Industry advances make cold weather painting a smart choice

By Sheldon Stewart

“Every season, there’s maintenance work to do on our business property. But the window is so short – Memorial Day is here before you know it.”

This is something we hear all the time – and it’s no wonder. Businesses have been trained to get their projects completed in the short window between the end of summer and the onset of winter, when the temperatures can be too cold to paint. Even waiting until spring has been a gamble, since we all know the much anticipated spring thaw is unreliable.

Fortunately, we don’t need to avoid winter paint projects anymore. The technology of paint has evolved, extending the season for exterior paint dramatically.

A Game Changer: Low Temp Exterior Paints

Of all of the industry advancements I’ve seen during my 33 years in business, the advent of low-temperature paint has probably had the greatest impact. It used to be that, at temperatures below 55 degrees, exterior paint was a no-no. It was too cold for the paint to bind properly, so you would always run the risk of cracking and peeling. Now, specially formulated, low-temperature paint is widely available, and it can be used in temperatures as low as 35 degrees.

No More Fumes: Safe and Odor-Free Interior Paint

Another major advancement in paint formulation has helped extend the season for interior projects, too. Many people are opposed to interior painting during the colder months, since opening the windows to ventilate would make for a pretty chilly project. Fortunately, there are now are safe and odor-free paints that allow us to get those interior jobs done in the off-season.

This type of paint has a low amount of – or even zero – volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are chemicals which have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature, so a paint that contains them may only be used in a well-ventilated area. Not only are VOCs the culprit for “that paint smell” – they can also present a health risk to children, pregnant or nursing mothers, and asthma or allergy sufferers.

Several years back, Massachusetts tightened the regulations around the VOCs allowed in a gallon of paint. So while it’s always a good idea to get a professional opinion, in general, most paint brands are putting out a better class of products. Low- or no-VOC paints dry faster and are much better for the environment, making them excellent choices for commercial applications.

Beyond the Products: Timing is Everything

Having the right products to tackle winter painting isn’t the only good news. The slower pace of winter on Cape Cod and the South Shore means a more available workforce to get these jobs done! As a business employing a full time, year-round staff, we are always looking for ways to maximize our productivity in the off season. So, winter-friendly paints are a win/win: you have more flexibility in scheduling your business improvement projects – and our economy stays healthier, keeping more people working, more of the time.

Sheldon Stewart is President of Stewart Painting, Inc. in Hyannis. He can be reached at (508) 362-8023 or at sheldon@stewartpaint.com.