Is Using Exterior Paint Inside Harmful or Allowed at My HOA?

What to Know About Exterior Painting in the Home

What’s the Difference Between Interior and Exterior Paint, Anyway?

With so many paint brands and products on the market, it’s not always easy to draw clear lines between them. However, paint can often be distinguished for exterior and interior use based on its composition. Simply put, interior and exterior paints contain different types and amounts of resins and additives -- the former (interior) features more rigid binding resins while the latter (exterior) features softer, more fluid resins (ideally 100% acrylic). Without getting too technical, this difference makes interior paints easier to clean and keep stains away adn exterior paints more resistant to mildew, thermal shock, moisture, fading (from ultraviolet radiation), and other environmental threats. As such, these paint types are purpose-made for their environments. After all, you want your exterior paint to withstand the forces of nature, and you want your interior paint to be easy-to-clean.

Your exterior painting services can give you a more detailed explanation of these compositional differences.

The Risks of Using Exterior Paint Inside Your Home

So, both exterior and interior paints are designed for their specific applications. It seems obvious why you wouldn’t want to apply interior paint on your home exterior considering these products won’t hold up as well against the weather. But, seeing as exterior paint is more durable, what would the downside be of having your indoor house painters use exterior paint for your walls and ceilings? For one thing, most exterior paint products contain mildewcide to prevent the encroachment of mold and mildew. While these additives work wonders, they can cause undesirable odors and even lead to respiratory problems if enclosed inside an area. The higher saturation of acrylics in exterior paint can also produce unwanted smells inside your home. And, at the very least, exterior paint isn’t as washable and interior paint, so you’ll have a harder time keeping it clean (you can’t power wash surfaces inside your home, after all). These are the main reasons you won’t find professional interior painting services using exterior paint inside your home.

Understanding HOA Painting Guidelines

As we’ve discussed numerous times in previous entries, living within a homeowner’s association (HOA) comes with plenty of perks and caveats. While you might enjoy the community facilities, built-in landscaping services, and stable property values, you’ll have to deal with HOA fees and various rules and regulations that might stand in the way of your personal preferences. Indeed, every HOA has a unique Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that lay out what residents can and cannot do with their property. So, when you wish to update your home’s paint job, you’ll have to receive permission from your HOA’s board. Generally speaking, these rules are stricter for exterior painting projects (for the sake of outward appearances), but you might come across interior painting limitations as well. One of these restrictions may be that you can only use certain paint brands or types for a given use -- in this way, you probably won’t be allowed to use exterior products for interior applications. It’s worth consulting your CC&Rs and HOA board for a clearer answer on this matter, of course.

The Verdict

So, is using exterior paint inside your home harmful or even allowed at your Northern California HOA? To answer the first question: yes, painting your interior surfaces with products designed for outdoor use can at best leave you with a more challenging maintenance routine and at worst produce an unpleasant smell and harmful fumes. And as for the second question: it depends, but many HOAs will not want you to use exterior paint inside your home -- not that you should want to, anyway. 

Fortunately, the local painting contractors approved by your Northern California HOA will most likely come equipped with the right products for the job, so you won’t have to worry about violating your CC&Rs. At Endure Painting, we’re familiar with the various nuances of HOAs and what it takes to keep their properties beautiful and compliant. For more information regarding our skills and services, call us at (510) 458-2120 or send us an email at

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