Why Weather Should Determine The Best Time to Paint Your House Exterior

When it comes to knowing when the best time to paint your house exterior is, there’s a bit of science to it that demands more than, “My house needs to be painted STAT!” 

Weather conditions can affect the paint’s dry time, how it cures, and the likelihood of it cracking, peeling, or bubbling. Truthfully, while incredibly rewarding, painting the outside of your home is a labor-intensive process and no one wants to redo a poorly-timed paint job because they painted in less than ideal conditions.

Is the forecast too hot? Too cold? Too humid? To achieve a flawless and long-lasting result, it’s smart to take a page out of Goldilocks’ playbook and consider an exterior paint job when the time is “jusssst right.” But there’s good news. That window may be larger than you think.

(Read: If you’re wondering whether it’s time to repaint your home’s exterior here are five ways to tell.)

best temperature to paint outside

How Weather Conditions Affect Paint

Wind, snow, and rain aren’t the only weather conditions you should schedule your exterior painting projects around. While paint may be dry to the touch in a matter of hours, it can take a couple of weeks for water-based latex paint to harden, or cure. Oil-based paint may take longer to dry but will cure within a week. Extreme temperatures can affect the speed at which your paint dries. Let’s look at the forecast and unpack the consequences of too much cold, heat, or humidity so you can determine the best time to paint your house exterior.

How Warm Does It Have to Be to Paint Outside?

So what’s warm enough and what’s too hot when it comes to painting your home’s exterior? Generally, we recommend painting when it’s below 90 degrees. If the temperatures creep above that your paint may dry too fast causing heat bubbles to form that can lead to cracking.

It’s important to remember the surface you’re painting may be hotter than the ambient air temperature. For example, aluminum siding that gets direct sunlight may be hotter than the outside temperature and not ideal for painting in the summer. Rico de Paz, who oversees Consumer Reports’ paint tests, says, “If you can’t keep the palm of your hand on the exterior wall of your house for more than a few seconds, it’s too hot to paint.”

Some painters will paint sides of the house based on “chasing the shade” so that they are not painting a surface when it’s exposed to direct sunlight.

When Is It Too Cold to Paint Outside?

Cold temperatures mean paint is slower to dry leaving your newly-painted (read: still wet) surface vulnerable to debris or insects adhering to it. 

For years, a general rule of thumb has been that 50 degrees are the minimum threshold for exterior house painting as that’s the temperature at which latex paint can cure. 

However, manufacturers are creating premium paints that can be applied in colder weather down to 35o F. Some of these options include:

Remember that your paint won’t cure overnight, but if it’s latex, it could freeze if the temperatures drop below 32 degrees. When you track the forecast, don’t forget to consider overnight low temperatures.

And just like with summer weather, the surface you’re painting may have a different temperature than the outside air. A surface in the shade that gets very little sun may be much colder than the outside air temperature. For this reason, you may want to consider painting in the sunlight as it moves throughout the day.

weather conditions

Paint When the Humidity is Low

Cold temps are not the only conditions that can slow down the time it takes paint to dry. Humidity also can affect drying time and cause the paint to become gummy if the humidity is too high. We recommend painting when humidity levels are below 70% as much as possible.

Another consideration is morning dew. If you’re applying paint to a surface with condensation, it can cause the water in latex paint to evaporate too slowly, potentially causing future cracking. It’s best to wait until the dew dries to get started. Moisture on your painting service can also contribute to mildew growth.

Sherwin Willams’ Resilience paints are formulated to resist moisture twice as fast as typical latex paints. (They also can be used when air and surface temperatures dip down to 35 degrees.)

Is It the Best Time to Paint Your House Exterior? We’ll Help You Figure It Out

A dry day with temperatures between 50-70 degrees tends to be a sweet spot for painting your home’s exterior, however with the proper prep and new paint options optimized for a wider range of temperatures you don’t need to wait for the perfect forecast to take out your paintbrush. Most paint manufacturers will include a temperature range on the paint can labels that will help you select a line that’s ideal for your climate and forecast.

If you’re considering having your home (or business’) exterior (or interior) painted we’d love to talk about how we can give your home the look you’ve always dreamed of. We proudly serve homeowners in Memphis and nearby communities including Germantown, Collierville, Eads, Lakeland, Arlington, Bartlett, and Cordova.

We can discuss with you how much it costs to have your home painted, help you choose colors, and even handle repairs to your trim. Contact us to schedule a free estimate today.

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