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It may be too cold to paint the outside of your house, but Mother Nature can't keep you from some serious interior paint work on even the coldest winter days.

And trust the experts, when the temperature is in the single digits, or even several degrees above, exterior painting is a waste of time.

"I would highly advise against it," said Rick Beckman, owner of Distinctive Touch Painting in Sioux City. "There are different kinds of paint that you can use. But even, say, an oil paint, which is a little stronger than late, you don't want to really press your luck and go... if it's going to be below 40 degrees or something of that nature, for even a 24-hour period.

"I've had clients call me right up before winter started and said, 'Is there any way you can fit me in?' Our weather was just starting to turn then. And I said, 'You know, it's all controlled by Mother Nature. I don't want to make you a promise and then you're expecting to have your house done before our first snow flies.'"

Beckman said this is a job that can be revisited next spring when conditions are better.

"Otherwise, if they get quotes from some type of firm and the firm says they can do it in this weather ... it can't be done," he said.

The cut-off time for exterior painting is usually around the first of November, when the overnight temperatures start dipping into the 30s.

"I don't recommend painting in that because the substrata's got to be a certain temperature -- and some of the painters don't know that," he said. "So say it's 50 degrees during the day. Yeah, theoretically you could paint, but it's not going to cure because it's going to be 30 degrees that night, and you're not going to deliver a good product."

One exception would be a house with siding that needs some paint. Beckman said the siding could be taken inside to a shop where the conditions are right, painted and left for a couple of days before being returned to the house. But any exteriors painted in cold weather are simply going to have to be redone come spring, he noted.

Take it inside

That's not the case with interior painting, however. Winter is a fine time to catch up on those inside jobs, he said.

That, in fact, is what keeps Beckman and his crew employed during the winter months.

"It's usually a cycle every year. Summer and spring are just crazy, And then I line up projects through the whole year and into the next year with my contractors or residential clients," he said, noting that about 60 percent of his work is commercial, 40 percent residential. Commercial projects like the Van Meter Industrial building and the Veterans Administrations offices keep his crews busy, relatively speaking, in the winter months.

Interior painting is no different whether in summer or winter. The weather may be cooler, even inside, but that's not a problem, Beckman said

Even the paint smell can be lessened.

"We've got eco-friendly paints and that sort of thing. If they're low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and low fumes, we can utilize them if a resident has health-related issues, asthma or pneumonia, or apt to catch pneumonia or something of that nature," he said. "We can utilize those little VOCs which every manufacturer is coming out withnow because of the Green concept. And sometimes it's just a safer paint,"

This paint can also be a little more costly, at least until everybody uses it and the EPA starts mandating its use, he noted.

As in warmer times, ventilation is important whenever you paint. "And it's not the end of the world to have a fan in a window or something of that nature if you're not using VOC to air it out slightly," he said. "Most of our clients don't complain about the smell or the fumes, but we're always willing to buy that type of product and use those lower VOC Green products if they have health-related issues."

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