difference between interior and exterior paint

Interior vs Exterior Paint 2024 – Difference You Need to Know

Most of us want to use exterior paint inside and vice versa. To do this one must know what the difference between interior and exterior paint is. Here I have provided a complete guide that can help you to know which paint is good to use at a specific place to avoid any distortion or fading issues in colors.

 There are multiple types of paints, including exterior paint and interior paint. These paints have their functions and usage. Overall exterior paint is water resistant and is used to handle microorganisms to hinder growth. On the other hand, interior paint is used to resist color fading and to clean walls, windows, and other materials. 

Difference between interior and exterior paint
Difference between interior and exterior paint

In this post, I provided complete information on exterior vs. interior paint. Still, firstly, you need to know the basic concepts of colors.

Interior vs Exterior Paint – The Basics

It’s essential to know the basics of exterior and interior paints before knowing the depth difference. Everyone knows that interior paint is used inside places, including rooms, indoor furniture, offices, kitchens, washrooms, and other areas. The ingredients of both of these paints are different; based on these; I differentiate them in different sections.

Difference between interior and exterior paint
Difference between interior and exterior paint

Interior paints are primarily water-based paints, while exterior paints are oil-based. Exterior paints are made to cope with external environmental conditions, including weather, rainy, and industrial environments. At the same time, interior paint helps clean and inhibit the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. Both of these paints are, however, highly resistant to microorganisms.

What is Interior Paint- A Complete Overview

As the name represents, it is used on indoor surfaces. When I compare it with the exterior paint, it is less durable and is not waterproof enough. Also, it has a low volatile value. It has more sunlight and has common issues when it comes to knowing about cracking and fading colors. It means you don’t need to worry about repainting shortly, but you can do it when you feel any crack issues.

What is the difference between interior and exterior paint
What is the difference between interior and exterior paint

These are mostly made up of organic pigments, so keep these paints away from direct sunlight. Otherwise, you can face heavy loss and danger as these paints release toxic chemicals and compounds when sunlight is there.

What is Exterior Paint- A Short Overview

Exterior paint is those which are more waterproof as compared to indoor paint. These are oil-based and water-resistant. Moreover, they can face sunlight without damage and long-term fading issues. These are durable but require repainting after a specific time.

interior vs exterior paint
interior vs exterior paint

These are made up of resins, oils, and other additives different from the interior paint. Latex and acrylic paints are the best examples. These paints quickly dry up and have less glossing time than interior paint.

Difference between Exterior and Interior Paint in Detail

After a short overview and basics, there is a complete difference between interior and exterior paint. Let’s know these differences one by one, and in the end, you can better understand which one is better for you based on nature and the place where you want to use paint.

interior vs exterior paint
interior vs exterior paint

Now here is the complete detail of interior vs exterior paint!

1. Type of Binding Resins

It’s not easy to understand the type of binding resin in a specific paint, so I highly recommend knowing and then using the one accordingly. Exterior paint uses acrylic substances for critical resin purposes. This is because these acrylic substances are more resistant to rain and other chemicals from sunlight exposure or vehicles. Acrylic binding makes it easy to connect with the surface and works for a long time.

While in interior paints, acrylic does not work better. So, epoxy and silicone paints are used there as an alternative compound. These are not resistant to water and sunlight exposure, so keep them away from water and direct sunlight.

2. Pigments

Another critical factor that makes the interior and exterior paint different is using pigments while preparing. Pigments are the essential components of any paint which gives them different colors.

Interior paints are made up of nontoxic organic pigments and do not even create dangerous substances. There is no danger of foul-smelling or breathing issues.

Exterior paint, on the other hand, uses nonorganic substances, pigments, and other substances, due to which it’s not safe to breathe when these are fresh on a surface. A mask and other completely safe clothing for a painter are recommended while applying exterior paint. These can create dangerous fumes and odors, so keep away from them, especially if they are not thoroughly dried. These are durable, however.

3. Different Additives

Interior exterior paint additives are not easy to know. Different additives are used in these paints to make them fit for painting. Interior paints don’t have to face harmful substances, sunlight chemicals, and heavy weather conditions, so these are free of additives.

In my experience, Exterior paints have to face different environmental conditions, so these are prepared using heavy additives that may be toxic to human health upon breathing or direct touch. Mildecides are the primary substances used in exterior paints to protect them from algae, bacteria, fungi, and other toxic organisms. On the other hand, they can create color fading and cracking issues.

Interior vs Exterior Paint

4. Weather Resistance

Interior paints are less weather resistant as they don’t face rain, high temperatures, other chemicals, or sun rays. At the same time, exterior paints are highly weather resistant as they face direct sunlight, rain, and other toxic substances.

5. Durability

As I mentioned above, exterior paints are highly durable due to the usage of nonorganic pigments and additives which make them resistant to the sun, organisms, and other dangerous substances.

Their durability value is mainly due to the use of complex and burdensome substances that keep the organism away. Also, the paint does not easily bind when in contact with any other human, fly, wall, or surface once dried.

 Interior paints are also durable, but these are less than exterior paints. 

