Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about Snowcem Paint. If you are unable to find the answer to your question here then please get in contact with us here

Snowcem FAQ's

What makes exterior paints peel and flake?

Modern paints fail by peeling and flaking mainly because they contain polymers. Polymers make them faster to apply and give options for satin or sheen finishes, for example. The price is lost breathability. Claims that they are breathable are only partly true, as they most definitely reduce the vapour permeability of an otherwise permeable surface. This means that moisture can be trapped under the paint, which leads to early failure of the paint or, worse still, damage to the wall surface beneath it. Such deterioration happens in both cold winters and hot summers. This is because trapped water expands under freezing conditions, and produces a high vapor pressure when hot. Paint with low adhesion will tend to peel and paint with strong adhesion fail the wall surface to which it is applied.

How long does Snowcem exterior paint Last?

There are examples of houses which were painted with Snowcem more than 30 years ago. After 25 years or more, we would not expect the paint to have failed in any way, flacking, for example. It is normally just a case of freshening up the surface by over-coating with more Snowcem. Other paints last much less time because they include polymers that reduce the vapour permeability of the surface, which promotes water related failure and peeling.

Will Snowcem exterior paint work on my wall?

Snowcem exterior paint works and is long lasting on walls made of concrete, cement render, GRC, plaster, pebble dash, brickwork, sandstone and limestone masonry. The main point is that the surface must not be failing in some way. In such a case, or where a wall is already painted, use of Chemprover might be considered before applying Snowcem. In case of doubt, email or phone the experts at Northern Paints.

Does Snowcem exterior paint require preparation?

It depends on the condition of the surface to be painted, although preparation is often not necessary. As for all paints, grease, oil, loose surfacing and contamination should be removed. It is useful to jet wash after cleaning, removing all traces of cleaner/detergent. Washing does not have to hold up painting, however, because the surface does not need to be dry. The main requirement is that the surface is sound and porous to some extent. Concerning ‘soundness’, particular attention must be given to checking rendered or plastered walls in case this has become disbanded/delaminated. Light tapping with a hammer (hollow sound) is useful for locating areas that need to be broken out and made good before painting. To check that a surface is porous, just splash it with clean water and note if the water beads off (not porous) or soaks in and darkens the surface (porous). In case of doubt, email or phone the experts at Northern Paints.

What is the quickest way of applying Snowcem exterior paint?

It depends on the method of application and the texture of the surface, pebble-dash taking the longest time and smooth render the least. Snowcem can be applied by brush (Northern Paints accessory), micro-fiber pad (Northern Paints accessory) or spray. A brush is a good way of stippling and painting very coarse surfaces such as pebble dash. For blockwork, and other open texture surfaces, or where a smoother finish is required, a micro-fiber pad gives a fast way of painting. Spraying does not suit many situations because of overspray (eg windows). In the case of spraying, you must expect to increase the water content and apply a number of thin coats. A large nozzle diameter will be necessary for this. Hand operated backpacks have been used but nozzles need regular unblocking.

How quickly does Snowcem exterior paint dry?

Drying time depends on a number of factors including the ambient temperature, air movement, porosity of surface and paint thickness. Using a spray, which is not normal, drying time, can be less than 15 mins. In all other cases, drying time is about 1 hour. Curing, the process by which paint increases in strength, takes longer.

What do I use to apply Snowcem exterior paint?

Snowcem can be applied by:

1 – brush (Northern Paints accessory),
2 – micro-porous pad (Northern Paints accessory) or
3 – low-pressure spray.

Use of paint rollers is not recommended. Brush is good for very rough surfaces, micro-porous pad for open texture or smooth finishes and spray for extensive walls and industrial applications. Brush design has a great influence over hand comfort, weight of paint held and surface filling. For this reason, we strongly recommend our Snowcem No1. hand-made brush, designed, tried and tested specifically for Snowcem painting.

Can Snowcem exterior paint be sprayed?

Snowcem can be sprayed, using a large nozzle diameter, low pressure and higher water content. Several coats are necessary to build up the coating. Spraying is not normally recommended due to overspray on windows, for example.

Is Snowcem exterior paint waterproof?

Snowcem is water and rain resistant, with high vapour permeability (breathability).

How long will Snowcem exterior paint it last?

There are examples of houses with 30 years’ old Snowcem paint, with no peeling or flaking.

Is Snowcem exterior paint ready to use?

Just add water to the Snowcem paint powder (see information sheet).

Can I store/use old product

Cement is hygroscopic and thus will go hard if exposed to damp air, even without adding water. For this reason, Snowcem should be used as a complete bag. However, provided a part used bag is not left open, sealed with tape, and stored in a warm dry place, it might stay good for a year or so. When coming to re-use, it must be discarded if it is not a lump free powder. Never store cement bags more than five high, otherwise the lower bags will go hard and useless.

