Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside

Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside?

Do you wonder if exterior paint is a good solution for your high-humidity bathroom? Or maybe, you have exterior paint leftover, and it’s the perfect color for your living room. 

In either scenario, you should not use exterior paint in the house.

The VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in exterior paint are much harsher than those in interior paint – even after the paint is dry. These VOCs put off a gas that’s harmful to breathe in.

In addition, exterior paint has additives like mildewcide and resins that make it unsafe for indoor use.

Here’s what else you should know.

Using Interior Paint Versus Exterior Paint Inside

While all paints consist of four main components (base, pigment, additives, and binder), the actual makeup of interior versus exterior paint is quite different.

Interior Paint

interior paint

Most of today’s interior paint is water-based acrylic or latex. This paint is the perfect consistency for coating drywall but is much thinner than exterior paint.

Interior paint has low or no VOCs. VOCs are volatile organic compounds – solvents that help the paint go from the can to the wall.

As VOCs dry, they release gas into the air. Since interior paint has such low VOCs, they generally aren’t harmful.

Aside from the low chemicals, interior paint has more indoor durability than exterior paint. It stands up to furniture and everyday wear much better than exterior options.

Exterior Paint

exterior paint

Exterior paint has much higher VOCs. This is why you’ll sometimes see house painters wearing respirator masks  – especially if they’re using a paint sprayer.

The higher VOCs in exterior paint don’t generally pose a health risk outdoors. However, depending on the paint, it may release VOCs long after it’s dry, which is a strong reason not to use it in your home.

Exterior paint also has different additives than interior paint. For example, it has mildewcides, fungicides, UV blockers, and more resin.

The result is paint that will withstand harsh weather conditions, resist mildew, and flex in extreme temperatures. But because of the makeup, when applied to interiors, the chemical fumes can cause health problems like asthma, sinusitis, and more.

Can You Use Exterior Paint in the Bathroom?

Exterior Paint in the Bathroom

It makes sense that exterior paint would work in the bathroom. After all, it’s weather-resistant and can withstand rain and extreme temperature fluctuations.

But, as logical as it may seem, you shouldn’t use exterior paint in your bathroom.

The chemical composition of exterior paint makes it unsuitable to use anywhere in your home – especially if you have family members who suffer from respiratory issues or weak immune systems. 

The better solution for a bathroom is to use moisture-resistant drywall and interior latex paint in a satin or semigloss finish.

Can You Use Exterior Paint in the Garage?

Exterior Paint in the Garage

Interior latex paint is best suited for a garage. It will be more scuff and stain resistant and won’t emit harmful chemicals into the air.

Even if your garage is well-ventilated, it’s still better to go with interior paint.

Final Thoughts

While you may want to use exterior paint indoors, you shouldn’t. The formulation for exterior paint is quite different from interior paint.

Not only does it emit toxic fumes, but it doesn’t stand up to scuffs as well.

If you’re working on interior walls, always use interior paint.