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5 Coating Factors to Consider for a Winter Renovation Project

January 15, 2020


When it comes to commercial renovation projects in winter, beware of what you read online, particularly when it comes to commercial painting and coating exterior projects. There’s a lot of bad information out there that if followed can compromise the exterior elements of a commercial renovation project and damage your company’s reputation.

Applying exterior coatings in optimal temperatures requires keen attention to temperature, freezing conditions, excessive humidity levels, and dryness, among other factors. In winter, with temperature swings and other weather factors are much more extreme, commercial painting and coating companies have to pay even more attention to aligning coating materials and application approaches to harsher factors of outdoor projects. 

It’s critical that the coating applied preserves its color accuracy, structural integrity, and flexibility across all seasons, including winter, which poses the biggest threat to commercial coating project success.

Let’s take a look at some key considerations when applying commercial exterior coatings during the winter season.


There are several factors to consider when it comes to winter temperatures and commercial coating applications.

First, a commercial painting company needs to consider the air temperature. For most paint types, including standard latex and oil-based paints, the temperature should be 50 degrees or higher and the cold temperatures of the evening should not fall below 35 degrees for the few days following. Water-based paints and coatings can actually freeze either during storage or after application, preventing their use or disrupting their consistency and chemical processes during the curing processes.

Air temperatures below 50 degrees will impact both the application of an exterior coating and the ability of the coating to cure and set over time. 

In addition, the temperature of the exterior walls are another factor to consider. For example, if the air temperature (also known as ambient temperature) is 55 degrees but the concrete exterior surface (or substrate) is 45 degrees for some reason, you are essentially applying coating in conditions that require cold-resistant paint products, as it should be considered below the 50-degree barrier for application.

If your commercial exterior coating project must be done in the colder winter months, there are many commercial paint products available that are made specifically for colder temp application and curing. PPG Paints, for example, offers WEATHER KING® EXTERIOR ACRYLIC LATEX PAINT that can be applied and cured in temperatures as low as 35 degrees. 

Substrate Moisture & The Dew Point

Temperature is an important factor to consider when applying exterior coatings to commercial buildings. However, excessive humidity and dew point levels must also be factored in.

In cold winter weather, relative humidity increases as the temperature decreases. The dew point is the nexus of temperature and humidity that creates moisture content on surfaces. Essentially, when the air can no longer hold its water vapor, condensation occurs and excessive moisture forms on large surfaces. In winter when temperatures are lower, the dew point becomes highly unpredictable and hard-to-detect, and frost can form, which is detrimental to any commercial painting project.

Considering ambient and substrate temperature, as well as dew point and humidity, is critical to ensuring the coating applied maintains its chemical integrity and ability to cure properly. Best practice suggests that coatings should not be applied when the substrate or surface temp is within 5 degrees of the dew point. 

Avoid Additives

If your commercial painting project is a cold-weather job, purchasing specialized paint and coating products that can withstand temps below 50 degrees is imperative. 

These coating products are specifically engineered for winter conditions. Adding foreign substances like solvents, antifreeze or any additive will disrupt a paint’s ability to endure freezing conditions. Put simply, trust the paint manufacturer; you’re spending to successfully paint in adverse conditions; don’t undermine this investment by introducing foreign elements to the chemical makeup of winter-resistant paint. 

The Sun 

Generally speaking, exterior painting in summer requires avoiding application in direct summer sunlight. The winter requires the opposite; painting in the direct sunlight is best practice as is using the sun to guide when and where you apply your coating. Applying the coating in direct sunlight will help the paint adhere and cure, counteracting some of the winter painting challenges.


How you store your paint and coatings in winter is a seemingly obvious but critical consideration. You’d be surprised how many times contractors have a winter project that needs to get done only to find their paint is frozen or compromised. It’s essential for paint to be stored in a temperature-controlled, protected environment. Otherwise, the exterior surfaces of your commercial project might be doomed before it even begins. 

There are a multitude of complex factors to consider when it comes to commercial painting projects that need to be managed in wintertime. Temperature range, cold weather, excessive humidity, dew point, specialized painting products, the use of additives and adequate storage, in addition to substrate types (concrete, wood, metal, etc.) and colder weather make winter coating applications a real challenge. 

Cochran & Mann can help your winter commercial painting and renovation project succeed. We have a highly experienced team ready to execute your project efficiently and effectively. Reach out to us today. We’d love to hear more about your project.  

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