exterior vs interior paint

Difference Between Interior And Exterior Paint

One reason why your paint will last long is when the right paint is used for the right purpose.

If you use interior paint for an outdoor purpose, it may look attractive initially. Still, it will not be able to withstand the effects that temperature, moisture, UV rays, and other harsh conditions will have on it and verse versa.

Choosing the right paint for the right location (interior or exterior) is key to durability. The only way to achieve this is to know the difference between interior and exterior paint. You cannot solely depend on labels on the paint’s container since sometimes it can be misleading.

The major difference between interior and exterior paint is in the composition. Their formula is carefully selected for each of them to give you a specialized paint.

Interior paints are made to resist scratches from scrubbing and cleaning. They can be cleaned with water. On the other hand, exterior paints are made to resist fading and mildew.

Difference Between Interior And Exterior Paint

Difference Between Interior And Exterior Paint

Interior paints and exterior paints share common composition. The four major compositions of paints are pigments, solvents, additives, and resin (binders). We will look at the differences in each composition.


When it comes to pigment, we refer to the color. For interior paints, organic pigments are normally used in the formula. Organic pigments easily fade off when exposed to direct sunlight. So this is the reason why you often paint your house exterior over and over again.

The choice of pigment in these paints is the reason why you should not use interior paint for exterior painting.


Resins are the binding agents present in paints, which helps to bind all the ingredients together and enhance bonding between the paint and the surface.

The choice of resin in these paints is also critical here. For exterior paint, it must be able to resist the effects of changes in temperatures and weather, which may result in peeling, cracking, and chalking. Because of this reason, resins used in exterior paints must be softer.

On the contrary, for interior paints where the temperature is not a problem, a more rigid resin is used to help cut down on scuffing and smearing.


For almost all paints, the solvents used are volatile organic compounds (VOC). They are dangerous to health if exposed often. When heated, they vaporize, thus causing ailments if inhaled. For this reason, there is a regulation on the amount of VOC used in interior paints.

VOCs paints have greater endurance and resistance to effects. So they are used in high levels for exterior paints.

Because exterior paints are used outside and exposed, there is no limit or regulation to how much VOC used. This is why you should never use exterior paint for interior painting.

Read Also: Best Zero VOC Paints for Crib


For both paints, the additives are selected differently. Some of the additives common to paints are deformers, wetting, dispersing agents, specialty additives, effluent treatment additives, thicker &anti setting agents, Emulsifiers, etc.

These additives are selected differently, and in the right proportion when making paints. Depending on what to be achieved, resistant to scratching and scuffing for interior paints, and resistant to harsh temperature and weather for exterior paints, the additives are selected differently.

What to do if you accidentally used exterior paint inside

exterior vs interior paint

So now you know why you should not alternate paints. But unfortunately, you have used exterior paint for interior painting. Well, it’s not that you cannot alternate paints, but you should not, as much as possible.

If you accidentally did this, it may not be a problem. You have to check the level of VOC contained in the formula. If it is too high, then you may be at risk. We recommend seeking the service of professionals to instruct you on the appropriate step to take.

What happens if I use exterior paint inside?

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 there really a difference between interior and exterior paint?

The main differences between interior and exterior paints are resins and additives. The binding resins for interior paints are rigid. They allow interior paint to be cleaned easily and are stain resistant. To withstand extreme weather conditions, exterior paints are designed to endure.

Can you turn interior paint into exterior paint?

Yes, both contain the same pigment and have the same sheen, and yes, of course they’re both paint. Latex and acrylic paints are water-based, while alkyd paints are oil-based, and both interior paints and exterior paints come in both types.

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 you use exterior paint inside a garage?

Never use exterior paint on your garage walls, or any other interior room. The best type of paint to use in your garage is an acrylic latex paint because it is durable, quick-drying, and easy to clean.

Is interior or exterior paint more expensive?

There are two basic types of paint: interior and exterior. Exterior paints are typically more expensive. That’s because they come packed with added ingredients to boost toughness (abrasion resistance), moisture resistance and UV color corrosion. Interior paints are typically more basic and are therefore less expensive.

Whats the difference between interior and exterior?

Exterior design would include, for example, the design of your garden, deck and patio, while interior design includes everything inside your home, from the bedrooms to the kitchen and bathrooms.

Is exterior house paint waterproof?

Latex exterior paints have undergone improvements, and some can be as durable as oil-based. Oil-based paints are very durable and water-resistant. They result in hard finish and are often used by professional painters. Use an oil-based if the surface you are painting has already been painted with oil-based paint.

Can I use interior paint on a porch ceiling?

Can You Use Interior Paint On A Porch Ceiling? Interior paint is not ideal for use outdoors because it isn’t designed to withstand inclement weather. There are hybrid paints available that can be used indoors or outdoors, but exterior paint is best for a porch ceiling.

What is interior paint used for?

“Interior paints are formulated to resist scuffs and marks and are easier to clean,” says Savino. “They use more rigid resins that don’t scuff or scratch easily and can be cleaned with soap and water.”

Interior Paint vs. Exterior Paint | Conclusion

The right choice of paint for the right purpose will save you the cost of having to paint more frequently than usual. You should never use one in place for the other.

Knowledge about the composition between interior vs exterior paint will help to identify them better rather than depending on the labels. All these will help you get the paint that guarantees satisfaction.

Even for interior paints, you should still be able to know the difference between wall paint and ceiling paint.