Late fall exterior painting

Late fall painting, particularly in Minnesota where I work, is not for the faint of heart. The weather can be fickle at best,and down right  impossible at times. One must deal with rain, snow, sleet and all forms of precipitation in between that has no name in the English language.The temperature can drop blow freezing at night and stay there for days. There are other forms of moisture to contend with such as frost and dew and dewy frost and frosty dew dripping off of the roof and clinging to the siding while I’m trying to….well, you get the picture. It’s frustrating. Did I mention wind? There is a lot of that too.

These are all difficult conditions to paint in but that doesn’t mean you can’t. You can still manage to get a decent and long lasting paint job when you know your limitations and learn to work with and sometimes in between the weather related elements.

First off, resign yourself to the fact that you’re just not going to get several beautiful days in a row to work in.It won’t happen. Accept it. Be ready to work when weather permits and equally ready not to. This is by far the most important advice I will give you going forward. If you are not ready to go when the weather moderates, you will have missed one of only a hand full of opportunities to make progress on your project. Conversely, if you become impatient and attempt to force your will and end up painting over areas that are not dry or in conditions that are too cold, you will not only have to re-do this work in the spring, you may have peeling and cracking paint for years to come.

So, how do we avoid creating a nightmare of peeling and cracking paint? Here are some suggestions that should help.

Pressure wash early

Do this step while the weather is still warm. The pressure washer dives moisture deeper into the substrate than rainfall and needs more time to dry(A good week in the fall). This is a spot where those windy fall days will work to your advantage. Watch the forecast and try to plan this step just prior to these conditions.

Begin prep work when dry

You can start the scraping of loose paint, removal of separated caulk and replacement of rotted or damaged wood only when the substrate is thoroughly dry. These things you can do even when temperatures are too cool to  prime, caulk or paint. This will take otherwise poor days for painting and turn them to your advantage. See where I’m going here?

Use top grade low temp products

This is the next most important piece of advice I can give you. Now, you can get paint and caulk at any hardware store or big box home improvement center. You may even save a couple of bucks. DON’T DO IT! Go to a store that specializes in paint. Ask them for a self priming, low temp exterior paint and a low temp caulk. The price will be high.Pay it. These are waterborne products. You can use oil base primers and paints but these new generation waterborne products will out perform the oil’s and the self priming aspect will save you precious time and money.

Caulk open joints,seams and corners. If you have any wood pecker holes or open knot holes, use a fast setting two part epoxy wood filler. Start on the sunny side of the house and work your way around. This is opposite of what I would recommend in the summer but it will give you the best chance for drying when you start painting. Begin painting where you started caulking and work in the same direction.

The time to work in late fall is going to be shorter. Don’t push it. If you encounter condensation in the morning, allow it to dry. If precipitation is expected in the afternoon or evening, be prepared to stop at least six hours before it arrives or don’t work at all. The same goes for temperatures below freezing.

Keep plugging away

You may get in one day a week, you may get five, you may get none. You will know when you have to give it up when the temps stay consistently below thirty-five degrees, there are large piles of snow on the ground or you just don’t want to fight mother nature any more. If the work is not finished by the time she decides to beat you into submission, no worries, spring will happen….eventually.

Leave a Reply