Next Level Painting

Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside?

Can you Use Exterior Paint Inside? Discover their differences!

They’re both intended to beautify our homes, but interior and exterior paints are not interchangeable, are they? Discover it here!

Imagine that you painted your outside walls with exterior paint, of course, and there was a little bit of leftover, and now it is time to continue with your indoors.

Will you use the same paint you used outside for your indoors? Probably you are saying, “Why not?” Well, let me tell you that you can use exterior paint inside, but the deal here is that you shouldn’t.

But why? To know why not, first, we must understand the differences between outside & inside paint.

Interior and exterior paint have different qualities and chemical compositions, making them specially formulated for indoors or outdoors. In this article, we’ll explain it to you in even more detail.

Let's Delve into the Differences between Interior and Exterior Paint

You may think you can use interior and exterior paint interchangeably, which is normal because you are not a professional painter. That is why we are here to guide you.

Interior Paint

Characteristics of Interior Paint

When discussing interior paints, the first aspect you need to know is that they are produced to have characteristics for an indoor environment and are not durable enough for outdoors.

To understand the differences, we must also know what they are made of. Interior paints contain water or oils, binders, pigments, and solids.

They are low odor, washable, scratch and splatter resistant. Interior paints do not have chemicals that help paint withstand rain, snow, heat, and mildew like exterior paint.

Interior paint has more to do with aesthetics and decoration purposes, and at the same time, they need to add properties of easy maintenance, washability, and moisture prevention.

It’s designed to resist abrasion. Interior paint is also designed to be more delicate than exterior paint because you will stay indoors longer.

Exterior Paint

Characteristics of Exterior Paint

On the other hand, exterior paints are more durable, provide better coverage, and adhere extremely well to all surfaces. Regarding performance, you need to look for a paint sheen that withstands the elements. Eggshell and sating are by far the most popular exterior paint sheens

Exterior paint is more exposed to all weather conditions. Therefore, it must be manufactured with other chemicals, making it different from interior paint.

Exterior paints are usually acrylic latex which is water-soluble and makes it weather resistant. Acrylic latex paint works on external surfaces, including stucco, wood, cement, and brick.

Also, they offer a reduced list of color options when compared to interior paints.

Differences Between Interior & Exterior Paint

Once you know in more detail what are each of them, you can easily understand the differences between them and see why you can use exterior paint inside even though you shouldn’t.

Based on what you have just learned in this article, we can say that the main differences are:


One of the most important differences is that exterior paints have higher levels of volatile organic compounds or VOCs than interior paint. VOCs are chemicals that help the color to be more resistant and durable.

However, VOCs are harmful, so exterior paints should only be used outside. VOCs can cause little and higher damage to your health since they can affect your liver, kidney, and other parts of your organism.

Aesthetic & Finish

Exterior paint does not offer the same color options as interior paint. Having fewer color options for exterior paint can be an obstacle when you want to use it indoors since you may wish for a specific tone, which may not be available.

Odor & Off-Gassing

Exterior paint tends to have a stronger odor due to the higher level of VOCs content. And if you use it indoors, it can lead to persistent odors and potential health issues such as:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Exterior paint will not only damage your health but also your indoors because it may not adhere properly to surfaces, leading to a low-quality job.

The differences mentioned before are the ones that stand out the most. But besides the differences in VOCs and chemicals, there are other differences between interior and exterior paint.

For example, interior paint is designed to be cleaned easily and resist stains and scuffs.

This thinner, more versatile formula is often water-based, making it easier to clean up after painting. Overall, it’s best to use paint specifically designed for the surface and environment it will be used on to ensure the best results and the safety of those using it.

Use Exterior Paint for Outdoors Only!

Paint Sure!

Using exterior paint indoors does not have any advantages. Additionally, some components may affect your health. So, it would be better not to use exterior paint indoors.

It is best to hire a qualified contractor when painting the exterior of your house.

Next Level Painting is a trusted painting company in Pleasanton, Merced County, Turlock, Manteca, Atwater, Tracy, Oakdale, Ripon, and Alameda County. Call us if you need our help with lasting, unique & affordable painting services.

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