Why Barns Are Painted Red?

Have you noticed that barns in North America most of them are red? Why not white or blue or green?

You might have seen some barns painted other rare colors but mostly it’s red. Why barns are red?

Tradition has made red barns popular on the prairies over the years. Farmers use the deep red color to draw attention to their barns and attract passing motorists to stop and admire the beauty of their farmlands. This is probably the main reason why barns are painted red. Another factor is that the color shows up well against a backdrop of yellow grass or blue sky.

It is widely accepted that barns were first painted red to make it easier for the animals to find their way home. But cows are color blind, so this tradition is a myth. If it were just a tradition it would be a sad loss for all the great-looking barns throughout history.

Red is one of the first colors that humans learn to recognize. When people see something bright red, they feel happy and alert. People who do not have good eyesight find the red color more visible than other colors.

Many years ago, barns weren’t even painted! Back then, barns were not even painted. Farmers would use natural oils to coat their barns to keep them from weathering. To protect their barns from the elements, creative farmers came up with several exciting solutions.

Red was originally a natural pigment produced by the action of bacteria on decaying leaves. It was then refined, mixed with other natural pigments, and used for centuries as a paint color. By the 17th century, however, red paint had become much less expensive and so it was often used for barns. At this time, farmers realized that rust and other natural pigments made the wood more durable and protected it from insect infestation.

As time passed and farmers began to experiment with different recipes to improve the durability and protectiveness of barns, they realized that adding iron oxide to the oil increased the pigmentation, giving the barns a vibrant reddish hue. This led to a very strong tradition of painting barns red.

The tradition continued as other countries came to adopt this method of building barns and using the paint, and so they too continued to paint them red.

Still Curious? Why do barns usually paint red?

Barns have been painted red since the beginning. Red is a popular color for barns because it is easy to use and lasts well. Some of the first paints were made from linseed oil and rust, which is iron oxide. They were mixed with milk and/or lime to create a sealant that would protect the wood from insects and fungus, and sometimes even added rust, and called it “barn paint.” In a stroke of insight, some farmers discovered that adding rust to the mixture slowed the growth of moss and fungi, resulting in a longer-lasting sealant. Today, many paint manufacturers continue to use this mixture, but they call it “sealer” and it is often yellow. A lot of people love the bright, contrasting red of a red barn in the middle of a field of greens and browns. That is why it is used so often for barns today. In many areas of North America, you will see the distinctive red barns that dot the landscape. They are not just a pretty sight; they are the result of a tradition that started hundreds of years ago.

 

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Calgary Painters
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