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Here's exactly when to plan your next big painting project.

By Caylin Harris
May 01, 2020
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Not to burst your paint bubble, but there’s really no universal time that’s prime for adding a new coat of paint to the exterior or interior of your house. Since so much of paint application depends on the weather and humidity, it’s truly a unique process for everyone and will depend on the climate and weather where you live. What we can tell you is how to know when it’s the best time for you or a team of pros to get started on your paint project. Here are the signs to look out for before you pick up that paintbrush.

Best Time to Paint House Exterior

Painting a house exterior can be tricky depending on where you live. Places that have consistently sunny weather and temps have it a little easier. “Avoid painting when the temperature dips below 50 degrees [Fahrenheit]. If it’s too cold, the paint can have issues adhering and will roll off,” says Noah Winkles, pro painter and owner of New Life Painting. Heat and humidity can also be concerns. Typically, exterior paint can dry in an hour, but humidity can extend that process. You also have to worry about the health and safety of the people painting if the temperatures are really high. “You really want to avoid extremes, so ideal conditions can be 65 to 90 degrees. I’ve seen paint crack when it’s really hot,” says Winkles. Generally, this means that the spring or fall, when the temperatures are more moderate, will be the best time to paint your house exterior.

A new paint project also requires dry weather, so if rain is in the forecast, it’s not the best time to paint outside. “We avoid starting a job when it’s going to rain, and as a rule of thumb, I like to make sure the substrates are completely dry after wet weather. After substantial rainfall, I like to let the surfaces dry out for a few days because you never want to paint a wet surface,” says Winkles. Wind is another big issue; while a little breeze might be refreshing, too much wind can result in overspray and can get paint on everything from your car to your dog. So if you're debating between painting your house exterior in the spring versus fall, keep in mind the average rainfall in your area for each month and let that guide your decision. Then just wait for a clear, calm forecast.

If you’re getting your home painted by pros and it’s an average size, it can take about four to five days to paint. But if you’re DIYing the job, that timeframe can double or triple, so keep that in mind, too.

Best Time to Paint House Interiors

Great news! Painting inside includes a lot fewer variables than painting outdoors, so you’re good to go year-round. However, paint will take longer to dry, can streak, and will have trouble adhering to the walls if it’s humid. Winkles explains that while it’s best to wait for drier weather, if you need to paint, a dehumidifier can help dry out the air in your room.

Another thing to keep in mind is what you’ve got going on when you’re going to paint. It’s not the best idea to paint or bring in pros around the holidays or when you're planning to host a big event. Paint takes time to cure, so even when it feels dry to the touch, it may still be drying. Having a bunch of people over or moving furniture around might not be a great idea right after a fresh paint job. But if you don't plan on going anywhere or hosting anyone in the near future, it may be the perfect time for a fresh coat of paint—just wait for a dry, rain-free day.

If you're planning to paint your house interior while you and your family are at home, look for no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, which won't off-gas, or release as many chemicals into the air. Many big paint brands offer a low- or no-VOC line, such as Benjamin Moore's Natura, Behr's Premium Plus, and Sherwin-Williams' Harmony.