Whether your house desperately needs a new coat of paint, you’re ready for a serious color change, or you just want to freshen up your trim DIY style, painting the exterior of a house is a task all homeowners eventually face.
And when the time comes, you need to know the right temperature for painting outside to achieve a beautiful, long-lasting coat.
Some seasons aren’t great for exterior painting, and different types of paints and paint brands require different weather conditions to turn out right. You’ll want to plan for all of the following before painting the outside of your home:
- Temperature fluctuations
Of the above, temperature is one of the most vital and often overlooked. If left unaccounted for, painting in the wrong temperature can waste your time and money and even require a complete redo.
So, what is the best temperature to paint outside?
The Fast Answer: Ideal Painting Temperature and Weather
The required painting weather depends on the type of paint you use. Latex paint is recommended for most exterior surfaces, but you can read your paint labels for product-specific advice on weather and temperature conditions. No matter what paint you use, 60° to 80° Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature to paint outside.
Required temperature for oil-based paint: 40°- 90°F
Required temperature for latex-based paint: 50°- 85°F
The best weather to paint outside also includes:
- No rain for several days
- Wind speeds under 8mph
- Low humidity, never higher than 70%
- No extreme temperature fluctuations
What Happens With the Wrong Exterior Painting Temperature?
When it’s too hot or cold outside, house paint won’t go through the proper chemical processes to bond correctly. As a result, extreme temperatures can impact how well paint holds up over time or result in paint cracking and peeling once dried.
Poor temperatures can also impact paint consistency as you paint your house. Thicker paint is harder to apply, while thinner paint requires more layers for a solid covering. In the end, both mean using more paint than you planned.
The Risks: How Warm Does It Have to Be to Paint Outside?
It’s best to paint when it’s at least 50°F or warmer; otherwise, your paint may freeze or bind incorrectly, resulting in the issues discussed above (peeling, cracking, thickening).
When you paint in cold weather, it also takes paint longer to dry, so you have to wait longer between coats. This requires patience and leaves more time for bugs, leaves, and dirt to get stuck in your paint. Furthermore, paint left wet long enough attracts mildew.
Can You Paint in Cold Weather?
Due to the risks, painting in cold weather is not advised. However, if you’re desperate to paint in the cooler months, you can buy special paint made for painting in temperatures as low as 35°F. While this paint can resist lower temperatures, it has its limits.
Most manufacturers still advise using cold-weather paint in temperatures no lower than 50°F. You’ll also want to consider the days following paint application: temperatures need to stay within your paint’s safe range for at least a few days as the paint dries.
The Risks: When Is It Too Hot to Paint Outside?
While hot weather isn’t questioned as often as cold weather, it’s still not ideal for painting. Ideally, the temperature should be less than 85°F. If your house’s exterior walls are too hot to touch for more than several seconds, it’s too hot to paint outside.
At high temperatures, paint dries out faster than it should. This makes it harder to paint and can result in streaks, bubbles, or blistering.
On warmer days when the temperature is safe but pushing 85°F, move with the shade as you paint. Start on the shady side of your house, so the paint doesn’t dry out too quickly, and follow the shade throughout the day.
Painting By Season: The Best Time of Year to Paint a House
The best seasons for painting a house are spring and fall because they’re not too hot or cold, and it’s usually not advised to paint in winter since it’s the coldest season.
Seasonal averages fluctuate based on where you live in the continental United States.
In a Southeastern state like Florida, early winter temperatures can be warm enough to paint. Still, it’s crucial to keep an eye on temperature expectations overnight and for a few days out. Then there are other weather conditions to consider: summer is one of Florida’s most rainy and humid seasons.
Similarly, in Montana, temperatures may remain cool enough to paint in summer months, but you could always get the occasional heatwave.
Since specific temperatures fluctuate week by week, and other weather conditions like rain and humidity are important to consider, it’s best to use seasons as a general guide and choose when to paint based on weekly weather forecasts.
