How long do you need to allow for exterior paint to dry?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ December 10, 2010 ~ Comments

I have read that the ideal temp is above 50 degrees for both painting and drying.

Tari S. ~ Watsonville, California

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Tara, what you've been told is correct for most exterior paints. There are some exterior paints that have been developed in recent years by several manufacturers that allow painting down to 35 degrees.

Temperature is important, but you also have to take drying time into consideration when doing exterior painting. Different types of exterior paint can have varying drying times depending on whether you're using a latex or oil based paint and it can even differ based on the quality of the paint.

If you're using a paint that can be used down to 50 degrees and it has a three hour drying time, you should stop your exterior painting early enough so that the paint is dry by the time the temperature drops. Always use the manufacturer's suggested drying time as it can be difficult to tell if the paint is dry simply by touching it.

I have never used one of the paints developed for colder temperatures personally, but I have read and heard both good and bad about them. Some painting contractors feel that the finished job doesn't look as good as with regular paint.

Also keep in mind that moisture is just as important in ending up with a good looking job. I'm not sure where in the state Watsonville is located, but if it's near the coast or in northern California where fog and heavy dew can be an issue, you need to ensure that all moisture is off the surface you're painting before you start in the morning and that your paint is dry by the time the moisture is back in the evening.

If you paint over a surface that isn't completely dry, there's a good chance the paint might not adhere properly and it could start peeling or bubbling within a year or two. If moisture from dew, condensation, or rain happens to get on your painted surface before the paint is completely dry, then your paint could begin to run.

California has a reputation for good weather, so hopefully Watsonville is located in a part of the state where temperature and moisture shouldn't be too much of a problem.

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