How much water do I add to snowcem exterior paint powder?

The amount of water you add, depends on what you are using Snowcem for. As a normal paint, mix Snowcem powder into clean water in the ratio of 1.0:1.0 by volume (1.30:1.00 by weight). If you can borrow the bathroom scales (protect with clear plastic), most people find weight based mixing more reliable than judging volumes. One idea is to get two spare buckets, one marked with water level and the other with powder level. A third bucket is used for mixing the power and water. NEVER ADD WATER TO PREVIOUSLY MIXED PAINT (will reduce strength of paint).

How do I mix Snowcem exterior paint?

Electrical safety: mains electrical power cables should be fitted with RCD devices.

  1. Use a purpose built mixer or a battery/electric drill fitted with a suitable mixing paddle (Northern Paint Accessory).
  2. A low speed setting is to be used.
  3. Whilst continuing to mix, add the Snowcem powder carefully and gradually (avoid a dust cloud) to the measured water and then mix thoroughly for 5 minutes.
  4. Leave to stand for a further 5 minutes and then mix for 30 seconds.
  5. Aim to mix only sufficient paint for your needs, based on how much paint you can use in say 45 minutes.

Northern paints accessories include low cost gloves, dust mask and goggles, all recommended when mixing. Gloves should be used when painting.

Is Snowcem exterior paint toxic or dangerous to use?

No, years of use prove that Snowcem is accepted as a safe DIY paint. Snowcem is cement powder that is mixed with water to form a naturally alkaline based paint that resists mosses, algae and mold. The powder and the dried paint can have a dehydrating effect on skin, possibly causing mild irritation. If sufficient care is not taken when adding the paint powder to the mix water, the result may be a dust cloud. When adding the powder, it makes sense to wear overalls (or old clothes) a paper mask, goggles and gloves, all available as low cost accessories from Northern Paints. When using the mixed paint, overalls, head cover, gloves and the odd mug tea or coffee are a good idea.

Is Snowcem exterior paint safe to use?

Yes, years of use prove that Snowcem is accepted as a safe DIY paint. See also answer to “Is Snowcem paint toxic or dangerous to use?”

Is Snowcem exterior paint safe for the environment?

Snowcem has no solvent, VOC’s or leachable hydrocarbon content; making is suitable as land fill waste, for example. Snowcem’s long life, during which other paints fail and have to be applied multiple times, means less energy and CO2 emissions associated with Snowcem paint manufacture, transport and use.

Is Snowcem exterior paint a sustainable building product

Snowcem’s durability makes it a highly Sustainable Building product. Nowadays, sustainability is frequently gauged by the energy (gigajoules) and the CO2 emission (tonnes) associated with the production of one tonne or cu m of a product. The life of the product needs also to be related to  the whole life of the building or structure that uses it i.e. how many instances of the product are necessary in its whole life, 120 years, for example. In this period, Snowcem might be applied say 4 times, compared with say 12 times for other paints.

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint on concrete?

Snowcem is ideal for use on concrete. If the existing surface is in good condition, it is not necessary to remove surface laitance.

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint on render?

Snowcem is a cement based material and, therefore, ideal for use on cement-sand render.

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint on plaster?

Snowcem can be used on plaster. However, it is important to make sure the surface in not weak or dusting. In such cases, Chemprover can be used to strengthen and stabilise the surface before applying Snowcem.

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint on brickwork or masonry?

Snowcem is a cement based material and can be used on masonry bonded with OPC or heritage type cement mortar.

Can Snowcem exterior paint be used on wood-timber

Snowcem can be used on bare wood-timber surfaces, such as plywood. This is not a normal use for the product, however, and its durability will probably depend on the timber species and exposure.

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint on stone?

Snowcem is a cement based material and can be used on natural masonry stone such as sandstone and limestone.

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint on lime plaster?

Lime can degenerate when wetted. For this reason, it is recommended that lime plaster surfaces are treated with Chemprover prior to applying Snowcem Paint.

Does Snowcem exterior paint crack?

Snowcem, mixed correctly, with the right amount of water and applied on a suitable surface, should not crack.

Care must be taken when using Snowcem Paint in very hot weather, as essential water, needed for hydrating the cement, may be evaporated. In such circumstances, we recommend the surface is thoroughly wetted before commencing, and the painted surface kept damp using a water spray during the 8 hours following application (not too much too early).

Does Snowcem exterior paint peel or flake as it ages

Snowcem cannot peel, and will not flake if applied to a suitable sound surface.

