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All you need to know about painting your exterior walls this winter

colourful homes in winter background

Painting exterior walls in winter can be a daunting prospect for even the most experienced painters. Depending on which parts of the country you find yourself in, you might be faced with rain, extreme winds and even snow.

It doesn’t have to be a terrifying project though; familiarise yourself with some expert tips and knowledge, and you should be able to give your home a DIY exterior facelift this winter.

Getting started

Labrador in paint

The first thing you’ve got to do is check the weather forecast for the day you plan on painting; for obvious reasons you want to avoid days with extreme weather conditions. Once you are happy with the weather being agreeable on your chosen day you need to ensure you start at the right time of day.

In summer, the general rule of thumb is painting with the shade; in winter the opposite is true: You want to be painting with the sun. Considering this, the best time of day to paint is generally from mid-morning until mid-afternoon.

Another reason for waiting for the sun is the fact that you need the sun’s help to warm the surface you are painting. Most paints apply well on a surface of between 20ºC and 25ºC, with 15ºC as the minimum recommended temperature. Ideally, you should not be painting a surface that is less than 10ºC. Check when you are buying your preferred paint what the minimum recommended surface temperature is: It should be rated for use between 10ºC and 35ºC.

When the day comes and you are getting ready to start on your project, check the temperature of your walls using an infrared thermometer. It might be a reasonably warm winter morning, but the surface could still be cold, prolonging the drying time. In that case it is best to wait a few more hours for the walls to warm up.

Your autumn home maintenance checklist

And finally, before you get started, make a point of picking up any leaves that may be lying around your home. You don’t want an unexpected gust of wind blowing leaves and other garden debris onto your freshly painted walls.

Tackling the job

Bulldog puppy painting

Great, now that you’ve ascertained that the conditions for painting are perfect on your chosen winter day, you need to actually do the painting. Perfect your plan of action with these handy tips from MICA:

  1. Use a nylon/polyester paintbrush: In cold weather your paint is likely to be more viscous. Using a brush with stiffer bristles, and so applying a more viscous coating, will achieve better results.
  2. Time between coats will differ based on the paint you used: Solvent-based paints can take longer to dry in cold weather so it is best to check that the previous coat is completely dry before applying the next coat.
  3. Give it time: In fact, regardless of the type of paint you are using, it would be best to allow extra time for any coat to dry before applying the next.
  4. The trouble with water-based paint: You need to keep in mind that in extreme weather conditions, where temperatures fall below zero at night, the water-based paint can freeze.
  5. The trouble with alkyd and oil paints: These paints contain natural oils and resins which can lead to the paints being very viscous. This makes the task of applying the finish even more tedious.
  6. Signs of trouble: If it took you longer and it was much harder to stir the finish, if the colour is not uniform, the coating has bubbled or blistered, or the film has cracked, your mid-winter painting job probably did not go according to plan.

Your one-stop guide to painting any surface

There’s no need to be filled with fear and trepidation at the thought of painting your home’s exterior in the middle of winter. Living in South Africa, with the very mild winters in most areas, you’ve got a lot going for you. Check the weather forecast, paint specifications and remember to “follow the sun” and you should get a great result.


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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