Skip to Content

Difference Between Barn Paint and House Paint (With Table)

Barn paints are much cheaper than house paints, and this can be reflected in the quality. However, barn paints are specifically designed not to be toxic to animals. Interior house paints differ even more from barn paints as they are less durable, but are available in more colors.

Difference Between Barn Paint and House Paint: Overview

Barn paints and house paints are available in both water-based and oil-based variants with various finishes and colors. Both exterior house paints and barn paints are weather-resistant, durable paints.

Barn paints are significantly cheaper than high-quality house paints. Unlike many house paints, barn paints are always safe to use around animals. Interior house paints are not suitable for exterior use, unlike barn paints but come in a broader range of colors with superior clarity and vibrancy.

What is Barn Paint?

Many people have discovered the joys of living in a converted barn, but when the shabby-chic barn starts to look more shabby than chic, it’s time to add a new layer of paint!

What Base Do Barn Paints Use?

Traditionally, oil-based barn paints were preferred over water-based acrylic or latex barn paints. However, as the performance of water-based latex and acrylic paints improved, many professional painters switched to using these barn paints.

Are Barn Paints Available in Different Finishes and Colors?

Most barn paints are only available in a matt finish. Matt finishes are often used by painters attempting to replicate a creosote-look in paint; however, matt barn paints are the least durable of all barn paint finishes.

Barn paints are available in a range (albeit a limited range) of colors, but the most popular colors are red (amazon link), black (amazon link), and various shades of off-white.

What are the Ideal Surfaces for Barn Paint Fixation?

Most barn paints can be applied to wooden surfaces without the use of a primer. The first layer of barn paint acts as a primer, while the second layer is necessary to create a uniform opaque finish.

KILZ Exterior Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint, Red, 1-gallon

Animals and the Dangers of Ingested Paint

Horses, cows, and other livestock have a peculiar affinity for nibbling on the wooden doors and walls. Barn paint should not contain any additives which are toxic if ingested.

Barn paints are animal-safe, which means they will not negatively impact the animals’ health if the paint is transferred to the animals’ coats, ingested, or inhaled.

Exactly How Tough and Durable is Barn Paint?

Water-based barn paints have less cracking and peeling than oil-based barn paints. However, oil-based barn paints are more impermeable and durable than water-based paints due to the heavy-duty base used in these paints.

A few paint manufacturers have created latex linseed oil paint. These paints have the flexibility and colorfastness of water-based paint and the penetration of oil, i.e., the best of both worlds!

Most latex and acrylic barn paints last approximately 5 years, oil-based paints 10 years, and pure linseed oil barn paint can last 15 years or more.

What is House Paint?

Like barn paint, house paint is used as decorative protection for the underlying structure. House paint is divided into interior and exterior house paints based on where the paint is applied in the home.

Difference Between Interior House Paint and Exterior House Paint

Interior House Paint

Interior house paints refer to any paint used in the house; a few paint manufacturers have created specialty interior house paints for specific rooms, e.g., mold-resistant bathroom paint.

What Base Does Interior House Paints Use?

Water-based emulsion paints are the preferred choice of base for interior house paints as they have superior blending and colorfastness compared to oil-based painting.

Interior House Paints, the Different Finishes and Colors?

Interior house paints are available in a matt, satin, and eggshell (soft sheen) finish. Matt paints are the least durable, but this finish is the most forgiving on walls littered with imperfections. Both eggshell and satin finishes highlight the cracks and chips in a wall, while matt paint discretely covers up these minor blemishes.

Satin finishes provide a smooth, glossy effect; perfect for hardworking, high-moisture rooms, e.g., kitchens and bathrooms. Eggshell finishes are halfway between satin and matt and thus create a more durable, less shiny effect than matt and satin, making it ideal for use in bedrooms, dining rooms, and living rooms.

What are the Ideal Surfaces for Interior Paint Fixation?

Water-based paints have good fixation if applied to properly prepared surfaces. Interior house paints will easily adhere to clean walls and sanded and prepped wood surfaces.

Are Interior House Paints Toxic for Animals?

Interior house paints with high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), formaldehyde, fungicides, acetones, and biocides are considered toxic for animals.

Pet Hair Dye 12 Colors for Dog Cat Temporary Washable Pet Fur Coloring Bright Color Pet Hair Chalk Painting Pens Non-Toxic for Creative Grooming

Water-based interior house paints have lower VOCs than oil-based house paints and thus are considered safer for pets. Owners should temporarily remove pets from houses undergoing extensive painting, i.e., painting in more than one room.

How Tough and Durable is Interior House Paint?

