Can You Use Interior Paint Outside? [Everything You Should Know]

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Are you looking for a detailed guide on the query “can you use interior paint outside”? You’ve landed on the right page. When we purchase a can of paint for concrete, it is natural for us to think that we can use this one to paint any concrete surface.

However, experts recommend using paint that is meant for that particular type of surface only. Even the exterior and interior paints are also different from each other.

There are several reasons behind that. To let you understand the differences and learn if you can use the same for both outdoor and indoor both.

Continue reading the article on “can you use interior paint outside” before you start painting the interior or exterior of your home.

Basics You Need to Know

Basically, all paints are made from some base materials. Resins, additives, solvents, and pigments are just a few examples.

The solvent is what gives paint its “wet” appearance. As the paint dries, the solvent in this component dissipates. The other components, including additives, pigments, and resins, are all that’s left.


The pigment is responsible for the color of these durable components. In contrast, the use of additives confers additional benefits, such as resistance to mildew.

Resins are used to make the paint adhere to the surface. They’re made of silicone, acrylic, or epoxy in most cases. Pigments and solvents are identical in both exterior and interior paint.

Water-based and oil-based paints can both be used outside. On the other hand, oil-based paints should not be used on interior surfaces. This is due to their foul odor and the difficulty of cleaning them.

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About Interior Paint

To be used indoors, interior paints must be carefully designed. Designed to attach to various surfaces, react to light, and resist the everyday wear and tear of regular touch and cleaning, these products are ideal for a variety of applications. They don’t have to withstand the freeze-thaw cycle or severe weather on a daily basis.

Pigments, additives, and binders are all components of paints. How inside paint is different from outside painting is due to its binder, pigment, and other ingredients.

Interior paints are made with lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to decrease health dangers from off-gassing. As the paint dries, the VOCs become vapor, which acts as a solvent to prevent the liquid from solidifying.

Attributes Of Interior Paint

  • Aesthetics and adornment are the primary functions of this sort of paint. In addition, interior paint provides features such as water resistance, washability, and ease of upkeep through the use of paint.
  • The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in interior paint must be low or non-existent. As a result, health hazards are reduced, and indoor air quality is maintained.
  • This sort of paint is easy to clean and resists stains. With minimal exposure to sunshine, it lacks fade-resistance. Furthermore, sunlight isn’t required for the cure.
  • Abrasion resistance is built into the formulation of interior paints. It’s made to be a bit more intricate than outside paint because it’s in the same room as people.
  • It can also be washed. It is possible to remove roller and brush markings and marks and stains left behind by children and pets.

About Exterior Paint

When it comes to exterior painting, oil-based paints were the norm in the past because they were more durable. The tide has turned, however, thanks to recent developments in technology. With the advent of acrylic resins, most outdoor paints are now water-based.

The most notable distinction between exterior and interior paint is the number of additives in the latter. Moisture from snow, rain, and wind must be able to withstand outside paint.

It must be able to withstand rapid temperature changes as well as gradual ones, and it must keep its color even after spending time in the sun.

Mildew, peeling, and chipping are all things that can be avoided with exterior paint because of the resins’ more flexible composition. When exposed to moisture, the material’s elasticity allows it to shrink.

Attributes Of Exterior Paint

  • This kind of paint is subjected to a wide range of environmental factors. As a result, it must offer some level of protection against both rain and snow-induced moisture and sunlight-induced UV radiation. A fungus-resistant coating is required.
  • Interior usage of outdoor paint isn’t recommended due to the increased production of volatile organic compounds. In addition, it must be exposed to the sun in order to cure.
  • The resins used in exterior paints are, as previously said, quite pliable. These characteristics make them extremely resilient.
  • As a result, they are resistant to cracking as your muscle expands or contracts. They can endure fluctuations in humidity and temperature as a consequence of this.
  • Fading and mildew resistance are built-in to these paints. They must be resistant to fading when exposed to UV light and extremely high temperatures stated earlier.
  • Applying this style of paint to different surfaces is simple if you change the sheen. It’s normal for a house’s exterior to soak up some rainwater during a rainstorm. Using flat paint will not cause bubbles since the water will be able to escape.

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Elements Of Paints

Before starting the paint job and understanding the ‘if’ and ‘buts’ about using outdoor paint as indoor paint or vice versa, you must understand the elements of the paints. It will help you develop the concept of every painting and the reasons for their different purposes.


Water-based paints, such as latex and acrylic, and oil-based paints, such as alkyd, are available for interior use. Adhesive characteristics and applications differ between water and oil-based products.

High-gloss, semi-gloss, and flat shine are all available in both products. A cloth soaked in alcohol will reveal whether anything has been painted with oil or water-based paint.

You can tell if it’s oil-based or water-based by looking at it. After applying an oil-contained primer or stain-lock sealer, you can paint over oil-based paints with water-based or latex paints.

If you want to use oil-based paint over water-based paint, wait until the oil-based paint has dried before doing so. You may also need to scuff shiny areas with sandpaper gently.

