Can you Use Outside Paint Interior? An In-depth Discussion is Ready for You

Two frequent questions are here:

  • Can you use outside paint interior?
  • Can I use exterior paint inside?

These questions I hear from many people while they are building new or renovating the old home. It is like I am wearing office suits for the official atmosphere. But, now, you are inviting me to have beach time. So, the question would be, should I go there in the same attire? Using outside or exterior paint inside of your house or office is something like this.

Can you Use Outside Paint Interior? An In-depth Discussion is Ready for You

You may check out or already know that both paints are specified for exterior and interior applications. In addition, these paints have the same range of color variations. Interestingly, both paints are suitable for applying indoors.

But there is a minor issue! Each painting has a unique formula to work its best at either inside or outside. This is what I am going to talk about in this article. Sit back and relax! You can get the COMPLETE IDEA when you read each point thoroughly.

Types of Paint

Let me discuss the paint types first. Water-based and oil-based – these are two main types of paints. Usually, you hear the water-based paints in the name latex and acrylic. On the other hand, alkyd paints are oil-based paints with more color options. Earlier, water-based paints are used for only interior applications. But now, they get popular over oil-based paints.

All these paints have a minimum of four ingredients: pigments, solvents, additives, and resins. These ingredients are the bearer of traits like longevity, thickness, smoothness, and others.


Pigments are the ingredients that help us to see the actual color of paint. As an example, we see the red color of paint because it has red pigments.

Pigments also fall into two types: prime and extender. Finally, you can consider colorant as excellent pigments, the raw color.

The brightness of paint depends on the number of organic colorants in it. For example, interior paints have more organic colorants for the colorful result.

Inorganic colorants improve the lifespan of the paint. Therefore, exterior paints have these inorganic colorants to withstand adverse situations.


Solvents are paint liquids. They suspend paint ingredients and enable sticking to the painting surface. Water-based paints have water solvent, oil-based has thinner and some other solvents.


Additives hold the ability to show some attributes in paints. These are like adding masala into curry for a unique taste. Usually, thickeners, surface leveling agents, surfactants are the common additives for paint. They can give you the specific quality of finish.


Resins have a connection with pigments. They create the painting layer on the painting surface. Also, they will show you how the color will perform.

Should You Use Outside Paint Interior?

You should know the common differences between interior and exterior paints. These are some facts which give the idea about the paints.

Ingredients of paints play a significant role in their acceptance in a painting project.

Pigments and binders in water-based paints are diluted in water as the carrier. Through this, you get bright colors after applying water-based paints. Again, these help to dry the paint faster.

Manufacturers use organic oils to produce oil-based paints. Some common organic oils are linseed, tung, soybean, alkyds, etc. However, pigments, resin binders, and solvents are major ingredients of oil-based paints. Solvents blend into the air after applying these paints, whereas resins and pigments do the rest of the work.

Oil-based paints are preferable for their durability, and protective attributes as the ingredients work on it. On the other hand, water-based paints offer healthy, bright colors on interior objects.

The formula of paint sets whether you should choose it for interior or not.

Not only ingredients, the formula of interior and exterior paints is different. As the ingredients of these paints are different, their formulations are also distinct.

Exterior paints take more time to dry. As you apply the paint outside, there should be durable painting with the necessary thickness. They produce thick and sturdy layers upon paint surface. So, the sun heat or UV rays, rain, cold or snow etc. weather conditions cannot damage the painted surface.

But you have a little thing to worry about! The paint fumes!

Exterior paints have volatile organic compounds (VOCs), also known as paint fumes. These are regular chemicals in outdoor paints.

Paint fumes are emitted from the paints during or after painting. Therefore, even the expert painters put on a mask and take necessary protection while painting exterior coatings.

The reason? VOCs are entirely harmful when you breathe them in. Inhaling VOCs cause “sick building syndrome,” which is not good at all. In addition, you will face several health issues when you inhale fumes—dizziness, mild or severe headache, nausea, respiration issues, eye irritation, etc.

So, when you apply the exterior paint containing VOCs inside, you will face these problems frequently. But, to be honest, VOCs or paint fumes last in a final paint up to six months. So, you, your kids, pets may face issues when you apply paints with high VOCs.

Still, you can use outside paint interior! Use exterior paint with low or no VOCs.

Exterior paints cause smell-related problems when you apply them inside. Sometimes the nasty or strong smell lasts for several months. You may face breathing issues and seek proper ventilation.

Exterior paints are built for open spaces where air, sun rays easily enter. So when you paint interior walls, furniture, roof etc., with exterior paints, it is logical to have smells all around the house. The reason is the house interior cannot get the right ventilation.

Also, the drying period of exterior paint keeps the smell longer. If it is a garage or bathroom, you can choose exterior paints as there are the least serious irritation from smells. Air trespasses these places well.

The flammability of paint is also a matter of concern in the interior application of outside paint.

As, oil-based paints are primarily used in exterior applications, they are naturally more flammable than interior, water-based paints. It means they can cause accidents when extreme heat or fire catch them.

When you paint with exterior paint, there is a risk of the inflammation that may cause fire accidents. Yet this happens rarely!

Lastly, the cost of using outside paint interior may lose your interest.

Exterior paints protect your house from many devastating factors. So, they are comparatively costly due to their quality, chemistry, and further ingredients.

You may need primer, sander to apply the exterior paints, which may not be required for interior paints. This is another reason for spending more money.

You can use inside paints for internal uses as they are cost-saving, odor-free, and safe from VOCs.


I think you get the answer of “can you use outside paint interior” right now. Obviously, you can use them for interior applications. But the impact will not be satisfactory like interior paints.

Still, you can complete the task with exterior paints. My suggestion would be maintaining proper ventilation, choosing paint with less or no VOCs for the task.

Have a magnificent painting day!

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