Understanding the Differences Between Interior and Exterior Paint

Do you remember that feeling of sheer excitement when you picked up the perfect shade of paint to spruce up your home?

Maybe it was a calming pastel blue for the bedroom or a vibrant yellow for the kitchen, a lick of paint can work wonders on our living spaces.

However, have you ever stood in the aisle of the paint store, wide-eyed, staring at the overwhelming multitude of options and wondering: ‘What’s the difference between interior and exterior paint? Can I use one for both?’

Well, fear not! This blog post is devoted to breaking down the fundamentals of these two paint siblings and revealing how they play their own unique part in making our homes look effortlessly marvelous inside and out.

So, roll up your sleeves and grab a cup of tea as we explore the fascinating world of interior and exterior paints together.

FeaturesInterior PaintExterior Paint
CompositionRigid resinsSoft resins
DurabilityLess durableHighly durable
ColorfastnessMinimal fadingFade-resistant
UV ResistanceLowHigh
SheenMatte, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-gloss, High glossMatte, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-gloss, High gloss
CleanabilityEasier to cleanLess resistant to stains
CostLower costHigher cost
Application MethodSimilarSimilar
Drying TimeFaster drying timeLonger drying time
Environmental ImpactTraditional paint may contain VOCsEco-friendly options available
Table: Comparison of Interior and Exterior Paints

Table of Contents

1. Composition

difference between interior and exterior paint

The composition of interior and exterior paints differs mainly due to their intended purpose. Both types of paints consist of basic ingredients, including pigments, solvents, resins, and additives.

However, the choice of resin and additives vary for each type. Exterior paints require softer resins for flexibility, allowing them to withstand exposure to moisture, temperature changes, and fading.

On the other hand, interior paints use more rigid resins, which are better suited to resist smearing and scuffing in a controlled environment. Ultimately, these differences in composition ensure that each paint type performs optimally for its specific use.

2. Durability

One of the primary differences between interior and exterior paint is their durability. Exterior paint is specifically formulated to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as extreme temperatures, UV rays, rain, and snow.

The resins used in exterior paints are made to be strong, tough, and resilient, resulting in a longer-lasting finish that can resist chipping, peeling, and fading.

On the other hand, interior paint is designed for use within the home and prioritizes ease of cleaning, smooth application, and a visually appealing finish.

Interior paints typically contain different resins that give them a softer texture, making them more susceptible to wear and damage compared to exterior paints.

While both types of paint have their specific applications and advantages, it is crucial to choose the appropriate paint for the task at hand to ensure the best possible result.

Also read the article about exterior painting after rain for additional information.

3. Colorfastness

One notable difference between interior and exterior paint is the level of colorfastness they each possess. Exterior paint, designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, is formulated to be fade-resistant when exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and high temperatures.

This ensures that the color will last longer on the exterior of your home, despite the challenging outdoor environment. On the other hand, interior paint typically does not need to be as resilient to fading.

This is because the indoor environment is more stable and protected, with minimal exposure to harsh weather elements that can affect the paint’s color. Nevertheless, it is still essential for interior paint to maintain its color vibrancy over time, preserving the aesthetics and appearance of your indoor spaces.

4. UV Resistance

One major difference between interior and exterior paints is their respective resistance to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Exterior paints are specifically formulated to withstand the harsh effects of sunlight and provide long-lasting protection against fading, chipping, and peeling.

They contain additives and resins specifically designed to be more flexible and resistant to UV rays, preventing the color from fading over time. In contrast, interior paints do not require the same level of UV resistance, as they are not exposed to direct sunlight as frequently or intensely.

Nevertheless, interior paints still offer a level of durability and protection against everyday wear and tear, but with less emphasis on UV resistance.

5. Sheen

Choosing the right paint sheen for your home can greatly impact both its aesthetic and durability. The most common paint sheens, ranging from least to most shiny, include matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss.

The key is to find the right sheen for different areas of your home, taking into consideration factors like visual appeal, functionality, and cleaning.

