How to Revive Your Faded Gray Barn and Make It Bright Red Again
If you have an old barn on your property, and it is faded and gray, then you might be looking for ways to improve it. The barn might have originally been painted a beautiful, deep-red color, but over time it would have become faded, with the paint chipping away. Now you have an old, gray structure on your property. If the barn is in good shape (an intact roof, no rotten support beams), then all it needs is a nice new paint job, and it will look gorgeous. Even if you don't use the building as a barn, it's a great visual element to your property and should be kept up. Here's how to do it.
Strip the Old Paint
You want to remove all of the old paint from the barn. While you can paint over the old paint, this is not ideal. The surface won't be smooth. The older paint will eventually chip and take chunks of new paint off with it when it flakes off. The goal is to have smooth boards. You can do this one of three ways.
The first is to sand down the siding. This is a bit labor intense, though it does yield the best results. If you want to get the boards down to bare wood and start completely fresh, this is the way to go. You should hire someone to come in and sand the barn for you. They will either use a spray sander (a device similar to a power washer, except it will use tiny bits of sand or ground-up corncob) or handheld belt sanders.
The other ways involve using a chemical paint stripper or a heat gun. The chemical stripper is something you paint on and then remove with a paint scraper and hose. You need to use the paint scraper to remove the gel stripper and the gunky paint. A heat gun is another option, but if you don't have experience using this, using one now is not advisable, as the heat can burn the wood and cause discoloration if the equipment is used incorrectly.
Stain or Paint
Once the barn siding is stripped, and you have bare wood, it comes time to either paint or stain. Some people prefer using a red-color exterior stain because these don't require as much upkeep as paint. Paint will flake over time, whereas stain will only fade. Painting requires you to bring in painters and do touch-up work. Stain, on the other hand, doesn't flake. The oil penetrates the wood and changes the color (it doesn't sit on top like paint).
However, you will never get the same deep, bright red that you get with a red paint. Also, stain is not completely without maintenance requirements. The sun will fade the satin, and mold will get on the boards. This will require washing. Frequent washing of the stained wood can remove the stain and call for new stain.
If you want that classic, bright red that is synonymous with country barns, then you need paint. You should use paint that is categorized as "barn and fence" paint. This paint is a mixture of latex and oil. You get the deep, penetrating quality of oil with the easy-to-wash benefits of latex paint. You should paint on a day that is not too hot (too much humidity is the real problem) or too cold. Consult the can of paint to get the temperature specifics. Apply the first coat and then let it dry for a day. You might then have to go back over and apply a second coat.