Oil-Contained Paints

Natural oils, as well as synthetic alkyds, make up oil-based paints. Color, oil resin, and a thinner are all included in the mixture. As the thinner is applied to a surface, the pigment and resin are left to form a long-lasting hard coating.

Oil-based paints are not eco-friendly and more challenging to clean since they emit more volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Doors, trim, and baseboards require more lasting paint than most walls owing to touch with furniture, vacuums, and dirty hands; thus, oil-based paints are a good choice for those surfaces.

Despite the fact that the paints require more time to cure, they provide a firm, lasting layer. Brushes, tools, and spills need to be cleaned using turpentine, thinners, or mineral spirits, which are more challenging to use.

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Water-Contained Paints

Latex or water-based paints are made up of binders, and pigments are mixed with water. As the water vaporizes, they dry faster, and the color is left behind.

Compared to oil-based coatings, latex paints are easily cleanable and maintain their color longer. Because it has less volatile organic compounds (VOCs), latex paint is preferred over oil-based paints because of its lower carbon footprint.

Interior latex paints, when dry, give flexible and long-lasting paint that is suitable for painting walls and ceilings. Using soap and water to clean tools, brushes, and spills popular water-based paints.

Liquids And Fillers

Because of this, latex paints use water and mineral spirits to distribute pigments and binders, which ultimately evaporate. The ingredients in paints vary based on the application.

  • Adding clay, talc, lime to the paint helps thicken it.
  • Incorporating fine sand into stair runners in order to reduce the risk of tripping over them
  • To increase the sticking power of paints, bonding agents are used.
  • Paint conditioners and anti-microbial additives increase the paint’s flow and leveling properties, as well as its resistance to mildew.
  • When dry, enamel hardens and impregnates paints, making them more long-lasting and less porous.
  • Glitter is used to make surfaces more reflective.
  • To improve the paint’s fragrance, different scents are utilized.


Organic and inorganic pigments are used to create paint’s color. The longevity of color can be influenced by the pigment type used, as can the frequency with which the walls need to be touched up or repainted.

Vegetable or animal-derived organic pigments are translucent by nature. Inorganic pigments have typically had a shorter shelf life than their organic counterparts, but advances in chemistry are beginning to change that.

An inorganic pigment is a mineral hue that is naturally occurring but has been altered for use in paint manufacturing. Inorganic pigments have been found in 30,000-year-old cave paintings because of their durability.

The most common white pigment is titanium dioxide, which is derived entirely from inorganic materials. Finely ground inorganic pigments mix and suspend in the base, whereas organic pigments mix and distribute better in the base.

Deeper, more vibrant colors can be achieved by increasing the number of inorganic particles in the paint.


Binders are the glue that keeps pigments in place on a surface, allowing for a long-lasting film to be formed. Better adherence to a variety of surfaces, resilience to abrasion, and compatibility with common home cleansers are all advantages of these plastic-like polymers.

It is not acceptable to use a blend of acrylic and silicone binders in latex paint. Drying oils are typically found in oil paintings.

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Can You Use Outside Paint Interior

A wide variety of weather variables are taken into account while developing exterior paint formulations. Rain, sleet, ice, and the sweltering heat are all on the list.

For example, mineral-rich well water from a sprinkler system can cause fading, mold, mildew, and staining in outside paint, which is why it’s important to use exterior paint that contains resins that allow the paint to expand and contract with the weather.

Using outdoor paint indoors may seem like a good idea because of the paint’s long-term endurance. Exterior paint is available in a variety of colors and can dry indoors, but this does not mean you should use it to paint your interior walls.

  • It is not meant for interior use the additives are essential to make outside paint durable in the elements. Exterior paints are designed to cure and mature outside, where they won’t harm indoor air quality, hence they include higher levels of resin.
  • Exterior paints are more susceptible to scuffs when applied indoors, despite their capacity to withstand the elements outside.
  • When applied in restricted quarters, the mildew-prevention chemicals in exterior paint can create allergic reactions and odors.
  • VOCs in acrylic latex paint designed for outdoor use are higher than those in paint designed for indoor use. Because of this, those with allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities should avoid areas where paint is being applied because the off-gassing could be dangerous. The VOCs from external acrylic latex will be released even after it has dried.
  • Inhaling toxic dust is not recommended if you have real enamel or oil-based paint on your walls since this might lead to poisoning. In certain countries, it may also be prohobited for both the exterior and interior of a building. Because of the faster ozone depletion caused by VOC vaporization, there is now ground-level ozone. Due to oil paint’s greater amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than water-based paint, the Environmental Protection Agency has prohibited its use in some places with high ozone density.

Can You Use Interior Paint Outside?

No, it is a quick response. Due to their absence of outdoor-resistant ingredients, interior paint should not be utilized outside.

Because interior paint is thinner, it doesn’t stick well to outside surfaces, and you would need more coats of paint in order to have the same coverage as exterior paint, which is more durable.

There’s no way to make it look as even after several layers as it would be if it were painted on the exterior. Finally, interior paint takes longer to dry because it is not intended to cure outdoor conditions.

