Uncovering the Mystery of Exterior and Interior Paint Differences


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Painting projects are some of the most satisfying home improvement tasks. Nothing feels better than seeing a fresh new coat of paint on the walls or exterior of your space. But what do you need to know before you start?

What are the differences between interior types of paint and exterior?

Exterior and interior paints differ in their formulations to cater to their respective environments. Interior paints are low-odor, washable, and resistant to scratches and stains, with lower VOC content to protect human health. Exterior paints are more durable, weather-resistant, and contain additional additives to resist fading, mildew, and extreme weather conditions. They use more flexible resins than interior paints and contain harmful chemicals, making them unsuitable for indoor use.

Choosing the right type of paint for each surface and environment is crucial, and professional painting contractors are recommended for interior and exterior projects.

But what about the risks of using exterior paints inside your home?

Can you use interior paints on your exterior?

How do you choose the right paint for your project?

In this article, I’ll explain all this and more and help you understand  what exactly what makes interior and exterior paints so different, as well as which one you should choose for each project!

By the way – before we get too far along here, if you want to connect with other homeowners and builders and get more great ideas for your home to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Remodel Reality here.

Differences Between Interior and Exterior Paints

If you’re looking for the right paint for your project, there are a few key factors to consider when choosing between exterior and interior paints.

The type of resin used in their formulations is one of the primary differences between exterior and interior paints. For interiors, rigid resins are added to ensure easy cleaning and stain resistance. On the other hand, flexible resins are found in exterior paints as they need to be more durable and weather-resistant. This flexibility helps them resist fading, chipping, and peeling due to changes in temperature or moisture. It’s worth noting that interior paints are not suitable for outdoor use as the rigid resins aren’t designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Additives also help differentiate between exterior and interior paints. Exterior paints contain additional additives that help protect against mildew, sun damage, rain damage, cold temperatures – essentially any harsh outdoor elements they need to withstand. Unfortunately these additives could be dangerous or toxic if brought indoors which is why its important to keep them off of indoor surfaces. Interior paints don’t require these additives because they do not go through extreme weather conditions like exterior paint would so fewer additives make it safe for indoor use.

Another factor that sets aside exterior from interior paint is their respective chemical makeup; VOC concentrations can be higher in exterior types of paint than interior types due to the strong protection needed outside versus inside. The organic pigments found within interior paints have little or no VOCs making them safer for use indoors compared to exteriors which contain a lot of them due to their waterproofing abilities.

Exterior vs interior paints also differ with what kind of surfaces they are best suited for – exteriors being formulated for better protection can be used on wood, cement, brick and stucco among others while interiors being best suited only indoors remain reserved for walls, ceilings, etc. not facing too much wear and tear from external conditions but instead require a smoother finish (i.e. lower sheen).

Temperatures too play an important role when differentiating between these two types of paint; exteriors being able to cope with dynamic change whereas interiors usually just crack if exposed directly to harsh conditions due to lack of expansion capabilities and other protective measures found in exteriors.

Interior paints vs. exterior paints:

Properties Interior Paint Exterior Paint
Resin Rigid resins Flexible resins
Additives Fewer additives More additives to resist fading, mildew, and extreme weather conditions
Chemical Makeup Lower VOCs Higher VOCs
Weather Resistance Not as weather-resistant More durable and weather-resistant
Surface Suitability Suitable for indoor surfaces Suitable for a variety of surfaces
Temperature Not formulated for temperature changes Formulated to expand and contract with outdoor temperature fluctuations
Finish Wide range of finishes Fewer finish options
Quality High quality High quality
Cost Generally less expensive Generally more expensive
Health Hazards Minimal risk Higher risk if used indoors
Application Interior walls, ceilings, and trim Exterior walls, siding, and trim
Durability Not as durable More durable
Lifespan Lasts longer when used indoors Lasts longer when used outdoors
Color Available in a wide range of colors Available in a wide range of colors

Oil-based vs. water-based paint comparison

Property Oil-based paint Water-based paint
Chemical makeup Oil-based, made with solvents such as mineral spirits or turpentine Water-based, made with water as the primary solvent
VOC content High, emits strong fumes and can pose a health risk Low, emits fewer fumes and is considered safer for human health
Drying time Slow, takes longer to dry than water-based paint Fast, dries quickly
Application Can be applied with brush, roller or spray gun Can be applied with brush, roller or spray gun
Clean-up Requires solvents like mineral spirits or turpentine for clean-up Can be easily cleaned up with soap and water
Durability Very durable and long-lasting, good for high-traffic areas Less durable than oil-based paint, but can still last a long time
Finish High gloss or matte finish options Variety of finish options, including matte, satin, and high gloss
Flexibility Can become brittle over time, prone to cracking and peeling More flexible, less prone to cracking and peeling
Yellowing Can yellow over time, especially in areas with low light exposure Does not yellow over time
Surface adhesion Good adhesion to most surfaces, but may require a primer for some surfaces Good adhesion to most surfaces, including previously painted surfaces
Cost Generally more expensive than water-based paint Generally less expensive than oil-based paint