6. Resistance to Physical Damage

When interior paint is touched with complex substances, it quickly removes the surface of the old paint layer. Exterior paints do not easily chip off upon hitting with a hard object. Try to avoid hitting the interior paint with a hard thing which may be a ball, furniture, or any other surface.

7. Levels of VOCs

It is about how many volatile organic compounds they release. Interior paints have an advantage as they have meager VOC value, so breathing here is somehow safe. Exterior paint has a high VOC value which may lead to serious health issues. Specifically, when these are wet, you should wear a mask. Avoid breathing or going to areas where exterior paints are still wet.

8. Adhesion

Interior paints have low adhesion power because they don’t use many adhesive compounds. On the other hand, the exterior paint has high sticky values and solid adhesive forces. Exterior paint doesn’t need much care once applied to the surface as it easily binds with the character.

what is the difference between interior and exterior paint
what is the difference between interior and exterior paint

9. Dry Time

Overall, oil-based paints take more time to dry, no matter what quick dry method you use. Oil-based paints are mostly exterior paints, which means outdoor paints take more time to dry.

Interior paints are oil-based paints, so these have a long dry time. You can use different methods to dry the paint faster, including a heat releaser and a fast fan.

10. Fade Resistance

Fade resistance is the ability of paint to withstand sunlight and fade up the color. Exterior paints have nonorganic resin and other additives, the most excellent resistive substances, sunlight, or any other chemical.

So, exterior paints are highly resistant to any substance that may cause fading and crackling of colors and pigments found in paint. Interior paint is less fade resistive compared to exterior paint. Still, these are durable. However, these cannot withstand sunlight and other dangerous compounds.

Interior vs Exterior Paint

11. Temperature Resistance

Interior paints are not able enough to face high-temperature zones. It’s made for indoor usage, so the manufacturers don’t add the compounds, making them highly resistant to high and low temperatures.

On the other hand, exterior paints have high additives and compounds, making them resist cold and hot temperatures. These can withstand more than 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit temperature values opposing the interior paint values.

 Note: 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature to paint interior. 

12. Moisture Resistance

Exterior paints are more moisture resistant because they face high and low water quantity values. Rain, clouds, or a wet environment don’t significantly affect them.

Interior paints are not as water and moisture-resistant as exterior paints are. These are only resistive to a small amount of water used for washing them, and that too with many protective measures.

13. Mildew Prevention

Mildewcides are the significant substances that are added to paint to make them resistive against mildew. These substances are not suitable for human and organism health. They are found in exterior paints due to the availability of molds, bacteria, and other substances on the outside surface.

Interior paints are less resistant to molds and other organisms. The reason is that fewer microorganisms are attacking the inside surfaces. Moreover, there is human residence on the inside, due to which the use of mildewcides is highly discouraged in the interior paint manufacturing process.

interior vs exterior paint
interior vs exterior paint

14. Cost

There are significant cost differences between both of these paints. Exterior paints have a high cost comparatively as they use more additives and compounds and have properties that make them highly resistant to anything that can directly fade them.

Interior combinations are also costly because of the organic compounds used in them. However, these are less costly as compared to the exterior paint.

 Note: If you want to know if you can use a specific at the other surface, read our complete guide here! 

  • Can you use exterior paint inside
  • Can you use interior paint outside

I highly recommend using paint specifically for the purpose for which it is made. Don’t confuse and intermix the concept; if you have any confusion, feel free to ask anytime.

Some Top Outdoor Paints

  • Benjamin Moore Ben Soft Gloss Finish
  • Behr Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco, and Brick Exterior Paint
  • Zinsser WaterTite LX Low VOC Mold and Mildew-Proof Water-Based Waterproofing Paint
  • Rust-Oleum Door Paint

Some Top Indoor Paint

  • BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Pure White
  • Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint
  • Clare Wall Paint
  • Backdrop Standard Finish

Interior vs Exterior Paint – Chart Comparison

FactorsExterior PaintInterior Paint
Physical Damage ResistanceHigh resistantLow resistance
VOCs LevelsNormalLow
Binding ResinsAcrylicEpoxy, Silicone
Resistance to TemperatureHigh ResistanceLow Resistance
Resistance to MoistureHigh ResistanceLow Resistance
Mildew PreventionYesNo
Fade ResistanceResists to sun fadingNone
Anti-fade protection (UV)YesNo
CleanlinessSpray cleanScrub clean
Scuffing and Scratches ResistanceYesYes

Conclusion- Difference between Interior and Exterior Paint

Hence, the answer to the question of what the is difference between interior and exterior paint is now clear. Still, if you are confused, comment below, and I will answer. Use the paints for which these are manufactured. Otherwise, you should be ready to face grave danger issues. For example, suppose you are using exterior paint on interior walls. In that case, the results are not good, and you will see the color fading and cracking issues quickly. Similarly, if you use exterior paint inside, you will face hazardous fumes and foul smells in your home.

The endpoint is to avoid using the paints besides the surface these are made for. If you need interior or exterior paint, check our list of top brands and decide on the affordable ones.

You can also check our article based on Exterior Interior Painting ideas!