Painting Our Barn


Painting our barn was no small task. Let me share our barn painting project with you – the before and after and how to paint a barn tutorial. Painting our barndominium took a few months, since we did all the work ourselves, but when it was done it was worth the time.

This was not necessarily a hard project, but it was labor intensive, tedious, exhausting and time consuming. It took us (mostly me) three months to complete our barn painting. There were times I wanted to just quit because it was so exhausting, but glad we stuck it out because I love how our black barn turned out.

You don’t need special barn paint in order to paint a barn and I’m going to show you how we painting our rough cut pine, board and batten barn exterior.

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side of black barn next to tree
black barn with wood doors and trees surrounding

Why We Painted Our Barn

I guess you could say the reason we embarked on our barn painting was two-fold stemming from a one reason need. Before we moved to Tennessee, in July 2021, the area suffered a large hail storm in April 2021 causing a lot of damage. Our main house, barn, shop and wood shed all received some sort of damage.

The roofs on all the building had to be changed and several exterior walls of the barn had to be repainted. Insurance was to cover all these repairs before we were able to close on the property.

The barn had a red metal roof, chocolate brown exterior wood stain and red barn doors. The color scheme was not to my taste; instead of repainting just the damaged exterior walls brown, we opted to paint the entire exterior a warm charcoal black. Changing the color of the roof didn’t alter the price so instead of red, we chose gray. We love how it looks now; a little more updated for sure.

Since the entire area needed work done due to the hail; we opted to forgo hiring someone and paint all the exterior walls of all the buildings ourselves. This saved us a ton of money and instead of waiting eighteen months to hire someone; we were able to accomplish the task in three months.

Before Barn Painting

Here you can see the brown barn and red barn doors; again, to each him own, but this just wasn’t cutting it for me. The coloring of the brown barn just felt drab, dated and blended in with all the trees, grass and stone. The contrast was lacking. I wanted something to pop and the appearance to be less cluttered.

Black Barn

It took me a little while to determine the color I wanted to paint the barn. We looked at an earthy green, an earthy blue and of course my favorite…white. I have seen white barns and I love them, but being in the country and dirt and trees; a white barn would have looked dirty fast. Also, white would not likely have worked well because the original color was dark brown; trying to go from dark to light would have been difficult if it would have worked fully at all.

After looking at many barn photos; we finally opted for a black barn and I am very happy we went this direction. It took us time to narrow down the right shade of black once we headed that direction; that is why testing paint samples is very important. Lighting, sky, colors around the exterior and other factors all play a part in determining your final paint color. In the end, we selected Benjamin Moore Black Onyx and I can’t say enough how much I love the color. Even though we used Benjamin Moore Black Onyx, we had the color matched to another brand.

testing black paint on brown barn

Can You Paint a Barn Yourself?

I would say yes and no…this was not easy nor, I guess, extremely safe at times. We had to use very high ladders and scaffolding to reach every inch of both the barn and the shop.

I went up at high as sixteen – eighteen feet and then my husband did the painting that required scaffolding. Since my husband works full-time, and I’m not working so much since we moved; I pretty much would say that I painted 80% of the barn and shop. In the end, doing the work ourself, saved us around $8,000 or more.

If you can handle being on tall ladders, have the time and also the equipment; you can complete this task yourself…oh, and you will need patience. We began painting the end of July and finished up toward the end of October and I was out there just about every day for a few hours at a time. This project took TIME!

black barn with wood doors

What Type of Paint to Use

Even though I say paint…we actually used a solid exterior wood stain instead of paint. Think solid deck stain. The previous brown color was also a solid outdoor wood stain so we put a stain over a stain. We simply matched the BM Black Onyx to Valspar’s solid exterior wood stain or deck stain. This product has an exterior wood stain and sealer in one.

The wood on our barn is rough cut pine; it’s not smooth so the stain had to be painstakingly worked into the wood with a brush (more on that later). The stain we used worked great; we did consider using Benjamin Moore Arborcoat exterior stain, but cost and availability of the product, at the time, deterred us. The previous owner used Valspar, therefore, we went with the same product he used.

black barn with wood doors and trees surrounding

Stain vs. Paint

Solid stain has the most pigment, so the wood grain is covered almost completely or completely.  This is a good choice if you want the wood exterior to look like it was painted.

