Can You Use Interior Paint Outside? A Better Explanation Here

Painting is love! Painting is fun! Yes, it is something like a baby playing with toys.

Yet, it is not an easy task to do a painting like playing with toys. Because it is a bit intricate to choose the right type of paint for specific surfaces. Like you need interior paints for painting inside the home whereas exterior is preferable for outdoor painting.

Can You Use Interior Paint Outside? A Better Explanation Here

Mostly, we use the paints recommended for the particular pattern. But sometimes there comes a question, “Can you use interior paint outside?” or “Can I paint outdoor with interior paint?”. These questions are absolutely valid, especially when you have leftover paints.

Suppose you have used them for room walls, some furniture painting. These paints must protect the indoor objects from scratches, scuff, etc. But they cannot usually withstand harsh weather like rain, extreme cold, or sun heat. So, we fall into confusion about whether we should use interior paint for outside jobs or not.

We are solving the confusion in this article. You may love to know about interior paints in outdoor applications.

Paint Types

Interior or exterior, both paints fall into two common categories: water-based and oil-based. Latex and acrylic paints are alternative names of water-based paints. All these paints have at least one of these ingredients: pigments, solvents, additives, and resins. These ingredients enable different functions during and after painting the objects.

  • Pigments are basically fine grounds mixed into the paint. These pigments are actually the color that we see. Prime and extender are two types of pigments. Colorants are considered as prime pigments. They are the raw color in the paint container. The more organic colorants a paint has, the brighter colors you will get. On the other hand, inorganic colorants focus on earthy colors and durability like you see in exterior painting.
  • Solvents are nothing but liquids to suspend paint ingredients. It helps us to put the paint on objects. When you pick water-based paints, the solvent is the water. If you prefer oil-based paints, the solvent is paint thinner and others like acetone, naphtha, turpentine, etc.
  • You may hear about the uses of additives in foodstuff to bring flavor or colors (yet ethically or unethically). Paints can also have additives to pose some attributes. Some examples of additives are thickeners, surface leveling agents, surfactants, and others. These additives improve color precision, stickiness, and weatherproofing.
  • Resins work together with pigments to create the painting layer on the surface. Oil derivatives are the sources of oil-based resins. These resins are the determinants of color performance.

Water-based paints have pigments and binders diluted in water as the carrier. When you apply these paints, they will dry faster while leaving a beautiful color behind. In addition, you can clean the latex paints easily. Again, these paints have low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to apply in interior applications. Low VOCs ensure a safe and clean environment.

Oil-based paints are sourced from organic oils. Linseed, tung, soybean, alkyds are some of these oils. These oils have pigments, resin binders, and solvents. After applying the oil-based paints, the solvent evaporates in the air. Then resin and pigment are left to bring the outcome.

Therefore, these paints have a bit more VOCs and a strong smell. You can find cleaning them harder. You can apply them on doors, trim, and baseboards. In fact, you get better durability from these paints. But they take more time to dry to create tough layers. Upon these facts, exterior paints are mostly oil-based paints for the available traits.

Can You Paint Outside with Interior Paint, Really?

The answer is you can use it! But, there is a big “how”!!!

Interior paints have a unique formula to work in indoor painting applications. They own such attributes that work great in the interior environment. For example, some interior paints have no smell as there is obviously more frequent traffic inside the building. Some paints have better coverage facilities, and some are to make the surface smooth and glaring. Primarily, the manufacturers of these paints promote applying them only inside.

When you apply interior paint on external objects, the result will not satisfy you. Interior paint cannot last longer against heavy rain, snowfall, Ultraviolet rays, mold and mildews, and other adverse weathers. Because this paint contains fewer pigments and resins than exterior paints. As a result, you get very much porous surface. Gradually, the painted surface will fade, crack, flake within a short time.

Will you still use interior paint outside?

If you are still positive about using interior paint outside, you can go ahead. But, first, you should seal the paint with several coats of exterior-grade, clear coat sealer. Even if you add the sealer, there is also a chance of color to fade away. But it will work better close to exterior paint if the painted surface is exposed less openly.

Adding sealer with interior paint also increases the work of painting. So, your low-budget interior painting cost goes a bit larger. But it is comparatively less than using exterior paints. Unfortunately, some manufacturers do not give warranty offers if you use interior paints outside.

Some Complications of Interior Paints:

Consider you are painting a front door with interior paint. The door color remains protected from the visiting elements. When you do it on a metal door, you should prime the surface first. There should be a storm or glass door as protection to prevent any fading, gaps, or chipping in case of external uses.

For interior concrete walls or slabs, you need a lot of preparation while applying interior paints. You may need to fill the cracks, clean, seal, prime, and coat the surfaces. Also, it takes more time to put must-do multicoat exterior sealing over interior paint. Again, you cannot control the fade and wear of paints due to exposure to the sun.


The short summary of the whole discussion is an interior paint should be used mostly in interior applications. Because they are built to do best on interior surfaces. But there are indeed ways to apply the same paint in outside applications.

You can apply them to save money and time. But they will fade, chip faster than exterior paints. So, you will need to re-consider the expenses.

Now, it is up to you whether you choose interior or exterior paint for outside projects or not!

Similar Topics:

1. Can you Use Outside Paint Interior?
2. Can You Paint Rubber?

Leave a Comment