Can Interior Paints and Exterior Paints be Used Interchangeably?

Can Interior Paints and Exterior Paints be Used Interchangeably?

While paints all contain the same basic components there is a big difference between interior and exterior paint. Paint contains resin, solvent and pigment but depending on what the paint is designed for it may contain different elements. There is also the difference in appearance and finish.

What is the difference between Interior and Exterior Paint?

Different Environments

Interior and exterior paints are exposed to different elements and environments so they are made differently. Interior paints aren’t exposed to wind and rain so it doesn’t need to be designed to withstand it. Interior paint does need to be cleanable and easily maintained so these paints are made with different elements to ensure they work for the customer.


The biggest difference in the makeup of interior versus exterior paint is the resin that is used. Resin is an organic substance that helps the pigment to adhere to the surface. Exterior paints often use a softer resign so that the surface under the paint can contract and expand without affecting the paint layer. This helps to prevent fading, peeling and paint chips. Interior paint uses a more rigid resign.

In the end, exterior paint and interior paint are not interchangeable. You may wonder why we don’t use the tougher exterior paint indoors but it scratches and scuffs more than interior paint. Most people are ok with their exterior paint having some scuff marks but wouldn’t be happy with their interior paint getting marked up easily. Also exterior paint typically contains more volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can make the air quality poor. It can actually be dangerous to use exterior paint indoors. If interior paint is used outdoors it will likely crack and chip when the weather changes.

Choosing the right paint type is important, choosing the right painter is vital! If you need a Boise painting company or a Valley County painter, give Natural Born Painters a call today. We’ll be happy to give you a free, no-obligation quote for any of our services!

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