What Is the Best Paint to Use On Barn Wood In 2023?

If your barn wood is aging, you must be thinking more of painting it than stain. You might also be wondering what is the best paint to use on barn wood…

Well, here’s everything you need to know about painting barn wood.

Barn dates back to the 12th century when humankind built the first barn. The main purpose of such structures was to store items such as farm products.

Due to the continued demand for produce, people had to build bigger barns that can last longer and store more products.

Thus, they had to incorporate different methods, such as painting, to increase the barn’s durability. It takes us back to our question, what is the best paint to use on barn wood?

Based on my experience, the most suitable paint for barns is latex paint because it does not fade quickly and can last for a decade or so.

Additionally, the paint is flexible. 

You can also mix linseed oil with latex exterior paint in a primer to make the barn more durable.

Latex paint comes with durability and beauty in one package.

Read on for more regarding the painting of barn wood…

What Is Barn?

A barn is a large building used for the storage of farm produce, feeds and also for the housing of farm animals and equipment.

How Do You Paint Over Old Barn Wood?

Did you know that you can make your old barn wood look new even if it has close to no architectural or historical value?

Well! Here is how

Step 1: Evaluate and Repair

First, ensure you examine your barn’s actual condition before determining the type of paint to use.

Since you’ll be working on old barn wood, it would be great if you start by checking for all areas that might need replacement.

It would help if you mainly concentrated on the rotten and broken areas. Also, consider replacing things such as windows, window trims, doors, and vents.

However, if you feel they are in good condition, then continue to the next step.

Step 2: Remove Paint and Prepare

Image of barn, so What Is the Best Paint to Use On Barn Wood?The next thing after repairing the barn’s surface is pressure washing.

Doing this will ensure you eliminate any remaining loose bits of paint. 

Not forgetting that the pressurized water will also remove dust, cobwebs, dirt, and other debris.

Suppose such contaminants remain on the surface. They’ll prevent the new paint from properly adhering.

Note: While pressure washing, ensure you cover all the opening areas, such as the windows, without glasses.

Doing this will ensure the mist from the pressure washing doesn’t get into the barn since it can cause severe damage over time.

But what can you use to finish your pressure washing and painting without straining? Well! It will depend on the size of your barn and your ladder skills.

Alternatively, you can choose to borrow or rent a cherry picker if you want to finish your work on time.

Suppose you realize spots you can’t remove with your pressure washer or areas with thick paint, consider scrapping them off with a paint scraper.

Note: Lead-in paint was banned in 1978.

Therefore, if you suspect your barn hasn’t been repainted since this year, there is a high chance the painting has lead.

If that happens, call a professional to help scrape off the old paint.

It would be wise to remain careful while removing new paint. The reason is that there are chances of an older lead layer of paint underneath the new coat.

Testing your barn’s old paint is easy since you only need a lead paint test kit for the task. 

Lastly, create a good and permanent seal by caulking all the cracks and openings around the doors, windows, and vents.

Step 3: Painting

Despite the type of paint you choose. Using the proper application methods will see the 1 gallon of paint covering up to 300 square feet of space.

Each paint brand has a specified coverage area. You may want to invest in more paint when dealing with large barns.

Doing this will be wise since aged barn wood tends to take more paint. As suggested earlier, latex exterior paint should be your first option for paint choice. 

With quality paints mixed in linseed based oil, you get a perfect alternative to exterior latex paint for use on your barn.

Tip: Most exterior paints are self priming. Therefore, when applying, consider your first coat as the primer coat.

With this in mind, ensure you make an even application to create a good surface for the finishing coats. 

Pro Tip: Oil based paint is ideal for weathered wood that you may choose not to replace.

There are many paint application methods to choose from. Some of them include using a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer.

However, I suggest painting by hand since it will enable you to do detailed work around the hard to reach areas.

The method is also helpful for rough wood areas that require you to work the paint thoroughly. The best tool for such a task is the paint roller.

Note: A paint sprayer is suitable if you want to finish your job on time.

If you choose to use a sprayer, ensure you mask up all the areas you don’t intend to paint. Such areas include the windows, roofing, vents, and doors.

Pro Tip: For the best results, consider spraying your barn, then have someone work the paint into the wood using either a roller or paintbrush.

However, before choosing this option, consider factors such as your barn’s height, the available painting time, and your colleague’s painting skills.