Matte or flat sheens work well in low-traffic areas such as home offices and adult bedrooms. They offer excellent coverage for wall imperfections but can be more challenging to clean without damaging the paint.

Eggshell sheens, named for the subtle shine of a natural eggshell, offer a soft luster and are more durable than matte finishes, making them perfect for dining and living rooms.

Satin sheen is ideal for high-traffic areas like hallways and family rooms, as it has a slight velvety shine and is easy to clean. However, be cautious of roller and brush strokes when applying satin paint, as they can be more visible.

Semi-gloss sheens are highly durable and best suited for kitchens and bathrooms, where resistance to moisture, heat, and spills is crucial.

Lastly, high gloss paint is an extremely robust and shiny finish, best reserved for non-wall surfaces like trim and cabinetry, as it accentuates any imperfections on walls.

By understanding the differences and choosing the appropriate sheen for each area, you can enjoy a beautiful and long-lasting paint job throughout your home.

6. Cleanability

One major difference between interior and exterior paints is their level of cleanability. Interior paints are designed to be more resistant to stains and easier to clean than their exterior counterparts.

This is because indoor spaces, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and children’s rooms, are more prone to dirt, stains and splashes.

In addition, some high-quality interior paints offer features such as dirt-repellent properties and easy-to-clean finishes, ensuring that your walls remain pristine for a longer period.

So, when choosing a paint for your home’s interior, it’s essential to consider the cleanability factor alongside other elements like color, finish and room usage.

7. Cost

When it comes to the cost of paint, there are a few factors to consider, including the type and quality of paint you choose. In general, exterior paint tends to be slightly more expensive than interior paint due to its specialized formulation to withstand harsh weather conditions and protect against UV rays, mildew, and fading.

Additionally, exterior paints contain additives that contribute to their durability and resistance, which can drive up the price. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that investing in high-quality paint can save you money in the long run by reducing the need for frequent repainting and maintenance.

8. Application Method

how to make interior paint into exterior paint

How to apply interior and exterior paint?

Preparing for the Paint Job:

Before starting any painting project, ensure that your working area is clean and free from dust or debris. For exterior surfaces, you might need to remove rust stains and apply a rust-inhibitive primer. For interior surfaces, you can use gentler cleaning methods, such as wiping with a clean cloth.

Choosing the Right Tools:

Selecting the appropriate tools is crucial for achieving good results. For interior painting, use a soft brush for trim work and a stiffer brush for cutting into walls. For exterior painting, you might need a roller or a paint sprayer.

Applying the Paint:

When applying interior paint, start at the top of the wall and work your way down. Use smooth, even strokes to avoid clumps or streaks. For exterior painting, start from the bottom of the wall and work your way up. This will help prevent dripping and ensure proper coverage.

Drying Time:

Allow the painted surface to dry completely before applying a second coat or touching up any areas. Drying time will depend on the paint type, humidity, and other factors, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Finishing Touches:

After the paint is dry, inspect the surface for any imperfections and touch up as needed. Now that you have successfully applied your paint, enjoy the fresh appearance and durability of your newly painted surface.

9. Drying Time

One of the key differences between interior and exterior paint is their drying time. Interior paints typically dry faster, allowing you to apply subsequent coats in a shorter amount of time.

In ideal conditions, most interior paints will be dry to the touch in about an hour, with latex paints drying even faster. On the other hand, exterior paints are designed to withstand varying weather conditions and temperature fluctuations, leading to longer drying times.

Oil-based exterior paint, for example, may take up to six to eight hours to become dry to the touch. It is important to consider these drying times when planning your painting project to achieve a flawless finish.

10. Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of interior and exterior paint varies depending on the type and manufacturer. Traditionally, paints contained harsh chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have negative effects on human health and the environment.

Due to increasing awareness and demand, more eco-friendly paint options with low or no VOCs have emerged. These environmentally-friendly formulas often use plant-based ingredients and natural materials, minimizing their impact on the planet.

Choose paints with certifications like Green Seal or GREENGUARD to ensure minimal environmental harm and improved air quality in your home.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.