Can You Spray Paint in Cold Weather?


Last updated: March 27, 2023

Get expert tips on how you can spray paint in cold weather in this professional guide.

Can You Spray Paint In Cold Weather?

As a professional painter, I understand the challenges of spray painting in cold weather. Most of us would avoid doing any spray painting job when temperatures are at their lowest to evade challenges such as extreme air and moisture that might affect the paint sprayer.

Consequently, it becomes impossible for the paint to adhere to the desired surfaces, and instead of drying, it just freezes.

So can you use spray paint in cold weather, or does that mean you have to wait for summer for the weather to get more favorable? 

In this post, we discuss whether spray painting in the cold is possible, and share some valuable tips for spray painting during the cold months.

Can You Spray Paint in Cold Weather?

Yes, you can spray paint in cold weather and achieve the same desired results as you would in warmer weather. You have to learn the tricks to get it right. However, the ideal temperature to spray paint should generally be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Can You Spray Paint Metal in Cold Weather?

Can you spray paint metal in cold weather? The answer is yes, but it calls for extra precautions. Generally, temperature and moisture are the primary factors that affect spray paint adhesion.

That means you should avoid painting architectural metal during the cold season since it’s difficult for paint to adhere to a frosty metal substrate.

And even if the paint does stick, if you don’t remove the frost between coats, the moisture will seep underneath the coating, ruining the whole project.

In addition, paint requires varying warmer temperature ranges to harden and cure completely. The colder the temperatures, the longer it will take to cure, and the softer the paint stays, the more it loses its protective properties, giving room for warping and chipping.

I have a dedicated article on how to prevent spray paint from chipping on metals, you check out for more.

But these challenges notwithstanding, you can still spray paint metal in cold weather, provided you prevent moisture from getting trapped underneath the coating after application.

Start by determining the temperature ranges needed for the paint to cure between and after the final or coat. Most paint brands have the temperature levels and curing time indicated on the can.

Use a curing agent if necessary, and again refer to the manufacturer’s recommendation on the amount of induction time needed for the paint to harden and cure in the cold.

Most importantly, ensure that your painted item is protected from marks or imperfections as you wait for the paint to harden between coats since the waiting time is usually longer when it’s cold.

Finally, consider heating the substrate with a heat gun or other similar supplemental heaters to speed up the drying time and avoid the pitfalls associated with spray painting in cold weather

Can You Spray Paint Wood in Cold Weather?

Absolutely, though you’ll need to be careful with your choice of the spray paint.

The thing is, wooden surfaces are best painted during the warmer months. However, you can still spray paint in cold weather, provided the temperatures stay within 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s preferable to use spray paint specifically formulated for wooden surfaces and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for spray painting wood in cold weather. 

Some of the best spray paints for wood include:

Can You Spray Paint Outside in Cold Weather

Spray painting in cold weather is possible, but it’s much easier to paint when it’s warmer since it presents little to no challenges. If the paint you intend to use is formulated for cold weather, you can paint outside but may still encounter cold moisture issues.

When sprayed, the paint atomizes with the air, which is a propellant. And when the propellant is cold, it lowers the pressure, making the paint thicker than normal.

Cold temperatures affect proper atomization, thereby causing the piece you’re painting to have runs and paint drips.

Since the temperatures must be warm enough to cook off the VOCs and allow the paint to dry out, it’s wiser to stick within the temperature levels recommended by the paint manufacturer on the container to minimize spray paint drips and runs.

Can You Spray Paint a Car in Cold Weather?

Yes, though, it should be done carefully. If you must spray paint in the cold weather, consider working inside an enclosed and sufficiently ventilated area. If spray painting a car in the garage, ensure it’s a little warmer to support the speedy drying of paint. 

Most importantly, use professional gold-rated paint since they’re the best, and most are compatible with cold weather. Alternatively, add an additive to enable the paint to work better in the cold. 

Ensure the environmental conditions are ideal for spray painting. You should avoid painting work if the temperatures are below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. And patience is vital if it’s your first attempt at spray painting a car in cold weather and there’s fluidity. Don’t rush, take your time until you get it right. 

Does Temperature Affect Spray Paint?

