Skip to main content

How temperature and humidity could affect your paint job (inside and out)

Painting is a big project that adds great visual appeal and value to your property. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to paint a large surface, so you want to make sure it’s done right the first time to avoid having to restart the project. Extreme temperatures and humidity levels are often unavoidable, but if you’re not careful in these conditions, you could have a botched paint job on your hands.

Can you paint in high humidity?

Moisture in the air means that there’s moisture on the surface you’re about to paint. A damp surface is not ideal for painting, and you will find that your overall result doesn’t look as great as you’d hoped. Let’s dig into the specifics of how high humidity negatively impacts your paint job.

Related Videos


When you’re dealing with high humidity, surfaces tend to dry slowly. When you’re painting indoors, for example, you always want to wash your walls before slapping down a coat of paint, so high humidity could slow down the drying process. If your walls are damp when you start to paint, this could lead to mold growing between the wall and the paint. The mold will eventually grow through the layer of paint, and you will need to clean the area and paint again.


For most paint types, for a coat to dry, the water in the paint needs to evaporate more quickly than the solvents. In high humidity, the water struggles to evaporate, making for a gunky, gel-like layer of paint. Eventually, when the humidity level falls, you’ll find that this type of consistency will dry with a wavy texture since it has not been set properly, and you won’t be satisfied with the poor result.

Impact on wood

As you may know, moisture on wood causes it to swell. If you’re painting wood when there’s a lot of moisture in the air, the wood could start to swell a bit after you’ve put on a coat of paint. This swelling could cause cracks or chips in your coat of paint which will eventually lead to the surface needing to be repainted.

Impact on metal

Painting metal objects can be difficult enough, since paint doesn’t adhere to them as easily as it does to wood. Humidity can worsen this, so if you’re trying to paint something metal, it might be best to leave that for a drier day.

Red roller brush black paint on white wall

Can you paint in low humidity?

Is dry air better for painting? In some cases, it is, but painting in too low of humidity causes its own issues. When the air in a room lacks moisture, the wall’s material can over-absorb the paint and leave the surface looking porous or lightly speckled. This makes the overall color of the paint look drab or washed out. With some paint brands, dryness can also lead to cracking or peeling paint.

Can you paint in cold temperatures?

You may find yourself planning a painting project during cooler months. While it’s possible to successfully paint in colder conditions, it’s definitely not ideal and requires careful preparation. Cool air can cause issues with paint adhering to its surface, and it can also cause the paint to thicken. Thick paint takes longer to dry, and when paint stays wet for too long, it can easily begin to wrinkle, sag, or run. This leaves the coat of paint looking patchy and less smooth overall.

Can temperatures be too hot for painting?

You might think that painting in hot temperatures would be a good thing. The paint dries faster, so you can finish the job quicker, right? While heat does dry paint faster, you want to be sure the paint isn’t drying too fast. When the temperature is excessively hot, the very top layer of the paint dries quickly before the deeper layers have a chance to dry. This causes the coat of paint to begin bubbling up or blistering.

Tips for painting in high humidity

The perfect humidity level for painting, particularly outdoors, is between 40 and 50 percent relative humidity. Some moisture in the air is a good thing when you’re painting since you don’t want the paint to dry too fast and start to crack or peel. While painting in humidity levels above 50 percent is possible, you have to take some additional precautions to ensure a smooth and clean result. However, painting in humidity levels over 85 percent is highly discouraged since the paint will have such a difficult time drying.

Indoor painting tips

  • In high humidity, after washing the surface, you’ll want to make sure you thoroughly dry it by running some oscillating fans in the room. To reduce the high levels of humidity, it’s a good idea to run a dehumidifier in the room for a day or two before painting to minimize these effects.
  • Thin layers dry more quickly, so if you’re facing highly humid conditions that will slow down the drying process, this is one way you can combat it. In the spirit of full disclosure, painting thin layers will require additional coats, but you’ll be more pleased with the outcome overall.
  • If the air in your working area is dry, consider running a humidifier a day or two prior, but be sure this doesn’t introduce too much moisture in the air and cause it to be too humid — that’s the opposite of what you want!
  • If you’re painting indoors and the space is too hot for ideal painting conditions, cool it down with some electric fans or an air conditioning unit.

Exterior painting tips

  • Particularly if you’re painting outdoors, the time of day plays an important role in your paint job’s success when painting in high humidity. As you approach mid-day, temperatures rise, and humidity falls, so begin painting during the early morning hours. That way, your paint will begin drying as humidity is getting lower. As the day goes on into the late afternoon, humidity levels increase as the temperature lowers, and you run the risk of condensation building up on your newly applied coat of paint. It’s best to stop painting as the day gets later.
  • Some exterior paint brands and primers are more suited for painting in cooler weather, so read labels to find the best option. However, even these brands are not recommended for use in temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit since the paint mixture could freeze and be unusable.
  • Since the sun will naturally warm any surface to a certain degree, it’s a good idea to paint along with the direction of the sun in cold weather. Start where the sun will hit first and move in a westward direction as best you can. The sun will shine down on the applied paint and increase the temperature to an ideal one.
  • If your paint job is an exterior one, you’ll want to avoid having direct sunlight on freshly painted surfaces in warm weather. It’s a good idea to paint the west and south-facing surfaces in the early hours of the day and then move on to the east and north-facing ones. This way, your paint will be in the shade for its premium drying hours.

