Now that I got connected with Barn Charm and saw all the great barn pictures that were posted, I decided to grab a few additonal shots of barns that I pass every day on my way home from work.
With the corn growing in, it is harder to see the "got milk" painted on the cow barn.
So, we have alot of weathered gray barns around and there are two yellow barns in the area, but the vast majority of barns in the area are red...it got me to wondering why most barns are red.
Modern barns are painted red for nostalgia or tradition. However, centuries ago, farmers in Europe had practical reasons for painting barns red. Farmers would seal their barns from the elements with tawny colored linseed oil. Linseed oil kept water from rotting the wood. Farmers began to refine the oil by mixing in other substances such as lime and milk which extended the life of the paint and allowed it to dry quickly. Eventually, farmers started adding another component to their barn paint – ferrous oxide (rust). Rust was a natural fungicide that killed molds and moss that liked to grow on barns and cause the wood to decay. Rust also turned the paint from a twany orange color to red.
As Europeans began to settle in America, they brought the traditional barn paint recipe with them. By the late 1800's, 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 frugal 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 the choice for painting barns either red or white is mainly to carry on the tradition.