Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside | What You Need to Know

Most homeowners just getting into painting will often be confused about the type of paint. Aside from just considering oil-based and water-based, you also need to factor in whether it is for interior or exterior use.

So, can you use exterior paint inside?

You should not use exterior paint inside. Exterior colors have a lot of harmful chemicals, which will release into the air after you apply them. So, it is better to stick with interior paints for interior walls and projects.

But what chemicals do exterior paints have? And other than that, is there any other difference between interior and exterior paints? Let’s find out!

Why You Should Not Use Exterior Paint Inside?

Exterior paint may seem like a suitable option for interior walls and ceilings. However, they contain chemicals. These chemicals include additives that make the formula resilient to outdoor conditions.

Now, you might think that the exterior paints would be great for the inside as they are highly durable and long-lasting. Well, the additives that they use are harmful to your health.

When used outdoors, these chemicals get released into the open air and fade into the environment. But the chemicals will be there for a long time for interior spaces, which can harm your lungs.

Again, what if you wanted to paint the garage with exterior paint? Well, you can use exterior paints for garages. Garages are generally well-ventilated, allowing the chemicals to go outside the interior space.

Even so, it is better to pick interior paints for the garage. With that, you will not have to worry about anything at all.

What Is the Difference Between Interior and Exterior Paint?

There are some crucial differences between interior and exterior paint. Let’s go through all of them to give you a better idea about the types.

Coverage and Adhering Power

Exterior paints have a unique composition, which enables them to offer better coverage and adhering capabilities.

In fact, if you take a closer look, exterior paints will usually use acrylic latex. That is water soluble and naturally offers good coverage.

Now, it is not like the coverage rating for the interior paints is terrible. It is just not as good as the rating of exterior colors.


Outdoor paints need to go through a lot. From challenging environmental conditions to abuse, they face it all. That is why they will have chemicals in their composition, which makes them resilient.

In other words, due to containing special additives, exterior paints are less likely to fade and chip away. For that reason, they last for a prolonged amount of time.

On the other hand, interior paints have a minimal level of VOCs and chemicals. That makes them prone to fading in harsh conditions. But again, rooms are generally not exposed to sunlight and other environmental conditions.


Accidents can happen during painting, such as splatters and applying the color in the wrong area. And you can better handle these unfortunate events better with interior paints.

Unlike exterior paints, interior colors are washable. Most importantly, they are splatter resistant. For that reason, you do not need to take too many precautionary steps before applying them.

On the contrary, you must handle exterior paints with care. You will need protective clothing, proper application planning, and correct handling of the paint flow. That is why getting a qualified contractor to paint the outdoor walls is best.

What to Do When You Accidentally Use Exterior Paint Inside?

There’s no need to panic if you have accidentally used exterior paint inside. You can effortlessly lower the risk of breathing in the chemicals. All you have to do is apply a primer coat on the paint and use interior paint.

With the walls primed and repainted, there will be no risk of the harmful chemicals of exterior paints being released into the air. That is, you can block the release of additives from the initial paint.

On that note, it is better to do this priming and repainting as soon as possible. The more you wait, the more chemicals the exterior paint will release.

Final Words

Are you still asking yourself the question, can you use exterior paint inside? You can, but you should not. The chemicals in the exterior colors make them unsafe for interior application. So, instead, you should only use interior paints for indoor use.

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