Also, remember that latex based paints are thicker than oil based paints. Therefore, please follow all the manufacturer’s instructions while thinning with latex based paint.

When you’re done with the first coat, allow it to dry completely before applying the second one.

Ensure you make an even application for the best results.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use On Reclaimed Wood?

I recommend going for latex exterior paint. Even so, you can use other paint types but ensure you mix them with linseed based oil before painting.

Note: Most of the reclaimed woods have lead based paints. Such paints are not safe for anyone.

Therefore, when preparing such wood, ensure you cut off and discard the painted areas.

Alternatively, you can coat the finished surface with a durable polyurethane layer. Doing this will ensure the lead based paint is in a protective barrier.

Here are the other things to pay attention to while working with reclaimed wood…

  • Ensure you purchase extra reclaimed wood material for your project since you won’t work with every inch of the material.
  • If you notice anything embedded in your wood, you’ll have to cut around it.
  • Before working on reclaimed wood, gently sand with a heavier 80 to 100-grit sandpaper. Do this carefully to retain the patina while removing the fragments.
  • Suppose you are cutting or assembling your wood. It’s good to pay more attention to the outside surface and the end grain.

Tip: For a reclaimed piece of wood (2 x 4), the interior grained surface almost resembles a new one.

  • Consider finishing with a layer of wax since it highlights the untreated appearance while mildly protecting the wood.
  • If you have high use furniture, consider coating it with polyurethane for a shiny and durable surface.
  • Suppose you want the natural wood grain to show through, apply clear coats or satin finishes like regular wood.

Note: Don’t use stains on your reclaimed wood.

Does Barn Paint Need a Primer?

The best thing about barn paint is that you don’t require a primer. The paint is specially designed to apply directly to the wood. 

You can choose to use a paint roller, airless spray, or a brush for the application process.

Tip: Don’t apply the paint at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. Also, remember to stir the product before use.

Before applying the first coat, dilute it with at least 30% of clean water. The mixture will enhance absorption and adhesion.

You’ll have to wait approximately 2 hours for the first coat to dry before you recoat after 4 hours.

Note: The recoating temperature must be at least 20 degrees.

How Good Is Barn Paint?

Many professionals and DIYers love using barn paint since it’s ideal for general use on exterior wood surfaces.

You can use this product on wood surfaces, including barns, houses, garages, fences, and outbuildings.

Apart from using the barn paint on wood, you can also use it on primed metals. Besides, cleaning the painted surfaces is quick with soap and water.

The Bedec barn paint has a composition of the acrylic system. Thus, it offers a tough, durable microporous protective coating.

With such a coating, you are assured of excellent color retention. What you’ll love most about this paint is its flexibility with the substrate.

Because of this, the finished surface will experience reduced flaking and blistering.

Below Are the Other Reasons You’ll Love to Use Barn Paint for Your Next Project…

  • You’ll require no thinning for brush and roller application.
  • For spray application, you’ll want to mix the paint with at least ½ pint of water for each gallon of paint.
  • You can apply it in humid weather but not when dew or rain is at hand.
  • It’s ideal for damp but not wet surfaces.
  • Good color retention.
  • Multi surface application.
  • It’s crack and flake resistant.
  • You’ll only require two coats for the best results.
  • One gallon can cover up to 400 square feet per coat on smooth surfaces.
  • It fully cures between 10 to 14 days.
  • Long lasting finish.
  • It doesn’t require many coats.
  • Easy to apply.
  • Rot and algae build up resistance.

Here are the special cautions while using barn paint…

  • Please don’t use it directly on bleeding woods such as redwood, plywood, and cedar. The reason is that tannins will bleed and result in discoloration.
  • Rough or porous surfaces may require more paint.
  • It’s not good to freeze the packaging material.
  • Ensure you do proper surface preparation before application.
  • Close the container after each use.
  • Only do the application in a properly ventilated area.
  • Don’t apply on hot surfaces or in direct sunlight.

Is Barn Paint Good for Fences?

Yes, barn paint will work best on your fence. The product is specially designed for use on the exterior wood surface, and the fence is not exceptional.

Barn paint will offer durability to your fence while maintaining its beauty. What you’ll love most is that it’s available in different colors that match your home.

Another advantage of barn paint on your fence is that it’s naturally breathable.

For this reason, it doesn’t trap moisture and is almost impossible to crack even in harsh weather conditions.

Note: Most brands have low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), thus ideal for your health and the environment.

