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Don’t Paint Outside During Fall

Although this website is I feel compelled to warn against painting the exterior of a house or other structure in the fall. You might say “Why not? The weather is great for working outside, not hot and humid. It’s a great time to paint outside.” Although it is comfortable for the painter, it is not comfortable for the paint. A lot of exterior painting is done in the fall, and this is a bad mistake.

In my successful house painting business that I started in June 1970, I would not schedule any outside painting job after October 1. Some of my customers did not like this, and they hired another painter. I took quite a few years, but my customers soon found out that I was prudent in my decision not to paint outside after October 1.

Within a year or two, structures painted in the fall started to show signs of paint failure. There was cracking, peeling and flaking off of paint, and the paint job needed repair or repainting within a year or two. There is a scientific reason for this failure.

The scientific reason is in the drying and bonding of paint. Two things happen during this process. The vehicle (either latex or oil) dries up as the paint dries. The second thing that happens is that there is a chemical reaction within the paint. Both of these processes have to happen in a relatively warm environment. Paint cans will warn you not to apply paint when the temperature is below 50 or 55 degrees. Many fall days, it may be 70 in the daytime, but go down as low as 28 overnight. The fresh paint is still going through the chemical reaction necessary for proper adherence of the paint. This cannot occur in the lower temperatures, thus the paint does not adhere to the surface and peels off within a year or two.

There are some other reasons not to paint outside. Certain types of windows need putty (glazing compound.) Putty takes a very long time to dry, especially because a large amount of putty has to be used, making it thick. Putty also needs warmer temperatures to dry and cure properly, otherwise it will crack and have to be removed and replaced. For a good, tight paint job, you will also need to use a lot of latex caulk. Caulk also needs warmer temperatures to dry and cure. Primers need some warmth to dry.

By the way, fall is a perfect time for inside painting. Look for my upcoming article on this.

It really is simple when you understand the process. DON’T PAINT OUTSIDE IN THE FALL!