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Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

I have spent the entire summer repainting an old wood frame building. Because of extensive repair work necessary on the siding and window sills, the job took longer than planned, with still one wall to go.

The plan was to use a top-grade oil primer and two coats of 100% acrylic latex topcoat, the first top-coat flat and the second coat gloss.

I stripped down to bare wood, made necessary repairs and just finished applying the coat of oil primer to the remaining wall. I had just begun to apply the first top coat when a weather front moved through, and now temperatures have plunged, expected to drop into the low 40's to mid 30's every night for the foreseeable future, and peak in the high 60's to low 70's by day.

The manufacturer's minimum recommended temperature for the latex paint on hand is something like 45-50 degrees for 36 hours following application. I doubt that we'll have any more temperatures that warm for that long, until spring. I understand that oil-based paint is less sensitive to low temperature.

I am considering the following options, and would like some advice on which would be best to follow.

1. Stop work, leaving the primed wall without a top coat over the winter and apply the two top coats as soon as it warms up next spring.

2. Apply one coat of acrylic latex during the warm days, and add a second coat next spring.

3. Apply a coat of flat oil-base top coat now and add one coat of acrylic latex in the spring.

4. Apply oil-base top coat now, and add a second coat of oil paint when warm weather returns.

I put too much work into preparing that wall for the paint to fail after a couple of years.

Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?


I would not leave the primer sit through the winter without a top coat. Primers deteriorate in a matter of weeks.

I assume that you may have already bought your paint. If not, there are many paints on the market now which can be used to lower temps, Glidden is one. Behr's new Ultra exterior paint can also be used down to just above freezing.

If you manage to get a coat of your less temperature tolerant paint on, no harm would be done by letting it stand over the winter until the second coat could be applied.

I would prefer not to put a top coat of oil paint on first. Oil paint is a much greater vapor barrier than acrylic paints. You want your new paint job to breathe and let any vapors trapped in the walls to migrate outward without popping the paint film.

Question: why do you intend to use a coat of flat paint first and then gloss? I have never heard of doing this. If you are trying for maximum gloss retension, you would do better with two coats of gloss.

Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

While it's good you've got an Oil primer on, please abandon your Oil topcoat idea!

Use a Satin or Semi-gloss sheen 100% Acrylic Exterior Latex!! As above poster said, Latex remains somewhat breathable/flexible.
>>> Oils just keep getting stiffer and LESS breathable!

Most Latexes just need the surface AND air-temp. to be above 50 for 3-4 hours AFTER each coat is applied.
* Try like heck to get this thing topcoated with 2 coats of Latex this fall!!
* DON'T mix sheens of paint (ESPECIALLY with Exterior)! The binders in each sheen are a little different. You gain nothing by doing this, and may over time be weakening the films integrity.
* If ya wait 'till Spring to topcoat, you'll HAVE to RE-wash & re-prime. The primer will have gotten too dirty & dried-out to hold paint well.


Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

I checked with Sherwin-Williams and they advised me that their best quality paint is good down to about 35ยบ. Our weather forecast calls for warmer temps towards the end of the week through the weekend.

The paint I have on hand is from Ferrell-Calhoun. The people at the store told me it was OK to put a coat of gloss on top of a coat of flat. Of course, you can't always count on the people at the store to be perfectly knowledgeable about the product.

The reason for this is that when I painted my house and put down the 2nd top coat immediately after the first one, I had trouble telling just where I had applied the 2nd coat, since the area with both top coats looked the same to me as where there was only one coat, and despite my best efforts to remember exactly where I had painted, I inadvertently skipped some spots and other spots have a 3rd coat. Maybe I should have slightly tinted the paint for the first topcoat.

This time, it likely won't be a problem after all, since I am going to have to wait till spring to put on the second top coat, and there will probably be a visible difference due to weathering overwinter. But I already have the glossy stuff on hand, and the first coat I put on was flat.

Wouldn't the 6 months delay between coats make this similar to re-painting without stripping 100% down to bare wood, and you use a different sheen from the old paint? I have always heard that if large portions of the old paint are still sound, you can clean it and sand down the edges at the bare spots, and you don't even need to prime over the old paint.

Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?


It is NEVER wrong to prime, but sometimes it is overkill. If the old paint was in very good condition and of a low sheen, it is not wrong to simply paint over it after giving it a thourough cleaning. You plan to use a gloss paint as the top coat ( not my personal taste for general siding) and spot primeing sometimes causes "flashing" , that is, the sheen will be different over the spot primed areas. When spot primeing, you try to simulate the sealed state between the old paint and the new primer. A general priming of all surfaces generally solves that problem.

