Can You Use Exterior Paint Indoors

Can You Use Exterior Paint Indoors? [Not Advisable]

Using exterior paints indoors is never a good idea because of the poisonous nature of exterior paints. I got an email from one “Spray Gadgets” reader asking: Can you use exterior paint inside my house?

While you may assume you’re saving money by reusing your remaining exterior paint indoors, you’ll actually be endangering your life – and I will tell you why below.

But you must understand that each variety of paint has been prepared to perform best in its own designated environment and might not be good in other settings.

In this article, you’ll also get to know the best paints for the interior of your home so you’ll know to use and what to avoid for your safety.

Now, let’s fully answer the question.

Can you Use Exterior Paint Indoors? No!

Can You Use Exterior Paint Indoors

The answer is a big NO!

There are several reasons why it’s not advisable to use exterior paint indoors.

The first point to note is that most exterior paints are formulated with mildew inhibitors, which are toxic chemicals that you wouldn’t want outgassing into your home.

Secondary, outside paints are meant to chalk as they weather, which is also undesirable inside your home.

Exterior paints are also designed to be more flexible than interior paints. This is because they are subjected to a wider range of temperatures – and are naturally resilient against the forces of nature.

Exterior paint can withstand rain, heat, wind, storm, snow, and so on – nothing can possibly beat through it.

Now, after considering this kind of durability and features, you may easily assume that exterior paint could be a fantastic solution for your interior painting needs, especially your bathroom because it is liable to constant humidity and moisture.

Regrettably, humidity and moisture can expose interior surfaces to the same problems you may be tackling on your exterior surfaces because moisture buildup may result in peeling, cracking, as well as mold and mildew issues.

These are most common in a bathroom and usually happen due to poor ventilation, which can be either because there’s no window in the bathroom, or the bathroom fan is being under-utilized.

However, if you just want a decent low-cost paint for bathroom, instead of using an exterior paint, go for KILZ Kitchen & Bath Interior Latex Primer if you really need a primer.

But if you want a very decent paint for high moisture areas, then Rust-Oleum Mold & Mildew Proof Interior Paint will be a perfect choice.

Finally, if you’re looking for paint to prevent mildew from growing in a high moisture area in your home, simply add a to your interior paint – it’s pretty much affordable.

Exterior Paint Can Put Your Health at Risk

can I use exterior paint indoor

Exterior paints are formulated with volatile organic compounds (VOC), which is a harmful chemical that can cause great danger for your household.

VOC plays a significant role in keeping the pigment for exterior paint while ensuring that the paint adheres better to the surface. This means that the overall quality largely depends on this useful yet toxic component.

This volatile organic compound evaporates into the air when the paint dries, or when the paint’s cover is not sealed properly.

Furthermore, oil-based paints that are used primarily for exteriors contain the highest level of VOC. While latex paints that are formulated with water have a lower level of this toxic chemical.

Unfortunately, this chemical can be hazardous to your health and that of your family members, especially in enclosed rooms with less air passage.

The worst part of it all is that VOC can last in the atmosphere for a longer period of time, even after the paint is dried completely.

VOC effects symptoms can vary from nausea, dizziness, to light headaches – and the effects can become even more significant in the summer. They are equally known to cause certain cancers.

Now, with all these observations, if you’re still asking the question: Can you use exterior paint inside, then I guess you already have the answer.

But then, let’s still look at the differences between interior vs exterior paint.

Interior Vs Exterior Paint – Major Differences

interior vs exterior paint

Below are the major differences between interior and exterior paints:

1. Liquids Used

The types of liquids used for interior differs from that of exterior paints. Basically, indoor paints use water-based paints like latex, which have the lowest levels of VOC.

According to EPA reports, the level of volatile organic compounds is much higher inside your house than outside – and may significantly increase during post-painting. So you want to go for interior paints that have low-or-no VOC levels.

This is another good reason why you shouldn’t use outdoor paint inside as exterior paints do not have the same low to no VOC requirements.

However, if you can find an outdoor paint that does comply with the VOC requirements, you can use it as interior paint.

2. Formulations of Exterior Paint

Exterior paints are generally formulated to withstand the great outdoors. Basically, a premium latex outdoor paint depends on flexible acrylic resins that enlarges and bonds with a house siding during severe weather fluctuations from hot to ice-cold.

Exterior paints are also highly water-resistant and have ultraviolet-blocking additives that help to prevent a premature breakdown from everyday abuse of direct sunlight.

Additionally, other additives ward off tannin stains and mildew spores from bleed-through from sappy wood knots or wet falling leaves.

This is not the same with indoor paints.

3. Indoor Air Quality

Due to environmental and health concerns, modern interior paints produce negligible odor and little-to-no poisonous emissions.

