Delaying exterior paint for the winter

mtsullivanOctober 24, 2007


I was planning on having my house exterior painted, but due to rain and painter delays, I may not be able to get it done before the winter rains start. I need some advice on how to best prepare a couple of areas of the house for winter. First of all, I'm in Calif, so I just have to deal with rain - no snow. Most of the house is still in decent shape, so I won't have to do anything.

1) I re-sided one part of the house with pre-primed cedar siding (approx 300 sq ft). Can I leave this like it is? Should I put a coat of oil-based primer on it? The painters would prime again in the spring when the house is painted. Should I prime and paint this section to get it through the winter knowing that htey would paint again?

2) There are some smaller sections with badly peeling paint where I can see bare wood. I'd like to scrape and prime these sections also? I probably won't be able to get it prepped as well as the painters will. Will the coat of primer mess them up when htey have to prep later?

Thanks for any advice.


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First of all unless you live high up in the mountains you should be able to get your house painted. BM, SW, P&L & Duron all have high quality paints that you can apply as low as 35 degrees. The labels will say that the temperature should stay above 35 degrees for 48 house after application. These are also self priming paints.

Regular primer is not designed to last for months before top coating. If your exposed wood is likely to rot if not painted then maybe see if your painters can at least do your trouble areas. Normally wood will not rot if exposed for a few months.

I have painted many things in the middle of winter here in the Shenandoah Valley. Typically it was new construction. A good painter knows how to get it finished unless they are in Minnesota or somewhere that gets that cold. I remember a number of times working outdoors in the winter on new construction & people said to me "Isn't it too cold to paint?". I asked them if we should just let all of this new wood sit for 5 months until April? Our climate during the winter has plenty of days with temps above 40. Sure some folks don't prefer to be outside all day in colder weather but I personally have no problem with it.

If you prime anything for the winter make sure that in the spring that it is all cleaned & re-primed. It may make prep take longer for your painters so your cost might go up a little.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 12:39PM
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If you are not going to paint now, I would prime now and then in the spring you can reprime and paint. The prime will protect the wood. Its not just an issue of the new wood and exposed wood rotting. If you leave the wood bare, it will weather and then you will have to sand the weathering off in the spring. Although there are lower temperature paints available, most paint needs to be applied in temperatures over 50 degrees.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:31PM
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Right premier....but its California! 50 degree days should be quite plentiful in the winter. I am also pretty certain that your exposed wood is already weathered.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 8:32PM
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Hey Mtsullivan,

Point 1)...Somewhat of a toss-up, but at least it has "some" coating on it! Obvioulsy, it'll have to be cleaned & re-primed in spring.
* I'd leave as-is, & use a TOP-notch Exterior Latex primer in spring.
* It's nice when your temperature swings aren't as wild as up here in Fargo, ND!!! A few 100-degree days this Aug., & had some -30's this past winter!! Gotta love it!

Point 2)...Steve's right. It's already suffering. It's not gonna get much worse in 6 months. If it's just a few small sections, just brushing on a light prime-coat wouldn't hurt, or slow down the painters much.


PS...Our exterior paintin'-days are now OVER up here the way it sounds! Both air temps AND substrate have to be over 50 for a few hours!! Ideally, 4-5 hours are needed after LAST coat of paint before temp goes down below 50 again, for it to level/bond/dry decently.
As stated above there are a couple brands that can be applied colder. MOST can't though!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 11:19PM
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If 50 degree days should be plentiful, then why steve were you discussing paint that can be applied in 35 degree whether.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 10:57PM
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Keep in mind that it can rain for days on end in parts of California in the winter. I imagine that moisture, not temperature, is going to limit his ability to apply paint.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 4:21PM
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If I were you I'd apply a coat of one of the low temp self priming paints right now to the problem areas you mentioned. The big thing would be to not have any rain for the prescribed number of days before and after. I'm still a week away from finishing exterior doors & windows here in Santa Fe, NM, using SW Duration, which is one of these paints. It is self priming and can be used to 35 degrees. It is an absolutely awesome coating. I think I will never use anything else for exterior work, no matter what the temperature. It glides on like silk. They say it's one coat coverage but I'm applying over Marvin Windows factory white primer and it takes 2 coats, which I would want to put on anyway. But 1 coat is enough to protect the wood. I started with BM Freshstart primer & Moorglo paint and IMHO the SW Duration beats it hands down. Plus SW could match the BM color I started with. It's probably about like most of CA in Santa Fe now, about 65-70 in the daytime and in the mid 40s at night. And if you have the time, I've found that painting bits of your house is a very zen and peaceful thing, and also a teeny bit creative!
Best, Katie

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 7:53PM
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Thanks for the great info. And, yes, it's more of a moisture issue than a temp issue. We had a dry winter last year, but we can get rain every few days for months. I'd rather wait utnil the rains stop than try to push it and get stuck halfway through the job. I think I'll try the coat of primer knowing that it has to be cleaned and reprimed next year

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 2:27PM
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