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*What Is the Best Temperature to Apply Wood Finishes?

Ideal Conditions are 70 degrees F and 50% humidity.

Refinishing furniture in a space that is below or above the 65-75 degrees F range can lead to problems, and a space below 55 degrees F is definitely too cold.

WATER-BASED TOPCOATS

One issue caused by cold temperatures with water-based topcoats is the development of dimples in the finish called Orange Peel.

The colder your space it is, the longer you have to wait between coats. Cold temperatures slow the dry time and affect how quickly the finish will level, harden and cure. Our easy rule of thumb is; if it is cold enough to wear a sweater it is too cold to apply a water-based finish.

If you must apply WATER BASED TOP COATS in cool conditions, add General Finishes Accelerator to speed water evaporation from the finish. Make sure the finish and the surface of the piece you are working on are at room temperature. You can warm up the finish by placing the can in hot water for 5 minutes beforehand, and if possible, move the piece back into warmer temperature after applying finishes for the 7 days of cure time.

OIL-BASED FINISHES

Oil-based finishes are not as affected by cooler temperatures, but lower temps will still slow the oxidation of the finish. GF again suggests moving the piece back into warmer temperature after applying finishes for the 7 days of cure time.

You can apply oil-based finishes in as low as 60 degrees if necessary.

WARNING: Applying OIL BASED finishes near an open flame or combustible heater is VERY DANGEROUS. The mineral spirit mixes with fumes from kerosene, for example, creating an unsafe environment.

Conversely, if you are working in HOT, DRY climates any WATER BASE finish will dry faster. General Finishes Extender can be added to water based products to increase dry time in those situations.

Ideal temperature to store product: 65-75 degrees F. Garages are not a good place to store any finish.

NOTE: We have been asked whether it is OK to paint in a 50 degrees F shop if the paint is stored at a safe temperature beforehand, and the finished piece is moved into a room with a safe temperature to dry. This approach might work, but it's risky.

See video tutorial: Tips on Storing Leftover Finishes