Scheduling Exteriors in the Winter Months

So, there we were.  Standing in front of our customers 8k sq ft house on beautiful Lake Lanier on our last day of painting.  The crew arrived by 10am to allow for the surface to melt off the dew and temperatures to arrive at a good temperature.  As my manager walked up to the house she saw a site that made her stomach sick.  The paint on the house that we applied, the day before had literally cracked.  Yes the paint had literally cracked on the house. 

Most paint companies will not admit their faults or ever admit that they made a mistake at a house.  Not this company.  We blast it out on the internet for all to see.  The only reason is so that our potential customers will see that we learn from our mistakes as we only made this mistake once.  So, what mistake did we make?  The outside temperature was fine, it wasn’t raining, there was no wind. 

The mistake we made was painting during the day that had an acceptable temperature but the evening did not.  Yes that’s right the evening did not have acceptable temperatures.  In the fine print on the back of almost every Sherwin Williams paint can it states….

APPLICATION

When the air temperature is at 35°F, substrates may be colder; prior to painting, check to be sure the air, surface, and material temperature are above 35°F and at least 5°F above the dew point. Avoid using if rain or snow is expected within 2-3 hours. Do not apply at air or surface temperatures below 35°F or when air or surface temperatures may drop below 35°F within 48 hours.

This is a fact that many painting companies ignore because they didn’t properly plan their workflow to keep painters busy with interior work over the winter.  I know because I lose jobs every year because my competitors will paint in these conditions.  That evening the temperature dropped below 35 degrees and it cracked the paint.  The reality is that paint needs time to cure or harden.  If it doesn’t, it will crack and not cure properly.  We treat every home we do on Lake Lanier or really all of North Atlanta as if it was our own. 

While we need to watch for temperatures in the evening, not just the day, we also need to watch for several other factors when painting outdoors:

  1. What is the long-term forecast?  Most paint projects are 1-3 days. If we paint on the first day, will it be too cold on the 2nd night?
  2. Are winds above 20 mph?  We have found that is grossly affects the ability to spray a house if winds are over 20 mph.  It can also affect wind chill.  Not too common in North Atlanta suburbs but remember this kid was raised in lovely Buffalo, NY.
  3. Another weather factor is the actual surface temperature.  Yes we check the actual temperature of the surface we are going to paint prior to painting.  Does your paint company purchase Non-Contact InfraRed Thermometers for their project managers?  Five Star painting does!

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