When Is It Too Cold To Paint Outdoors?

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

When is it too cold to paint outdoors?

Driving through a neighborhood of new construction, and arriving at the finished house I was to inspect, I noticed something that disturbed me.

I saw painters painting the foundation walls!

That sets off alarms for me for SO MANY REASONS:

1.  It was 34F outside.  That is too cold to paint outdoors! 
2.  Does the painter not understand this? 
3.  Does the builder not understand this?
4.  Does the painter not care?
5.  Does the builder not care?

SO, WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN DONE IMPROPERLY OR WITHOUT CARE?

It's not a good way to arrive at a home inspection.  I was disturbed.  Greatly disturbed.

THE LABEL ON EVERY PAINT CAN SOLD, BY EVERY MANUFACTURER, THAT HAS THE MANUFACTURERS' RECOMMENDATIONS ABOUT WHEN THEIR PRODUCT CAN BE SAFELY APPLIED TO THE INTENDED SURFACE.

But you have to read it.  If you are a professional you are supposed to know these things.  If you are a supervisor on a building product you should be sufficiently informed about things like these.

SOMEBODY IS PAYING GOOD MONEY FOR YOUR PRODUCT.  THEY SHOULD GET WHAT THEY EXPECT AND ARE PAYING FOR.  APPLY THE GOLDEN RULE TO YOUR BUSINESS!

But, the question has not been answered.  When is it too cold to paint outdoors?

The rule of thumb is 50F or 60F, when using latex paints, at 50% relative humidity.  THE REASON FOR THIS IS CHEMISTRY.

Have you ever looked at the multiplicity of chemicals that go into the creation of various paints?  There are many, many!  And there is a reason for many, many!

Every paint contains chemicals that help it to stick to whatever the surface it is applied to.  These chemicals are called SURFACTANTS.  Whenever you see peeling paint, the reason has to to with its application - what it was painted over, the temperature during its application, the kind of paint being painted over another kind of paint - whatever.  PAINTS WILL PEEL IF THE SURFACTANTS CANNOT TAKE HOLD.

If you speak with a paint chemist (and I have called one to ask these questions!) to find out why there is a temperature range for various paints, the answer will be something like this:

As paint dries its components need to "coalesce," literally melting together.

When it is too cold dew forms on the paint, particularly at the end of the day, and this humidity mixes with the paint components.  The paint stops coalescing.  The surfactants are encouraged to leach out, coming to the surface.

The end is that as the moisture evaporates, the surfactants cause staining, and the paint will have adhesion problems.

To the right is my client's house.  They peeled back the turf, and sprayed, blowing dirt and mulch onto the wall in addition to the paint.  It is 34F.

WHAT A WONDERFUL JOB.

Do you see the sarcasm drip from the statement above?

The local paint manufacturer most used by companies here is this one.  Look at what their label for the paint used here says about application temperature - 50F to 125F.  The other popular company around here has a similar label recommendation.

My client says they painted the doors and shutters at similar temperatures.  Excellent!

My recommendation:  home inspectors are objective in their knowledge, opinions and recommendations.  They aren't under time line pressures, budget constraints, personnel management, and if they are ignorant about something they will likely find out!  So ask questions of them! 

 

 



Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Jackie Connelly-Fornuff 01/18/2013 11:35 PM
  2. Gabe Sanders 01/20/2013 06:57 PM
  3. Scott W. Johnson 01/25/2013 02:25 AM
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Rainmaker
1,317,551
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Joe -- Moving to New England from California several years ago.. upon our first visit to the paint store, the salesperson made us aware of the importance of making sure the temperature was not too cold.  

Jan 19, 2013 04:23 AM #28
Rainmaker
535,255
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Jay - excellent blog post.... as you say, professionals should know when/when not to paint outoors..

Jan 19, 2013 05:57 AM #29
Rainmaker
1,549,578
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Jay, you just answered a question I was about to Google.  I have a small painting job that got put on hold because, well, Winter showed up and I didn't.  So, I was wondering what the minimal temperature is to paint out doors.  I guess I'll wait a little longer.  8=)

Jan 19, 2013 07:48 AM #30
Rainmaker
217,052
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

I see a market for cold weather paint. We could make millions!

Jan 19, 2013 07:57 AM #31
Rainer
225,619
Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections - Edison, NJ
Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More!

Even my wife knows this.  OK, it's because I tell her that's why I can't paint the house.

Jan 19, 2013 11:48 AM #32
Rainmaker
1,079,379
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Jay, even people in Florida know that you can't paint below certain temperatures! This builder is clearly acting in their own best interest - or the subcontractor is. Won't it be fun when the sub has to come back out to repaint when the paint starts peeling during the warranty??

sharon

Jan 19, 2013 11:56 AM #33
Rainmaker
270,119
Steve Warrene
Your Town Realty - Lower Burrell, PA
Pittsburgh Real Estate Investment Specialists

When you see unprofessional work like that being done, you should next time stop and have a slight general conversation with them and get there info... That way you can put that company on your "black list".

