Drive down any country road in New York state and you’re likely to spot a barn, a vibrant red barn. Have you ever wondered though why red seems to be the color of choice for barns?

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Years ago, there weren’t a whole lot of choices when it came to painting colors and sealers didn’t even exist. Farmers who constructed barns on their land had to get creative when it came to finding paint for their barns that would hold up to everything the weather threw at them. Sun, rain, snow – all of the elements could take a toll on a barn and would eventually rot the wood.

Farmers needed a way to protect the wood on their barns so that they wouldn’t have to build a new one every few years and this is where rust came in.

In the early days of barns, farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil. Linseed oil comes from the flax plant’s seeds and is an orangish color.

Farmers would mix various things with the oil produced from linseed oil such as milk and lime but would also often add rust. The farmers knew that rust killed fungus and moss and so it was used as what we know today to be a paint sealer.

When rust was mixed in with the linseed oil and other things like milk and lime, it turned the mixture a red color and this is why so many barns in New York were red hundreds of years ago.

Today, paint options are endless and technology has created sealers that are effective at preserving the wood of a barn, but many people still paint their barns red as a nod to the red barns that littered New York countryside so many years ago.

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