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Avoiding Common Winter Coatings Problems

The cold and inclement forecast of winter brings with it a hardship for many people related to the coatings world, including owners, engineers, and architects. This is the time of year that is responsible for most of the corrosion issues that occur due to inadequate paint jobs. However, this does not mean that one should put off a necessary new coating; it just makes the preparation and research that much more vital.

“While painting in cold weather is not the ideal situation, by no means is it impossible,” said Warren Brand, principal of Chicago Corrosion Group. “Inclement weather makes the process of selecting materials more important, as you have to find a paint that will cure down to lower temperatures.”

If you’re planning to paint in the colder weather, then it is important to understand the challenges as well as the optimal available solutions. Brand dove into the four biggest challenges facing winter painters and offered up a solution for each.

  1. Thick Materials
    Challenge: The cold typically changes the way that materials are applied. This can make paints thicker and harder to work with.

    Solution: Do some quality research. The necessary paint for this job may not be at a local hardware store. By calling a larger paint company, you can find “cold”- or “fast”-cure paint systems. For example, epoxy paint systems simply require a different part “B” or an additive to make it a cold-cure system; these are generally available if you ask for them.

  2. Ice on Substrate
    Challenge: Moisture can freeze on the substrate surface, which can cause serious application problems and premature coating failures.

    Solution: Utilize supplemental heat to warm the area or asset to be painted. It is important to be careful when doing this and to pay attention to the substrate temperature and not the air temperature. For example, if painting a fire hydrant, one can build a tent around the hydrant. Check the temperature of the steel and not that of the air inside the tent.

  3. Cold Surface
    Challenge: Applying the material on a cold surface will sometimes cause the paint to freeze or thicken to an extent that it is difficult or even impossible to apply.

    Solution: Consider the substrate that is being painted. A metallic or non-porous substance will be easier to paint than wood or concrete substrates because it can prove difficult to determine the dampness of wood or concrete. Be sure that the material that is being used will dry. Avoid applying paints that may take up to two weeks to cure, especially if it could be rubbed or damaged in the meantime.

  4. Long Cure Time
    Challenge: The paint may not properly cure, or stay soft for long periods of time.

    Solution: Follow the paint documents closely. Read and understand the paint directions. Some cold-cure systems require an induction or “sweat in” time for proper performance. The induction time is the amount of time paint must sit after it has been mixed in order for the chemicals to begin interacting. This time is often dependent on the temperature. For example, if it is 10° F (-12° C), the induction time may be 12 minutes, whereas a 25° F (-4° C) temp may only take 3 minutes to sweat in.

Don’t Skip Dessert!

Painting in cold weather is kind of like skipping dessert. It can be done, but it requires some special training and effort. Follow these tips, and hopefully you’ll have a more successful coating application…even in the winter!

About the Author 

Warren Brand is the owner of Chicago Corrosion Group, LLC (CCG). Brand has been in the paint and coatings industry since his days growing up at Chicago Tank Lining, his family’s paint and coating business. Because of this, Brand has taken part in all aspects of coating applications. This lifelong experience has led to him being contracted by an international coating company to present their proprietary materials to a joint symposium with the U.S. military as well as successfully lobbying the State of Illinois to modifying underground storage tank regulations to the benefit of tank owners. Brand’s decades of experience and multitude of certifications provide him and his companies with a unique set of skills that add profound value to their clients. Through this variety of unique services, CCG is dedicated to saving clients enormous amounts of money on all issues surrounding paint, coatings, and corrosion. For more information, contact: Chicago Corrosion Group, (847) 423-2167,

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