Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside?

Have you just completed painting the outside trim or walls, and you’re wondering whether you can carry the paint that you used inside the home with you now that you’ve painted it? Do you believe that, despite the high humidity level in the bathroom, it would be a good idea to carry it out in another room instead? The application of paint to the outside of a structure, even though doing so may first seem to be an excellent idea, serves a function and should be done for a specific reason.

It is strongly advised against using paint designed for use outside or inside a building. It is a more concentrated version of the original pigment, additive, and binder combination containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The coating continues to give out toxic vapours even after it has dried, and in addition to this, it becomes softer and more flexible. Humans and animals can get ill from it, and the way it is finished is not especially pleasant.


Exterior Painting: What is it?

Exterior coatings are made to survive scorching heat, sand-blasting winds, deluges of rain, and bitterly freezing temperatures. It must be weather resistant and prevent fading, peeling, cracking, mold formation and mildew when spraying on buildings, structures, and outdoor surfaces.

High-quality flexible resin binders that expand and contract with the surface they cover are used in superior outdoor paint. Chemicals are available to level surfaces and prevent stains, fading, and mildew. To preserve the colour of the pigments, most outdoor paints include UV protection. To adapt to shifting temperatures and environmental factors, exterior paints frequently include more resins and are softer than interior paints.

exterior painting

Outdoor paints come in both water-based and oil-based varieties. The binders keep the pigment and additives together to produce the paint layer while the solvent base evaporates. Paints can be applied with a brush, roller, sprayer, or sponge and come in a wide variety of sheens and additives.

Because water evaporates more quickly than oil, water-based paints often dry more rapidly than oil-based paints. If applied as instructed by the manufacturer, high-quality paint should cost more and last 10 to 15 years.

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Can you use exterior paint inside?

You could believe that outdoor paint should be suitable for indoor usage since it is weather-resistant, or you may have leftover exterior paint. Your reasoning is sound, but it ignores the reality that exterior and interior paints are designed for different uses. Mildewcides, fungicides, UV blockers, and other common additives may be included in both paint, but they do not contain the same substances.

This kind of paint is meant to withstand harsher conditions. Other compounds damaging to the body but not so hazardous to the environment are included. If you have a little space to cover, you may want to avoid using exterior paint since it produces more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors. Because of its composition, exterior paint might cost more than inside paint of the same grade.

Exterior paints must be applied in well-ventilated spaces. The paint will continue to release VOCs until it has completely dried, which might take weeks in warm climates or months in colder ones. It is OK to use it in cabanas, sheds, detached garages, and other structures so long as enough ventilation is provided and no one sleeps there.

Although it is possible, inside usage of external paint is not advised. For interior walls and ceilings, interior paints like sheetrock are used. They dry faster and provide a surface more resistant to impacts, scuffs, and intense cleaning.

Exterior paints are intended for non-sheetrock surfaces and react to changes in temperature and the mechanical expansion and contraction of the environment by expanding and contracting. Additionally, outside paint sometimes has a certain texture or feel after drying, which may not be as aesthetically pleasing.


Why shouldn’t you use exterior paint inside?

It is not just an old-fashioned piece of conventional wisdom or a marketing trick to suggest that the only place to apply exterior paint is outdoors; instead, there are valid reasons to support this recommendation. Use paint that is made specifically for use on outdoor surfaces in places that are open to the weather, and use paint that is made specifically for use on indoor surfaces in spaces within.

Most interior paint compositions strive for an attractive color, a high scratch resistance, and minimum emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, when it comes to exterior paint, the decrease of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions is not as high of a priority as the lifespan, temperature resistance, and absence of fading of the paint itself.

Here are several reasons why you should avoid using exterior paint inside.

  • Needs Sunlight to Cure Properly

The sun must be exposed for many outdoor paints to dry and cure. However, there is a sweet spot since too much sunshine may lead to painting issues, including peeling, poor adhesion, and cracking. The drying time for most outdoor paints varies from a few days to a month. The drying and curing durations become erratic when applying exterior paint inside.

Lack of light and open-air may cause outdoor paint to cure and dry too slowly. A longer drying period might extend the off-gassing phase and increase the amount of VOCs and odours released into the atmosphere.

  • Different Finish and Texture

The paint on the outside and the inside might have dramatically different qualities and textures. Even though both types of paint are often made available in a wide range of sheens and granulations, the fundamental distinctions between them lay in the applications they are designed for and their compositions.

To withstand UV radiation, fluctuations in temperature, and the environment, exterior paints need to be made with different components and resins than interior paints. In contrast to the resins used for painting interiors, those used for painting exteriors are often more flexible.

The primary advantage of using more plastic resin for exterior paint is increased adaptability. Because of the more dramatic fluctuations in humidity and temperature that occur outside as compared to those that occur inside, the more flexible resin gives the paint the ability to stretch and compress without being harmed.