Properties of Exterior Paints

You have decided to paint the exterior of your house, and you need a paint that can stand up to all types of weather conditions. Exterior paints are specially designed to withstand rain, snow, extreme temperatures and other harsh elements that can cause paint damage. To ensure that the finish lasts for a long time, it is important to use exterior paints because they contain special additives and resins that make them more resistant to the elements. Additionally, these paints are formulated to expand and contract along with outdoor temperature fluctuations, which helps prevent cracking or peeling in extreme weather conditions.

When selecting an exterior paint, one of the most important factors is its weather resistance. This is achieved through the use of unique additives and resins which give additional strength so the paint will last longer even when exposed to harsh weather elements such as rain or snow. These molecules also help make the paint durable so it won’t fade or chip quickly over time. Oftentimes this type of paint is oil-based with solvents present which allow it to dry faster so that it adheres better onto surfaces.

Another key feature of exterior paints is their flexibility which allows them to withstand temperature changes without cracking or peeling. As temperatures swing from hot summers to cold winters throughout the year, exterior paints are built using acrylic resins specifically designed for temperature adjustments so they can maintain their original state while avoiding damages caused by ice expansion and other seasonal damages associated with changing weather patterns.

To summarize, interior paints contain unique features such as durability against harsh weather conditions, temperature fluctuations and other factors that could lead to deterioration if not cared for properly. With specifically formulated agents such as additives and resins as well as quick drying agents like solvents present in oil based formulas, there’s no doubt that exterior paints should be used on any home or building’s outer surface when possible in order to keep painted finishes looking great for years!

Type of Interior Paint Sheen Stain Resistance Durability VOC Content
Flat/Matte Flat Good Low Low
Eggshell Low Good Moderate Low
Satin Medium Very Good High Low
Semi-Gloss High Excellent High Low
Gloss High Excellent High High


Properties of Interior Paints

When it comes to painting the inside of your home, interior paint is the way to go. These paints are specifically formulated for indoor use and offer a variety of properties that make them ideal for your home. One of the most significant features of interior paint is that it comes in a wide range of finishes. The finish you choose can have a significant impact on the final look of the room.

Matte and eggshell finishes have a low sheen, while semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes have a shiny appearance. Satin falls somewhere in between these two and is often used for walls in high-traffic areas like hallways or entryways. It’s important to keep in mind that each finish has its own unique properties and will affect how light reflects off the painted surface.

Latex paint is the most commonly used type of interior paint. This type uses water as a solvent which makes it easier to clean up than oil-based paints. Latex paint is also more environmentally friendly since it emits fewer harmful chemicals than oil-based paints. Additionally, latex dries quickly and resists staining and yellowing over time.

Interior paints are made with various additives that enhance their performance. These additives can reduce drying time, distribute pigment evenly, resist staining, fading, yellowing, and make the paint more durable overall. They can also provide better adhesion between surfaces which means they’ll last longer without peeling or chipping away.

Rigid resins used in interior paints provide a smooth finish on all surfaces which allows for easy cleaning, stain resistance, and increased durability over time. Binding resins also help to provide an even better finish by increasing lifespan as well as improving adhesion between surfaces.

There are many types of interior paint available on the market today – each with its own specific set of properties designed for different needs around your home. For example; some paints are specifically designed for bathrooms or kitchens where mold or mildew may be an issue while others are great for high-traffic areas like hallways or entryways because they’re designed to withstand wear and tear.

When choosing an interior paint for your next project keep in mind what kind of finish you want (matte, eggshell, satin etc.), whether you prefer latex or oil-based products (latex being more environmentally friendly), what additives will be best suited to improve performance (like reducing drying time) as well as considering rigid resins vs binding resins depending on your desired outcome.

