Cold weather can affect more than just paint and surfaces, and there is also a possibility that your paint sprayer (Wagner, Graco or any Brand) clogs with ice or leftover paint droplets from your last paint job. Therefore, always clean the equipment before using it to ensure it works efficiently.

* Uniform Mixing 

If you intend to use the paint directly from the container, then mixing is not necessary. You can use the stick or rod to stir the paint to ensure no lumps can clog the sprayer’s nozzle. It’s as simple as mixing the paint with a stick or rod to reduce the chances of clogging the nozzle of the paint sprayer.

However, if you wish to use different paints, then mixing paints requires quick action. For this purpose, place the paint container in a bucket filled with hot water after mixing to prevent solidifying.

* Take Steps To Control The Temperature

Cold temperatures create problems for paint adhesion. It would help if you used surface thermometers to monitor the surface temperature when applying paint. 

People often ask, Can I spray paint indoors?

Yes, you can control the temperature to a certain extent if you plan to paint furniture, cabinets, or something similar by keeping it indoors as possible until the job is complete.

In the case of an outdoor paint job, it is best to use a tent, or you can tackle the problem creatively with a drop cloth. Make sure you have set up a space that is well ventilated.

It would be a plus point if you have access to a heater, so you can quickly raise the temperature to about 70 degrees F. As a result, the object will at least have a chance to remain warm for a long time, which could help with paint adhesion.

When using ordinary paint, the primary goal is to ensure the surface is warm enough for the paint to adhere. 

* Spraying Primer In Cold Weather

It may not be necessary to prime a surface in warm weather, but it is essential in cold weather. The process of priming increases the adhesion of a surface by using a compound. Therefore, you should buy a primer separately because some paints are also promoted as self-primers.

The primer is applied as a protective layer before the painted surface so that the paint will stick better and dry quickly. In short, primers will enhance the durability of the paint. Additionally, it makes the colors stand out.

* Let’s Begin Spraying

You can proceed to spray the paint after priming the surface properly. Choosing the right tip is the first step, and you can find recommendations for the right tip to use in the manual guide.

Disposable cardboard is a good place to test the spray pattern, and this will allow you to check the spray quality before proceeding with the final surface.

Be sure to keep enough distance from the surface so the spray can cover as much of the surface as possible. 

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* A Dry Indoor Environment

In general, If you want your paint to dry properly, you shouldn’t move the object too much during the drying period.

Although this is a good practice, practically, it may not work during winter. Moving the piece into a temperature-controlled area will allow it to dry faster.

When you paint an exterior surface, the weather will likely not be warm enough to cure the paint. For this reason, you may have to heat the surface manually.

* Clean The Equipment 

It would be best if you cleaned the spray painting equipment immediately after use. Cold weather temperatures can make it more difficult to remove paint simply by washing it with soap and water.

If the weather is cold, it may be difficult to remove the paint using soap and water. The best way to dissolve paint is to use an alcohol-based solvent or paint thinner, then clean the sprayer with a soft brush and rag.

Now, Can you spray paint in cold weather? 

It is good to know that you can handle cold weather conditions by yourself. Or, else, If you still need further guidance, then here comes the quick pro tips! 

Is it possible to spray paint at night?

According to Consumer Reports, the paint’s temperature drops to about 50°F during the application, and it shouldn’t reach 32°F at night. A low temperature at night prevents the paint from forming a good film.

In addition, if you don’t wait 15 minutes between coats, the paint won’t be completely dried for over 24 hours. Thus, if you are going to do more than one coat, you need to plan your time properly.

What if you spray paint below 50 degrees?

Low temperatures shouldn’t be used to apply paint. The paint also reacts to humidity and temperature changes. If the air is too cold or too hot, or there is too much moisture in the air, then it prevents the paint to cure properly.

Bonus Tips For Spraying Paint In The Cold Weather

The time to paint outside should be when it feels warm. We have experienced that painting at noon is the best time during the winter since the weather is usually cooler in the mornings and evenings. You can check the weather temperature by using a thermometer. 