Spray paint is just liquid when at room temperature, more like water. You see, under average temperatures, water is but a standard liquid. When it gets colder, the water gradually hardens and freezes. That’s what happens with spray paint. 

Always bear this in mind when spray painting in cold since moisture and temperature are the key elements that affect the outcome of your spray paint work. 

What’s the Best Temperature For Spray Painting?

The recommended temperature for spray painting is around 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can successfully spray paint in temperatures slightly below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can be disastrous. 

Ideally, for safety reasons, you shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures above 100 degrees, let alone doing spray painting work in such weather. 

Sticking within the recommended temperatures, especially indoors, is preferable since it’s easier to control the temperatures inside the house. 

Steps To Take Before You Start Spray Painting

1. Prepare The Surface For Painting

As with any other paint job, the surface should always be clean without dust, moisture, or debris, a fact most people tend to ignore. Always clean up the surface before you begin working on it. 

Can You Spray paint in cold weather?

If you paint indoors, close all windows at least a day before the project begins to suppress the temperatures. Also, remember to sand the surface before painting to improve the outcome of your work.  

2. Work With The Right Type of Paint

Yet another crucial factor that’s often ignored regarding spray painting in cold weather. A good choice for spray painting in cold weather is essential for achieving the best possible outcome. 

Generally, water-based paints are known to be incompatible with extreme weather conditions like cold. You can use such paint on regular painting projects, but not when the weather is colder, or the humidity is higher.

You can always work with oil based paint since they’re less sensitive to freezing weather. 

3. Use Primer

When spray painting in warm weather, you may not necessarily need to prime a surface, but it’s highly recommended when the weather is frigid. While some spray paints contain primers, buying one separately is a good idea to make your work easier. 

The primer acts as a protective layer on the painted surface, enabling it to stick better and dry faster. It also increases paint durability and makes the colors stand out.

Steps To Take When Spray Painting in Cold Weather 

Before you begin any spray painting work during the cold months, you should be adequately prepared if you want to do a good job. Below are a few steps you might find helpful:

Keep Paint and Items Inside 

Given the sensitive weather elements under which you’ll be working, keeping the paint, the object, and other paraphernalia in good condition is best. 

Ideally, such items should be stored at room temperature until you’re ready to use them. The foyer is an ideal storage space, but be sure to bring the cans and spray-painted items inside the house 3-5 minutes after spray painting.

Set Up a Station in the Garage

Spray painting indoors can be messy, unhealthy, and generally impractical. That makes the garage the ideal place to work since ventilation with natural airflow is a guarantee making room temperature manageable. 

You should always keep at least one garage window open when spray painting to facilitate ventilation and air circulation. Also, use a drop cloth to prevent drips and spills and protect nearby surfaces. 

Bring Cans and Items Inside in Between Coats

Bringing paint cans and painted items inside the house is recommended to ensure they dry faster and prevent the spray paint from hardening. Keep these items in a room with the windows open and the fan switched on to maintain ventilation. 

If you have a warmer room inside the house, consider using it to carry out your project, as a warmer environment helps with drying and paint adhesion and prevents the paint from congealing inside the cans.

Steps To Take After Spray Painting in Cold Weather

1. Keep The Items Stored in Well Ventilated Area Indoors During Drying Time

Do this between coats:  Bring the lamps inside your bathroom to help quicken the drying process. Open the bathroom window, switch on the ceiling fan, and close the door.  

This way, you’ll suck in the cold air from outside into the house and from there to the attic, facilitating excellent airflow. 

Of course, this might slightly increase your energy bills, but it’s well worth it. And the good part is the bathroom temperature will not get any colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit despite the freezing weather outside. 

2. Wait Because Drying Will Take Longer 

Given the freezing weather, expect drying time to take longer than it would in warmer weather. The same applies to the overall time it takes for the paint to cure. 

However, this shouldn’t dampen your spirit to the point of abandoning the whole project altogether. It just needs a bit of patience, and you’ll get your desired outcome. 

3. Keep the Spray Paint Smell from Your House

Having the smell of spray paint in your living spaces isn’t fun, let alone healthy, which is why spray painting should be strictly done outside. Remember we recommended bringing your spray painting paraphernalia inside your bathroom to speed up drying? 

