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Interior vs. Exterior Paint – How’s It Different?

As a homeowner or business owner, you want to upgrade the look of your space tokeep things looking and feeling fresh. You may have already figured out the color, but there’s something you need to know. Paint is more than just that!

Paints come with different properties, and each has a different purpose. When starting a painting project, start on the right foot. There are two types of paints: exterior and interior. We will help you understand the differences, but we’ll start with the basics of interior vs. exterior paint.

Basics of Paints

All paints are formulated from the same components, including additives, resins, pigments, and solvents. The solvent is the component that makes the paint “wet.” It evaporates over time as the paint dries after application. The solvent can be oil or water-based. Oil-based paints are usually used for the exterior, while water-based solvents are found in both interior and exterior paint.

Every ingredient is crucial. Pigments give the paint its color. The additives equip the paint with physical effects such as UV resistance, water-resistance, and components that make the paint durable. They also help the paint resist mildew growth and make it easier to clean. Resins bound the paint to the surface. They can be made of acrylic, epoxy, or silicone.

Both exterior and interior paints share the same solvents and pigments. Another feature drawing the line between them is whether they are oil-based or water-based. Oil-based paints are not recommended for interior painting because of the odor and are challenging to clean up.

Interior Paint: Overview

Interior paint covers the inside of your home. The paint is ften made to withstand scrubbing and washing, although exterior paint is more durable and waterproof. Interior paint is low in VOCs and other harmful chemicals to keep your family safe and preserve the air in your home.

This paint is used for aesthetics and decoration, and it has stain-resistant properties. It can also withstand abrasion and doesn’t need sunlight to get cured. If hit by direct sunlight, the organic pigments used in the paint fade quickly and will be susceptible to cracking and flaking.

Exterior Paint: Overview

Exterior paint is for painting the outside of the buildings. This paint is exposed to harsh weather conditions like snow, rain, and direct sunlight. Therefore, it must have protection against ultraviolet radiation from the sun and moisture caused by rain and snow. Exterior paint will withstand hard sunlight without cracking or fading. It will also resist chipping and flaking from impact with twigs and debris.

More resins and additives are used to make exterior paint outgas while drying. The process goes on for several years. The paints also contain mildewcides to prevent mold and mildew. Mildewcides cause respiratory issues and should not be used in the interior. Exterior paint requires sunlight to cure.

Interior Paint vs. Exterior Paint: The Difference

The main difference between the paints is the type of additives and resin used. Both paints will change the color of the surface you apply them. That’s what paints are for, but that’s the only common thing about them. Here’s the main difference between the two types of paints.


Pigments are what give paints color. They are typically finely ground natural materials. Instead of additional chemicals in the mix, interior paints have organic pigments. Organic pigments are likely brighter in color. Synthetic pigment, on the other hand, tends to be dull in color and is used in exterior paints.

Synthetic pigments make exterior paints more durable but also create harsh odors that are not allowed inside the home or business. Synthetic pigments resist harsh weather, but organic pigments fade when hit directly by the sun.


Resins bind the pigment to the surface that the paint is being painted. Exterior paints use acrylic as their binding resins. However, acrylic resins produce harsh odors but have a stronger bond and will make the paint on your exterior surface durable.

Interior paints use epoxy and silicone resins because they don’t produce odor. These resins are softer and more flexible, allowing the paint to adjust as the surface of the painted material expands and contracts.


Interior paints don’t have many additives because they don’t have to deal with harmful situations. Exterior paints, on the other hand, have to deal with weather, temperature, and debris. Therefore, exterior paints have added additives to help them resist fading and abuse.

Dry Time

Oil-based paints dry slower than water-based ones. Water-based exterior paint dries more quickly than water-based interior paint. This is because interior paints don’t get the heat and constant airflow that help with drying.

Interior vs. Exterior paint: The level of hazardous materials greatly differs between the two!

Level of VOCs

Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) release hazardous fumes that can cause respiratory issues. Interior paints are low in VOCs, while exterior paints have many of them. The VOCs in the exterior paints will outgas into the open air after they have been painted.

Wrapping Up

There are many things to know when choosing exterior and interior paint for your home. Most manufacturers specify the type of paint in the bucket or can. Using external paint inside the house has its health risks. Interior paint will fade and dull if used outside.

If you’re having a hard time picking the right paint for your home, talk to Bravo Painting. Our professional painters will help you pick the right exterior or interior paint for your space. Our contractors will also paint your home and make it look new. Call us for a quote.


Contact Bravo Stain Company today to discuss service options that best fit your needs or to schedule your free estimate. We promise to deliver high-quality craftsmanship, professional service, and to deal fairly and honestly with customers.


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Contact Bravo Painting Company today to discuss service options that best fit your needs or to schedule your free estimate. We promise to deliver high-quality craftsmanship, professional service, and to deal fairly and honestly with customers.