  • It is best to paint during the winter at noon since it is typically cooler in the mornings and at night.
  • You should apply the first coat on a dust-free surface. Clean and dry the surface to be painted as much as possible. 
  • Keep the area warm to prevent the paint from cracking.
  • Your paint must work with the surface, and use paint that applies smoothly to your surface.
  • Make sure you use cold-rated paint to help the paint perform well in the cold. Don’t spray paint below 40 degrees.
  • Carefully apply the first coat because it determines how your paint will look once it’s done. 
  • Wait at least 24 hours after priming to apply the first coat.
  • When you try to spray paint in a slow, even manner, it is easy for nozzles to clog. However, you can prevent nozzle clogs by cleaning them before spraying the second coat. 
  • Keep the sprayer 25 to 30 cm away from the surface, and press the trigger gently. 

Common Problems With Spray Paint In Cold Weather 

Common Problems With Spray Paint In Cold Weather

Paint selection and temperature control are vital factors to make your winter project successful.

Cold weather painting can cause some problems, and here are the few effects of spray painting in cold weather to be noted: 

  • A bad touch up.
  • Color differences require additional mixing time.
  • Paint cracking.
  • Water spots on latex paints. 
  • Weak stain resistance.
  • The spray gun may not perform as expected and may get clogged easily.
  • When a thick coat of paint is applied, it will form bubbles and bumps. 

Bottom Line on spray painting in cold weather

Spraying paint in the cold is not a smart decision due to the additional challenges that arise from ensuring the surface is warm enough for the paint to be applied to deliver the paint material efficiently, and storing the paint. 

However, if you finally decide to spray paint in cold weather, you must follow the tips we shared today to ensure a good painting experience and minimize headaches.

Wishing you good luck with your winter painting projects! 

FAQ’s on Spray paint in Cold weather

When is it too cold to spray paint?

There are times when you cannot avoid spray painting in cold weather. For cold weather spraying, the temperature range is generally between 50°F to 70°F. We suggest maintaining the temperature at least 50 °F as it is the best temperature for spray painting in winter. The spray paint temperature below 50 °F has poor effects on the application of paint. 

What happens if spray paint is too cold? 

Surfaces with cold temperatures can cause adhesion problems. Low temperatures make the paint more viscous, and you can also find it difficult to spray. In low temperatures, paint does not apply evenly or smoothly. 

How bad is it to spray paint in cold weather?  

The temperature drop causes coatings to thicken and become more viscous. If you are spraying paint in the cold, this can cause problems in getting a good finish as it is more difficult to atomize thicker material. You can fix this problem by using a paint heater or storing your paint in a warm place. 

Can spray paint freeze?

It is possible for spray paints and aerosol spray cans to freeze under extreme temperatures, but once returned to room temperature, they work fine. 

When it’s cold, will spray paint explode? 

If spray paints and aerosol paint cans exposed to either extreme heat or cold, then these pressurized cans can become unstable or even explode at high temperatures.

How long does it take for the paint to dry?

Paints applied at cold temperatures require more drying time. As a consequence, recoat times also increase. You may need to wait up to two days if the temperature falls below 35° F. However, at 75° F, the coating can usually be recoated within four hours. Plus, it can take up to six hours at 50° F. Therefore, consider coatings suitable for cold weather. 

How cold can you spray Rust-oleum paint?

Take advantage of Rust-Oleum spray paint in cold weather. It will prevent rust and be applied with a brush, roller, or spray at 0 °C. Ensure the Rust-Oleum paint temperature ranges between 50° and 90°F and the humidity does not exceed 70%. Do not apply in extremely windy or dusty conditions.

What is the best temperature to spray paint metal?

The best temperature to spray paint metal is between 50° to 90° F. It will leave your items with a clean finish.

In cold weather, what kind of paint should you use?

The majority of paint brands warn their customers to avoid painting in temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you can apply acrylic latex paints to your exterior home painting projects under temperatures as low as 35 °F.