Can You Paint Over Barn Paint?

Yes, you can, especially for a barn that requires repainting. If you do so, you’ll stop your wood from being attacked by insects and water damage.

For Bedec barn paint, you can apply the water based version on existing barn paint coatings or other paint coats.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Barn?

As a professional, you should know that painting an exterior coat will cost you 65 cents per square foot. 

You’ll also need extra money to buy the paint and accommodate other factors. 

However, when it comes to most barns, it will depend on the ease of access. Thus the cost of painting the barn will range between $5,000 to $10,000.

What Color Should I Paint My Barn?

Below are the three main suggestions for the best color to use in your barn.

  • Barn White With Black Trim

With this color, you’ll not only love its brilliant appearance, but it will also deflect away heat. Thus, helping maintain cool temperatures inside the barn.

  • Wilderness Mahogany With White Trim

The wilderness mahogany will give your barn that beautiful appearance worth the money you’ll have spent on it.

  • Pinnacle Red With White Trim

This color will offer your barn that traditional look that will remind you of the landscape in the ’30s and ’40s.

Note: The above colors are meant to guide you on the best color for your barn. Therefore, you can choose other colors of your choice.

Is Barn Paint Good for Decking?

Yes, you can use barn paint on your decking. The paint’s formulation will make your freshly painted deck look modernized.

Besides, it will offer protection from the wood boring insects and rot. You’ll also have various colors, including red and black barn paint, to choose from.

How Do You Seal Barn Wood Without Changing Color?

Before we look at how you would seal your barn wood without changing color, let’s look at the best sealant you’ll need for the job.

I recommend going for a suitable water white sealer. 

For instance, water based polyurethane finish will ensure protection while maintaining your barn’s color.

You can also use acrylic lacquer instead of the water based polyurethane.

Here are the necessary steps for the application process.

Here’s a Video On How to Seal Barn Wood:

Step 1: Apply Sealer After the Final Layer of Stain or Paint Is Completely Dry

Whether you choose the best sealant in the market doesn’t matter. The main point is that you need to allow the paint or stain layer to dry completely.

Note: Water based polyurethane is not easy to work with. 

Therefore, avoid stirring the solution vigorously before application. So, what happens if you accidentally do so?

In such a case, bubbles may form on your finished surface, messing up your entire project.

After the surface is dry, use either a brush or roller to make firm, controlled, long strokes.

Note: Please don’t go over the same area twice unless it has dried completely.

An advantage of working with acrylic lacquer is that it dries faster and forms fewer bubbles on the finished surface.

However, remember not to go through the same area twice before it completely dries.

Step 2: Allow the First Coat to Dry Before Applying the Next One (optional)

Sanding brings out the difference between an acrylic lacquer and water-based polyurethane sealer.

When working with water-based polyurethane, you’ll have to sand the wood’s surface between each coat gently.

However, you won’t have to sand between layers when working with acrylic lacquer.

In general, allow one coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one.

Note: Even though the above sealers will help seal your barn without changing its color, applying too many coats, you’ll interfere with the final product.  

How Long Does It Take for barn Paint to Dry?

It takes between 2 to 4 hours, depending on the application conditions. You can recoat after four hours at a temperature of 18 degrees and 65% relative humidity.

The paint completely cures in 30 days. However, you must ensure good ventilation while applying and drying.

Why Are Old Barns Painted Black?

After early man discovered paint, the early paintings included creosote, coal tar, and black barns. 

For this reason, most of the old barns were painted black. The paint has both preservative and antiseptic properties.

Barns were painted black in Kentucky to raise the heat inside them to help cure tobacco. 

Also, the dark color came from creosote, a chemical that repelled termites. 

Soon it became a fashion in Kentucky for barns to be painted black.

With such properties, termites were kept away, thus offering protection to the barn.

Besides, the black color helped retain heat which was useful for those curing tobacco leaves.

Not forgetting that the heat also helped to keep livestock warmer in the unheated barns.

Even so, some people preferred painting their barns red. The paint was mainly a mixture of linseed oil, lime, milk, and ferrous oxide (rust).

The rust in color helped to bring out the reddish color while controlling the fungal growth.

Why Are So Many Barns Painted Red?

As explained above, the red color contained in rust is ideal for fungal control. But why are there so many barns painted red?

By the late 19th century, there was mass production of paints with chemical pigments.

Among all the produced colors, red remained the cheap one. Thus, many people preferred it for their barns.

