Cold Day Coating: Winter Painting Tips to Apply After Refinishing Prep Training

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Ask any experienced auto refinishing technician what the difference is between applying a coat of paint at 15° Celsius and applying it at 23°, and they might tell you it’s the difference between a disappointed customer and a happy one. Almost more so than anyone in an auto repair and treatment business, the refinishing prep technician is aware that their work is highly dependent on the prevailing seasonal temperature and conditions. Making the rash decision to apply without factoring in temperatures is a quick way to ruin routine paint jobs. Thankfully, simple practical approaches can be used to cut out the most disruptive temperature factors.

Pros With Auto Painting Careers Need Ideal Temperatures for Applying Clear Coat and Paint

When a vehicle has been painted without attention to local temperature, it can produce a number of clearly recognizable defects. These can include small, localized ‘pimples’ that appear in paintwork as a result of evaporating solvent, as well as the distinctive and often more widespread ‘orange peel’ effect, where the texture of entire painted sections can appear rough and puckered. Temperature control is at the heart of preventing these kinds of faults.

Attentive professionals with auto painting careers will always pay attention to ambient temperature, paint temperature, and the temperature of the surface being sprayed. Ideally, painting materials should be maintained at a temperature between 20° and 25°, as this will ensure the best possible effect upon application. Technicians should be conscious of the fact that vehicles brought into the spraying bay from sub-zero temperatures outside, or from cold, unheated garages should be given sufficient time to heat up. A steady surface temperature of 18° is often recommended.

Tools to Ensure Temperatures Are Sufficient

The modern technician has a range of tools at their disposal to rapidly ascertain if the ideal operating temperatures are in place. For measuring the temperature of a surface, tools like infrared thermometers can be especially useful, providing a quick and dependable way to verify if the surface of a vehicle has reached—or exceeded—the optimum temperature. Similarly, a standard thermometer can be used to establish a rough ambient temperature, while seasoned grads of refinishing prep training may opt for a modern HVAC multimeter to provide a highly detailed readout.

Technicians will be wary of using heating equipment to produce higher temperatures, as their application can sometimes produce highly localized temperature fluctuations within a painting bay. Generally, steady, overnight heating using infrared heating lamps is a good way to establish the correct temperature for both products and surfaces. A simple timer can also be invaluable in making sure that flash times are being observed correctly and that the curing process has not been affected by cool temperatures. The potential effects of shade or roving sunlight on a vehicle during the painting process should always be considered before the trigger is pulled on a paint job, as these can instantly affect temperature levels.

Refinishing Prep Training Means Keeping Watch for Condensation and Contaminants

An important factor that should be borne in mind when carrying out wintertime painting is that changes in air temperature almost always result in some level of residual moisture condensing on surfaces. This is a particular issue whenever vehicles are being transferred from cold to warm environments, such as from a parking lot to a painting bay. Depending on the level of ventilation, this moisture can stay put on the vehicle for some time, and cause adherence issues when painting is carried out.

Leaving the vehicle for several hours in steady temperatures, but with an effective AC system or extractor fan in effect, is a good way to minimize condensation’s effect on your paint job. Additionally, a final inspection of the vehicle to identify any airborne particles such as hair or plant matter—which may have adhered to the vehicle while it was wet—is an excellent step before spraying.

When painting in cold weather, patience is a virtue for seasoned painting professionals who want to ensure the best conditions are in place before beginning the painting process.

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