What Makes Interior and Exterior Paint Different? | What You Need to Know

Choosing a paint product for your home comes with a lot of decisions. There’s choosing the perfect color, deciding on a finish, and of course, picking out the best paint product for the job. However, one of the most important things to know when choosing paint is what makes interior and exterior paint different so you can ensure you’re choosing the right type of paint for your project. While they may look the same at first glance, there are key differences between exterior and interior paint. In this blog post, we’re diving into the nuances between exterior paint vs interior paint so you can feel confident picking out paint for your next project. 

What Makes Interior and Exterior Paint Different?

The most significant difference between exterior paint vs. interior paint is the composition of the paint itself. Exterior paint is designed with extra additives in order for it to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as wind, rain, and sunlight. These extra additives cause exterior paints to have higher VOCs, which is not ideal for interior paint as it can pose health risks to people and pets that are exposed. You can learn more about VOCs and healthier paint options in this blog post


Interior paint formulas are not created with these same additives and are designed to only be used in controlled environments, away from weather elements.


Exterior paint is also not as hard as interior paint. It is designed to be flexible to contract with heat, sun, and moisture. Interior paints tend to have a harder finish and are formulated to hold up to indoor elements, such as scuffs, scrapes, scrubbing, and cleaning. Interior paints don’t need to move and expand like exterior paints do. 

Another main difference between interior and exterior paint is the cost. Exterior paint is more expensive than interior options due to its higher quality and durability. However, the cost of either type of paint depends on the brand, quality, and how much paint you need for your project. 


What Happens If You Use Exterior Paint For Interior

If you were to use exterior paint for an interior paint job, not a lot will happen design-wise. The main concern is with the high VOCs and the health of your home, as exterior paints have more additives, as mentioned earlier. 

A few exceptions to this general rule of thumb would be using exterior paints on the interior of outdoor sheds or garages, as they are not climate controlled or insulated. Plus, these areas are not typically occupied for long periods of time, and these areas can benefit from the added durability of the exterior paint. 


Can You Use Interior Paint Outside?

The short answer is… no. If you use interior paint on an exterior surface, you are more than likely going to have peeling, cracking, fading, and other issues. Interior paint is not designed to be flexible for the outside elements. 


It also may be hard for the paint to adhere to the surface, as interior paints are too thin for external surfaces. It would require multiple coats of paint to even get a thin layer of coverage, and it would likely appear patchy and look less than desirable. Plus, these paints can take a long time to dry and can even be impossible to dry in humid, damp, and cold weather conditions. 


In conclusion, there are some significant differences between exterior paints vs interior paints to consider when choosing the best product for your paint project. If you are in the Raleigh, NC area and need help choosing the best, safest, and most long-lasting paint for your interior or exterior paint project, we’d love to partner with you. 

Reach out to book your free estimate today!

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