Jan 19, 2013 12:46 PM #34
Rainmaker
2,912,370
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Well Jay I learned something about paint today that I did not know.  he wife usually does the painting and I get involved if only on a have to basis. 

Jan 19, 2013 06:50 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Kathy - if the supervisor doesn't do it, who will?

Glad you do Tom.  There are reasons for labels!

Richie - there is more to most everything in life behond popping the lid.  Well, except peanut butter...

Scott - but a "professional" would know this without reading the label, right?

Debbie - he knows and honors that because he is a professional painter.

Jan 19, 2013 07:54 PM #36
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Monica - I hope you learn something new every day!  I learned about Feng Shui once, the hard way.  Did you see my post?

http://activerain.com/blogsview/1012976/my-funniest-inspection-well-for-me-not-the-realtor

Mike - consumers don't know about this stuff.  That's what their home inspector is supposed to do for them.

Fred - when the Spidey Sense goes off, it does for a reason.  Like the robot waving his arms, "Danger!  Danger!"

Brian - with good temps and humidity latex needs about 4 hours to dry.

Melissa - I assure you they won't do it twice!

Jan 19, 2013 08:00 PM #37
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

B&B - and like I said to her, the liklihood of getting them back is minimal to none.

Gee, Than, what are you thinking?  Ummm...

Paula - and just when you think it won't get cold, someone will be at your house to paint and...

Chris Ann - not much time left.  Got to get to that other state!

Robert - you guys must do stuff furiously when the temperatures allow.  Hurry up and don't wait!

Jan 19, 2013 08:03 PM #38
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

S&L - I'm very glad you find it informative!  I think it's time for me to go coalesce some hot chocolate...  And maybe some oatmeal to surfactant to my ribs?

Thank you Susan.  I expect it won't help you too much down there!

And thank you Kent.  I love sharing.

Aw, send her out there anyway Rich, gloves or no gloves.  Keep her busy! 

That it would Sue.  They haven't invented that magical paint yet. 

Jan 19, 2013 08:08 PM #39
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Marc - I just put that into my phone's temperature converter app and it says that's 50F.  So your labels are consistent with ours.  Right on!

Gary - isn't it always following the money that gets you to the truth?

Joan - that is a circumspect clerk!  And a helpful one.

Gay - when you hire a "professional" company, they should be just that.

Mike - even during a 50 degree day, like yesterday for a while, if the paint isn't dry enough before it dips below that the job is ruined.

Jan 19, 2013 08:11 PM #40
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Rob - I think our logo should have an igloo on it, and a painter standing on a walrus instead of a ladder.  Whatcha think?

Rafi - what's her email?  I will send her a link to the blog...  (Oh, photos please)

Sharon - and they know that without the reasons there that we have here!

Steve - the trucks usually have names on the sides, and I do keep a list!

James - and get her out there!  Work to be done!

Jan 19, 2013 08:14 PM #41
Rainer
263,620
Robert Sole
REM Inspections LLC - Winter Springs, FL

In many cases, but not all, the owner of the painting crew actually does know that they should not pain when the temperature is too low.  Unfortunately the workers that are applying the paint probably are not aware of this.  What is worse, the superintendent in most cases does not know it is a problem.  Too many of the superintendents only know that they have a schedule to meet, and the work had better be done acording to the schedule!

Here if Florida during the summer the problem is more that they are painting when the temperature is too high.  Even with a paint such as the one you mentioned that allows it to be applied up to 125 degrees (although I have seen a number of paints that say not apply them if the temperature is over 90 degrees) you can easily exceed the limit.  I am not saying that the outside temperature is over 125.  The temperature limit is the "surface" temperature.  With the temperature outside at 95 degrees, that wall that the sun is shining brightly on will be much hotter.  This will cause the paint to dry out too quickly where it contacts the surface and it will never achieve the proper bond.  Good post.

Jan 19, 2013 10:58 PM #42
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Robert - one other thing I pointed out here is the same old, same old insulation thing - not enough to meet the stated R-value.  This supervisor told my client not to worry, that it is cellulose insulation with plenty of depth.  Well, NOT!  I told my client to have him call me.  Still waiting for the phone to ring.  If he doesn't know it's too cold for paint he should not be building houses.  And the label for this paint says 125F, so it is consistent here with your standards there.  And yes, that label doesn't mean 125F for outside temps!

Jan 19, 2013 11:58 PM #43
Rainmaker
217,052
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

The painter is painting the Igloo? Sounds like a good way to get the point across.

Jan 20, 2013 12:09 PM #44
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Sure, make the point that the paint can be applied in temps as low as -60.

Jan 20, 2013 06:30 PM #45
Rainmaker
3,251,522
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

All tooo common here...there are orders from VA or FHA to address peeling paint...yeah right...it is whatever below zero...and these folks were ordered to do the same without knowing "the rules" that apply to paint and weather...brrrrrr....

Jan 22, 2013 06:35 PM #46
Rainmaker
1,846,540
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

S&D - when I was a contractor the VA ordered a seller to paint their house.  It was near zero here, very cold for here, and yet they asked me to paint outdoors.

Jan 22, 2013 07:37 PM #47
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Rainmaker
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