If you’ve ever got sick of redecorating the same interior wall over and over again due to dirty hands, you may get to thinking… what if I use exterior paint, indoors?
Well, before you do, it is probably a good thing that you’ve decided to do a little research first.
Exterior paint is naturally tougher against the forces of nature.
Rain? Not a problem. Heat? Also not a problem. Wind… storm… snow… you name it. Nothing will beat through it.
Not too far back in time, regular coatings were used on the outsides of homes. But homeowners were getting fed up with the constant damage and renovations. The weather can create chaos on a home if the right pain isn’t used.
The sun can fade the color of regular coatings. Rain and snow can build up moisture leading to peeling, cracking, mildew, and mold.
So, outdoor paint was amplified with a weatherproofing, color-lasting combination to make it last. Today, an average outdoor coating contains a recipe that can withstand all weathering and discoloring issues for a minimum of 10 years to an entire lifetime.
Can you use exterior paint inside of your home?
Well, for many people, using exterior paint indoors would seem like the natural solution to these common issues, and whilst it can be done, there are some quite serious considerations you need to take into account.
Considering bathrooms are prone to the pressures of humidity and moisture every day, can you use exterior paint in a bathroom seems like a fair question. Built up moisture in the bathroom can lead to wall damage – and even worse…
Mold and mildew in the walls.
This can happen without proper ventilation (lack of a window in the bathroom, or not using a bathroom fan), using outdoor paint inside would prevent these issues…
However, you have to be aware of the possible risks in using exterior paint indoors.
Using it on the inside of your home is guaranteed to be more durable, and able to withstand the everyday wear and tear living at home will cause.
On the other hand, there are precautions that must be considered as it can be vert harmful if not used correctly.
The most serious risk factor in using outdoor paint is fumes.
Paint fumes, otherwise known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) is the main active chemical in outdoor coatings and can be extremely harmful if breathed in. This is far more likely when using an electric paint sprayer as it is released into the area as a mist, rather than applied directly to the wall.
Unfortunately, this can’t be helped, it’s just the way sprayers work.
The purpose of VOC is to hold the pigment in the paint and to bind it to the surface it is attached to. So the quality and purpose of using an outdoor coating depend on this potentially harmful component.
These fumes from VOC are not only bad for the environment, but they can be dangerous if inhaled by humans and animals. A few common symptoms of VOC inhalation can include lightheadedness, headaches, and nausea.
These pain fumes can invade an entire home (and even a whole neighborhood as you may have noticed before).
People with weaker immune systems are more at risk to VOC’s harmful effects and may suffer from harmful respiratory effects. So if you’re wondering, can I use exterior paint inside, proper precautions need to be in place when using it, illnesses can even worsen to cancers and other life-threatening illnesses.
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Two tips on how you can prevent the harmful side effects of paint fumes
1. Make sure your area is properly ventilated
The number one risk factor in using outdoor paints is lack of ventilation. If the area you are working in is enclosed or lacks proper ventilation, then do not proceed with the project. The same goes for painting interior walls with regular emulsions and should be part of your preparation process, not left until after the job is complete.
Only if you are able to properly ventilate the area using multiple fans, open windows and doors, and breathing apparatuses, should you consider proceeding with using exterior paints indoors.
So can exterior paint be used inside? Yes, but VERY carefully.
Also, it’s important to note that you should always keep the lid sealed as fumes can easily escape causing more harm.
Once it dries, more fumes are also released into the air, so make sure you allow for quite a bit of time to ventilate the area after the job is done.
2. Pick the right type paint
Latex with a water-based formula are made naturally with smaller amounts of VOC. On the other hand, oil-based coatings carry much higher levels of VOC.
Do research on the right type for your home and find out beforehand how strong the VOC level is by asking an expert at your local store, and checking the details online of what you are considering using.
So, is it okay to use exterior paint inside?
When it comes to picking the right coating for the interior of your home, it can be much less of a headache in the long run by using a tougher, weatherproof paint.
However, the fumes from doing so can cause you and your family serious harm if you don’t take the proper precautions beforehand.
Dangerous paint fumes can last for as long as six months in your home so it is crucial that you take the right steps in protecting yourself and your family before considering using exterior paint on the inside of your home.
