Interior and exterior paint… What’s the difference?

Have you ever stared at a wall of paint cans, overwhelmed by the choices? You’re not alone. Picking the right paint colour might be easy, but navigating the world of interior and exterior paints can be tricky. Don’t be fooled by their similar appearance – these paints are formulated for entirely different battlegrounds: your cozy living room versus the harsh outdoors.

The key difference between these paints lies in their internal makeup. Imagine paint as a tiny suit of armour – the resin acts as the base, providing flexibility or toughness depending on its purpose. Interior painting utilises a more pliable resin, allowing it to bend with everyday bumps and scrapes on your walls.

On the other hand, exterior painting dons a tougher suit! Its resin is formulated to withstand the relentless attacks of sunlight, rain, and extreme temperatures.

But the resin isn’t the only soldier in this fight. Additives play a crucial role as well. Interior paint prioritises minimising odours and ensuring easy cleanup for those inevitable spills. Think of it as a built-in cleaning crew.

Exterior paint, however, has different priorities. It might contain special additives that fight mildew and mould growth, essential for keeping your outdoor surfaces healthy.


Both interior and exterior paints use pigments to bring your colour vision to life. However, exterior paint might have a slight edge here. Since harsh sunlight can cause fading, exterior paint pigments are often of higher quality, ensuring your vibrant colours stay that way for longer.


Imagine a rainstorm against a freshly painted wall. While interior paint might hold its own for a while, exterior paint is specifically designed for long-term durability. It endures the harshest weather conditions, protecting your home’s exterior for years to come.

Now that you’ve met the paint warriors, choosing the right one for your project is a breeze.

  • Interior Projects: For your living space, walls, ceilings, and trim, interior paint is your champion. Its flexibility and cleanability make it the perfect choice for these indoor battles.
  • Exterior Projects: When it comes to your house siding, fence, or deck, exterior paint is your reliable soldier. Its superior durability and weather-resistant properties will ensure your outdoor haven remains protected and beautiful.

Can You Sneak Exterior Paint Inside?

Technically, you could use exterior paint indoors, but it’s generally not recommended. Think of it like bringing a knight in shining armour to a tea party – a bit out of place!

  • The Odor Offensive: Exterior paint often has stronger odors due to the mildew-fighting additives. These can be unpleasant and even harmful in an enclosed space.
  • The VOC Villain: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) contribute to indoor air pollution. Exterior paint often has higher VOC levels, potentially causing eye and lung irritation.
  • The Cleaning Challenge: While interior paint is formulated for easy scrubbing, exterior paint might not be as forgiving. Keeping your walls looking fresh might become a tougher battle.

Choosing Your Paint Wisely

By understanding the key differences between interior and exterior paint, you’re well on your way to becoming a painting pro. Remember, choosing the right paint for the job ensures a successful and long-lasting project. So, grab your paintbrush, choose your champion, and get ready to transform your space.