On the other when, when you use outdoor paints within enclosed indoor spaces, the chemical fumes, such as strong mildewcides, VOC, and other potential health threats, can remain in the air indefinitely.

Regrettably, these airborne chemicals can hurt the throat and eyes, and they have shown to be dangerous to people with respiratory disorders.

4. Interior Paint Chemistry

Unlike outdoor coatings, indoor paints are meant to endure heavy indoor traffic that usually leads to frequent scrapes and bumps against walls and woodwork.

Interior painted walls are often seen more closely than the outdoor siding, so interior paints are designed with additives and resins that produce a smooth finish that withstands regular scrubbing or dusting.

Finally, interior wall paints equally have additives that reduce spatter during application with a roller or brush.

Can I Use Exterior Paints Inside For Any Reason?

best indoor paints

The only time that you may consider using exterior paints inside is if you’re painting outdoor buildings like a storage shed, detached garage, or pool cabana, where nobody sleeps.

In such a case, using exterior paint inside would be a wonderful way to use up your old outdoor paint.

What Is The Best Paint for Indoors?

Now that you already know the disadvantages of using exterior paint on the inside your house, lets now discuss some of the best interior paints that you can always use for your indoor painting needs.

It’s worth noting that if you have a lot of kids at home, or you live in a busy household, then you’ll want to choose a paint with a glossy finish.

This is because interior paint with a glossy finish will be pretty much easier to scrub with a rag or brush and keep clean.

Now, below are some of the most popular interior paints available on the market today.

1. KILZ L204511 Kitchen & Bath Interior Latex Primer

This paint is specially designed for interior home surfaces in moisture, high humidity, and temperature environments such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and powder rooms.

KILZ Kitchen & Bath Primer offers an improved mildew-resistant film that efficient at preventing the growth mildew on the primer surface which may get trapped between the primer and paint coats.

This indoor paint is a white primer and also offers a smooth and level finish. It blocks light to medium stains, provides high hide for color changes, and encourages adhesion and seals porous surfaces.

Overall, this is one of the best paints for interior surfaces, and you won’t regret investing in it.

  • Mildew resistant
  • Very affordable
  • Low odor and low VOC
  • Easy to clean with soap and water
  • Dries quickly
  • Some users complained that while using the paint, the primer paint was peeling off in some of the corners

2. The Spruce Best Home Interior Eggshell Paint & Primer in One

The Spruce Best Home Interior Eggshell Paint And Primer is a premium 100% acrylic, low VOC, low odor paint. It’s long-lasting, easy to clean and features stain-resistant film that is washable once dry.

The paint is easy to apply with a roller, paintbrush, or airless paint sprayer — and is available in three sheens (Semi-Gloss, Satin, and Matte) as well as 32 designer-approved colors.

Additionally, it offers a soft, velvety appearance and is mostly suitable for bedrooms, dining rooms, kids’ rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Finally, the Spruce Best Home by KILZ Interior Eggshell Paint And Primer offers impressive coverage and is also great for touch-ups. Its dry paint film is also mildew-resistant.

  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy to clean
  • Has low VOC
  • Low odor
  • Very easy to apply
  • Comes in many colors
  • Very safe for your household
  • Couldn’t find any

3. Rust-Oleum 02761 Perma-White Mold & Mildew Proof Interior Paint

The Rust-Oleum Zinsser PERMA-WHITE Mold & Mildew-Proof Interior Paint is perfectly designed to enhance and protect moisture-prone spaces in your house.

This high-performance, easy to apply, low-odor coating is one of best paints for indoors available on the market — and is ideal for kitchens, basements, bathrooms, etc.

The paint is also scrub-able, washable, water-based, low odor, fade-resistant, and has moisture and stain-resistant finish. Finally, it’s self-priming and easily adheres to the surface without sanding.

NOTE: If you applied the paint near a shower, it’s advisable to wait for 24-hours before using the shower – and do not scrub for 7-days.

  • Fade-resistant
  • Washable and scrub-able
  • Low odor
  • Sticks to surfaces without sanding
  • Helps to get rid of mold
  • None

4. KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer

This is a wonderful interior paint that is known for its maximum odor and stain blocking performance.

KILZ Restoration Interior Latex Primer is a water-based primer created to perform like a shellac-base primer or traditional oil.

It’s ideal for home interior surfaces, such as plaster, drywall, masonry, woodwork, brick, ceramic tile, painted metal, and glass as well as most other glossy surfaces. It can be top-coated with oil-based or latex paint.

Interestingly, this paint helps block grease, heavy water, smoke, rust, ink and pet stains — and also seals out smoke, fire, nicotine, pet odors, and food.