  • Causing Health Problems

Numerous paint kinds, particularly exterior paint, produce high quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while wet and much lower levels after drying. VOCs are a group of gases that react fast with other substances and chemicals in the air.

Health issues may be caused or made worse by poisonous vapours that VOCs may create. Virtually all paints produce volatile organic compounds. However, outside paint often releases more than inside paint. Applying exterior paint outside correctly is not an issue since VOCs and fumes are dispersed and diluted in the air. However, there is less ventilation inside, which can cause pollutants to build up.

The intensity of your response is influenced by the toxicity of the VOCs produced by the in-question paint and your propensity for disease. Exposure to volatile organic compounds may cause typical adverse side effects such as headaches, irritability, loss of coordination, and nausea. Additionally, VOCs have been associated with an increased risk of liver damage, nervous system damage, kidney damage, and maybe even certain forms of cancer.

  • Premature Damage

If you paint the inside using paint designed for the outside of the building, you risk losing money. These paints are stretchy so that they can withstand the extreme fluctuations in temperature that occur outside. Despite being more flexible, outside paints are often a softer material than inside paints.

The scratch resistance of an external paint could not possibly compare to that of a high-quality interior paint, which can survive abrasion and maintain its flawless appearance for a significant amount of time. It is thus inevitable that rubbing against it will cause damage, ultimately resulting in some of its components being detached.

Is Using Exterior Paint Dangerous?

It is possible to avoid injury while painting the outside of a building outdoors by using the appropriate protective gear and exercising caution. As with any other kind of paint, it should not be inhaled, swallowed, or brought into proximity to the eyes or gets dripped on your hairs after which you will need to find out ways to get paint out of your hair.

Large amounts of fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) connected with outdoor paints are often not a concern. This is because they are soon diluted in the air. Most individuals who do not use paint are unconcerned about the possible adverse effects on their health that might result from prolonged exposure to volatile organic compounds and exterior paint (VOCs).

When used inside, paint designed for outdoor usage poses a health risk. A home does not have enough ventilation to efficiently eliminate pollutants and volatile organic compounds. Inhaling paint fumes and coming into contact with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) might negatively impact the environment if there is insufficient ventilation. VOCs have the potential to have a variety of the adverse effects on human health, including the following

  • discomfort in the nose, throat, and eyes
  • vertigo, nausea, and headaches.
  • Variable coordination
  • injury to the liver
  • kidney illness
  • Central nervous system injury
  • Furthermore, some types of cancer may be triggered by VOCs.

Can you store exterior paint indoors?

You are permitted to bring paint from the outside inside so long as you remove any more paint and ensure that the paint container is sealed correctly. Toxic vapours and volatile organic chemicals will be confined entirely inside a paint container that has been carefully sealed.

Utility closets, cleaning cabinets, and basement closets are the most common places within a home to store paint. However, there are various interior areas where paint may be stored. Make sure that the location is dry, calm, and unaffected by sudden changes in temperature throughout the seasons.

paint storage inside

If paint drips obscure the label on the paint container, you should mark the container so that you know which paints are intended for use inside and which are intended for use outside. Most oil and latex paints have a shelf life of two years when properly stored and maintained.


Despite the apparent similarities between interior and exterior paint, exterior paint shouldn’t be used inside due to its more significant VOC emissions. When drying and curing, oil- and latex-based paints, particularly those made for outdoor use, release many dangerous fumes. The paint may continue to give off smells even after it has cured.

There isn’t enough ventilation inside to properly dissipate the fumes. Thus exterior paint should never be put there. Additionally, exterior paint is typically softer and more vulnerable to scrapes and scratches, which is an essential factor to take into account for interior walls that get heavy traffic.


  • Can exterior paint be applied on top of inside paint?

  • In theory, outside paint may be covered with interior paint. If there is no initial stimulation, the binding will be challenging. Then there shouldn’t be any issues with painting an interior over an outside paint.
  • Is outside paint suitable for inside walls?

  • Using certain fungicides and UV-protective paint additives inside buildings is not allowed. Coatings applied to the outside of a building that is designed to withstand severe conditions might be hazardous in enclosed areas.
  • What Happens If I Accidentally Apply Exterior Paint Inside?

  • An overwhelming presence of acrylics in outdoor paint might leave behind a lingering odour that is unpleasant and perhaps hazardous in enclosed areas. Last but not least, the best performance may be achieved by applying paints in the manner recommended by the manufacturer. Since the gases slowly leak out of the system, they have minimal impact on performance.
  • What distinguishes exterior paint from inside paint?

  • Different paints are produced for various purposes. Hence their qualities vary. Exterior paint can stop fading and the growth of mold. On the other hand, interior paint is intended to be easy to clean and stain-resistant.
  • Can I paint furniture with exterior paint?

  • It is possible to paint the outdoor furniture using paint designed for that environment. Stick to paints developed inside the home since outside paint tends to keep its fragrance for much longer than interior paint does. for glass windows checkout method to paint glass windows perfectly for good finish and privacy.

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