Indinspect Blog - The Cold Truth About Applying Coatings in Low Temperatures


Indinspect Blog - The Cold Truth About Applying Coatings in Low Temperatures

Temperature is a determining factor in the failure or success of your protective coatings project. Cold weather conditions and low temperatures, in particular, can cause more issues than warm ones. But what exactly will happen if you apply coatings at lower temperatures? Let’s discuss.

The Impact of Low Temperatures on Coating Application

Ideally, the temperature for coating application is above 50° F (10° C), and the relative humidity must be below 85 percent. The dew point temperature should also be more than 5° F (3° C) of the ambient or surface temperature.

Furthermore, all coatings, activators, and accelerators must maintain the recommended storage temperature indicated on the packaging, which typically falls within 60° to 80° F (15.56° to 26.67° C). Always consider the manufacturer’s recommendations for each product, as they are not all the same.

Failure to meet these standards poses the following risks:

  • Poor adhesion: Coatings applied in colder temperatures may not bond as intended to the substrate, affecting overall performance.
  • Reduced integrity: Low temperatures impede the essential chemical reactions between the hardener and resin, which can also interfere with curing. As a result, the coating remains “soft,” weak, and permeable, making them susceptible to damage.
  • Longer drying periods: Unfavorable temperatures can prolong project timelines by slowing down the drying and curing process.
  • Surface flaws: Coatings applied in low temperatures may develop surface imperfections, including but not limited to bubbling, cracking, and blistering. Unsightly appearances aside, these imperfections also compromise the coating’s performance.
  • Solvent entrapment: Cold weather can affect the evaporation of solvents in the coating. This can lead to aesthetic issues, including amine blushing, discoloration, and reduced glossiness.
  • Application challenges: Thick, cold material can be tough to mix and apply. Some people try to thin it out, but doing so can slow the evaporation process and trap some solvent in the coating. Following the recommended ambient and material temperatures enhances product mixing, fosters smoother application, and delivers high-performing outcomes.
  • Diminished longevity: Coatings applied in below-recommended temperatures may have a shorter lifespan, requiring more frequent maintenance and reapplication.
  • Project delays and additional Costs: Cold weather may demand longer curing times and more extensive preparations. In addition, if the people working on your project lack the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver industry-compliant results, project delays and increased costs are imminent.

In summary, do not apply protective coatings when the temperature is below the recommended range or if the weather conditions in your area are expected to shift drastically within 24 hours of your project. Also, keep in mind that curing requires several hours at the recommended range to complete. Ensure favorable conditions for 48 hours to be on the safe side.

How to Prevent the Risks and Maximize the Benefits of Industrial Coatings

From inspectors to applicators, only work with contractors whose knowledge encompasses the effects of low temperatures on coating application. Their expertise deters unexpected setbacks and ensures your protective coatings provide long-term durability and performance.

Also, low-temperature coating application is not entirely impossible with the right professionals by your side. If you have no other options due to your location’s weather conditions, you may opt for products with increased resistance to moisture and can cure in lower temperatures. The key is hiring our SSPC Protective Coatings Specialists (a.k.a. experts in all coating materials) to make personalized recommendations and AMPP Certified Coatings Inspectors to oversee your project from beginning to end. Contact us now for a quote.