  • It’s affordable
  • Mold resistant
  • Tackles tough stains
  • Kills pet smells
  • Has a somewhat bad odor that can last for a few weeks

5. Regal Select Waterborne Interior Paint

This is another wonderful interior paint that is easy to spread and helps protects against mold and mildew. Once dry, the Regal Select Waterborne Interior Paint has a Zero VOC rating and a glossy finish that’s very easy to clean.

This means that it releases minimal fumes – and the primer is already mixed with the paint for your convenience – and you also get a lifetime warranty once you buy this paint.

  • Has zero VOC rating
  • Mixed primer
  • Very easy to clean
  • Glossy finish
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • It’s somewhat overpriced

6. BEHR Premium Plus Ultra 1-Gal. Ultra Pure White Flat Enamel Interior Paint

The Behr Premium Plus paint is just resistant to mildew, dirt, peeling, chipping, and grime, the primer is equally mixed for easy use.

This paint is also made up of 100% acrylic and releases minimal vapors and smells into the air. It also has a lifetime warranty.

Furthermore, this paint for interiors is ideal for bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms. It’s also easy to apply with rollers, brushes, and paint sprayers.

  • Paint and primer in one
  • Stain-blocking paint
  • 100% acrylic
  • Mildew, dirt, chipping, and peeling resistant
  • The paint doesn’t perform well as one coat and stain sealing

What happens if you use exterior paint indoors?

When exterior paints are used within enclosed indoor spaces, the chemical fumes — including volatile organic compounds, strong mildewcides and other potential health hazards — can linger in the air indefinitely.

Is exterior paint the same as interior?

Different paints come with different properties, as they are manufactured for different purposes. Exterior paint is formulated to handle mildew and fading. Interior paint, on the other hand, is made to allow cleaning and resist staining.

Can I use Sherwin Williams exterior paint inside?

There are some paint that are labeled interior/exterior which can be used indoors or outsoors such as the Valspar Maintenance Paint and the HGTV Sherwin-Williams High Gloss paints currently sold at Lowe’s. Exterior Paints can be used inside, but should these be used in the interiors, Definitely Not!

Is exterior paint more durable than interior?

Interior paints are not expected to deal with harsh or changing weather conditions. Because of this, they have low temperature-resistance, low water-resistance, and they fade quickly in sunlight. But exterior paints are made to withstand all of these, so they have superior weather-resistance.

Can I use exterior paint on the inside of my front door?

If you’re wondering whether you can use exterior paint indoors — or vice versa — we’ve got your answer: You can, but you probably shouldn’t.  Most exterior paint is also acrylic latex, so it’s also water-soluble when wet, but it has added resin to make it weather-resistant.

Can you use exterior paint on basement walls?

Technically, exterior paint can be used indoors and interior paint can be used outdoors, but there are a number of reasons not to use either. Acrylic latex is also commonly used for exterior paint, so it is water-soluble when wet, but it has added resin to make it weather-resistant as well.

Can I mix interior and exterior paint?

You have a half-gallon of the same color paint, but it’s exterior paint, so you ask yourself: Can I mix interior and exterior house paint? The answer is yes; you could mix interior and exterior paints. However, the exterior paint has a much higher amount of VOCs in its mixture, which could harm you when used indoors.

Can you use exterior paint inside kitchen cabinets?

Exterior paints can technically be used to paint kitchen cabinetry, and they will provide very good resistance to moisture. And that can trigger the idea of using the available paint as a quick, low-cost solution for painting interior cabinetry needing a serious makeover.

Can I put exterior paint on top of interior paint?

Yes, the main priority is that you have good adhesion. Any Sheen must be dulled by a light scuff sanding prior to applying the exterior paint. Flat interior paint works as a primer and can be painted over with the correct exterior paint.

How do you paint interior exterior paint?

Applying interior paint over an exterior one requires surface prep work and the use of a primer if it’s water-based over oil-based paint. If the paint is exposed to the elements, it is important to note it won’t withstand temperature changes, humidity, UV, mildew, or weather factors as well as exterior paints.

What is exterior paint used for?

The best exterior paint for your project can improve your home’s appearance while also protecting it from moisture, fading and temperature changes. Different types of exterior paint are available for every part of your home’s exterior, including siding, fences, doors, gutters and more.


When it comes to choosing the right paint for your home interior, using a tougher, weatherproof paint will save you from lots of headaches in the future.

Using exterior paint indoors is never a good choice as the fumes and the VOC content are harmful and can be dangerous for you and your family great.

Additionally, toxic paint fumes can last up to six months, so it is important that you take the right steps in protecting your household before thinking of using exterior paint on the inside of your house.

Related Posts On Can You Use Exterior Paint Indoors: