Does Your Barn Need Fresh Paint? Spring’s The Perfect Time

Aesthetics are a viable reason to paint farm buildings, but painting also serves an important practical purpose: to protect your barn and outbuildings from the elements.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Have you ever wondered why we paint farm buildings? Some folks might assume that exterior paints serve a primarily aesthetic purpose. A farm isn’t truly a farm unless it has a red barn (or at least a red shed), right?

And don’t the windows look better with their trim painted white?

Granted, aesthetics are a viable reason to paint farm buildings. And the more artistic among us can get very creative with hues and color schemes. But painting also serves a critically important practical purpose: to protect buildings from the elements, and prolong their existence as a result.

Read more: Does your barn need a new coat of paint? Think green!

What Wood You Do?

Consider a classic wooden barn. Wood is a natural product that doesn’t last forever. Left unprotected, it will eventually rot.

No one wants their barn to come crashing down as the wood degrades.

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Some types of wood are more resilient than others. And treated lumber will resist degradation even better. But painting the wood adds another layer of protection, sealing out moisture and blocking harmful ultraviolet rays.

Basically, a coat (or two) of paint is a straightforward way to help your farm buildings stand strong for decades.

Paint’s Impermanence

There’s only one problem. Paint doesn’t last forever, either. It can chip. It can peel. And eventually, your bright barn will look decidedly less cheerful, with spots of bare wood showing through wherever the paint has lost its frontline battle with the elements.

So when you paint your barn and farm buildings, it isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s an ongoing process, resumed whenever the current coats start showing their age.

You might be able to get away with touching up spots that have weathered prematurely. For example, a farmhouse porch might start to lose its paint between the door and the walkway, an area that sees heavy foot traffic. But once exterior walls start losing paint, you may have no choice but to remove the remaining paint (a pressure washer can do the trick) and start from scratch.

Read more: Get the job done right—keep these tips in mind when you paint your barn!

Springtime is the Right Time

Spring is a good time to evaluate your farm buildings and determine if your barn and outbuildings might need a fresh coat of paint. Not only does a spring review give you a chance to analyze how winter weather affected your buildings, it also leaves you with plenty of time through the spring and summer to repaint as necessary.

If you’ve been on the ball with painting, you might find every building is in perfect shape, and none require any attention. In that case, good work and congratulations!

But if paint is peeling and you have a round of revisions on the horizon, consider this an opportunity to follow all the right recommendations. Maximize the time until the next paint job.

For starters, the type of paint you use is important. Latex paints are frequently recommended for exterior surfaces. But it’s equally important to paint in the right weather conditions.

The temperature should generally be above 50 degrees F. But don’t assume hot weather is better than mild weather. Hot weather can cause latex paint to dry faster than ideal, preventing it from adhering like it should.

And it goes without saying that you should avoid rainy weather, both before and after your targeted painting days.

Staying on top of painting farm buildings requires commitment—it can be easy to let peeling paint slide when there are so many other pressing projects battling for your attention.

But keeping your barn and outbuildings properly painted is well worth the effort. They’ll thank you with their longevity!

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