People Also Ask…
Whilst not directly related, I found people were also asking Google for answers for these questions, so I thought I’d answer.
What’s the difference between interior and exterior paint?
The main difference between interior and exterior paint is the chemical compounds at its core. Indoor paints are designed to withstand scrubbing and cleaning, whereas exterior paint is designed to be waterproof, fight sun, mold and mildew.
Whilst visually they appear similar, the purpose of each one is very different.
Can I use exterior paint in my bathroom?
Can I use exterior paint in my bathroom? Physically, yes, but you shouldn’t!! Various fungicides and UV protective chemicals are added to exterior paints to make them more resistant to the elements. Unfortunately, most of these are not approved for indoor use, and for good reason. THEY’RE DANGEROUS!
We would never actively recommend using exterior paint in any way other than the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Should I use interior or exterior paint in my garage?
In the same way you shouldn’t use exterior paints in your home, you shouldn’t be using exterior paints in your garage either. Unless your garage is open plan, stick to interior paint for the walls and resin paint for the floors.
Can you use exterior paint on furniture?
Yes, you can use exterior paint on furniture but only if it’s going to be kept outside. Exterior paint often smells for much longer than interior paints and for that reason it’s best to stick to paints that are safe to be in your home.
I need to paint my mother-in-law’s bathroom ceiling above her bathtub, roughly 3’ x 6’ area. I recently bought some satin latex exterior paint for a little project on the exterior of my house, made by Pittsburg paints. Is this safe to use for her little project?
My husband accidentally painted a room in our house with exterior paint. How can we best resolve this problem since apparently we are being exposed to much more toxic chemicals?
If the paint is still fresh, it’s probably best to stay out the room for 24 hours and let it FULLY air. Open windows, get fans, anything you can do to push the air outside.
Once it’s dry it’s not really a problem, it’s during the application and drying phase that’s the issue.
I’m not a doctor by any means, so if it was done last week and too late I would check with a healthcare professional if you feel any weird symptoms. I’ve never experienced any myself, however.
All the best and good luck!!
I was told at Lowes I could use exterior paint for the inside. So I painted a bathroom vanity with it. Now I am reading about fumes being an issue. I painted this outside the home. Should I be concerned. If yes do I have to remove the paint and start over or can I just repaint with an interior paint? or do I need to prep surface some way before recoating with interior paint. Thanks for any response.
Hi Carol, once the paint is dry it’s fine, it’s just the painting process that releases the fumes (as with all paints). I would leave it outside for 2-3 days if you can, or in a garage to let the paint fully dry.
Once it’s dry, smell it and make sure it’s more or less odorless, if so, you should be fine 🙂
I’m getting mixed signals here I need to paint my living room and kitchen I have 2 five gallon buckets of exterior paint can I use them on the living room and kitchen or not? Please text or call me at +13********* my name is taylor thank u
Hi Taylor, if you have the choice, it’s best not to, except in rare cases like a bathroom as it can be worth the extra effort to prevent damp and mold on the walls.
I have accidentally painted a large office area with exterior paint and reading that this may be harmful even after it’s dried can I just put a coat on interior paint over the top to solve the problem, it’s white paint
Hi Steve, as it’s commercial work and not worth the risk, I’d have a chat with the paint manufacturer that you used, they can advise best on what’s in the paint and the results of their safety tests.
Every paint is extremely different in the chemicals used, so it’s impossible to know 100% unfortunately.
Best of luck and hope they give you the all clear!
Hello I went to Home Depot and told them I was spraying my basement ceiling they told me to use Gliddens flat base 3 exterior paint witch I had mixed black so after the job was done I realized I missed some spots that I could touch up with a brush so fast forward a couple days I’m in Lowe’s and asked them if they had a similar paint to match when i was told no way should they have told me to use an exterior paint to go back and complain so my question to you is do I need to repaint this basement ceiling in a non exterior paint how harmful is this ? Thanks for your time
It’s an extremely grey area in terms of what people are allowed to recommend due to health and safety.
We can never been seen to be recommending using exterior paints indoors because the odor is toxic and quite simply, it’s just not a sensible thing to do. With that said, a lot of people do it without issues. If there is no odor hanging in the air, you’ll most likely be fine at this stage, but that’s just my opinion and not sound medical advice.
