can i use exterior paint inside the house

Regarding a do-it-yourself project, you will want to try saving resources as much as possible by using materials effectively. If there is some exterior paint left from outdoor projects, we all think of using it for painting the inside surfaces of the house. “Can you use exterior paint inside?” This question will pop up right away. You may hear some acquainted house owners using exterior paint for interior purposes, although they don’t know if it’s a good or bad idea. Let’s go through this topic today.

While it may seem economical to use what you already have, it’s essential to understand the differences between interior and exterior paints and the potential drawbacks and benefits of using exterior paint indoors. However, to quickly answer your question:

Can you use exterior paint inside?

Using exterior paint inside is possible but not recommended. Exterior paint has stuff that can be unhealthy to breathe in, can smell pretty strong, and might not look as nice on indoor walls. Using paints for inside spaces is better because they’re safer and make your walls look better. It might be okay to paint a little spot in a well-ventilated area, but it’s smarter to pick indoor paint for big jobs.

Below, we will dive deep into the differences between these 2 types of paints, the risks you should be aware of when using too much exterior paint indoors, and in what case you can do it.

Differences Between Exterior Paint and Interior Paint

We’ve made this infographic to summarize all the main points to shorten your read. Check it out:

Can I use exterior paint inside the house inforgraphic
Infographic by WG Painting Company.

Indoor paint is made to handle the usual bumps and cleaning that happen inside homes. It gives a nice, even look that works well on walls and ceilings. Plus, it has fewer smelly and potentially harmful chemicals than some outside paints. On the other hand, outdoor paint is designed to fight off tough things like sunlight, wetness, and big temperature changes. It’s got special stuff to stop mold and fungus from growing, but those things aren’t a big problem indoors. These extra things can make the paint have more chemical fumes that aren’t so good for the air you breathe.

Related Post: Ladder For Painting A 2-story House

Potential Risks of Using Exterior Paint Indoors

Here are a few risks of using exterior paint inside of your house that you should know in advance:

  1. Higher VOC Levels: Exterior paints can have higher VOC levels. When used indoors, where ventilation might be limited, these compounds can cause respiratory problems, headaches, and other health concerns. Always check the VOC levels before using any paint indoors.
  2. Odor: Due to the aforementioned higher VOC content, the smell from exterior paints can be more potent and longer-lasting than interior paints.
  3. Off-Gassing: Exterior paint can off-gas for longer periods, which might release potentially harmful chemicals into your indoor air for an extended time.
  4. Suboptimal Finish: While exterior paints are made to be tough, they might not provide the smooth finish you’d want for interior walls. They can also take longer to dry inside, which could prolong your project.
  5. Health Concerns: The beneficial additives for exterior use, like anti-fungal and anti-mildew agents, aren’t necessary indoors and could pose health risks over time.

When Might It Be Okay?

If you’re still contemplating using exterior paint indoors, consider these circumstances:

  1. Well-Ventilated Areas: Spaces with ample ventilation, such as a sunroom or indoor porch, might be more suitable for exterior paint than more enclosed rooms.
  2. Small Projects: If you’re painting a small piece of furniture or an area not in regular human contact, you might get away with using exterior paint. Still, think twice about using it on large wall surfaces.
  3. Always Test First: If you decide to go ahead, always test the paint in a small area first. Allow it to dry, and observe the finish, smell, and drying time before committing to a larger project.

Read more: How Dark Colored Paint Is Made.

See this video to get more tips:


Can you use exterior paint inside? Yes, but it’s only the second choice. Exterior paint is designed to withstand challenging outdoor conditions, while interior paint is suitable for indoor environments. Interior paints also have some practical benefits to home decoration. You can also apply exterior paint inside the house, but you should use it properly, exterior paint outside and interior paint inside the house.


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