How Rain Affects Painting Outside
Clear skies are essential when painting the exterior of your home.
First, the surface of your house should be completely dry before you paint for the paint to adhere correctly. Secondly, you want to paint on a day when it won’t rain, so the paint dries perfectly and the water doesn’t ruin your paint job.
If possible, aim to paint when you expect to have clear skies for a couple of days.
How Humidity Affects Painting Outside
Much like rain, water vapor from humidity can impact the ability of your paint to dry. Excessive humidity may result in poor bonding, peeling, fading, discoloration, or streaks. It can also prevent exterior paints from forming the protective layer of film they should have after curing.
The lower the humidity, the better, but a safe range is 40% to 70%. Southern states like Florida are warm, but they are also more humid. You can check local humidity on a weather app.
How Wind Affects Painting Outside
Too much wind can blow excess debris into your paint before it has a chance to dry or can cause paint to dry too fast and unevenly. Aim to paint the exterior of your house when there is as little wind as possible. A safe rule of thumb is to keep the wind to under 8 miles per hour.
How Temperature Fluctuations Affect Painting Outside
You know that your paint will apply better and look better at the right temperature, but did you know that temperature fluctuations are also important to consider?
On days you paint, you want to ensure the temperature will stay pretty consistent. If it drops too low at night, the resulting dew will add moisture to your paint. In Florida, it’s not uncommon for it to be warm enough during the day, only for temperatures to drop 20°F when the sun goes down.
To help with temperature fluctuations, paint early enough in the day that paint can mostly dry before sundown.
Additionally, Consumer Reports suggests that temperatures shouldn’t drop below 32°F for several days after you paint. Paint may dry in hours, but it requires several days to cure.
Other FAQS About Exterior Painting
How Long Does It Take Exterior Paint to Dry and Cure?
For starters, drying and curing are different. Dry time is how long it takes the paint to feel dry to the touch and be able to take another coat. Cure time is how long it takes paint to fully harden and be able to handle daily use.
The label on your paint cans will tell you how long your specific paint takes to dry and cure. Latex paint dries faster than oil-based paint but takes longer to cure.
- Dry time before next coat: 4 hours
- Cure time: 2-4 weeks
- Dry time before next coat: 24 hours
- Cure time: 1 week
Remember that temperature and humidity levels will also affect how long it takes your paint to dry and cure.
How Often Should I Paint the Outside of My House?
Your exterior paint has to face the elements every day, 24/7. As a result, homeowners should usually repaint every 5 to 10 years to maintain their home’s appearance. Painting on time can also offer UV protection and moisture proofing benefits.
Factors that can shorten or lengthen how long you have before you need to repaint include:
- The quality of your paint job
- The brand and type of paint you use
- The climate where you live
- How well you maintain your home’s exterior
- The material of the exterior of your home
Here is when to paint your house exterior based on the material of your home:
- Wood exterior: 3–7 years
- Aluminum exterior: 5 years
- Fiberboard exterior: 10+ years
- Stucco exterior: 10+ years
- Brick exterior: 10+ years if painted
What Paint Is Best for the Exterior of My Home?
Experts usually recommend using latex paint for the exterior of your home. Latex paint is water-based and emits less of an odor, is better for the environment, easier to apply, faster drying, and easier to clean than other types of paint. The few cons to latex paint are that it’s mildly less durable than oil paint, it can cause swelling on wood materials, and it doesn’t coat metal as well as oil paint.
That said, elastomeric paint is a popular and well-recommended type of latex paint that is considered watertight and extremely durable. It tends to run more expensive than other paints due to its long lasting durability.
Plan Ahead: Choose the Right Temperature for Painting Outside
When it comes time to paint your house, there is a right time and a wrong time to follow through. Painting at the right time—in the right conditions—will save you time and money and ensure your house looks exactly the way you pictured.
And as long as you know the best temperature for outdoor painting, it’s easy to do. Follow these tips for outdoor painting temperature, rain, humidity, and wind, and you’ll love your home’s new look.