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Experienced refinishers know the problem: as winter approaches and temperatures drop, refinish preparation work needs to be adapted accordingly. Lower temperatures can render clear coats and hardeners more viscous, making them much harder to work with. So how can you best prepare your paint room for the cooler season?
TIP 1. 20°C is ideal
Temperature plays a critical role in many chemical processes and refinishing is no exception. That’s why refinishers need to pay particular attention to it in cold winter months. “Axalta products are pretty robust and up to a point, they are quite forgiving of environments that are not ideal. Nonetheless, bodyshops should ensure certain minimal conditions are met to make sure they achieve professional results, even in winter,” says Paul Polverino, National Training Manager.
“When storing or working with VOC compliant clear coats, temperatures should not be allowed to drop below 20°C. This simple precaution can ensure optimal viscosity and spray-ability. It is imperative that water-based products be protected against frost.”
TIP 2. Don’t over-dilute cold paint
“If a paint product seems thicker than usual during mixing, check its temperature and viscosity. In most cases, the problem is usually that the paint is simply too cold,” says Paul Polverino. Additional diluting of the product with extra thinner is not the optimal solution. The materials about to be used should be at a room temperature of at least 20°C. Climate controlled paint mix and storage rooms can be well worth the effort in colder areas.
TIP 3. Bring vehicles into the heated spray booth
Temperature is not only relevant for paint products and components, but also for car bodies, which should not be allowed to get too cold. If they do, a fine moisture film can develop on the surface as the vehicle warms up. This can create problems with the flow, surface wetting and adhesion of the fresh paint and can lead to long-term defects, such as blistering. “This kind of moisture layer can make a superior result almost impossible to achieve. Allow the vehicle to stand in the heated spray booth for some time before starting work,” says Paul Polverino.
TIP 4. Don’t “over-compensate” with a high spraying temperature
Just because it’s cold outside, that doesn’t mean we have to reach for the fastest hardener available. If your spray booth is running between 20-25°C and has a quality bake cycle reaching recommended metal temperatures, then conditions are normal (inside the booth). Therefore, your hardener and thinner choice should be selected based on the size of job and your spray booths conditions. Note that problems can occur if spraying is carried out in higher temperatures, particularly if combined with the wrong hardener choice.