How to Properly Paint a Barn

Painting a barn is a large project that attracts scam artists. Learn how to properly approach this exterior paint project and hire a qualified painter.

A stately painted barn can stand as the showpiece of most farms and rural-inspired residences.

You can protect your barn from weathering with a fresh coat of exterior paint and add years to its life. With proper application and high-quality paint, the application can last up to 10 years. 

Exterior paint prep is important

Whether hiring a paint contractor or doing the job yourself, make sure the preparation work is done correctly. First, inspect the barn for any problems. Repair or replace decayed or broken lumber, and hammer in or replace loose nails. Caulk around windows, doors and any gaps. Scrape the old paint where needed, and power wash the barn to remove dust, dirt and cobwebs. Let the barn dry at least 24 hours before painting.

Prime and pick the right paint

After completing any repairs, use a primer in areas needed. A primer helps block stains, provide a clean finish and improve paint adhesion. Apply the primer using a combination of spraying, rolling and hand painting.

The type of paint you use is important. Most experts recommend acrylic latex paints, because they don’t fade as fast as oil-based paints and create a tougher finish. Oil-based paint may be appropriate in some cases, especially for old, weathered wood. It has a linseed-oil base that penetrates the wood and gives it added protection. Expect to use a gallon of paint for every 300 to 400 square feet.

Applying paint properly

Barn paint is typically applied with a sprayer. Brush the paint into the wood by hand after spraying to increase the paint seal. Mask off windows, roofing, and other unpainted areas to prevent overspray.

When painting, start at a corner and work in one direction, applying smooth coats one section at a time. Apply two coats, with the first heavier than the second. Pay attention to detail and paint slower with the second coat.

Paint doors, windows and trim with a durable, trim enamel paint. For best results, hand paint the trim with a brush the width of the trim. Use slow, heavy strokes that deposit the paint smoothly on the trim. Avoid over-application on the trim.

You can paint a barn any color, of course. Traditionally, barns are painted red, originally because of the local products available. Red paints were made with locally produced ferrous oxide earth pigments (rust), lime and linseed oil. Ferrous oxide, a chemical powder that gives paint its red color, was often readily available and helped preserve the wood by killing fungi and mosses. This homemade paint was inexpensive and long-lasting creating a tradition of red-painted barns that continues today.

Hiring a highly rated barn painter

Especially if you have a large structure, hiring a professional barn painter ensures quality workmanship and safety. Hiring a painting contractor for a barn requires careful consideration. Most experienced painting pros can do the job, but painting a barn often requires a different level of expertise.

Be extremely wary of anyone who shows up at your door offering to paint your barn. Door-to-door scam artists often target farms and homes with barns. These disreputable operators may ask for payment up front and disappear. If they do the job, they’ll use watered-down whitewash paint that doesn’t last or do the job as quickly as possible, overspraying windows, bushes, trees and grass.

Search Angie’s List for highly rated exterior painting companies with experience painting barns. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, call at least three contractors for an on-site estimate.

Professional exterior painting contractors offer free estimates and often won’t request any money down. Speak directly to at least three of their references and find out if the contractor kept the site clean and whether there was any overspray on the windows or other objects. You’ll also want to find out whether the contractor is professional and courteous. Does the company return phone calls and provide information quickly? Are they on time for appointments?

Questions to ask a potential exterior painter

How many years have you been in business?  Are you properly licensed?  Do you have insurance?  How many employees do you have on a work crew? Do you subcontract any of your work? What is your warranty? What type of paint do you use?

Ask for a written contract that includes details like the areas to be painted, colors, length of project, preparation and clean-up details and payment terms.

When making the final decision, you should consider cost, efficiency, choice of paint and, most of all, reputation.

Source: Angie’s List

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