Can You Use Exterior Paint for Interiors? Pros, Cons & Tips

February 8, 2023

When it comes to painting a home, one of the most common questions we receive is “Can you use exterior paint for interior spaces?”

While there may be some benefits to using exterior paint indoors, such as durability and cost savings, there are also several drawbacks that must be considered before making this decision.

In this blog post, we will explore both the advantages and disadvantages of applying exterior paint to indoor spaces along with tips on how can you use exterior paint for interiors if you decide to do so.

We’ll also look at alternatives in case you ultimately decide against applying exterior paints indoors.

Table of Contents

Can You Use Exterior Paint for Interior Spaces?

Exterior paint can be a great option for interior projects, offering many benefits. Durability is one of the main advantages of using exterior paint indoors.

Exterior paints are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and UV rays, making them more resistant to fading and cracking than interior paints. This makes them ideal for high-traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms where wear and tear are likely to occur over time.

Cost savings is another benefit of using exterior paint indoors. Because these paints are designed for outdoor use, they tend to be less expensive than interior paints that have been formulated specifically for indoor applications.

In addition, because exterior paints are thicker in consistency than interior ones, you may need fewer coats when painting with an exterior product which could result in further cost savings on your project.

Finally, there’s the variety of colors and finishes available with exterior paint products that make it a great choice for interiors too. From flat matte finishes to glossy sheens, you’ll find something suitable no matter what look you’re going for.

Manufacturers like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore offer a wide range of options so you can create any type of atmosphere within your space without having to compromise on quality or performance.

Using exterior paint for interior painting can offer cost savings, a variety of colors and finishes, and durability. However, there are also some drawbacks to consider before making that choice.

Why You Should Not Use Exterior Paint Inside

Using exterior paint indoors can be a tempting option due to its durability and cost savings, but there are some important drawbacks to consider.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and odors are two of the most common issues with using exterior paint for interior projects.

Exterior paints contain higher levels of VOCs than interior paints, which can lead to strong odors that linger in the air for days or weeks even after the paint job is complete. This may not be an issue if you’re working in a large commercial space, but it could become unbearable in a small residential home.

In addition to VOCs and odor, another disadvantage of using exterior paint indoors is limited color selection. Most manufacturers offer fewer colors when it comes to their exterior lines compared to their interior lines. This means you may have difficulty finding the exact shade or hue you need for your project without having to mix custom colors yourself.

Finally, poor coverage on interior surfaces is another potential problem with using exterior paint inside. Interior walls often require multiple coats of primer and/or sealer before applying any type of topcoat due to their porous nature. However, these products don’t always work well with outdoor-grade paints as they tend not to adhere properly and may result in uneven coverage or bubbling once dry.

Overall, while exterior paint can provide benefits such as durability and cost savings when used indoors, there are many drawbacks that should be taken into consideration before making a decision. VOCs, fumes, limited color selection, and poor coverage make exterior paints a bad choice for indoor spaces.

can you use exterior paint for interior


Tips for Using Exterior Paint for Interior Projects

So, can you use exterior paint for interior applications? You still can if you follow these tips.

Proper surface preparation is key when using exterior paint indoors. It’s important to make sure the surface is clean and free of any dirt, dust, or debris that could affect the adhesion of the paint. This can be done by lightly sanding the walls and wiping them down with a damp cloth before painting.

Be sure to repair any cracks or holes in order to create a smooth finish for your project.

High-quality primers and sealers should also be used when applying exterior paint indoors. Primer helps ensure better adhesion between the wall and the paint while sealer helps protect against moisture damage from humidity or condensation buildup on interior surfaces such as bathrooms or kitchens.

Applying both primer and sealer will help you achieve a professional-looking finish that will last longer.

Finally, choosing the right sheen for your project’s needs is essential when using exterior paints indoors. Flat finishes are best suited for low-traffic areas like bedrooms while semi-gloss finishes are more durable and can handle higher levels of wear and tear found in living rooms or hallways.

Satin finishes offer an attractive midpoint between flat and semi-gloss options but may require more frequent cleaning due to their slightly glossy appearance which attracts dust particles more easily.

Alternatives to Using Exterior Paint for Interior Projects

When it comes to interior painting projects, exterior paint is not always the best option. Exterior paints are designed for durability and protection from the elements, but they may not provide adequate coverage on interior surfaces or have a limited color selection.

Additionally, many exterior paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be hazardous to your health if inhaled in large quantities.

Fortunately, there are other options available for those looking to avoid using exterior paint indoors.

Specialty Paints Designed Specifically for Interiors

There are several types of specialty paints designed specifically for use on interior walls and ceilings such as low-odor latex enamels and eggshell finishes that offer superior coverage. These specialized formulas also come in a variety of colors so you can find one that matches your decor perfectly without having to resort to an exterior paint product.

High-Quality Latex Paints with Low VOCs

If you’re looking for a more affordable option than specialty paints, high-quality latex paints with low VOCs may be the way to go. These products provide excellent coverage while still being gentle on indoor air quality due to their reduced levels of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde or benzene which can cause respiratory irritation.

If you’re going to go for oil-based paints designed for indoor applications, be careful to choose mixes that contain lower levels of VOCs. These special formulas are less toxic but still provide good adhesion and last longer despite daily wear and tear.


Can you use exterior paint for interior walls?

It is possible to use exterior paint for interior projects. However, there are several advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before making this decision.

If you decide not to use exterior paint for your interior space, there are plenty of alternatives available that may better suit your needs. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you do your research so that you can make an informed decision when choosing the right type of paint for your needs.

Are you looking for a reliable and experienced painting contractor to help spruce up your home or business? Look no further than Pristine Painters!

We specialize in interior painting services, using only the highest quality exterior paint to ensure that the job is done right. With years of experience behind us, we guarantee satisfaction with every project. Contact us today for a free quote on all your interior painting needs – let our team show you why they are considered one of the best around!

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