What Is the Difference Between Exterior & Interior?

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Knowing the difference between exterior and interior can help you with dozens of aspects of home decorating and design. A long list of factors need to be considered when choosing specific exterior and interior elements, such as paint and doors, in your home. Knowing how these elements are properly used enables you to create a functional yet stylish home inside and out.

Definitions

  • Exterior is defined by Merriam-Webster as "being on an outside surface: situated on the outside" and "suitable for use on outside surfaces." Dictionary.com defines exterior as "outer; being on the outer side," and "intended or suitable for outdoor use." Interior is defined by Merriam-Webster as "lying, occurring or functioning within the limiting boundaries" and by Dictionary.com as "being within; inside of anything; internal; inner; further toward a center" and "of or pertaining to that which is within; inside."

Exterior and Interior Design

  • Exterior and interior design encompass not only what the architectural structure looks like but the furniture, flooring, paint and decorations suitable for outdoor or indoor use. Exterior design would include, for example, the design of your garden, deck and patio, while interior design includes everything inside your home, from the bedrooms to the kitchen and bathrooms. One factor to consider for exterior decorating, for example, is the appropriate fabrics for outdoor furniture. One of the factors to consider for interior decorating, for example, is the placement of furniture.

Doors

  • Exterior doors provide security and weather resistance and include front- and back-entry doors, sliding glass doors, French doors and patio doors. Exterior doors are typically made of steel, fiberglass or wood and are available in different sizes and styles, such as panel and glass designs or grille patterns.
    Interior doors function mainly to keep noise out and to provide privacy, especially in the bathroom and bedroom. Interior doors are typically made of medium-density fiber board and composite wood and may be hollow or solid. Types of interior doors include louver doors, French doors, bi-fold doors, swinging cafe doors and pocket doors.

Paint

  • Exterior paint is alkyd or latex based and comes in finishes including flat, low luster, semigloss and gloss. Interior paint is most commonly water-based latex and is available in a variety of finishes, with the most common being flat, low luster and semi-gloss. Flat finishes hide imperfections and are best used in rooms that aren't used often because they're harder to clean. Low luster, also known as eggshell or satin, paints have a slight sheen and are not good at hiding imperfections. A semigloss stands up to light scrubbing, so these paints are ideal for kitchen and bathroom walls and for exterior trim work and casings. Gloss is the toughest finish and is best used on door jambs, window casings, shutters and other trim work.

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