The issue comes from the odor of the paint during the application and drying phase, if you’ve already passed both of these then there’s likely little point in re-painting it, what is considered the most harmful stage has likely already passed. Once it’s fully dry and cured (generally after a week or so, it’s no different than normal paint).
Again, this is my opinion and not professional advice. You’d have to speak to the paint manufacturers to find out what chemicals are in the paint in order to make an informed decision on whether you need to repaint or not.
Sorry I can’t give you a solid yes/no answer, but the truth is, it varies.
Need to paint window trim in an old church
Goes up twenty five feet . Always either hot from sun or cold all winter
Basic white should I use interior or exterior because of weathering
And can I paint over with interior semi gloss if it looks to flat ?
I am wanting to paint my kitchen cabinets in a mobile home. I have painted cabinets in my previous stick frame home (much nicer cabinets) and wound up with them getting scratched up fairly quickly (kids bumping the chairs into them). I don;t want to take all the time to paint only to have them look terrible due to chipping or scratches. What type of paint would be best for this? I was thinking exterior paint due to the durability of it and I think the previous owner may have painted the bathroom vanity and cabinets with the same paint from the exterior and they are holding up great. Thanks in advance
You could potentially use outdoor paint, but make sure you leave it outside for a few days if you do (we still don’t recommend it, especially with kids around).
No paint is, unfortunately, scratchproof without a top coating. You’d need to apply a lacquer (potentially several layers of it) to make the cabinets stand up to more bashing around. It’s not always ideal as you’ll end up with a shiny finish which you may not want, but it’s the only way to properly protect paint coating.
If you do go with exterior paint, please make sure you let it air until it has no odor. And if you notice an odor once installed, take it back outside and leave it for a few more days.
Sorry I can’t be more specific, but I hope this helps!
I’ve just painted the inside of my shed with cuprinol outdoor paint using a spray gun.
I had a mask on but it wasn’t ait tight as you can’t buy those now and the door was open. I’m worried about the amount of fumes I inhaled. I only did 3 walls but I could see a small amount paint up my nose and back of throat.
Have I made a big mistake?
Many thanks, in a slight panic
Firstly let me start off with, I’m not a doctor so please take this as non-medical advice.
The most dangerous part of exterior paint is the VOCs in it. When painting the exterior of your home, it’s still likely you’re exposed to a certain percentage of this, especially if used over several days.
Depending on the size of your shed, the amount of time it took to paint and assuming you don’t spend much time in it till it’s fully aired a dried (likely a week or so), I wouldn’t have thought there’d be a huge risk for limited exposure. If it was so dangerous just an hour of exposure was fatal they probably wouldn’t sell it to the general public (this page gets overs 200 visitors a day, most have likely done the exact same thing as you).
With that said, it’s always best to get yourself checked out by a professional if you feel concerned. Any headaches, dizziness, and nausea are classic symptoms.
Hope this helps in some way :/
Trying to redo my kitchen cabinets but the paint seems to be so oily it’s exterior paint …. should I not use outdoor paints on the inside please help I’m in a mess 🙁
No, if you’ve still got the opportunity to not use it (most people have already completely finished the work by the time they comment).
You can just about get away with exterior paint on walls as they absorb in much better, but you’ve got little to no hope on kitchen cabinets. I’d recommend you let what you’ve done dry, then sand it down and start again with the proper paint/stain for wood (or whatever material you’re painting).
Hi there, this is very useful information. I have used Ronseal garden paint to paint some fitted wardrobes and they have come out beautifully. However, after reading your blog I’m worried about the fumes. The room is being decorated fir my daughter who is coming home from college in two weeks time. I got the idea from a YouTube channel of a kitchen being painted with outdoor pain. Should I repaint it with indoor paint? I’m really worried now?
I don’t want to give out professional medical advice here (and please don’t take the following as such), but as long as there is no odor I would think it would be fine. People do it all the time, but waiting for it to fully cure is the most dangerous time (normally around 2 weeks, paint dependant).
Again as a disclaimer, not professional advice, I don’t know which paint you used or anything about it, but if there’s no smell then personally I wouldn’t really worry about it
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