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Will Acrylic Paints be Harmed by Freezing Temperatures?


Question: Will Acrylic Paints be Harmed by Freezing Temperatures?
"How are acrylic paints affected by cold and possible freezing? We're moving to a village where the temperatures are sub-zero eight months of the year. During the move our stuff will be subjected to the elements for many hours. I'm also sure that freezing power outages will be a factor at some stage during our time there.

"Will acrylic paints thaw out and be fine, or will it be altered beyond usability? An oil painter told me oils are not much affected by being frozen; she stored hers in a garage one winter and they froze but she had no problems with them afterward. I don't know if acrylics would fare the same." -- BB

The information about oil paints not being negatively impacted by freezing is right (see Freezing Oil Paint), but then they don't contain resins like acrylic paints do (or mix with water). Unfortunately acrylic paints don't like extreme cold, and you may have to consider switching to oils when you move (traditional oils, not water-based) or some other medium.

In one of its Just Paint magazines1, the acrylic paint manufacturer Golden says acrylic artists paints (and acrylic house paints) should not be used if the "temperature is below about 5°C (about 40°F) or when the temperature is expected to fall below this level for 4 to 8 hours after the paint was applied." The reason for this is that at low temperatures, "strong, coherent films cannot form ... and even if the film later becomes warm, it will never recover."

Golden recommends using acrylics "only at temperatures above 10°C (about 50°F)" and keeping a painting above this temperatures for several days once it has dried. The reason for this is that "Acrylics painted and dried under cold conditions may look OK, but the films will be less durable and more vulnerable to cracking. Oils, on the other hand can be used at freezing temperatures or below."

1. Just Paint, Golden Artists Colors, Issue 12, November 2004.

See Also: Freezing Oil Paints

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