Can You Use Interior Paint Outside? [Interior vs. Exterior Paint]

There are so many reasons why people want to use interior paint outside.

The reason for you can be anything like you love the color, you want to use up extra paint, or maybe you want the less expensive option so you choose interior paint.

Can You Use Interior Paint Outside?

But it’s best not to use interior paint outside. Why? Well, the answer requires an explanation. So, stick around ‘cause we’ll break everything into chunks.

This article let you know:

  • The answer of ‘can you use interior paint outside?’
  • What you can do if you ever accidentally use interior paint outside
  • The difference between interior paint and exterior paint
  • Whether it’s okay to mix exterior and interior paint
  • If there’s any way to use the same paint both indoors and outdoors
  • And, some other can’t-miss information.

Can You Use Interior Paint Outside?

The simplest answer is, you should not use interior paint outside. Relax, we will explain what we’re saying.

Both interior and exterior paints have individual characteristics to properly serve what the surfaces need. So, you should not get them wrong.

Well, the thing is, interior paints aren’t designed for snow, rain, freeze-thaw, mold, and mildew. Therefore, interior paints will fade, chalk, and break down way more quickly if you use them outside.

Moreover, the resin used in interior paints is more rigid. For this, exterior paints are more flexible and they don’t tend to crack easily. Also, interior paint will take a long time to dry because it’s not designed to dry on outdoor surfaces.

However, if you have no choice rather than using interior paint outside, you can. But you must seal the paint using 1-2 coats of clear-coat sealer (exterior-grade).

Still, there’s no surety that it won’t fade but it will extend the duration it will adhere. Moreover, the sealer may start yellowing.

Overall, why it’s not recommended because interior paint with a sealer will lead you to do a lot of work and the expenditure will also scale up. In addition, it will void the interior paint’s warranty if you use it outside.

Some curious people ask, can I use interior paint as an exterior primer?

This answer is positive, you can. But make sure you scuff the interior paint lightly using sandpaper for improving adhesion. After that, use quality exterior paint.

What to Do If You Accidentally Use Interior Paint Outside?

What to Do If You Accidentally Use Interior Paint Outside

Perhaps you’ve grabbed the wrong can of paint, or maybe you were not aware of the differences between the paint so you’ve accidentally used interior paint outside, what can you do now?

Calm down if you are in such a position, it’s not a big deal. Just know that it’s not going to last very long. So, you may need to repaint the surface in 2-5 years rather than repainting it in 10-15 years.

After a few months or a year, you’ll notice the paint fading, peeling, and eventually flaking. Because interior paint cannot withstand harsh weather elements. When you see them start fading away, you need to:

  • Sand
  • Re-prime and
  • Repaint the surface.

Yes, this is the last thing you may want to do but this is how you can fix the mess. So, take the whole thing as a lesson learned and know that it’s always best to apply quality exterior paint for outside, nothing else.

Speaking of messing things up, what if you’ve painted exterior paint inside?

Sorry but the truth is, this is a much more complicated situation and it’s related to health hazards. What you can do while facing this is:

  • Make sure the room is well-ventilated
  • To let the paint cure, stay out of the room for a few days/weeks
  • When you’ll find the paint is dry, it’s time to sand the surface
  • Then, repaint with quality interior paint.

Make sure you practice ‘safety first’ while working with paint. Wear gloves, masks, and goggles for the ultimate protection.

Interior vs Exterior Paint- What’s The Difference?

Interior vs Exterior Paint

Reading this section of the article means you have already known a lot about interior and exterior paints. If you want to know what makes the paint different, read along.

The four basic components of paint are pigment, solvents, additives, and binders. And, these all are different from interior paint to the exterior.

Here, you can have a glance at the major differences between interior and exterior paint.

ParameterInterior PaintExterior Paint
Used forDecoration and aestheticsProtecting the surface from several weather conditions
Resin TypeRigidSofter and more flexible
Preferable TypeWater-basedBoth oil and water-based
OdorLess odorMore odor
Ease of Clean-UpEasierHarder
AdditivesDoesn’t have additivesContains additives to withstand outdoor elements

Overall, the major difference between the paints is that exterior paint comes with a lot more additives to withstand the outdoor elements than interior paint. They must resist moisture from snow, rain, and wind. But interior paints don’t contain any weather-proofing additives.