Does Snowcem exterior paint give off any fumes or smell?

Snowcem, which has no volatile content or fumes, has a harmless characteristic cement smell.

Is Snowcem exterior paint vapour permeable?

Yes, high vapour permeability, commonly called breathability, is a feature of Snowcem that is not found in other paints, the reason why they do not last as long.

How do I clean brushes and equipment after using Snowcem exterior paint?

Use clean water.

How do I remove splashes of Snowcem exterior paint from a pavement?

This depends on the type and porously of the pavement surface. Sheeting over is recommended (Northern Paints accessory) as it may be difficult to completely remove splashes using water only. In such cases, special cleaners may be required (consult Northern Paints).

Will Snowcem exterior paint affect exterior woodwork uPVC or other paint?

Snowcem will not affect PVC or sound paintwork. In all cases, it should be washed off as soon as possible, using plenty of clean water,

Can Snowcem exterior paint be applied during cold or hot weather?

Snowcem is should not be applied if there is a risk of freezing conditions at the time of application or within 7 days following application. If painting in hot weather, care will be needed to prevent loss of the water that is essential for hydration and strength gain. In such circumstances, we recommend the surface is thoroughly wetted before commencing, and the painted surface kept damp using with a fine water spray for 8 hours (not too much too early).

Can I apply Snowcem exterior paint in damp weather?

Snowcem can be applied in conditions of high humidity, but not rain. Painting should not commence if rain is likely during application or within 3-4 hours following completion.

Can Snowcem exterior paint be applied to surfaces which will be exposed to salt water conditions near or on the coast?

Snowcem gives an extremely hard surface that is resistant to weather and airborne contamination. It has proved durable is many coastal situations, lighthouses, for example.

What colours of Snowcem exterior paint are available?

Snowcem is available in pure white and shades. A colour chart is available from Northern Paints.

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint indoors?

There is no reason why Snowcem cannot be used indoors, it has no solvents or fumes. Smoother finishes can be achieved by applying with a micro-fiber pad (Northern Paints accessory).

Can I use Snowcem exterior paint on top of exiting paint?

Yes, if you are painting over existing Snowcem. Other than this, it depends on the type of paint and porosity. Try the water test described under “Does Snowcem paint require preparation?”  If there is any doubt, apply Cemprover on the existing paint to ensure adhesion.

Can I apply Snowcem exterior paint to a dusty, crumbly or weak surface?

Is such cases, the surface should be improved with Cemprover before applying Snowcem paint,

What personal protective equipment (PPE) should I use while applying Snowcem exterior Paint?

It makes sense to take some precautions, especially when working with powders. This topic is covered fully under “Is Snowcem paint toxic or dangerous to use?”

Is Snowcem exterior paint the right choice for my exterior painting project?

If you have a suitable surface and you want the paintwork to stay good for 25 years or more, then Snowcem is the right choice. Alternatively, you could go with a different paint, which most definitely will be more expensive and have less than half the life of Snowcem Paint.

Can I apply Snowcem exterior paint by myself?

Snowcem is a low cost DIY paint that last and last. It might take a little longer to apply than other paints, but this is time is well spent because it will stay looking good for 25 years or more. Other paints fail earlier by adhesion breakdown and have to be painstakingly removed before fresh paint can be applied.

Where can I buy Snowcem exterior paint?

Northern Paints deliver Snowcem throughout the UK and anywhere in Europe, using low cost freight. Local stockists and collection points are being arranged.

I don’t like to buy from the internet. Where can I buy Snowcem exterior paint?

We can normally arrange for you to purchase Snowcem Paint through a local Builder’s Merchant.

Can I get advice about Snowcem exterior paint?

Try us, Northern Paints are Snowcem experts.

Can someone apply Snowcem exterior paint for me?

Try contacting your local decorator or builder and tell them that you want to have your house painted with Snowcem Paint, and where to get it. Make sure they use the genuine product, not some other more expensive paint that lasts half the life of Snowcem.

Why should I use Snowcem exterior paint?

Snowcem is cheaper and longer lasting than other exterior paints. Why would you want to pay more and redecorate in less than 25 years’ time?

My home is a Listed Building. Is Snowcem exterior paint suitable to apply on the exterior?

Snowcem has been used on many Listed Buildings.

Is Snowcem exterior paint better than other exterior/masonry paints available?

Snowcem comes with many advantages over modern paints. It is cheaper and longer lasting than other paints, mainly because it does not contain polymers. Unlike them, it does not reduce the vapour permeability (breathability) of the wall surface, which is the reason why it remains on the surface even in severe weather regions. Other paints trap moisture under them and fail by peeling or flaking.

Will Snowcem exterior paint still look good in 10 years time?