There is still a lot of work to be done if you even manage to achieve a reasonable amount of paint coverage. As the paint fades and cracks on the exterior of your home, you’ll need to touch it up more frequently.

Differences Between Interior Vs Exterior Paint

In the past, exterior paint was required if you needed paint to be mildew-resistant. As a result, your bathroom walls aren’t covered in mold and mildew because most paints now contain mildewcide.

Mildewcide is a common source of concern when it comes to the preparation of paints, although federal rules limit the additive’s use to levels much below what could be dangerous.

VOCs are an issue when utilizing a combination of interior, and exterior paint on the home’s inside. Until the paint is applied, solvents maintain the liquid paint.

On the other hand, VOCs have the potential to have both short-term and long-term negative effects on human health.

As stated, the rules for these paint elements vary for interior and exterior paints. In most cases, the VOC content of external paint is substantially higher than that of inside paint.

The fumes produced by these chemicals can exacerbate respiratory problems. It’s possible to get away with applying outdoor paint in a room, but it will stench, cause headaches, and may even cause lung damage.

It’s best to keep the area thoroughly ventilated with fans and open windows if you have to use external paint or a mixture of both interior and exterior paint inside.

While latex paints dry in a matter of hours, exterior paint can take up to a month to fully cure. The unfortunate side effect of this is that it will be emitting toxic fumes as it dries up. You should be aware of this in case there is someone with respiratory issues or kids.

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What Can Happen If Interior Paint Is Used Outside?

There are times when you grab the inappropriate can of paint or don’t realize there is a difference in the colors until it is too late. Even if you use interior paint outside, it isn’t a big deal. It only means that you’ll have to refinish the surface sooner rather than later.

Interior paints, unlike exterior ones, are made specifically for indoor use on covered surfaces. It will fade away more quickly because it lacks chemicals that protect against UV rays, temperature fluctuations, or mildew.

The choice is yours: You can either paint it right away or wait a few years. If you’re close to finishing a task, you might do so. Exterior paint might be used if the problem is just beginning.

There are some who advocate using expensive sealant on the interior paint and calling it a day, and moving on. You can save money by purchasing high-quality outdoor paint with the same color and base as the sealer and just reapplying a second coat.

Considerable Factors At The Time Of Using Outside Paints For Interiors

If you want to use exterior paint like an interior one, you should consider some factors before performing the job. Here are the major ones.


In order to withstand exposure to the elements, exterior paints are specially designed. Flexible acrylic resins in premium latex exterior paints allow for a home’s siding to stretch and compress when temperatures fluctuate from sweltering to subzero.

UV-blocking ingredients in these paints keep them from prematurely breaking down under the daily beating they take from direct sunshine. These paints are extremely water-resistant.

Other additions protect mold spores and tannins from moist leaves or knots in sappy wood. You might also find out guide helpful on exterior paints for wood surfaces.

Air Quality

In light of environmental and health concerns, new indoor paints emit little or no odor or harmful emissions. On the other hand, exterior paints typically release their chemical emissions into the open air, where they are less noticeable.

Chemical vapors, including VOC, powerful mildewcides, and other potential health risks, can persist in the air when exterior paints are applied in enclosed indoor settings. These airborne compounds may irritate your eyes or throat if you suffer from respiratory issues.

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Interior paints, as opposed to exterior ones, are made to withstand the many bumps and scratches that occur against woodwork and walls due to heavy foot traffic.

Interior paints are made with resins and other chemicals that give a fine finish that can withstand regular dusting or cleaning, unlike exterior siding. It’s also possible to apply interior wall paints with a roller or brush and avoid splatter.

Comparing The Advantages

Exterior paints can be used indoors, but that’s not the ideal option. Exterior paints, on the surface, appear to be better for both indoor and outdoor applications because they are able to withstand harsh weather conditions.

On the other hand, interior paints are better suited to deal with the unique demands of inside environments. The advantages of using interior paints as a decorating tool cannot be overstated.

Exterior paints, for example, are often available in three sheens: flat, semi-gloss, and gloss-enamel; however, interior paints can come in up to six sheens: satin, eggshell, matte, and so on.

Where Can You Use It?

Resins can be responsible for outgassing in exterior paints. For the most part, it doesn’t take more than two days to complete this process.

There can be years of outgassing, but it is far less intense. Because of this, interior walls should never be painted with external paint.

It is recommended to apply flat outdoor paint on stucco and brick surfaces. This allows surfaces like this to breathe, allowing the moisture to escape through the paint. For brick walls, this is very critical.

On the other hand, interior paints are far more delicate than exterior paints. You can use them safely indoors because they don’t release harmful gases into the air like traditional candles. The importance of adequate ventilation when painting remains.

Some paint you can use both outside and inside; this is a final point to make. These “universal” paints are incredibly flexible, but they also have their drawbacks. Speak with a professional painter if you’re unsure about the paint you must be using.

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Final Verdict

This was all about the exterior and interior paints and the considerations before performing the job. Hope you find all answers to your queries on “can you use interior paint outside” and properly painting the exterior and interior of your house. Follow the guidelines, elements, and considerations to give your job success. All the best.

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