Why We Used Stain Instead of Paint

  • Stain seeps into the wood, it’s more protective than a coat of paint which is a coating that simply sits on top of the wood. Paint sits on top of the substrate, and stain seeps into it.
  • Solid stains look almost identical to paint but are more protective to the wood because they seep into the porous wood fibers.
  • The appearance created with stain brings out the natural grain and patterns in the timber.

How to Paint a Barn

You will need just a few supplies and tools really. The only special item you might need are very tall ladders or scaffolding; this depends on how tall your barn or building is. The peaks of our barn and shop are very high and scaffolding was needed for these peaks. Other areas could be reached with a 16-18 foot ladder.

Work from the top down. Many times I worked as high as I could working my way down; leaving the highest parts to be reached when my husband wasn’t working later.

Every quote we received stated they were going to spray the barn with a paint sprayer. This was not going to work; the barn is rough cut pine and we were changing the color. These factors meant a paint sprayer was not the way to go. Now, if we go to paint the barn again we could use a sprayer as long as we use the black barn paint color. At that point we would just be refreshing the stain and a sprayer could be used. Likely we will need to paint the barn in five or so years.

For this job, we used a 2.5″ brush and worked the paint into the wood. This is why it took us three months of painting almost daily for 4-5 hours at a time. We used five 5-gallon buckets of paint. That’s a lot of brushing!

After Painting Our Barndominium

What do you think of our barn? Do you like the black and gray or the before brown and red?

I LOVE our barn; it truly is such a blessing to have and use for family, friends and others. We not only changed the roof and barn color, but also de-cluttered the exterior space and rebuilt the barn doors. The contrast from the black paint to the wood stain doors just gives some added depth. LOVE IT!

black barn with driveway and trees
black barn and wood shed
black barn and shop with stone fireplace on back of barn
side of black barn next to tree

Final Thoughts on Our Black Barn

I am beyond thrilled how our barndominium turned out. We love it…our black barndominium in the country. The task was not easy, but in the end I was happy we did it ourselves because we paid such attention to detail. Not saying a painter wouldn’t have done a good job, but I tend to be a little more attentive to property that is my own.

We saved money in the long run and the job was completed to our satisfaction. So…would you ever paint a building(s) this large? I dare so most wouldn’t and up until I set out to complete this task; I would have thought I could never do this. Happy I pushed myself through this challenge.

black barn with wood doors and wooden planters with boxwoods in front
side of black barn with dog

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  1. I love your color choices and appreciate your work quality. I never would have thought of using black, but for all the right reasons, your choice was perfect. I found your article while researching the difference between repainting with solid stain vs paint, and you’ve answered that question nicely. We selected Sherwin Williams “Woodland Lichen” for our NC cabin, which is a very dark, blackish green, which I assume is available in stain. Thanks again for sharing your talent! You’ve given me the gumption to start! ????
    Best, Joe

  2. Thank you Joe for your note! That is awesome. I bet your NC cabin looks amazing! So glad the article was a help to you. Nailing down the right color is always tricky.

  3. Hello! Yes, the wood on the barn and the wood on the doors is the same. Both are rough cut pine. The stain color is Home Depot Behr Transparent Exterior Stain and sealer in Antique Oak. I put on one coat followed by three coats of Minwax Urethane Exterior in Satin. I waited 24hrs. minimum between each coat of urethane. The urethane did make the stain on the doors a little darker, but to be expected. Hope that helps!

  4. Sorry for the delay with response. Somehow I didn’t see it.
    The wood on the barn and the wood on the doors is the same. Both are rough cut pine. The stain color is Home Depot Behr Transparent Exterior Stain and sealer in Antique Oak. I put on one coat followed by three coats of Minwax Urethane Exterior in Satin. I waited 24hrs. minimum between each coat of urethane. The urethane did make the stain on the doors a little darker, but to be expected. Hope that helps!

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