Why paint it red?


Norgard Farm-Berthold, ND after rehabilitation.


The tradition of painting a barn was not widespread in America until the nineteenth century. The practice of painting barns in the American Colonies started in Virginia, where a combination of lampblack, turpentine and linseed oil made a light gray mixture whose purpose was to act as a preservative for the wood. Occasionally, iron oxide (rust) and clay would be added to the concoction to give the paint a red or orange color. Further north, farmers varied their paint recipe somewhat to get a stronger, more enamel-like mixture that lasted longer than the southern version. The primary ingredients were skim milk and lime with a touch of linseed oil. The iron oxide was used in favor of the lampblack and turpentine and, consequently, the paint for barns in the north became almost exclusively red. Red is still the most popular color for barns, with white a distant second.