Type of Exterior Paint Sheen Chemical Make-up Characteristics
Flat/Matte Flat Water-based Suitable for uneven surfaces; hides imperfections; not as durable as other types
Satin Low Water-based Has a slight gloss; more durable than flat paint; easy to clean
Semi-gloss Medium Water-based Reflects light; more durable than satin finish; resists moisture and mildew
Gloss High Solvent-based Highly reflective; extremely durable and water-resistant; more difficult to apply and clean up
Enamel High Solvent-based Extremely durable and weather-resistant; can be used on metal surfaces; high VOC content
Acrylic Low Water-based Resistant to fading, chalking, and peeling; dries quickly; low VOC content
Oil-based Low Solvent-based Extremely durable; slow-drying; high VOC content; not recommended for DIY projects

Suitable Surfaces for Exterior and Interior Paints

When it comes to painting, you need to consider the type of surface you’re working on. The suitability of a surface for painting depends on whether it’s indoors or outdoors. If you’re painting an exterior surface, you’ll want to choose paint that can withstand harsh weather conditions such as snow, rain, and sunlight.

For outdoor surfaces like brick walls and concrete walls, there are several factors to keep in mind. When painting brick walls, it’s important to use breathable paint that allows moisture to escape. This will prevent any damage caused by trapped moisture. Additionally, the surface should be cleaned and primed before painting to ensure the paint adheres well. For concrete walls, you’ll need a similar preparation process and a paint formulated to resist fading, peeling, and chipping.

On the other hand, interior surfaces require different types of paint depending on where they’re located in your home. For example, living spaces like bedrooms and living rooms typically use interior paints designed for walls and ceilings made of drywall, plaster, wood or metal. You’ll also need to prep these surfaces by cleaning them thoroughly and patching any holes or cracks before applying primer.

When choosing paint finishes for interior surfaces like kitchens and bathrooms which require easy cleaning, high gloss or satin finishes are ideal choices while matte or flat finishes work best for areas with imperfections or low-traffic areas.

It’s essential to note that not all surfaces can be painted directly without preparation. For instance, surfaces with peeling paint require scraping and sanding before applying new coats of paint; oily or greasy surfaces must be cleaned before painting too.

Choosing the right type of paint is critical when it comes to achieving professional-looking results in your painting project regardless of whether it’s indoor or outdoor. Therefore always consult professionals if unsure about how best to prepare your surface for repainting purposes.

Health Risks of Using Exterior Paints Inside the House

Did you know that exterior paints are specially formulated with chemicals that make them resistant to harsh weather elements and more durable? However, these same chemicals can pose a significant health risk when released inside the house. The high level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in exterior paints can cause a range of health problems such as respiratory issues, headaches, nausea, and dizziness. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions may be particularly vulnerable to these symptoms.

Exposure to VOCs from exterior paints can also lead to long-term health issues like cancer and liver damage. These harmful chemicals don’t disappear after drying or curing; they can linger in the air for an extended period, increasing the risk of exposure for occupants of the house. Additionally, many exterior paints contain lead, which can cause lead poisoning when ingested or inhaled.

It’s important to note that the risk of health hazards from using exterior paint inside the house is not limited to the application stage. Even after the paint has dried and cured, it can still release VOCs and other harmful chemicals for a long time. Proper ventilation during and after painting is essential to minimize this risk.

When using and applying exterior paints, it’s crucial to take necessary precautions to protect your health. This includes wearing protective clothing, gloves, and a mask to avoid inhaling fumes while painting. It’s advisable to keep windows open during and after painting so that fresh air circulates throughout your living space reducing the concentration of VOCs in the air.

Using exterior paint inside your home is a bad idea because it will expose you to harmful stuff due to high levels of VOCs and other harmful chemicals present in these types of paint. To ensure safety while painting indoors always follow safety guidelines and take necessary precautions such as proper ventilation during painting sessions. If you suspect you’re suffering from exposure to VOCs from exterior paint seek medical attention immediately for proper treatment.

Choosing the Right Paint

Choosing the right type of paint is essential when embarking on an interior or exterior painting project. Different types of paint are formulated to suit different environments and surfaces, and selecting the right one can significantly impact the outcome and longevity of the paint job. It is important to consider the factors that make each paint type unique, such as weather conditions, surface suitability, quality, and finish options.

Higher quality paints tend to have better pigments, a higher ratio of resin to solvent, and additional additives that improve the durability and appearance of the paint. While high-quality paints tend to be more expensive, they can save homeowners money in the long run by lasting longer and requiring fewer touch-ups and repairs.

