You can paint the inside of your house during every season and under nearly every condition. After all, house interiors are controlled environments, meaning the temperature and humidity can be adjusted to optimal conditions for painting.
But when it comes to painting house exteriors, it's an entirely different matter. Unfortunately, the success of your project is often at the mercy of the elements you encounter. Rather than adjusting the conditions around your project, you'll need to adjust the project around the weather conditions. So when is the best time to give your home's exterior a paint refresh?
Best Season to Paint a House Exterior
In most areas, the optimal painting season for house exteriors is regarded as summer. By that point in the year, the weather is warm and rain is at a minimum.
Summer doesn't mean the same thing (or include the same months) in all parts of the country or across the globe. So, it's more important to focus on days that have the proper weather conditions, rather than on the season.
For areas that experience hurricanes or monsoon-like conditions toward the end of summer, not all of summer is ideal for painting.
Residents of Florida, Louisiana, and parts of Texas that regularly get hit by hurricanes cannot rely on all of the summer for painting. In places like this, start painting earlier in the season or wait until the crisp fall months.
Heat and Direct Sunlight
It's easy to focus on precipitation being an obstacle to outdoor painting. Yet extreme heat and sunlight should be avoided, too.
Water-based latex paint needs sufficient time for the water to naturally evaporate, in order for the paint to cure. Oil-based paint is less delicate. Though oil-based paint does take longer to cure than water-based paint, it has a wider curing temperature range: up to 10 degrees on both ends.
Heat and direct sunlight will prematurely cure paint, causing it to dry almost instantly as soon as it is applied. To avoid this, skip painting when the sun is shining directly on your surface.
You also need to wait an hour or two after the sunlight has left the house siding for the siding to cool down. For dark siding or for dense materials like fiber-cement which tend to retain heat, keep checking the surface. When it feels cool to the touch, it should be ready for painting.
Painting During Autumn
Temperature fluctuations are also an important factor to consider when deciding when to paint your home's exterior. Paint doesn't dry well when temperatures vary drastically, like on a day that reaches 105°F but drops down to 43°F in the evening.
For that reason, early fall may also be a good time of year to paint, as daytime and nighttime temperatures are often closer than during other times of the year.
Painting During Winter
Many paint manufacturers recommend a minimum outside temperature for painting, making it difficult to successfully coat a house's exterior during winter in some parts of the country.
However, as paint quality improves, minimum temperature requirements increase. It used to be recommended that you never paint a house in temps below 50°F. But modern paint formulations now allow you to paint in temperatures as low as 35°F.
What this means for homeowners painting in Northern U.S. states should wind down their painting operations around November. People in Southern U.S. states can comfortably push painting through December. In fact, some areas of the U.S. are so temperate that all-season painting is fine.
Painting in Moist Conditions
As a rule of thumb, paint should only be applied to a dry surface. When painting outdoors, you run the risk of your exterior surface becoming moist, either from rain and snow or from humidity in the air.
If you're unsure if moisture is present on your exterior, do a detailed check of the surface you'll be painting—if it feels wet, even in the slightest, do not paint. This holds especially true if you've recently experienced inclement weather. Even if your exterior doesn't feel damp to the touch, it may be wet within, especially if it's made of a porous material like untreated wood or masonry. It's best to wait at least a full day from the wet weather before you resume painting.
Keep in mind that moisture doesn't always take the form of a massive thunderstorm—it can occur indirectly, too. Dew forming overnight or in early evenings can just as easily ruin exterior paint, even if it was a dry 70°F just six hours earlier.
When it comes to the exterior of your home, the paint you choose should be chosen for its quality more than for its price. Not only should the paint be able to stand up to any weather condition, it should also last for years, if not decades.