Helpful Tips: What To Do When You’ve Accidentally Used Exterior Paint Inside

Painting your home is a relatively simple thing that anyone could do. When you re-paint, you’re giving your home or building a new look, a second life. This is a great way to try on a new style, and may even have some other benefits, such as further weatherproofing. While painting is a mostly simple process it’s still important to pay attention to many factors when painting.

The most critical aspect is using suitable paints and materials for the task. Many often end up wondering what the difference between exterior and interior paint is, and if you can use them in an interchangeable manner. Many may also end up searching for things like: “I’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside” While interior paint is different than exterior paint, you don’t need to panic just yet.



When you decide to paint your house by yourself and go to buy some paint, the salesman will likely give you different paint for the outside and the inside. However, you may be considering using the same paint for both purposes. Or you may be wondering if you could use the remaining exterior paint for your interior instead of wasting it.

But is it okay to use exterior paint inside?

Yes, you can technically use outside paint indoors. There is, however, a good reason why you probably shouldn’t. Exterior paint contains strong chemicals to protect against harsh climate conditions of the outside environment. Because of this, you may find that the paint is somewhat harmful to the inside of the building, while also being harmful to those who inhabit it. Some people may have stronger reactions than others, and there simply hasn’t been enough research on the long-term effects of exterior paint exposure when used inside.

Because of this, consider saving that extra exterior paint for fixing up patches on the exterior. You may also wish to opt for indoor/outdoor paint, which is safe for both interior and exterior use. So while you can use exterior paint inside, you probably shouldn’t. 

VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) also have a terrible odor and can have harmful consequences if exposed for an extended period. A few adverse effects include dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and discomfort in the eyes, nose, and throat.

If you have excess exterior paint, you may paint the terrace walls or apply it to garden chairs. Such areas are more likely outside or in an open space, decreasing the risk of adverse effects.

But what happens if you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside? 




A room with white walls and a window at the end. Sunlight is shining through the window. Painting equipment is in the room, and plastic is set down on the floor and over a desk. This may be an example of what to do when you've accidentally used exterior paint indoors.

Sometimes, when you accidentally use exterior paint indoors, you’ll need to remove the paint and repaint the room.



You may have heard that you must use different paint inside and outside the house. It’s why you may be very cautious while painting your home, but what if you made the mistake of using the wrong paint? What happens if you use exterior paint inside? Is it essential to get different paint for the interior of your home? As mentioned above, it’s not the best choice, but it’s not an immediate danger either, if the home has proper ventilation.

Some paints are designed exclusively for interior use, while others may be used indoors and outdoors. The secret is to use the proper paint for the task. There is no need to stress if you have mistakenly used outside paint indoors. You won’t instantly start throwing up when you enter that room. However, an odd scent in the area might be disturbing, and it may cause those with asthma to have trouble breathing.

So, if you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside, what could you do about it?



When you find you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside, you should first increase ventilation by turning on any fans and opening the windows. Take this step immediately to redirect toxic vapors and VOCs away from your house or building. Make sure that pets, children, and others aren’t present. 



Leaving the area is the best option when you’ve done everything possible to increase ventilation surrounding the painted area. The less interaction you have with VOC particles and exterior paint toxins inside, the better. Once the paint dries and settles, you’ll find that the fumes are nearly non-existent. Be sure that others are not in the space, and that proper ventilation is maintained during the drying process.



If you’re still concerned after you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside, you can also apply a thin coating of interior paint to it. The toxic effect of exterior paint will be lessened by doing so. Be sure to wait until the exterior paint is completely dried before layering any other paint over it. However, it’s still important to note that the chemicals may still leach from the wall, especially if the building is in a humid area.



If you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside,  you can replace it with interior paint. You should thoroughly scrape the exterior paint before using the interior paint. You may also wish to use paint thinners or strippers to remove the paint more quickly.




Have you accidentally used exterior paint inside? Follow these few easy steps for removing exterior paint from inside walls:



Clear the area of all the furnishings and the items you don’t want to get ruined. You can also cover them with a large old cloth. Use a dusting cloth or brush to clean all dust and debris from the walls. When you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside, some of your furnishings may have soaked up some toxic chemicals. For best results, give your furniture some time to air out before using it again. 



Use a paint-scrapping tool to scrape off the loose paint from the wall. You can use an electric or manual tool. You may also wish to use paint thinners or something similar to help you remove the paint. If you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside, removing the paint is a good idea. 



Apply caustic soda on the painted wall using a mop and let it dry. Soda is toxic, so wear gloves and a mask while applying soda. After drying, it will be easy to scrape off the paint thoroughly. 



After scraping away the paint completely, clean the wall using a sugar soap mixture and apply an odor control primer to remove any existing smell of the previous paint. This will help control any odors if you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside. 



A kitchen featuring blue cabinets. The sun is shining through the window and there is a plant on the tan counter. The paint is likely interior. If you've accidentally used exterior paint inside, repainting with interior paint is best.

Painting again is a great option when you’ve used the wrong paint.


The paint you’ve accidentally used has been eradicated; now paint your wall with the correct one. Be sure to check the paint and make sure that the wall is dry before repainting. To help protect your floors and furnishings, always over them with cloth or plastic, and always keep windows open for ventilation as you paint. Before choosing a new color, consider a 3D visualization to see just how a new style would look. Is 3D Worth It? The 6 Best Reasons To Use 3D Visualization Services



Using exterior paint inside is not necessarily suitable for many reasons. But it is also not a matter of life or death if you’ve accidentally used exterior paint inside; some steps can be taken, so don’t panic.

Painting your home or other building is a great idea when you’re looking to try something new, remodel, or just increase the longevity of your building. However, it’s important to consider which materials you’ll need to do the job correctly. Should you accidentally use the wrong paint, don’t panic, there are many things you can do when you’ve used exterior paint indoors. Paint is a great way to refresh a space, no matter which type you use.

Are you looking for a fresh look? Contact us today to get a high-quality visualization of what your building may look like with a new color, style, feature, or design.




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