Difference Between Interior and Exterior Paint

Giving your home or business a fresh paint job can liven up the space and make it more welcoming. 

No matter if you are remodeling, fixing up a new property investment, or simply want a change in scenery, it is crucial to know what type of paint to use and when.

For residential and commercial buildings, the type of paint you use depends on one key factor — whether you are painting the interior or exterior of the property. Interior paint and exterior paint have many key differences that make them ideal for their given purposes.

Before you begin your painting project, make sure to read this entire article, as we take you through the basics of interior and exterior paints. We discuss everything you need to know, including what these paints are, how they work, how long they take to dry, and more.

Let’s begin!

What is Interior Paint?

Interior paint is a type of paint used for any indoor space, such as a residential home or office building

Typically, interior paint is made using rigid resin materials that are resistant to scuffs and damage from cleaning supplies. These types of paints can come in several different finishes to match your personal style and preferences, including:

  • Matte
  • Eggshell
  • Semi-gloss
  • Gloss
  • Satin
  • Faux-finish 

Overall, interior paint is designed primarily for decorative purposes, with ingredients that make it difficult to scuff and smear over time. For the most even applications of interior paint, it is best to use a roller. 

How Long Does Interior Paint Take to Dry?

In terms of how long it takes interior paint to dry, it depends on how many coats of paint you applied.

Generally, any interior space should first have a primer applied to help create an even surface and begin covering up any darker colors on the wall. Primer can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to dry on average, though humid conditions can extend this time further. 

Thus, it’s best to wait until the primer is dry to the touch before beginning to apply your interior paint. 

After the primer has dried, most scenarios require two coats of paint to result in a solid and smooth finish. The first coat needs to dry completely before applying the second, which can add to the total drying time.

Most interior paints are made with one of two bases — oil or latex. 

For oil-based paints, it is best to let your first coat dry overnight before applying the second, giving the second coat at least 8 hours to dry completely before returning furniture and belongings to the room. 

As for latex-based paints, these paints tend to dry quicker, allowing the second coat to be applied on the same day as the first. You should give the first coat between 2 to 6 hours to dry completely and then plan for at least an additional 1 to 2-hour drying period for the second coat. 

What Happens When You Use Interior Paint Outside?

Though interior paint is designed to be resistant to chemicals in cleaners, it is not made to withstand the sometimes extreme weather conditions that exterior paints must face. 

As a result, using interior paint outside leads to almost immediate deterioration of the paint. Rain, frost, and extreme temperatures can all contribute to this fast deterioration, which can include damage such as running, peeling, flaking, and cracking paint. 

What is the Best Interior Paint?

Not all interior paint brands are the same — and knowing which to buy is crucial for a great finish to your paint job. Though the best interior paint for your property can depend on the wall material you are working with, the following brands are generally regarded as some of the top interior paints:

What is Exterior Paint? 

Exterior paint is the type of paint used to paint the outside of buildings

There are many different types of exterior paint, as there are many different types of exterior siding a building can have. However, most exterior paints come in the form of either oil-based and water-based siding paints, or as water-based brick paints. 

In addition to siding or brick paint, you also need to consider what type of paint you plan to use for your door, deck, patio, or any other exterior features. It can also be to your benefit to choose paints that are resistant to mildew and algae, as wet conditions can cause such build-ups on the exterior of your property. 

How Does Exterior Paint Take to Dry?

The amount of drying time needed for exterior paint is highly dependent on how well you apply it.

When applied with a paint sprayer, the paint can be applied in more even and thin coats that dry more quickly compared to brush or roller applications. Additionally, many property owners opt to work with professional paint companies for exterior paint jobs, as precision can be crucial. 

Like with interior paint, a second coat is generally needed for a smooth finish. Ideally, you should give your exterior paint between 3 to 5 consecutive sunny days to completely dry before applying a second coat. This requires you to plan ahead, as you need to be able to count on having several back-to-back sunny and hot days for the best results with your exterior paint. 

For the final drying period, it really depends on the type of paint you used. Water-based paints will almost always dry faster than latex paints, and latex paints will almost always dry faster than oil paints. 

If there is even a hint of rain in the forecast, it may be best to re-schedule your painting. 

Can You Use Exterior Paint Inside?

Technically, yes —  you could use exterior paint inside and it would last thanks to its excellent durability. 

However, this durability does come at a cost. 

To maintain this durability, exterior paints often include harsher chemicals and preservative ingredients than interior paints. Not only can this make exterior paints smell more strongly but it can also make them dangerous for indoor use. 

With today’s innovations in paint products, there are some exterior paints designed for indoor use as well. If you plan on using exterior paint for indoor uses, make sure to double-check beforehand if the exterior paint is safe to be used on interior, enclosed surfaces. 

What is the Best Exterior Paint?

For an exterior paint job that is long-lasting, it is vital to know which brands are best. Exterior paint is one product you definitely do not want to be stingy about, as choosing a low-quality exterior paint can ultimately lead to you having to redo the paint every couple of years. 

Here are three exterior paint brands that customers love:

Final Thoughts: How to Get the Best Interior & Exterior Painting Results

To get the best final result out of both interior and exterior paint, it is best to work with a professional paint company that is experienced in handling such substances.

By hiring professionals who offer exterior and interior painting services, not only can you get an exceptional final result for both your interior and exterior space but you can also kick back and relax while it is completed. 

No matter how you choose to paint your property, remember these three takeaways:

  1. Plan ahead and apply primer before you begin
  2. Give your first coat of paint adequate time to dry before applying the second coat
  3. Always consider the quality of the paint brand you use

Happy painting!