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Can I Use Interior Paint Outside?

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Many times when homeowners are renovating their homes, they encounter the large paint section at home improvement stores and get overwhelmed. And if your project is an outdoor one it causes even more questions to arise, like can you use interior paint outside? 

Interior paint can be used outdoors but it is not recommended because the paint will fade and deteriorate much faster. When interior paint is exposed to the elements it can easily wash away or crack. For these reasons, interior paint should not be used outdoors. 

You can’t just grab any interior paint and slap it on the walls of your porch or patio. There are special exterior paints that you should be using for this purpose. If you would like to learn more about how to choose the right type of interior paint for outside projects, read on!

Can You Use Interior Paint Outside?

Simply put, you should not use interior paint outside. Interior paint is not formulated to withstand changes in weather in the same way that exterior paint is formulated. 

The elements can be tough on interior paint, and they will quickly cause the paint to fade or chip. Interior paints also tend not to stick very well outside of a sheltered interior environment. In general, interior paints are much softer than exterior paints due to their lower viscosity.

The indoor paints lack the special additives of exterior paints. The additives in exterior paints help with all the following circumstances:

  • Mildew resistant
  • Crack and peel resistant
  • Resistant to dirt
  • UV protection
  • Water resistant

The interior paints are formulated for interior surfaces, not exterior ones. Although interior paint may be great in an interior space, the elements outside can quickly cause it to fade or chip.

What Happens If You Use Interior Paint Outdoors?

If you use indoor paints outside, you will likely find that they peel and chip. You may also notice some discoloration or fading as the interior paint is not made to withstand long exposure outside of a protected interior environment.

You should only use paint if it is specifically labeled for outdoor applications. If your exterior project requires longer-lasting results than what interior paints can provide you should opt for exterior paint. 

Choosing interior paints for outdoor use is an easy mistake to make, especially if you have interior paint leftover from a previous project and are choosing between indoor or outdoor options at your local hardware store. 

In some cases, interior paints can be used but it is not recommended by painting experts. If you can’t get the color you want in exterior paint for some reason, you can opt to use interior paint outdoors. 

However, if you use interior paint outdoors you will want to seal it with one to two coats of a clear exterior paint sealant. This will ensure the interior paint is protected and you will not be rushing back any time soon to repaint. 

The only time you should use interior paint on an exterior surface is if your home happens to have interior walls that are exposed outside.

What to Do If the Interior Paint Used Outdoors Begins to Deteriorate? 

If you accidentally used interior paint outdoors and you notice it is peeling or fading it is time to fix it. The interior paint in question will need to be removed. 

It is important not to try and touch up interior paint outside because the new coat of interior paint you applied will continue to deteriorate in the elements. 

The following are three simple steps you can take to fix the interior paint issues:

  • Sand down the area
  • Prime the area with exterior paint primer
  • Re-paint the area with a paint designed for exterior use

After you remove the interior paint and prime the area with exterior primer you will need to re-paint it with high-quality exterior paint. 

It is important not to use interior paint on your outdoor furniture because of its quick deterioration from:

  • Sun exposure
  • Rain
  • Wind

If this happens you will have an expensive or labor intensive project ahead of you trying to fix interior paint used outside that has begun deteriorating.

What Is the Difference Between Interior and Exterior Paint?

The difference between interior and exterior paint is the ingredients. Most interior paint is latex while most exterior paint is acrylic.

Exterior paints are formulated with a variety of additives, so they can adhere to different surfaces in various weather conditions to handle the following:

  • Sun exposure
  • Temperature fluctuations throughout the seasons
  • Rain, sleet, and snow exposure
  • Fading
  • Chipping
  • Peeling

Since interior walls typically do not deal with the same conditions as exterior walls, interior paint is much less likely to chip or fade on interior walls. 

Can You Use Exterior Paint Indoors?

You should never use exterior paint indoors. This is because exterior paint can give off toxic fumes and when used outdoors, they do not impact your health. But if you were to use exterior paint inside your home those toxic fumes have nowhere to go, and you will end up breathing them in. 

This is not something you want to risk. Take the proper precautions and only use exterior paint on exterior surfaces. 

In Summary: Do Not Use Interior Paint Outdoors

When you paint on any surface outdoors, you want to make sure that the paint is designed for use outside. Exterior paint has a special additive in it that allows it to be used outdoors without issue. 

If you try using interior paint outside, not only will it fade faster but may peel and need to be repainted much faster than if you started with exterior paint. Though exterior paint usually costs more, it is worth the extra money.

If you’re wondering about other outdoor painting articles, check out our can you paint pressure treated wood, can you paint outdoor cushions or how to paint a fence

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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