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Can You Use Exterior Paint Indoors?

Four five gallon cans of paint, for article difference between interior and exterior paint

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You’ve determined, after much research, that painting your house from top to bottom, including ceilings, wallpaper, cabinets, baseboards, and even behind your toilet, is the most cost-effective method to update it.

It comes with a limited budget, yet there are more than enough paint options available on the market to satisfy any taste.

As a result of your personal experience and endless surfing of the huge world of the Internet, you have concluded that exterior paints seem to have benefits over interior paints.

The walls that have been painted with external paint provide excellent protection against the elements. There has been no evidence of cracking or mold growth over time, and the color continues to be stunning.

Not to mention that the wood surfaces are not subjected to bleed-through of the paint coats during the application.

Exterior paint, like interior paint, is available in a variety of colors. These paints have been prepared to perform at their best under the circumstances for which they were intended; but for those of you wondering, Can You Use Exterior Paint Indoors, continue reading this article!

What Is Exterior Paint Used For?

Exterior paint, in a nutshell, is weatherproof paint. You won’t have to repaint your house’s exterior since the finish is impervious to some of the worst weather conditions, saving you both time and money.

In fact, this high-quality paint will last a lifetime! The color will fade with time, but exterior paints are the longest-lasting on the market, even if the color does fade somewhat.

Painting your home and knowing it will look great forever may seem like a dream come true, but you should be aware that the same chemical compounds used to make exterior paint long-lasting may cause health concerns in some people. Active compounds in outdoor paints that produce a solvent or fume are VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds.

As a result of breathing in the substance, you run the danger of experiencing symptoms including nausea, headaches, dizziness, and even life-threatening illnesses.

Because of this, it’s easy to draw the following conclusion: releasing VOCs inside has a direct impact on family members, however, utilizing these paints outside doesn’t because the fumes are airborne outside.

Why do people choose to use exterior paint inside their homes?

Despite the health implications, the advantages of wall paint containing VOCs are undeniable. Because of this, wall paint adheres to the wall so effectively, and the color lasts for years on end. No matter how long-lasting the paint is, is it worth compromising your health?

Although the apparent answer is “no,” you may take precautions to avoid the dangerous side effects of utilizing outside paint for your interiors.

The difference between exterior paint and interior paint

When it comes to exterior paints, they are made to withstand the elements since the weather may create a range of problems if the paint’s viscosity is not up to par.

The color fades due to exposure to the sun, and an accumulation of rain or snow may cause cracking and peeling. Mold and mildew may also develop as a result of these circumstances.

A paint labeled “best” or “mid-grade” has chemicals that help it withstand these problems and may last anywhere from 10 years to a lifetime before peeling, flaking, or fading. Additionally, these paints come with a three-to-five-year guarantee against mildew resistance.

This sort of long-lasting resistance may encourage some individuals to use outdoor paint for inside painting jobs, such as painting a bathroom, where there is a great deal of moisture and humidity.

In terms of internal surfaces, moisture and humidity may cause the same types of difficulties that they might on the outside, such as cracking, peeling, mold, mildew, and other concerns.

This is a common occurrence in toilets, and it is caused by inadequate ventilation. A lack of ventilation might be caused by the absence of a window or a bathroom fan that is not working correctly.

For more information on the differences between interior and exterior paints, check out our dedicated post on the topic.

Problems that may occur:

Mold and mildew on the walls

In some instances, this might occur if there is no ventilation in the bathroom or the bathroom fan is not operated. On the other hand, using outside paint indoors would prevent these complications.

However, you should be aware of the possible dangers of applying exterior paint indoors owing to a lack of adequate ventilation, which should be considered before proceeding.

If you use it inside, you can be guaranteed that it will last longer and will be able to withstand the regular wear and strain that comes with living at home.

However, precautions must be taken since it can be hazardous if misused.

The fumes from outdoor paint are toxic to your health.

You should use protective equipment when using exterior paint such as goggles and gloves! For article Can you use exterior paint indoors

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are the primary active chemicals in outdoor coatings and may be exceedingly dangerous if breathed in. They are also the principal active chemical in indoor coatings.

Caution: If you are using paints containing VOCs always ensure you are working in a well-ventilated area and are using the necessary protective equipment such as masks, goggles, and gloves.

