The Trouble with Winter

Even without the current pandemic, many of us find ourselves spending more time indoors over the winter months.  For many, it is the perfect time to repaint and with the majority of paints now being low or zero VOC, there is no worry about lingering paint odor.  The reduction in VOC's has, however, made painting inside in the winter months a bit trickier.  Let me explain.

In the winter months we are all using some time of forced air heat source; furnaces, electric heat, wood stoves.  This vastly reduces the humidity in our homes.  Has anyone noticed the static in their hair, or the fact that you get a shock everytime you get up from the microsuede couch?! This is all due to the lack of humidity in the air.  

So what does that mean for your paint job?  The dry times listed on the information section of the paint can are based on temperatures of 25 degrees Celcius and a relative humidity of 50%.  In the winter months, our homes have a humidity of less than 20%.  Without moisture in the air, your paint is going to dry significantly faster.  While that sounds like good news, it can make it difficult to work with.  It also doesn't give the paint time to level out on the surface resulting in a rough finish.  Ceilings in particular are extremely difficult to do in the winter because along with the low humidity conditions, the temperature at the ceiling level is about 10-15 degrees warmer than at the floor level.

What can you do to combat these issues?  Here are some very simple fixes that really make a huge difference.

1. Lower the temperature in the room you're painting.  Open the window, and remember that the ceiling is still much warmer than the floor.

2. Raise the humidity in the space.  Use a humidifier if you have one.  If you don't and you are painting near or in the bathroom, turn on the shower and let the room steam up.  Similarly if you are near or in the kitchen, put on a pot of boiling water or plug in the tea kettle.  This increase in humidity will really make a huge difference.

3. If you are still struggling with a ceiling paint drying too quickly it might be easiest to switch to an alkyd (oil) ceiling paint.  They really aren't that much worse than using a latex ceiling paint, but the benefit to you is that it has a much longer open time.  That means fewer roller marks, more working time and often just one coat required.

4. The final thing to try is a paint extender.  This is an additive for latex paints that makes them dry more slowly.  

We hope these tips will keep you re-decorating all winter!


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