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Bathtub and Tile Refinishing in Cold Weather

By: George Piccot on 01/10/2017

Cold weather presents its share of challenges for the professional bathtub and tile refinisher. Most refinishers understand that it’s not a good idea to resurface a tub or tile when the temperatures drop but they don’t understand why and with the right understanding, there is no reason you can’t!

Below are a few of the most important challenges to expect when reglazing in cold temperatures and a solution to those challenges.

Challenges:

  • The cold makes paint thicker and harder to work with. This can effect how your material flows and therefore effect how your finish looks.
  • When surface temps are below a certain point (Dew Point), no coating should be applied. The surface temp should be above 62° and should remain at that level during the curing process. When the temps are below this point (Dew Point), moisture can form on the surface which can cause premature coating failure, dulling of the finish and other serious problems.
  • When the surface is too cold, the coating may not properly cure and stay soft for a prolonged period of time.

Solution:

  • Before arrival to the job, be sure someone turns on the heat to warm the place up. If there is no heat, consider a space heater. Be very careful when using a space heater and pay attention to the surface temp and not the air temp. If there is no heat, try heating up your paint by putting the container in a bucket of hot water (kind of like warming a baby’s bottle). If none of the above is available, you may need to reduce the viscosity of your paint a little more than usual. Also, you may want to increase the speed of your reducer by adding a little acetone to compensate for the colder temps. Rule of thumb… colder the temps, faster the reducer… hotter the temps slower the reducer. Before you apply any coatings, you may want to go over the surface with a heat gun to bring up the surface temp and be sure to bring it up above 62°. Doing this will bring the surface temp up and flash off any microscopic moisture on the surface. You can check the surface temp by using an Infared Laser Thermometer (available at Harbor Freight http://www.harborfreight.com/non-contact-infrared-thermometer-with-laser-targeting-61894.html)

Conclusion

Painting in cold weather can be done; it just requires a little more understanding and effort. For more information about surface preparation and coating failures, read the article Surface Preparation: Bathtub and Tile Refinishing Coating Failures.