The first step to learning how to paint a barn is evaluating the overall condition of the structure. Inspect the overall exterior conditions, including any peeling paint, rotting wood, missing shingles, holes in the siding, and electrical wires that are not properly insulated. Once this project is completed, you will be ready to begin painting.
Often, restoring a barn to its former glory before another building material is considered will require stripping the old paint and replacing it with entirely new coats of paint. However, an older barn may simply need minor repairs before painting with modern products.
Taking steps to properly evaluate the old paint job and examine the roof and siding will help you decide what products to use.
You do not want to learn the hard way how to paint a barn. While a good DIY project, if your efforts are amateurish, it will look bad, and you will have a bunch of extra work because the paint didn’t hang on correctly. A good painting job can be a lasting one as long as a few precautions are taken first.
How to paint a barn
1. Access the condition of the barn
When planning to paint a barn, you must first look at the current conditions of the building. Here are some pointers as you begin your assessment: Check for water damage around windows, flashing, and roof lines. Look for gaps between boards on walls.
Deteriorated flashing around windows is particularly problematic; rainwater can compromise the structure under the windows. On the roof, check for missing or damaged shingles or flashings. Particular attention needs to be paid to areas around skylights, which may let in water if not properly sealed.
Are there any holes in the roof of the barn? If so, these are potential entry points for pests and other unwelcome guests. Are there noticeable cracks in the siding or any broken windows? Is the exterior of the barn painted or unpainted? These are all conditions you should consider before deciding on a new paint color.
2. Do major and minor repairs
Repair any damaged areas before painting your barn. When you repaint a barn, you don’t want to cover up old cracks and leaks that should be fixed. Chipped paint not only looks bad; it also encourages water damage and rust, so you’ll want to repair any major cracks and holes before painting.
If repairs are needed, they must be done before painting, and drying time for the coatings and paint cannot be accelerated. Second, prime all surfaces with a penetrating primer used specifically on untreated structures.
3. Wash the surface of the barn
When painting a barn, you need to make sure the surface is clean and free of dust and dirt. Even the littlest speck of dust can lead to an unsightly blemish. First, sweep the surface and then use a broom soaked with water to remove dust that has settled on the fringes of the building.
Next, dampen a piece of siding or a rag with water and wipe away any streaks or smudges from the edges of the floorboards, doors, windowsills, and rooflines. Once you have removed all traces of old paint from these areas, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Next, wash down the entire structure with an acid wash to remove years of dirt, grime, and sediment. Acid-washed wood will absorb more paint than untouched wood, yielding a more thorough coverage with fewer coats.
4. Apply primer
You will also want to apply an oil-based primer directly over the acid wash. This will ensure any stains in the wood are sealed up and provide an extra layer of protection before applying your top coat of paint. However, before priming the surface, it is best to clean off as much debris as possible so as not to create a work dish.
There are two steps commonly used as a method of removing dirt from the barn. The first methods use a pressure washer to force the dirt out. This method is most effective if you have a water source nearby.
The best practice is to use the washer with a detergent that will cut through sap and oil that may be on the building surfaces. Look for a detergent that has been used in commercial cleaning services where possible cost savings are of concern. Once you have applied the primer, you should wait and allow it to dry before painting.
5. Choose the right latex paint
Avoid the cost and hassle of painting your barn by choosing the right paint. Most paint manufacturers offer a variety of colors, but the most popular colors are white, red, and blue. A barn will look great painted in these traditional colors or with any brightly colored paint, but all white is by far the most common color.
The right paint can extend the life of your barn by protecting it from the elements. Using the right paint for your barn, however, is easier said than done. The use of oil-based paints outside is prohibited in many areas, leaving you to wonder how to properly protect your barn without using products that are banned.
There are specific paints designed for rustic surfaces that you can use, but these products are often more expensive than traditional barn paint. Before choosing the paint for your barn, make sure to check with local regulations regarding legal outdoor paints for rustic surfaces.
6. Paint the barn
After you have selected the right paint you want to use, you should start the process. You should put the first coating and allow it to dry. You make use of a roller for the areas you can paint easily and brush for the areas that are too small for the roller to reach.
After your painting job is complete, you should put a second coat of paint on the barn to keep the finish shiny and protect it from the elements. To keep the costs down, consider going to a rental store and renting a paint sprayer. These cost about an hour of labor to set up, but they will save you untold hours in preparation and application time.
Painting a barn is hard work. Whether your old barn is your weekend retreat, your horse barn, or an animal shelter for farm animals, you want the job done quickly and correctly. So, on this page, you get to learn how to paint a barn on your own if you don’t have the money to hire an expert to do the job.