Why Are Barns Painted Red?
When our nation was young, and farmers wanted their barns to last a long time, a homemade paint was formulated. Many farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil, which is an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant. To this oil, they would add a variety of things.
The farmers found that a mixture of a red-colored iron ore, skimmed milk, lime, and linseed oil helped to protect the barn’s wood from rotting due to exposure to wind, rain and snow. It killed fungi and mosses that might grow on barns, and it was very effective as a sealant.
Since this reddish ore (hematite) is found in abundance in nature, the paint was less expensive than other paints. And so most early-day barns were painted red. It turned the mixture red in color. When paint became more available, many people chose red paint for their barns in honor of tradition. Today, barns are painted many other colors, but they are still popularly pictured as red.