Most interior house paints are not weather-resistant and quickly show flaking, peeling, and loss of color if exposed to the elements. However, these paints are tough enough for most indoor activities and make up for their lack of toughness with the clarity of their colors!

According to most professional painters, interior house paint will last between 2 years to 10 years.

Exterior House Paint

Exterior house paints are perfect for improving a house’s curb appeal while performing the practical task of protecting the building from the elements.

What Base Do Exterior House Paints Use?

Exterior house paints are available in both oil-based and water-based (acrylic and latex) variants. Oil-based paints provide a glossy smooth finish but need to be professionally applied due to the hazardous fumes released by the wet paint.

Water-based exterior house paints are gaining popularity amongst professional painters as these paints are more environmentally friendly than oil-based paints.

Exterior House Paints, the Different Finishes and Colors?

Exterior house paints are available in matt, satin, eggshell, semi-gloss, and gloss. Satin and eggshell are the most commonly used finishes as they create a more discrete look than gloss but are more durable and easier to clean than matt finishes.

The most popular colors for exterior house paints are muted, earth tones; however, black paints are rapidly gaining popularity.

What are the Ideal Surfaces for Exterior Paint Fixation?

Exterior house paints are designed to adhere to masonry, wood, and metal. Paint manufacturers have designed general-purpose exterior house paints that can be used on any surface, while specialty exterior paints are designed for specific surfaces.

Are Exterior House Paints Toxic for Animals?

Exterior house paints often contain fire-retardant, anti-condensation, and anti-mold chemicals. These additives are toxic to animals and may cause local skin irritation, respiratory difficulty, and poisoning if ingested.

Opawz Hair Chalk Paint Pens 12 Colors for Kids,Girls,Pets,Safe and Non-Toxic(02AA)

Paints with low VOCs and a “green seal” are usually pet safe.

How Tough and Durable is Exterior House Paint?

Exterior house paint is designed to be weather-resistant and more durable than interior house paint. Professionally applied high-quality exterior house paint should last between 10 years to 15 years depending on the climate and house location.

Tables of Differences Between Barn Paint and House Paint

Barn Paint vs. Interior House Paint

Barn PaintInterior House Paint
CheaperIt’s priced according to quality; more expensive than barn paint
Available in red, off-white, and blackAvailable in a vast array of exciting colors
The matt effect is not as easy to clean as other finishesSatin, eggshell, semi-gloss, and gloss finishes are easier to clean
Weather-resistant and suitable for exterior useVulnerable to the elements and cannot be used on outdoor structures
It’s a “pure” paint with no extra-additivesHave extra chemicals added to improve its performance
Not toxic to animalsIt may not be animal-safe, depending on the additives included in its formulation.

Barn Paint vs. Exterior House Paint

Barn PaintExterior House Paint
Cheaper and more economicalSignificantly more expensive
Most commonly available in red, off-white, and blackMuted earth colors are the most popular colors in exterior house paint; however, a wide array of accent colors are also available
The matt effect of barn paint is not as easy to clean as other finishes but more appealing to animalsSatin and eggshell finishes are the best finishes for exterior house paints
It’s moderately weather resistant and suitable for external useIt’s very durable and will last for many years
It’s a “pure” paint with no extra-additivesIt has added chemicals. Many formulations are fire, mold, and condensation resistant.
Not toxic to animalsWet and drying paint is rarely animal-safe

Can I Use Barn Paint on My House?

Barn paint should not be used inside a house as it is not designed to withstand the temperature and humidity fluctuations observed in high-use rooms like bathrooms and kitchens.

Barn paints typically have a restricted color range, and their formulation focused more on practicality than aesthetics. Homeowners attempting to create a showpiece will be disappointed in the aesthetics of barn paint.

Barn paint is often equated with low-cost exterior house paints. It is uncommon to find barn paints with fire-retardant, mildew-resistant features, but they are significantly cheaper than many exterior house paints.

Homeowners who are planning to repaint in 4-5 years’ time may be attracted to barn paint’s cheaper price. However, this paint won’t perform as well or look as good as high-quality exterior house paints. Homeowners should only use barn paints on converted barns or wooden cladding.

Can I Use House Paint on My Barn?

Interior house paint is not suitable for a barn as it is neither animal-safe nor weather resistant. However, animal-safe, high-quality exterior house paints are a viable alternative to barn paints.

The biggest concern relating to the use of exterior house paints on barns is the price and addition of toxic chemicals in the paint formulation. Suppose the homeowner is confident that the paint is safe for animals (even if ingested!) and is willing to pay for an expensive paint job. In that case, exterior house paint may be a better option than traditional barn paint!


Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.