In paint, volatile organic compounds are employed to hold the pigment in place and keep it securely adhered to the surface. As a result, the quality and purpose of using an outdoor coating are both reliant on the presence of this possibly dangerous ingredient.

Not only is inhaling these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) damaging to one’s health and the environment, but it is also toxic to both animals and people. Inhaling such compounds may produce lightheadedness, headaches, and nausea, among other things.

People who have weakened immune systems are more sensitive to the adverse effects of VOCs and may have respiratory issues due to their exposure to them. Because of this, you must take necessary measures while using exterior paint inside.

Please Remember: If you feel sick after inhaling VOCs, you should consult a medical professional immediately to limit the chances of life-threatening illnesses.

When you’ve Already Used Exterior Paint Inside, Here’s what to do.

Referring to the health risks mentioned above, this is a far more complex scenario if you’ve previously used outside paint inside.

An excellent place to start is by opening up some windows and letting some fresh air in while the paint is drying. The paint must cure for a few weeks, so avoid the room as much as possible.

Key Insight: Depending on your weather conditions, your paint may take a few months to cure if the weather is chilly.

Before applying a fresh coat of interior paint, be sure to sand down the wall if you’ve previously used oil-based paint in the region.

Is it possible to use interior paint outside?

The short answer is no. Interior paints should not be used outside since they lack the necessary elements to withstand severe weather conditions, instead stick with using this paint inside your houses!

Hot Tip: If you’re embarking on your next home improvement task, take a look at our professional guide on How to Paint Interior Doors.

Interior paint is less adherent to external surfaces and requires more applications to get the same coverage as exterior paint.

Finally, since interior paint is not intended to cure alongside the outdoor elements, it takes longer to dry than exterior paint.

Extra Info: If you want to learn more about the difference between interior paint and exterior paint, you can always refer to our dedicated post on what’s the difference between exterior paint and interior paint

The job is not yet finished even if you successfully achieve appropriate coverage outside with interior paint. As time goes on, the interior paint will begin to fade and crack, necessitating more frequent touch-ups to keep them looking good.

What about Hybrid Paints?

Hybrid paints are very versatile, and they may be used both indoors and outdoors.

However, although these paints are convenient, they are not as effective as interior and exterior paints, and you should not hold your breath if you’re looking for mildew, moisture, or cracking resistance.

Hybrid paints, on the whole, are better suited to smaller works and perform better indoors than outdoors.

Final Thoughts: Can You Use Exterior Paints Indoors?

A man preparing to paint with exterior paint indoors

Here’s something to keep in mind each kind of paint, whether exterior, interior, or hybrid, has a specific purpose. Since it will not withstand the elements, exterior and interior paint will need to be repainted regularly.

Although at first instance you can say it’s possible to use exterior paints indoors, you should always avoid doing this!

Inhaling paint fumes, chemical makeup, and volatile organic chemicals, for example, may cause skin irritation, respiratory issues, and several serious health conditions.

Always remember, there are various imaginative and easy methods available for preventing paint from being wasted that you no longer use. If you have extra paint, you can use it to make crafts, repurpose old furniture, or touch up previous paint jobs.


Is it possible to paint my bathroom using outdoor paint?

It may be tempting to use outdoor paint in the bathroom because of its ability to withstand the elements; however, this is not wise because the paint will eventually peel off the walls.

Is the external and interior paint the same?

The simplistic answer is no. They are manufactured for a wide range of purposes, meaning their properties differ. For instance, exterior paint is designed to resist mildew and fade. On the other hand, interior paint is simple to clean and stain-resistant.

Can I paint my kitchen cabinets with outdoor paint?

Kitchen cabinets

Certainly! Your kitchen cabinets can be painted with exterior cabinet paint, and they will also be water-resistant. However, exterior paints have a chemical makeup that makes them hazardous for people to breathe, resulting in off-gassing and other health problems in the long run.

Is it okay to use exterior paint on the walls of a basement?

Even though it is presently possible, it is not recommended. Because exterior paint includes components only intended for use outdoors, using them inside could be dangerous.

Which is cheaper, exterior or interior paints?

Interior painting is often less complicated and less expensive than exterior painting. These include extra chemicals that improve toughness (abrasion resistance, water resistance, and UV color corrosion resistance, among other characteristics.

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