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Tips on touching up your car paint in cold weather

Making paintwork repairs on your car in cold weather isn’t ideal but sometimes (often in the UK’s weather) it has to be done.

If a scratch has gone through to the metal, you want to avoid rust oxidisation at all costs.

Here are our pro tips to help you get the best possible result from your car touch up paint, even in low temperatures.

Tips for using touch-up paint in cold weather

1. Stay indoors if you can - heat and ventilate

Your garage or workshop is ideal for paintwork repairs in colder months. It’s easier for you to warm and maintain a good temperature within an enclosed environment. Plus, if there’s a breeze or wind outside, being indoors will protect your wet paint from dust.

The majority of car touch up paints have solvents in them. Solvents keep paint free-flowing for easy application. They also provide a robust, waterproof result that protects your car and gives long-lasting good looks.

However, solvents are toxic if breathed in. If you’re heating your space, also make sure you have adequate ventilation, especially if you’re doing other jobs on your car between paint coats.

If you’re using an aerosol, you must wear a suitable safety mask and eyewear.

2. Do a temperature/moisture check

PaintNuts car touch up paint in pens and bottles must be used over 15℃. The ideal temperature for spray painting is between 18℃ and 25℃.

If the temperature is too cold, the paint might not be fluid enough (higher viscosity) and the chemical components may not mix properly when shaken.

Also, if it’s a damp day, regardless of whether it’s cold, this might affect your results. Moisture in the air is a particular problem when aerosoling - it causes the paint to 'bloom' and appear matt when dry.

It might sound tricky to maintain a good temperature, considering you also have to ventilate, but you do have a wide temperature range to work with.

3. Plan for extra time

In cooler temperatures, your touch up paint will take longer to dry - we wouldn't recommend applying paints in conditions of less than 10 degrees If you’ve heated your environment and manage to maintain a temperature between 15 and 20 degrees, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, don’t overheat your space, and be aware that your drying time could increase. 

  • Normally a single coat of PaintNuts car touch up paint will only take 15 minutes to be fully dry before you can add a second layer.
  • If you plan to add a coat of lacquer (we recommend you do), you have to wait 24 hours after your final paint coat to allow it to harden and cure.

4. Have a practice ‘cold’ run

This will help you judge whether your car touch up paint is fluid enough to use, and will help you adjust your technique for colder temperatures.

One pro trick is to keep your (closed) touch up pen or bottle in a bowl of warm water until you’re ready to use it. Shake thoroughly before use.

A trial run will also show whether moisture in the air will affect the end result, especially with aerosol car paint.

5. Prepare your surface

Make sure your surface is clean and ready for paint application, including wax and dust.

As you’re working in colder weather, and you’re both heating and ventilating your space, also make sure there’s no moisture in the air or on the surface of the car before you begin to apply the paint.

If everything’s looking good, start applying your touch up paint - check out our guide on the best way to do this.

If you have to touch-up your car paint outside

If it’s an emergency and you don’t have access to a garage or workshop, you can still tend to scratches, scuffs and chips using a precision car touch up paint pen or bottle that’s been warmed gently in a bowl of water.

We recommend only using car paint aerosols for larger areas if there is no wind and moisture.


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