Opening the bathroom window while closing the door and switching on the fan helps contain the smell inside the bathroom. It then disappears as soon as the paint dries out. If the smell still lingers, light a candle and place it inside the bathroom, and the fumes will be gone in about an hour. 

Common Problems With Spray Paint In the Cold Weather 

Choosing the ideal paint and checking the temperature levels are crucial steps when you want a successful winter project. Cold weather painting, as we have seen, can be problematic and can cause some drawbacks, including the following:

  • Unimpressive finishing

  • Extra time is needed to mix different colors

  • The paint finish may develop cracks 

  • If you use latex paints, you may have to deal with water spots 

  • Resistance to stains may not be achieved

  • The spray gun and nozzle may get clogged

  • The thick coat of paint may develop bumps and bubbles 

How to Curb Problems Arising From Spray Painting in Cold Weather?

Below are some tips on how to curb the problems you’re likely to face when spray painting in cold atmosphere.

  • Clear the spray gun: The spray paint gun or nozzle can get clogged up with ice and frozen paint. You want to clear it up before you start to make work easier and avoid jamming. 

  • Wipe off the frost build-up: With freezing weather, one significant problem you’ll have to contend with is frost build-up on surfaces. Have these scraped off and thoroughly cleaned so you can work on a clean, smooth surface free of blemishes and bumps. 

  • Keep an eye on moisture: Spray painting in cold weather requires utmost patience and attention to detail. Check the moisture levels on the surface to achieve the ideal outcome.

  • Always follow instructions: Refer to the manufacturer’s spray painting manual to help you navigate the problems associated with spray painting in winter. Such instructions specify the recommended temperature ranges for different paint colors and curing agents, which you should carefully determine.

  • Protect the complete work: After laboring in the cold to achieve an excellent spray paint finish, you want to protect your work from marks, debris, and tears before it’s thoroughly dried and cured. Keep the surface safe from such contamination during the drying process by covering the object with a large cloth. 

FAQS – Can You Spray Paint in Cold Weather?

Does temperature affect spray paint?

Yes, temperature affects spray paint the same way it does with water. Too hot temperatures can cause the paint to thin out and evaporate, while too cold temperatures can harden it and cause it to freeze. Always maintain proper storage best practices to ensure the paint retains its original quality.  

When it’s cold, will spray paint explode? 

No. Spray paint is only flammable when exposed to heat that can ignite it. When dealing with aerosol cans, they should be kept in dry areas away from heat or cold. Cold temperatures can cause the paint to crack, while hot temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit can cause them to explode. 

How cold is too cold for spray paint?

The average temperature for spray painting should be 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit. You should never attempt to work with paint if the temperatures are below 35°F. Otherwise, you’ll have poor-quality finishing due to poor paint application. 

How long does spray paint take to dry in the cold?

One rule of thumb, if you want your spray paint to dry faster in cold weather, is to bring the cans and painted items indoors after every coat.

Remember, the only way to ensure your paint will dry or adhere correctly is if the temperatures remain favorable throughout the painting process. And to achieve the best results, reduce the time the items and spray cans are left outside in the cold. 

Can you spray paint in hot weather?

50°F  to 90°F is the ideal temperature for spray painting. Higher temperatures can lead to an explosion; lower than 35°F can lead to freezing and cracking. You should also maintain less than 85% relative humidity and avoid spray painting in direct sunlight or hot weather. 

What is the best temperature to spray paint metal?

For metal surfaces, observe the temperature range of 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit rule or 10 to 32 degrees Celsius. These temperature ranges are perfect for achieving a clean, smooth finish on metal surfaces. Also, avoid spray painting in windy, dusty weather.

Content Summary – Can You Spray Paint in Cold Weather?

For most paint professionals, hobbyists, and DIY homeowners, the warmer months are the best time to finish all spray painting jobs. Such warm weather conditions are more favorable and help facilitate better results whether you work indoors or outdoors. 

Still, life’s responsibilities may not allow you to get the timing right. And while spray paint reacts differently in colder weather than warmer weather, you can still get the job done in winter. 

The idea is to get the right tools and suitable paints, especially for cold weather. We hope the tips shared here can help you launch a successful spray painting winter project and answers your question: can you spray paint in cold weather? Happy painting.

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