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The Important Differences Between Interior and Exterior Paint

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Exterior Painting, Interior Painting

Our team of Portland house painters has been serving the greater Portland area for over 25 years now and we have heard almost every question about paint you can imagine. In most cases, we know the answers and can help customers find the best products for the job. Recently I got a question, “what are the differences between interior and exterior paint?” This was a great question and I actually didn’t have a great answer, so I had to get some help on this one. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to the Differences Between Interior and Exterior Paint

Interior and exterior paint serve different purposes. Exterior paint needs to resist the damaging effects of weather and be able to move and stretch with siding materials. Our climate in the Northwest is hard on exterior paint between the rain and hot summer sun. On the other hand, interior paint needs to resist dirt and oil from hand and fingerprints, moisture in bathrooms, other stains, and repeated washings in kitchens. Different formulations and ingredients in the two types of paint help them do their respective jobs.

Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside?

Yes BUT… interior paints should be low in odor, have minimal splatter and dripping when brushing and rolling, and have a hard, durable film to withstand frequent washing. Exterior paints aren’t designed for these characteristics so it may not be the best idea. They are often softer than top-quality interior paints and don’t hold up as well to frequent washing. Exterior paints are softer so they can be flexible to move with the exterior siding as temps change. They are less resistant to household stains like ketchup, wine, etc. They also tend to be less splatter-resistant and usually have a higher odor than interior paint.

Can You Use Interior Paint Outside?

We don’t recommend using interior paints on the exterior as interior paints often don’t have the required mold and mildew inhibitors for exterior applications. They are not designed to withstand driving rain, high UV exposure, or extreme temperature ranges like exterior paints are. Technically, you can use them outside but they will fail much faster than exterior paint, as soon as the weather breaks it down.

The Biggest Differences Between Interior Vs Exterior Paint

Exterior paint is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and be flexible enough to move with the siding as it expands and contracts. Interior paint is designed for low odor and to be splatter resistant and should be able to withstand cleaning.

Can You Mix Interior and Exterior Paint?

You can do this, but we highly recommend you would only use it on the interior of your home and not the exterior as it will not hold up on the exterior.

Local Portland Area Painters You Can Trust

This was a great question as most homeowners would not know why certain paints are made for specific applications. Feel free to ask your painter about the best products for each application. At Absolute Painting, we are always happy to talk about paint and how to make it work and last a long time!

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