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Why Are Barns Painted Red?


All the barns I have seen are red. Why is this?

3566 day(s) ago

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bjones
Modern barns are painted red only out of nostalgia and tradition. No other reason exists now, but up until 100 years ago, there were real and practical reasons for painting barns red. The red that we associate with barns today is not a bright red. It is more of a dark, burnt-orange color. Red Barns began several hundred years ago, when farmers in Europe would seal their barns from the elements with linseed oil. This kept water from rotting the wood. Linseed oil is naturally a tan or tawny color. Farmers began to refine the oil by mixing in other substances. Lime and milk were added to extend the life of the paint and allow it to dry quickly. Eventually, farmers started adding another component to their barn paint ferrous oxide, more commonly known as rust. Rust was a naturally fungicide that killed molds and moss that liked to grow on barns and cause the wood to decay. It is also claimed that some farmers also added blood to their paint, but this was not very widespread.

As Europeans began to settle in America, they brought their traditional barn paint recipe with them. By the late 1800s, chemical pigments were commonly being added to commercial paint. Some of these pigments were very expensive. At the time, red was among the least expensive paint, so farmers had a reason to carry on the tradition. Later, white became cheaper, and some farmers, especially dairy farmers, liked the purity of white, so white barns also came into fashion. Today, paint is all about the same price, so no extenuating factors exist for painting barns either red or white, except to carry on the tradition.




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