What’s the Difference Between Interior and Exterior Paint?

They’re both intended to beautify our homes, but interior and exterior paints are not interchangeable. Here’s why.

House painting, in the broadest sense of the term, has been a practice for tens of thousands of years. The world’s oldest cave paintings date back more than 40,000 years to the Ice Age (Upper Paleolithic).

Prehistoric humans weren’t choosing between satin or eggshell finish, but the practice of adorning their interiors surely involved aesthetic decisions. Etruscans, Romans, Egyptians and other cultures throughout ancient history decorated their homes, temples and tombs with paint.

The first guilds of house painters emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages. But for the masses, house paint, especially exterior house paint, didn’t really hit the mainstream until 1866, when Sherwin, Williams & Co. (now known as Sherwin-Williams) introduced the first commercially produced paint. They soon had competition from Benjamin Moore. These two venerable companies remain two of the most trusted names in retail paint products.

Early residential paints were oil-based. Today, water-based acrylics and latex paints make DIY house painting for interiors and exteriors as easy as it’s ever been. Let’s look at some of the differences between interior and exterior paints, and why these are formulated differently.

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