Applications more than 30 years old exist. If properly applied to a suitable surface, you can expect a life of more than 25 years. 10 years life is more normal for other paints.

Will Snowcem exterior paint turn green or be vulnerable to attach by algae?

Unlike other paints, Snowcem is alkaline, which means it does not support moss and aglae.

Will Snowcem exterior paint discolour

Sunlight is the main cause of discoloration, because UV radiation affects the colour pigments in the paint. Paints with resin content are susceptible in this way. Snowcem Paint does not have such content and keeps its colour.

Will Snowcem exterior paint change colour in the sun?

No, it will not. See also “Will Snowcem Paint discolour?”

Is Snowcem exterior paint UV resistant?

Yes, Snowcem Paint is resistant to UV radiation. See also “Will Snowcem Paint discolour?”

Is Snowcem exterior paint frost resistant?

Snowcem gains substantial strength and adhesion on the painted surface. It also does not trap moisture behind it. These characteristics means it able to resist freeze-thaw attack.

Does Snowcem paint trap water?

Unlike other paints, that are only partially vapour permeable, Snowcem preserves the breathability of the surface to which it is applied. This means it does not trap moisture or water.

How many coats of Snowcem Paint do I need to apply?

One coat is sometimes sufficient, But two coats are recommended, for example, on rough texture surfaces that have not previously been painted.

How much does Snowcem paint cost?

Snowcem paint is very economical, one 25kg bag will usually cover around 40 sq m of wall surface. why not get a quote from Northern Paints.

How much Snowcem paint will I need to paint my house?

This depends largely on the texture of the surface, rougher surfaces needing more paint than smooth. When mixed, a 25 kg bag of Snowcem Paint powder yields 38 ltrs of paint, typically enough to cover approximately 40 sq m of smooth wall surface.

Can I use Snowcem paint on farm buildings?

Snowcem is ideal for farm buildings, especially in exposed climates. Its alkaline nature means it does not support biological contamination, moss and algae, for example.

Can Snowcem paint be removed if required?

Snowcem is a permanent paint, not easy to remove. Remove as for cement, scabbling, for example.

How long should I mix Snowcem Paint before use?

See “How do I mix Snowcem exterior paint?”

How much water do I need to add to the Snowcem powder?

To make Snowcem paint, gradually add a 25 kg bag of Snowcem paint powder into 19.2 litres (19.2 kgs) of clean water and mix to make 38.4 litres of paint (44.2 kgs).

Can I get Snowcem paint in a sealable plastic bucket or tub?

Snowcem exterior paint is available in 25kg Tubs or 25kg and 5kg Bags . Colours are only available in the 25kg bags, Super white is available in 25Kg Tubs and also 25Kg and 5kg bags.

How should I store my Snowcem paint?

Provided the part used bag is not left open and has been sealed with tape, and stored in a warm dry place, it might stay good for a year or so. When coming to re-use, it must be discarded if it is not a lump free powder. Never store cement bags more than five high because the lower bags will go hard and useless.

Will I get joints in the surface if I stop for a break?


Have you got a safety sheet for Snowcem paint?

Yes, this is freely available from Northern Paints

Who uses Snowcem paint?

Professionals and DIYers’ use Snowcem in the UK. We also export it to Eire, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, Iceland and elsewhere in Europe. Snowcem Paint is on the London Transport and Transport for London’s registered product list. It is also used by local authorities in Scotland, supported by our Scottish stockest.

What happens if I order too much Snowcem paint?

If the Snowcem bag is returned accompanied by an official return certificate, unopened, undamaged and in good condition, with more than six months remaining, we will refund 75% of the price paid for the bag. The customer is responsible for the cost of safe delivery to our warehouse. All returns must be pre-advised to Northern Paints, so that a return cert can be issued prior to the customer making the return.

Can I make a sand/cement render using Snowcem paint?

Snowcem is cement, so it can be used to make a render mix together with sand and water. Colour outcomes will be influenced by the sand colour. We do not provide mix designs for this.

Can I paint thermalite/concrete breeze blocks with Snowcem paint?

Yes. We suggest a micro-fiber pad is used for ease and speed of coating (Northumberland Paint accessory).

Can I paint pebble dash/wet dash walls with Snowcem paints?

Yes. We suggest the Snowcem No. 1 brush is used for comfort and ease of filling the surface. (Northern Paint accessory).

Has Snowcem paint changed in anyway?

Snowcem is one of the oldest names in exterior wall paint. It is very traditional formulation.

Will Snowcem help to keep my house warm?

Snowcem works to keep the surface dry, which means it helps to preserve the thermal insulation value (U) of the wall. This is because dry wall material is more insulating that wet.