It certainly will not hurt to leave the first finish coat over the winter. Personally, after a complete priming with oil paint tinted to the color of the finish coat and an acrylic top coat, I would not even bother with the second. I personally feel more homes suffer from too much paint build up over the years then too little. The most common error of Do-It- Yourselfers it to put too little paint on. A full flowing coat of primer and top coat should be adequate generally.

You might want to wash down the house in the spring again, but I doubt you will see much difference in appearance. One of the advantages of acrylics is that they don't oxidize like oil paint with the inherent color change. You will never be able to rub your hand over a top quality acrylic and get oxide dust on your hand, as is the case with oil paints. Oil paints are still far superior for some purposes, but siding is not one of them!

Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

Before starting this project, I already had on hand several unopened cans each of premium quality flat and gloss 100% acrylic top coat. I prefer the appearance of flat, because with gloss every little defect in the siding shows up. But I didn't have enough of either to apply two coats of the same stuff over the entire building, so I bought some more flat to apply as the first topcoat with the idea of topping it off with a coat of gloss; that way it is much easier for me to tell where I have already just painted. I would think I'd get better adhesion to use gloss over flat than vice-versa, based on recommendations that a deglosser or light sanding be used when re-painting over glossy old paint.

The paint manufacturer recommends two top coats for longer lasting results, and when I re-sided a house addition with pre-primed Hardy Plank, I recall the manufacturer's instructions called for two top coats of 100% acrylic.

I suspect applying two new coats over sound old paint might result in too much build-up, but since I stripped the siding down to bare wood, that shouldn't be too much of a concern here.

My number one concern with this old building, an outdoor workshop, is long lasting durability of the paint job. Appearance takes second place, but it would look tacky to have part of it glossy and the rest flat.

So the main question I have now is regarding previous comments about the mixing of sheens and its possible effect on overall longevity. Would it be worthwhile to go ahead and buy enough additional flat paint to second-coat the entire building in flat, rather than using the glossy stuff I already have on hand? With the low-temperature paint I need to buy for finishing the first topcoat, I will have enough paint already on hand to double top coat the entire building if I use gloss for the second.

All opinions will be highly appreciated.


Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

Jeez K4,

The questions just keep coming! lol Whether to use gloss or flat is largely a matter of taste. I personally don't like glossy paints on textured siding. On my own house, I have flat paint on Hardie Plank.

I understand you have already bought paint and don't want it to go to waste. Guess you are just going to have to make a decision. If I were starting from scratch, I would prime with an oil primer tinted close to the final color, top coated with a flat acrylic paint if on textured siding. A second top coat might bring marginally longer life. On a house with a history of past peeling, I would opt for a thinner coat in an effort to allow the house to breathe better. Most paint jobs fail from the inside out, not from the exterior elements.

J Roper
Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

I don't see the reasoning for doing one coat of flat and one coat of gloss over the primer coat. With gloss paint you achieve max. gloss with 2 coats. Something else you should strongly consider with the extensive repairs you mentioned is that you will have some degree of wood shrinkage. Even kiln dried wood can have a moisture content of up to 18%. With the posting time, I'd guess you are in the N.E.. I would recommend to get the first coat of gloss on, rather that flat, as temps permit and wait until spring to do the finish coat. Gloss paint is unforgiving as far as trying to touch-up without it flashing showing a sheen difference. If you wait until even mid spring to give the wood time to dry out well , give the building a tweek-over and do your final coat of gloss, you should have a good looking job.
Don't get too anxious with all of the work you have done up to this point. ;)

Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

Won't have to worry about wood shrinkage... the repairs were made with used siding boards, all about 50 years old. I very carefully removed them from another building, stripped them and filled the old nail holes. The window sills had a lot of rot as well, but I repaired them using a home made filler of "Liquid Wood", an epoxy consolidant, mixed with fine sawdust.

It finally warmed up enough to start on the wall to-day; I bought an additional gallon of low-temperature latex (expensive!) to finish the 1st coat, since at at night it is dropping below the recommended 24-hour temperature specified for the paint I have on hand.

I decided to go ahead and finish off the 1st top coat with flat, and have enough glossy stuff for one more coat on the whole building next spring. Purchased the paint as unopened leftovers, same brand but mixed flat and gloss. I asked several knowledgeable local professionals and they all say the only problem with the gloss over the flat will be some non-uniformity of the sheen; otherwise the layers will adhere to each other just fine. It's a shop building, not the main house, so I am less concerned about slight irregularities in the sheen, as long as the paint lasts for a long time. I wish I could have got all flat, but that wasn't the deal.

One guy recommended mixing flat 50/50 with gloss to make a satin sheen, but I decided not to fool around with mixing up different types of paint. Besides, I find it easier to avoid skipped spots when the 2nd coat doesn't look identical to the previous.

Re: Exterior paint job: caught by chilly weather. What now?

Well maybe if you are above 40 but I would definitely coat the primer.

--Mark, Painting Maple Grove, MN

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