Airbrushing in Cold Temps – Negative Effects & Tips To Help

A silver airbrush with a black grip against a white background.

Although it might not be the first thing you think about when embarking on an art project, environmental factors can definitely have an impact on your finished product, especially when it comes to airbrushing.

For health reasons, airbrushing is best done out of doors or in a well-ventilated area, which means that the environment can have a bigger impact than it might have on other, indoor art forms. 

How cold can you airbrush? It’s best to airbrush in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Any colder than that and the paint will begin to thicken, resulting in uneven coloration or bubbles and bumps. Using additives can help control the flow of paint if you must airbrush in cold weather.

This article is for you if you live in a cold climate and are interested in learning how dropping temperatures can affect your airbrush projects.

You will learn how temperature affects airbrushing, the ideal temperatures for airbrushing, and tips for airbrushing in both cold and hot weather.

Airbrushing Temperatures – What To Know

It’s important to know how temperature affects airbrushing. If you are painting in an environment that is too hot or too cold, it can have a detrimental effect on your art project. 

Does Temperature Affect Airbrushing?

Temperature does affect airbrushing. If you are airbrushing in a hot environment and try to artificially cool the environment too quickly, it can create a skin on the paint as it dries.

Similarly, airbrushing in cold temperatures can cause the paint to thicken, leading to bumps or bubbles on the surface of the paint.

Ideal Temperatures for Airbrushing

The ideal temperatures for airbrushing are anything between 50 and 90℉, with the relative humidity at no more than 85%.

Problems When Airbrushing in Cold Temperatures

It’s best to avoid painting in temperatures under 40℉, as cold temperatures can change the consistency of the paint and lead to issues such as bubbling.

Paint Thickens

When the paint thickens, it can affect the uniformity of the color, leaving it looking splotchy or uneven.

Bubbling

Bubbling or bumps are also a result of thickening paint. If you want your airbrush project to have a smooth surface, you should avoid spraying in cold weather.

Slow Drying Time

Cold weather slows the drying time of paint, making it more difficult to apply multiple layers of paint.

Problems When Airbrushing in Hot Temperatures

If you are painting in a warm climate, it’s best to avoid painting in direct sunlight or in hot, humid weather.

Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can cause the paint to dry too quickly, particularly if you are working on a project that requires blending.

When paint dries too quickly, the pigments and binder can’t coalesce as well, and the dried paint won’t be as flexible or durable as it should be.

Hot, Humid Weather

High humidity can cause your airbrush compressor to condensate moisture from the air, which can make your airbrush spray water instead of air or paint.

If you are using acrylic or water-based paint to airbrush with, mixing water with oil-based paint can really mess up the paint!

Paint also takes longer to dry in humid conditions, which is important to be aware of when you’re applying multiple layers.

Heat can make the base of your paint, be it water or oil, evaporate, resulting in paint that is thick and gloppy, which is absolutely not ideal for airbrushing.

Extenders such as Floetrol for water-based paints or Penetrol for oil-based paints can be used to keep the liquid from evaporating. 

Floetrol Paint Additive Pouring Medium for Acrylic...
  • Floetrol Pouring Medium - Fortifies acrylic and latex paints to improve performance, flow and reduce...
  • Pixiss Mixing Sticks - 20x Pixiss Mixing Sticks for mixing your resin, stain, epoxy, acrylic paint...
Penetrol
  • Helps oil-based paint flow better, allowing you to paint without brush marks
  • Increases paint adhesion to prevent peeling and blistering

Tips for Airbrushing in Cold Weather

Schedule Your Painting for Warmer Days

Choose a period of time to paint when it’s not absolutely frigid out!

Water-based paint can freeze, rendering it no good, so painting on warmer days is a better idea than painting during a cold snap.

You also want to make sure that it won’t get super cold directly after your painting session as the cold temperatures can ruin your finished project if it’s not done drying yet.

Use Additives

Using additives can keep paint flowing even on the coldest of days. Floetrol is an additive that can be used with water-based paints, while Penetrol can be used for oil-based paints.

Tips for Airbrushing in Hot Weather

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Follow the sun, and paint in the shade if at all possible.

Pay Attention When Thinning

If thinning a water-based paint, try to keep the mixture at less than 10% water. 

Related Questions:

Should I Airbrush Outside?

The paints used with airbrushing can contain carcinogens and harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat; cause headaches, clumsiness, and nausea, damage your liver, kidneys, and central nervous system; and may cause cancer, meaning that it’s essential to have proper ventilation when working with any products that emit them.

Airbrushing itself atomizes the paint, resulting in tiny paint particles that can be harmful if inhaled. For these reasons, it’s always best to airbrush outside if at all possible.

If you can’t airbrush outside, you want to make sure that your indoor area is well-ventilated. Open windows and doors, and use a fan to disperse the paint fumes.

You can also use a spray booth (I recommend this one), which is specially designed to contain the paint mess made from airbrushing. Many spray booths also come equipped with built-in ventilation. 

Does Humidity Affect Airbrushing?

Humidity does affect airbrushing!

The level of moisture in the air can have an effect on the paint itself and can also lead to condensation from the compressor getting into the airbrush, resulting in water mixing with your paint. 

Conclusion

While it’s totally possible to airbrush in more extreme temperatures and weather conditions, it’s best to airbrush in moderate temperatures and lower humidity conditions.

If you have to airbrush in hot weather, be sure to spray in the shade and use thinner mindfully to keep the liquid part of your paint from evaporating.

If you are airbrushing in colder weather, you can use an extender to keep your paint from becoming thick and sluggish.

Last update on 2022-05-18 at 22:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Cara

Cara

I am a writer and an artist taking opportunities every day to transform my dreams into reality. I love learning new things and am always creating and innovating. I worked as an Art Instructor, teaching painting and art techniques to artists of all levels and ages. I have hosted countless paint parties and taught children’s art classes both in my home as well as an art teacher at a Montessori school.