However, this didn’t stay for long since the introduction of whitewash was slightly cheaper.

The color was common for farm barns since it was associated with cleanliness and purity.

Can You Use Barn Paint On a House?

Yes, you can since the paint has good quality. It’s also economical; hence it will leave your house with a beautiful and long lasting surface.

Before using this product in your house, ensure you do proper surface preparation.

For new surfaces, the paint will fully cure in a minimum of 60 days before finishing. If your unpainted surface is in good condition, you won’t require a special primer.

However, applying an exterior latex house paint primer is important when dealing with unfinished surfaces and letting the surface dry before painting.

Note: You should allow the block filler to dry overnight before top coating.

Suppose there is some cement dust or efflorescence on the concrete or masonry. Ensure you remove it.

You can do this by etching with a 10% solution of Muriatic (HCL acid). While doing this, please wear protective clothes such as rubber gloves and goggles.

After etching, flush off the surface with clean water, then let it dry thoroughly before painting.

How Do You Paint a Barn Scene?

I have provided a detailed painting of a barn scene with an old barn to learn how to paint a barn scene.

Continue reading to find out how.

Step 1

Using a big wide flat brush, gently paint the sky white color. Afterward, dip your brush in blue paint, then use little wide brush strokes to apply. 

Do the same for gold and purple colors without worrying about washing the brush.

Step 2

In this step, start by painting with a gold color along with the grassy land. The first thing should be a hill shape right below the sky.

Afterward, add some green color on your canvas towards the bottom. Consider using mixed colors for a variety of textures and streaks.

Step 3

Once you’re done with the grassland, paint some trees towards your right. I suggest using the corner of your brush for this purpose.

Step 4

Paint the outline of your barn (use metallic paint).

Note: If you make any mistake, don’t use a paper towel or water to rub off unless you want to mess with your sky.

I recommend using your brush for the same.

Step 5

The next step is adding any other detail using your reference photo as the guide.

Step 6

Add some trees which seem closer to your barn.

Pro Tip: Be creative and add any other detail that you find attractive.

Here’s How to Paint Barn Scene:

How Can You Tell How Old a Barn Is?

Choose from the below options to know how old your barn is? 

  • Confirm the Tax Records for the Building Dates

It’s wise to know that the city and county tax records have construction dates. Even so, these dates might differ from when the farm was originally built.

  • Keenly Check the Carving Dates

You might get a clue of the exact construction period if there is any curving of the date on your barn.

However, such carvings are not common since the settlers had no interest in recording the building dates.

Additionally, they might be misleading since some signify the date of changing the barn from ground to bank barn. 

Some dates will be on the roof slates. However, this shows the day the slates were installed but not for the whole construction.

  • Examine the Frames

You can check your barn’s frames for a clue since they have evolved over centuries.

For instance, old barns had vertical and perpendicular beams(purlins). They also had joists and tie beams.

Around the 1800s, there was increased demand for hay. Hence farmers modified their barns to accommodate more.

They did this by removing the purlins and creating cut off tenons in posts or open mortices.

  • Check On the Nails

Technology has rapidly changed over the last three centuries. Due to this, the metallurgy and mass production of nails increased.

Such innovations led to the change in appearance and material make. Thus a good clue for determining your barn’s age.

Consider looking at the nail’s head for the best results on the barn’s age. 

Here is the breakdown of the nail head types.

  • Hand forged nails- commonly used before 1800.
  • Cut nails- invented in 1791 and used till the 1800s.
  • Wire nails- became popular in 1900. The nails have circular heads and were commonly used in 20th century barns.


  • Examine the Barn’s Roof

If your barn has a gabled roof with short sides of 12 ft high, it was probably constructed before the 1860s.

On the other hand, the one with the original 12 ft walls, regardless of the roof type, is likely to have been constructed before the 1880s.

Final Thoughts

If you own a barn, I encourage you to take good care of it since it’s a piece of a historical building that anyone could wish to own.

Consider using good preservative measures, such as going for the right paint if repainting is necessary. The remaining question is…

What Is the Best Paint to Use On Barn Wood?

If you are looking to get the most return on your investment. Straight away, go for the latex exterior paint for your barn wood.

Over the years, I have used this paint type on many barns I did for my clients, which has never disappointed me.

I appreciate your ample time on this article. If you need any clarification or suggestions, kindly reach out in the comment section below.