Unfavorable weather conditions are unavoidable. If you have a painting project coming up, extreme temperatures and humidity don’t necessarily have to put a damper on your painting session. Before you put in all that time and effort into your new paint job, be sure you’ve prepared the space and your painting game plan for these conditions. If you’re prepared for the worst, you’ll be able to enjoy your beautifully upgraded surface and avoid having to start again from the beginning.

Editors' Recommendations

How to install a wall heater in your garage
how to install a wall heater shutterstock 1395135974

If you live in a chilly climate, you know there are certain areas of the house that reach uncomfortably cold temperatures in the winter. Basements, attics, and garages are all popular spaces to install convection or radiant heaters. When you go with a mountable heater, installation is obviously a bit trickier than just using a portable space heater. That's why we're going to walk you through how to install a wall heater in one of the most crucial work areas of your home: the garage.

How much does it cost to install a wall heater?
The price of electrical wall heaters varies between $100 and $400, depending on wattage and overall quality. These can typically be self-installed to save on labor costs, but if you decide to hire an HVAC specialist to install it, this will add between $200 and $300 for a couple of hours of labor.
Do wall heaters use a lot of electricity?
Electric wall heaters tend to cost a lot less to operate than propane heaters since they're more energy-efficient. They will still increase your energy bill every month, though. During cold months when you're heating the garage regularly, you should plan for an additional $100 per month on your electric bill with a wall heater.
Can I install a wall heater myself?
Installing your own wall heater takes a good amount of time and some DIY skill with running electrical wiring. Typically, most simple installations take less than a day to complete, but that time lengthens if the job is more complicated. There are some factors that could require a professional installation due to safety risks or complexity:

Read more
How to get paint out of clothes and save your wardrobe
how to get paint out of clothes shutterstock 1760450252

When the dust settles on your painting project and you're admiring the finished result, you may not even notice the drips or smears of paint on your clothes. Once the paint dries on your clothes, however, your typical laundry process may not be enough to get those paint splashes out. Don't toss the garment out yet, though. We'll walk you through how to get dried paint out of clothes based on the type of paint used.

How to get paint out of clothes: Water-based paints
Water-based paints are some of the most common paints used in both arts and crafts as well as interior surface painting. The good news is it's also the type of paint that's easiest to get out of fabrics without staining. Here's how you do it.
How to get watercolor paint out of your clothes
Crafting is a great pastime, but it's also a messy one. If you get some of those watercolors on clothing, here's how to get it out.

Read more
Need a new color scheme for your house? Try these top-rated exterior hues
Gray-blue house exterior

Whether you’re planning to sell your house soon or it’s simply time for an update, the right exterior paint color can have a massive impact. The color you choose can improve your home’s curb appeal and help spruce up the entire neighborhood. Plus, selecting a high-value hue can make your home sell faster and earn you more money, too. But unlike painting an interior, there are a number of factors to consider when selecting your house color. Use these tips to choose the right color palette and check out some of our favorite (and most profitable) color schemes for houses.

Tips for choosing an exterior color palette
Are you asking yourself, “How do I choose a color scheme for a new house?” Here are a few suggestions to help you find the right palette for your home.
Design around existing features
Unless you’re planning a total renovation, you won’t be able to alter the colors of your roof shingles or tiles, pathways, driveways, or stonework. When selecting a new paint color, keep the hues of these features in mind. Look for the undertones of these elements and select paint colors that will bring them together cohesively.
Consider the house’s style
In addition to the existing elements, you should also think about the house's architectural style. Your paint choice should feel appropriate for the type but not dated. While you don’t have to stick to historical guidelines, the color combinations can create an aesthetically pleasing look. Most paint manufacturers have historically accurate color collections to inspire you. Or you can research your home style online. Use these sources as inspiration for your palette.
Select multiple colors
Exterior paint palettes have three basic parts. The field color is the primary house color. Then there’s the accent color used for doors, shutters, and other small areas, and the trim color used for railings, window and door casings, roof edging, and other trim. Typically, the trim color contrasts with the field color. Don’t be afraid to go bold for the accent color, as long as the hue doesn’t overwhelm.
Test the paint samples
Exterior paint can look significantly different on your house than it does on the paint chip. The best way to determine if you like your paint choice is to test it on the house. Buy a quart of the paint and apply it in an inconspicuous area. Examine it at different times of the day and in various weather conditions to get a feel for how it will look on your house.

Read more