Weather conditions are another important consideration when selecting the right paint for exterior projects. Homes located in areas with harsh weather conditions require paints that are formulated to withstand extreme temperatures, moisture, and other weather elements. Homeowners should choose exterior paints that are resistant to fading, chalking, cracking, and mildew. Similarly, interior projects require paint that can withstand the wear and tear of daily life, including stains, scuffs, and marks.

In addition to weather resistance, homeowners should consider the finish options available for each paint type. There are several different finish options, including flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. Each finish option has different characteristics that make it ideal for different environments and surfaces. For example, high-gloss finishes are durable and easy to clean, making them ideal for high-traffic areas such as hallways, while flat finishes are best for areas with less traffic, such as bedrooms.

While homeowners can tackle painting projects on their own, it is highly recommended to hire a professional painting contractor for both interior and exterior projects. Professional contractors have the experience and knowledge necessary to select the right paint for each surface and environment, ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget. Additionally, professional contractors have the necessary equipment and tools to complete the project efficiently and to a high standard, providing homeowners with a beautiful and long-lasting finish.

Sheen Flat/Matte Eggshell Satin Semi-Gloss Gloss
Durability Low More More Highly Most
Stain-Resist Low More More Highly Highly
VOC Content Low Low Low Low High
Ideal for Ceilings Living Rms Bath/Kitch Trim/Cabin Bath/Kitch
Usage Safety Safe Safe Safe Well-Vent Well-Vent
  • Flat/Matte: This paint has a flat sheen and is ideal for ceilings and walls. Although it has low durability and stain resistance, it’s safe for indoor use due to its low VOC content.
  • Eggshell: This paint has a low sheen and is more durable than flat/matte. It’s commonly used in living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. Its low VOC content makes it safe for indoor use.
  • Satin: This paint has a medium sheen and is more durable than eggshell. It’s perfect for high-traffic areas like hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens. Its low VOC content makes it safe for indoor use.
  • Semi-Gloss: This paint has a high sheen and is highly durable and stain-resistant. It’s often used in areas that require frequent cleaning, such as trim, cabinets, and doors. Although it’s safe for indoor use due to its low VOC content, it should be used in well-ventilated areas.
  • Gloss: This paint has a high sheen and is the most durable and stain-resistant type of interior paint. It’s commonly used in high-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens but should be used in well-ventilated areas due to its high VOC content.

Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside Your Home?

It may be tempting to use exterior paint inside your home because of its durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions – it’s a very durable product.

However, do not exterior paint inside your home.

Using exterior paint inside your home is not recommended due to the harmful chemicals that can be released into the air. Exterior paint contains additional chemicals, such as fungicides and mildewcides, to make them more resistant to weather conditions. These chemicals can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and pose a risk to human health if used indoors.

Interior paint is specifically formulated for indoor use and contains lower levels of VOCs than exterior paint. It is also designed to be low-odor and safe for use around people and pets. Interior paint is washable and can withstand daily wear and tear, making it a better choice for surfaces that are frequently used or touched.

Using exterior paint inside your home can lead to unpleasant odors, headaches, dizziness, and other health concerns.

The chemicals in the paint can linger in the air long after the painting process is complete, potentially causing respiratory problems or other health issues.

If you mistakenly used exterior paint inside your house or have leftover paint from an outdoor project that you want to use inside the house, it’s best to cover the exterior paint with primer and then paint over the area with interior paint.

While using exterior paint inside your house is not recommended it’s acceptable to use it in a garage as long as it’s well-ventilated. Garages are frequently opened which allows for proper ventilation thus allowing any harmful chemicals contained within the exterior paints dissipate quickly without posing any threat.

When considering whether or not you should use exterior or interior paint for your project; choose carefully based on their respective formulations rather than just going by their names alone. Using exterior paints inside homes poses air quality risks but using them in garages which are well ventilated may be okay albeit with cautionary measures taken. If you have any specific questions it wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact one of your local professional painters who know what type of paints would be suitable for different projects. This would go a long way towards ensuring safety and helping you achieve the desired results.

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Rob Orr

Me and my family have lived through a nightmare of a remodeling project gone wrong, making countless mistakes including placing trust in the wrong hands. Despite these setbacks, we took matters into our own hands for many aspects of the remodel, ensuring quality workmanship guided by expert advice. Through my personal experiences, I've created RemodelReality.com. My mission is not only to share the pitfalls we encountered but also the successes we achieved by combining our efforts with trusted professionals. By sharing both the highs and lows of our journey, I aim to help others navigate their own remodeling projects with greater confidence, ensuring they benefit from our lessons learned.

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