Can I Use Interior Paints Outdoors?

One of the most common questions asked by homeowners with planned exterior painting projects concerns the types of paints that can be used outdoors.  Specifically, it’s often questioned as to whether most everyday indoor paints can be used for exterior painting.

In theory, you would expect paints engineered to be used outdoors to be different in their makeup than comparable interior paints.  Which is exactly the case, but it wasn’t actually until fairly recently that there was much of a distinction at all between the two.

Take things back around 30 years or so and most bog-standard indoor and outdoor paints were fairly similar, and were therefore interchangeable to an extent.

neutral bedroom colors

Today, however, things are quite different. The long and short of it is that if you plan on painting outdoors, you need to set yourself up with an appropriate exterior paint of the highest quality.

Exposure and Tolerance

Paint that is used outdoors has a tendency to be exposed to far rougher treatment than indoor paint. Even where interior paint is put through its paces through the course of normal family life, exterior paint has to withstand the worst Mother Nature can throw at it.

Searing hot temperatures in summer, freezing cold snow and ice in winter, UV rays from the direct sun, constantly changing humidity levels and so on – a day in the life of a coat of outdoor paint is rarely easy!

Consequently, the highest quality outdoor paints are meticulously engineered to be as robust as they can be.  Once they have cured fully, they serve not only as a visual feature for the home, but also create an important protective layer that safeguards its exterior from damage.

By contrast, a fairly standard coat of indoor paint wouldn’t be able to stand up to nearly the same rough treatment.  It might look similar at first, but would soon lose both its luster and its integrity when forced to contend with the elements outdoors.

VOCs in Outdoor Paints

All well and good, but does this mean that you can therefore safely and confidently use outdoor paints indoors?  If outdoor paint is naturally more durable and robust than its indoor counterpart, surely it’s a great choice to use in higher-traffic areas of the home…right?

Wrong, at least in most instances.

While it’s not always the case, many types of exterior paint contain higher concentrations of volatile organic compounds – aka VOCs – than similar indoor paints. Where paint is designed to be used exclusively outdoors, it’s assumed that access to fresh air won’t be an issue.

Consequently, the kinds of chemicals and components it’s best not to breathe in pose less of a danger to those using them.

Where exterior paints contain comparatively high concentrations of VOCs, they’re still hazardous, but can be used safely with a cautious approach.  That if you were to bring the same pains indoors, it would be practically impossible to apply them without putting your health and safety on the line.

Another reason why it pays to read the label, and to stick exclusively with paints that state specifically they are for indoor or outdoor use.

The Best of Both?

Just to confuse matters, you will occasionally come across a container of paint that says it is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.  If it comes from a reputable brand and the manufacturer specifically states it’s fine both indoors and outdoors, it probably is.

Even so, most professional painters are still recommended sticking exclusively with purpose-made exterior paints, if planning on painting the exterior of your home. Given the rough treatment the paint will subsequently be subjected to, it simply makes sense to go with a robust and durable exterior paint of the highest quality.

Flexible and Affordable Exterior Painting

At Homm CPS, we offer a dynamic range of interior and exterior home painting services at competitive prices.  If looking to refresh the exterior of your home this summer, we would be delighted to provide you with an obligation-free quotation and a full color design consultation.

We exclusive work with the highest quality paints and materials money can buy, enabling us to cover every job with a long-term warranty for total peace of mind. Whether planning ahead or looking to get your home painted in a hurry, we’re standing by to take your call.

For more information on the services we provide or to discuss your requirements in more detail, contact a member of the team at Homm CPS today.