Can I Use Interior Paint for Exterior Surfaces?

If you are repainting your house or building, you should know that there are two types of paint for use in the interior and exterior of a home. Interior paints tend to have low bonds to allow them to be easily removed when necessary, while exterior paints tend to have high bond strengths so if applied they will not wash off or flake away.

But what if you want a particular color on an exterior surface but do not like the one that is recommended? Is it okay to mix up your own custom formula and apply it? The answer may surprise you…it depends.

In some ways, yes that can be done; however, you also need to consider how your decision might affect the safety of your family or others living with you.

The Differences Between Interior & Exterior Paints

There are a number of differences between interior and exterior paints, the most common being durability. The strong bonds that hold an exterior paint together mean that it will take much longer for an object to appear dirty than with an interior paint. That is why many people choose to use only exterior paints when painting a home. It may be more expensive, but it’s worth it in order to keep from repainting every few years!

Moving back to the question at hand: can interior paint be used on surfaces outside? Well, yes…and no. If you’re planning on painting children’s toys or something else not likely to experience much abuse, then there should not be a problem using interior paint. However, if you have a patio that is used frequently or are painting something outside the home such as a shed, fence, or vehicle, then it’s best to use exterior paint.

If interior paint has been applied to an object that will see heavy usage and lots of buildup of grime, dirt, and other things in the environment (like a patio), then there is no guarantee that the original color will still be visible long after it was painted. That can lead to very frustrating situations when new owners purchase homes or structures where someone else went out on a cheap limb with their choice in paints.

In addition to durability concerns raised by using interior paints for surfaces that are usually exterior-only, we should also consider how they adversely affect the safety of others. It is assumed that an exterior paint will adhere tightly to a surface so as to reduce how often it needs to be painted; however, if you use interior paints on your home’s exterior surfaces then there is no way for that paint to stick strongly enough…and at any given moment something could come loose and fall off by accident!

So, What Should I Do?

Some people may not mind the fact that their exterior walls are coming apart due to poor paint quality or have tiny bits of brick peeking through where they had nailed or attached something. If this describes your situation (at least in regards the actual appearance), then it wouldn’t really matter if doing something like using interior paints outside were possible because you are happy with the outcome anyway.

But what if you are not satisfied? Or someone who lives near you is sick of having to repair their walls or vehicles and wants something done about it? If you are in that case, then call a painter…or better yet call several local companies and ask them about their painting procedures. You may be surprised by how clearly they will explain the steps they have taken when preparing surfaces prior to beginning work. In fact, some companies will even show pictures of each surface they prepare for painting so all aspects can be reviewed beforehand!

So, before attempting something like using interior paints on exterior surfaces—if you do choose to do it—then make sure that the paint layers will have enough time to fully cure; otherwise, you may end up with a sticky mess that will need to be scraped off.

Which paint is better: Exterior or Interior?

There are many exterior paints designed specifically for use on walls and other surfaces exposed to the outdoors in lieu of high quality interior paints. These are durable, long lasting coats that withstand being bumped against or rubbed by hands without flaking or cracking. If they do begin to wear over time, it won’t appear as bad as something painted with an interior product—and since those paints have already been mixed together so thoroughly (with no added substances), there is nothing extra holding them together. So, just remember what’s best if you’re planning on painting outside: go with the one made for the job.

What Are Some of the Disadvantages

A disadvantage of using exterior paint indoors is that you will not get the lifetime from each application because they were designed specifically for external surfaces (which include but are not limited to walls, windows, and doors). Also, if you do choose to use them inside your home then it is recommended that you place a second coat after the first one thoroughly dries—and let’s be honest…who likes to run up and down stairs with more paint while they wait for the first coat to dry?

The real disadvantage of using interior paints on exterior surfaces stems from how they will look when new owners purchase your structure or vehicle. You may think that there are no worries about this since whoever bought the building from you would have a contract in place stating what needs to be done before hand; but what about when someone buys a car whose owner was selling because he didn’t know that interior paint is not meant for exterior use? And even if the seller was aware of that, it’s still possible for some small part of your work to fall off at any given moment—so who will be liable?

Questions To Ask Before

So, before attempting to use interior paint on exterior surfaces, ask yourself the following questions:

  1.  Is my work guaranteed for a lifetime?
  2.  What will happen if some of the paint flakes or wears away?
  3.  Will I still have a warranty even after I’ve made changes to the property’s original structure (and is that okay with me)?
  4.  Why do other companies use exterior paints when painting homes and not interior paints like what I’m considering using?
  5. Have any of those people who used exterior paints ever had problems later on down the road from doing so?
  6. Could this create any potential liability issues in terms of how it will look later on down the road though no fault of my own

Should I Try Interior Paint Exterior Surfaces?

The short answer is no; however, if you decide to do so then make sure that you don’t have a place where people will be standing or walking for long periods of time and apply two coats as soon as the first one dries. Also keep in mind that using interior paints outside requires patience—especially when waiting between each coat! Also, if you do decide to, be sure to read the sections of your paint’s label that indicate what surfaces it can and cannot be applied to. Exterior paints will have a list of products they are incompatible with while interior paints include warnings about which substances made for outside use should not be used inside. There are many other factors we could go into (such as painting in inclement weather), but these two things are vital when deciding whether or not you want to utilize interior paints on exterior surfaces—and will likely save you money by avoiding unnecessary repainting!


Just remember, the best thing you can do if things aren’t going quite right is to call an actual…and qualified painter **HINT Ethereal Painters can help! Call us at 604-505-2745 for your FREE estimate! Or fill out our free estimate form and we’ll be in touch.