Can I use exterior paint inside

Can I Use Exterior Paint Inside? [Here is The Best Approach]

If you have an upcoming DIY home project to tackle coming up, you are likely trying to gather materials and learn the details about how to complete the project effectively and efficiently for the lowest possible price. That’s understandable and a good approach to take.

However, I do often see some questions arise from individuals about specific projects they are looking to complete. One of the most recent questions I saw was in concerns about using the appropriate paint for your project. Can I use exterior paint inside? With some knowledge in this area and some additional research, here is what I can tell you about this topic.

So, can I use exterior paint inside? No, you should not use exterior paints inside your home. Exterior paints are considered exterior due to their characteristics and properties. Exterior paints use different additives and are designed to stand up against low temperatures, high heat and weather elements.

While this may seem like a common-sense type question and that I’ve already given you the full answer, you do have other factors that make using exterior paints indoors even more of a mistake.

My goal in this post to break down some potential unknowns that individuals may not be familiar with and hopefully save you time, money and headaches (literal) along the way.

The Differences Between Exterior Paints and Interior Paints

Before giving you a full speech, about which paints to use outside or indoors, I thought it would be important to understand a few key differences between the two different kinds of paint you have the options of using at any given time.

First and foremost, exterior paint is designed specifically to last and withstand the elements of the outdoors. For example, latex exterior paints are formulated specifically using flexible acrylic resins that are designed to either expand or contract with the blistering hot days or the days where temperatures reach well below freezing.

Interior paints are different. They take more of a beating from human touch, bumps and even splashing water such as near a kitchen sink and coated on the walls of your bathrooms. Interior paints don’t need the same ability to expand and contract, so they are formulated in a different manner.

Interior paints are formulated with resins that allow the paint to produce a smooth finish that’s capable of holding up against dust, water and regular cleanings such as wiping down a wall or even scrubbing the wall.

Additionally, interior paint is designed to minimize any spray or splatter using additives that make it much cleaner and more manageable to apply with a brush or roller.

Exterior Paint Is Formulated Differently

I get it. Especially if you have the color you love or accidentally already purchased exterior paint for an interior job. It’s easy to think that it would work great or better since exterior paint is designed to take a beating from all of the harsh elements of the outdoors.

Something that is often overlooked is the fact that exterior paint is made with different formulations. You may have the paint on hand to get the job done now but is it worth it in the long run?

Think about it for a minute. Do you have kids? A lot of foot traffic? People coming and going? Then you know you will have dirty hands grabbing on the corners of walls, leaning on walls. Not to mention the odors from cooking among other things. Interior paint is made for this and is just a better choice in the long run from our experience.

Ventilation and Odor Concerns Using Exterior Paint Inside

Another significant concern about using exterior paint for indoor projects is the mere fact that the odor is going to stick around for months in some cases without proper ventilation. Although there are ways to properly ventilate and help reduce the odor, it’s likely still going to be much stronger than using the correct indoor options for your project.

Exterior paint contains more volatile organic compounds which is also known as VOC’s. VOC’s are the compound found within paint that causes odors and fumes. Without proper ventilation, exterior paint being used indoors is a potential health hazard.

VOC compounds that can’t properly ventilate are known to cause nausea, lightheadedness and can also be dangerous for pets, young children or a pregnant individual. This is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind when deciding on which paint to ultimately use on your upcoming project.

Exterior Paints Are Often More Flammable Than Interior Paints

While we are about discussing the dangers of exterior paints being used incorrectly, I wanted to point out that exterior paints are also often oil-based. This alone makes exterior paints much more flammable than interior paints.

More then likely painting would rarely be the cause of a house fire, it’s still important to keep these considerations in mind and ensure that if you do opt to use exterior paints that you set up a safe workplace that’s free or any potential dangers that could cause a fire.

Using Exterior Paint Inside Your Home Is A Waste or Money

One of the big areas we have failed to discuss thus far into the post is the cost of exterior paint. Keep in mind that when using exterior paint indoors, you are gaining virtually no additional benefits since the indoors of the home will not be exposed to the harsh weather elements.

This is the big selling factor for exterior paints is the fact that they are much durable and longer lasting which is why exterior paint is almost always going to be more expensive than any interior paint you can purchase.

Of course, some in some circumstances, a high-end premium interior paint may be equally as costly but again, 99% of the time, your exterior paints are going to run you more money out of pocket to purchase.

Since we know you are gaining no additional benefits, it’s clear that this is a complete waste of money and resources.

While you can certainly use exterior paint indoors, it’s always going to be a more logical and budget-friendly choice to stick to interior paints for the indoors and leave the exterior paints for the outdoors.

What Would We Recommend for Your Upcoming Project?

While I’m a firm believer in using paints for their designated purposes, I do believe there are exceptions to everything. If you haven’t purchased any paint yet and are simply doing research, I highly recommend using interior paint to complete your interior projects.

This is due to cost, safety, fumes and odor and the overall general purpose that exterior paint is designed to perform.

If you have the color and finish you desired and maybe already had the paint or accidentally purchased exterior paint for an indoor project, you could use it. Should you have a low tolerance for fume, pets or plan on using the room right after it is painted we would opt for an interior grade paint.

Final Word, Use Exterior Paint for Exterior Projects, Use Interior Paints for Interior Projects

While you certainly can make the decision to use exterior paint inside your home, I see it as a waste of money and overall not a good idea. Interior paints are designed to serve their specific purpose and have traits that are desirable for the inside of your homes such as smooth finishes and more options.

Additionally, interior paints are designed to take the specific beating that the indoor area of the home presents such as handprints, dust, and other dander. Another big note to send you off on is the mere fact that exterior paint is often more expensive which ultimately leads me to my belief that using exterior paint is not only not advised but a complete waste of money.

The choice is ultimately yours however.

I’d like your feedback on this topic as well. Do you believe exterior paint should be used indoors? If so, when and why do you believe this? Be sure to share your stories and drop a comment below.

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