Whenever the temperature drops, the exterior paint must tolerate it and maintain its color hue.

About the resin type, exterior paint’s resin type is softer so the paint can bend and move with the temperature changes. So, this flexibility is a must for outdoor paintings. On the contrary, interior paints contain more rigid resins that make the clean-up process much easier.

And, the reason why interior paints produce less odor than exterior paints is that they contain a lower concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

You may wonder, what are VOCs?

When the paint dries, chemical gases named VOCs are released into the air. If you’ve ever felt dizziness or got a headache after working with paint for a long time, that was what VOCs did with you.

So, you must use paint that contains low to zero VOC for indoor painting. Because the air circulation is limited there.

Can You Mix Interior And Exterior Paint?

Yes, you can but we discourage doing it. As we said before, exterior paints have higher amounts of VOCs, it may harm you if you use them indoors.

Also, before mixing them, you must be sure that the paints are the same paint.

For example, you cannot mix water and oil-based paint. Since water and oil don’t mix well, you’ll end up having a lumpy unusable mess.

Furthermore, can you mix paint with different finishes?

The answer is also affirmative. You can mix them but it will dull the shine and reflectiveness. So, if you mix satin and semi-gloss paint, you will see a small drop in the shine of the final outcome.

Another question that may bug you is, can you mix different brands of paints?

Yes. But you have to be very careful about some factors. Because different brands have different recipes, an individual brand can require a unique process for creating the paints.

So, make sure the paints are similar types. And, then you can try them but the result may not make you happy.

Which Paint Can You Use Both Inside and Outside?

Which Paint Can You Use Both Inside and Outside

‘Hybrid paints’ is the answer. You can use them both indoors and outdoors. Still, they are not as effective as exterior and interior paints. Some of the necessary additives and ingredients are missing from them.

Therefore, if you’re planning to use them, don’t expect to get the same protection that traditional exterior paint offers. And, try to use hybrid paints for smaller projects, they work better inside compared to outside.

Overall, if you ask what is the best paint for exteriors?

The answer will be nothing but oil-based exterior paint because it has an alkyd that acts like a champ when it comes to handling temperature alternations and resisting dirt. Also, these paints contain some special additives that give them longevity.

Exterior or Interior: Which Paint Is More Durable?

Exterior paint is more durable compared to interior paint. It’s because exterior paint has a lower degree of hardness compared to interior paint. What hardness does is, helps to prevent the paint from scuffing. Eventually, the clean-up process of the paint becomes easier than ever.

So, you may think that exterior paint isn’t as hard as interior paint but still, it’s more durable?

Okay, here’s the explanation. Suppose exterior paint is rubber and interior paint is glass.

Now, if you throw a stone towards the glass and rubber, which one will crack? Glass, right?

Since mother nature causes several weather conditions, picture them as the stone. On the other hand, interior paint doesn’t face all the cruelty of mother nature. Hopefully, you’ve got your answer by now.


How to Determine If The Paint Is Interior or Exterior?

Read the label of the paint can before you make the purchase. It will be clearly labeled so you won’t get puzzled thinking what’s that for!

Can you use an interior primer under exterior paint?

Yes because there’s no significant difference between exterior and interior primer. However, if the primer claims that it’s specifically ‘for exterior use’ or ‘for interior use’, then it’s better to do what they say.

Why can’t you use exterior paint inside?

Because exterior paints contain toxic fumes. You won’t love to embrace toxic ingredients as the painting on your indoor elements, right?

Is exterior paint more expensive than interior paint?

Yes, exterior paints are more expensive.

How often should exterior surfaces be painted?

If you use quality exterior paint, it should last around 5-10 years. So, repaint the exterior surfaces every 5-10 years.

How long does exterior paint smell last?

It can take somewhere between 14-24 weeks.


No, it’s not a big question for you whether you can use interior paint outside or not, right?

We tried our best to include every relevant and necessary information here, so, hopefully, you’re leaving without having any confusion in your mind. As you can see, painting isn’t about only choosing paint and applying it on surfaces. There are a whole lot more things you should be careful about.

So, try not to mess things up and use only exterior paint for outdoor uses to get the best result.

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