Understanding The Difference Between Interior And Exterior Paint

Choosing the right paint for your project can be confusing. Paints come in two main types: interior and exterior. This blog will guide you on understanding their differences and when to use each type.

Keep reading to make informed choices!

Key Takeaways

  • Interior and exterior paint have different formulas to meet unique needs. Exterior paints need flexible resins for weather resistance, while interior paints focus on easy cleaning and stain resistance.
  • The choice of binders in paint affects its durability. Exterior paint binders allow flexibility to withstand temperature changes, but interior paint binders prioritize a smooth finish that's easy to keep clean.
  • Pigments in paint determine color vibrancy and performance against conditions like UV rays. Exterior pigments are designed for long-lasting color outside, while interior pigments ensure colors stay fresh-looking indoors without frequent touch-ups.
  • When picking between interior or exterior paint, consider your project’s specific requirements such as location exposure to elements and desired maintenance level. This ensures the chosen paint performs well over time.
  • Using exterior paint inside can lead to health risks due to higher VOC emissions and might not offer the same protection or quality as when using the correct indoor formula.

Comparing Interior and Exterior Paint: What's the Difference?

Interior and exterior paint differ in their resins, additives, binders, and pigments. This influences the formulated properties such as durability, scrub resistance, staining, and abrasion for each type of paint.

Resins and additives

Paint resins play a critical role in determining the performance and durability of both interior and exterior paints. Exterior paint uses flexible resins that adapt to temperature changes and provide UV ray protection, ensuring the paint remains intact and vibrant even under harsh outdoor conditions.

These advanced resins also support the paint's adherence to various exterior surfaces, from wood to brick.

Additives for paint enhance specific characteristics, with exterior formulas boasting ingredients that resist fading, mildew growth, and help maintain a fresh look over time. Interior paints incorporate additives designed for scuff resistance and easy cleaning without compromising the finish integrity.

This distinct blend of resins and additives ensures each type of paint performs optimally in its intended environment, safeguarding surfaces while maintaining aesthetic appeal.


Binders in paint play a crucial role in determining its overall durability and how well it sticks to surfaces. Exterior paint uses binders that allow for more flexibility, enabling the paint to withstand outdoor temperature changes without cracking or peeling.

This flexibility is essential for outdoor durability and weather resistance, making sure that exterior surfaces can handle everything from blistering heat waves to freezing cold snaps.

Interior paints, on the other hand, incorporate binders designed for less harsh conditions. These binders don't need the same level of flexibility as their exterior counterparts because indoor environments experience fewer temperature fluctuations.

Instead, they focus on providing a smooth finish that resists stains and is easy to clean, ensuring interior walls maintain their aesthetic appeal over time without sacrificing quality.


Moving from binders, we shift our focus to pigments, an essential component in both interior and exterior paints. Pigments give paint its color and play a crucial role in how it performs under different conditions.

Exterior paints use pigments that are made to stand up against the sun's harsh UV rays, preventing the color from fading over time. This ensures long-lasting vibrancy even when exposed to sunlight for extended periods.

Interior paints, on the other hand, incorporate pigments designed for high scuff resistance and ease of cleaning. Such formulation is ideal for maintaining a fresh look inside homes or businesses despite daily wear and tear.

The choice between these pigment types depends largely on where the paint will be applied—highlighting the importance of selecting the right paint for your specific project needs.

When to Use Interior or Exterior Paint

When deciding between interior or exterior paint, consider the differences in performance and the specific requirements of your project. Understanding the properties, durability, and staining resistance of each type of paint will help you make an informed choice for your surfaces.

Differences in performance

Exterior paints are designed for exceptional durability, providing superior weather resistance to protect surfaces from harsh outdoor elements. They also offer enhanced surface scuff and stain resistance, making them suitable for withstanding heavy wear and tear.

Furthermore, exterior paints are formulated to resist fading and yellowing caused by UV exposure.

On the other hand, interior paints prioritize ease of cleaning and maintaining a fresh appearance over time. They offer high stain resistance and are specifically designed to endure frequent cleaning without losing their luster.

Moreover, interior paints emit lower levels of VOCs compared to exterior paints, promoting better indoor air quality.

Choosing the right type of paint for your project

When choosing the right type of paint for your project, consider the differences in performance between interior and exterior paints. Interior paint is designed to enhance indoor air quality, while exterior paint is tailored towards outdoor durability. Factors such as UV protection, weather resistance, and surface protection should be carefully considered before embarking on your painting project. Understanding these distinctions will help you select the most suitable paint for your specific needs, ensuring long-lasting and high-quality results.

Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside?

Yes, using exterior paint inside can lead to potential risks and downsides. However, there are exceptions to using exterior paint indoors that may be suitable for specific applications.

Potential risks and downsides

Using exterior paint indoors can result in higher VOC emissions, posing health hazards and impacting indoor air quality. The fumes emitted by exterior paints can persist for up to 72 hours, causing discomfort and potential health risks for occupants.

The use of exterior paint indoors could also lead to a shortened lifespan of the paint due to unsuitable conditions, including temperature resistance and UV protection inadequacy when compared to interior paint options.

Additionally, the cost difference between interior and exterior paints is notable, with exterior paints being more expensive due to their tailored formulas for outdoor durability.

Exceptions to using exterior paint indoors

Exterior paint should not be used indoors due to its higher VOC emissions, which can pose health risks. Using exterior paint on interior surfaces may result in hazardous fumes and may not adhere well, leading to a shorter lifespan for the paint.

Additionally, exterior paint is not designed for indoor use and does not provide the same level of protection against temperature changes or UV rays as interior paint products. Therefore, it is advisable to use only interior paint for indoor projects to ensure safety and longevity.

Outdoor surfaces also require specialized protection that only exterior paints can provide. Interior paints are tailored towards different requirements than those of outdoor areas and lack the necessary features to withstand environmental conditions.


Understanding the key differences between interior and exterior paint is crucial for property managers when selecting the right product for their projects. By acknowledging the distinct properties of resins, additives, and binders in each type of paint, you can ensure long-lasting and durable results.

Choosing the appropriate interior or exterior paint based on performance variations will help you achieve optimal outcomes. Considering potential risks associated with using exterior paint indoors highlights the significance of utilizing suitable products for specific surfaces.

Embracing this knowledge empowers property managers to make informed decisions that contribute to successful painting projects and prolonged surface protection. Contact PPD Painting for all your commercial painting needs today!


1. What is the main difference between interior and exterior paint?

Interior paint is designed for surfaces inside the home, while exterior paint is formulated to withstand outdoor conditions and weather elements.

2. Can I use interior paint for the exterior of my house?

No, it's not recommended to use interior paint for the exterior as it may not hold up against outdoor elements and can lead to premature peeling or fading.

3. Are there specific benefits of using exterior paint over interior paint?

Yes, exterior paint offers greater durability, UV resistance, and protection against moisture compared to interior paint.

4. How does temperature affect the choice between interior and exterior paints?

Temperature impacts drying time; therefore, choosing a suitable type based on whether you're painting indoors or outdoors is crucial.

5. Can I mix interior and exterior paints together for a project?

It's best to avoid mixing these types of paints as they are formulated differently to meet distinct environmental demands.

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