Exterior paint has great properties for resisting wear and looking great in all kinds of weather. But, using it indoors is a mistake. Exterior paint has extra additives and chemicals which usually makes it unsuitable for use indoors. Plus, it also doesn’t have the features and look you expect from an interior paint. If you realize that you’ve used exterior paint indoors or that someone else did in your home, what should you do?

Stop and Contact Poison Control

When interior paints are tested, manufacturers and third-party tests confirm whether the paint fumes are safe to breathe while indoors in small amounts. Exterior paints are not held to the same standards, so they may have harmful fumes that in an outdoor context, simply blow away immediately but would linger if the paint was accidentally used inside. So, if you are currently painting and realize you’re using exterior paint inside you should stop and head outside. If you notice any unusual symptoms, you should also contact your local poison control.

According to the EPA, some potential symptoms of exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint fumes include:

  • Irritation of your eye, nose or throat
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Allergic reaction
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • More

It is important to know that just because you’re not experiencing symptoms doesn’t mean it is safe to keep painting. Instead, you need to talk to the paint company.

Ask the Paint Company

Your paint manufacturer is the best source of information about what is in the paint you’re using and what you should do if you accidentally use an exterior product outside. Depending on the formulation, they may tell you that you’re fine to keep painting, or you need to ensure there is really good ventilation in order to move forward, or that you need to stop.

The paint company will also have other useful information that you might need to know. For example, some exterior paints will not cure unless they are exposed to UV light from the sun. So, if you need to get the paint to cure inside, you may need to expose it to light. It’s also common for exterior paint to take so long to cure under interior conditions that you risk allowing dirt, dust or mold to get into it. The paint company should have advice about what to do in your specific situation.

Consider Re-Painting

Usually, your paint company will inform you that you can leave the exterior paint on your walls. However, they may alert you that the finish of exterior paint can be harsh indoors or that the paint can be much tougher to clean than a typical indoor paint. In these cases, you may want to re-paint.

How to Ge the Right Kind of Paint

Painting exterior paint inside is likely to be a mistake you make only once. Still, a lot more goes into choosing the right paint. Hiring professional painters is the best way to make sure that you get the right kind of paint for your application, inside or outside.