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What Is the Difference Between Exterior and Interior Paint?

On the surface, interior and exterior paint don’t seem very different. However, because they’re designed to be used in different environments, they are different in more ways than one. In fact, you should not use exterior paint inside at all! If you’re curious about the differences between outdoor and indoor paint, here’s a look at five traits that set them apart.

They’re Made With Different Additives

At the heart of the difference between interior and exterior paints is their composition. Exterior paints are crafted with resins and additives designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, UV rays, and temperature changes, which ensure they resist fading and maintain their color and integrity over time. 

Interior paints, however, contain different properties, with resins that are softer, allowing for easier cleaning and sensitivity to indoor conditions. This fundamental difference in ingredients and formulation underlines why each type of paint should be used in its intended environment, highlighting the importance of choosing the right paint for your painting project.

Interiors Paints Weren’t Meant for the Outdoors

Interior paint is not meant for outdoor use because of its specific formulation. Designed to be used on indoor surfaces, most interior paints are made with materials that prioritize color retention and minimal odor. 

They lack the robust additives found in exterior paint products that protect against outdoor assault by elements such as rain, snow, and sun. When applied outdoors, an interior paint’s lack of UV protection and weather-resistant properties means it will quickly degrade, resulting in a paint job that neither lasts nor protects the exterior surfaces as intended.

Exterior Paints Aren’t Safe Inside

Conversely, using exterior paint indoors poses serious health and safety concerns. They’re formulated with higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and rigid resins to endure the rigors of outdoor exposure. 

This means that when used inside, the volatile organic compounds can compromise indoor air quality and require adequate ventilation, which is often not feasible in indoor settings. Moreover, the robust nature of exterior paint, while perfect for resisting the elements, can introduce unnecessary chemicals and odors into a home. It should go without saying, but this makes it an unsafe choice for interior spaces.

Interior Paint Can Be Easier to Maintain

Interior paint is usually easier to wash and maintain than outdoor paint. This trait is largely due to the specific binding resins and additives used in interior formulas, which are designed to resist staining and allow for more straightforward cleaning with just soap and water. 

Most interior paints come in varieties such as latex paint, which is known for its washable nature and low odor, making it ideal for high-traffic areas within the home. By contrast, exterior paints are made to adhere to rough surfaces and resist harsh conditions, which often means they require stronger solvents like mineral spirits for cleaning, underscoring the practicality of using interior paints for rooms and spaces meant for living.

Different Locations, Different Colors

Choosing between exterior and interior paint can extend beyond their physical properties. For example, the color choices available in each type are influenced by their application, with exterior paint often available in flat sheen exterior paint options that blend well with outdoor surroundings and resist glare from the sun. Interior paints, on the other hand, come in a variety of finishes, from matte to semi-gloss, catering to the different lighting conditions and design preferences inside a home. 

This variance reflects the many subtle differences between painting indoor surfaces versus outdoor surfaces, ensuring that whether it’s a brick wall outside or an interior wall, the paint not only performs well but also matches your desired look and feel of the space.

Whether You Need to Paint Exterior or Interior Surfaces, We’ve Got You Covered

At Noles Home Maintenance, we offer professional exterior and interior painting services for homeowners and businesses in and around Owensboro, KY. If you’d like to update the appearance of your property with a fresh paint job, call us today, and we’ll be happy to help!

Hand of worker painting on wood wall new house at construction site.

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