I blogged a few days ago about building the goat pen and barn (click here to read) and I spoke briefly about the various special touches and décor elements that we indulged in to achieve our quaint and old-timey chic urban homestead barn.
Almost every detail of our pen and barn has some local history, relevant back story or historical recreation value – from the turn-of-the-century shake tile roofing from an old local barn, to the farm equipment from my great-grandfathers home, to the vintage lumber salvaged from our property. And that even goes for the paint we used on our structure as well!
One of the most transformative touches to our mini-barnyard was painting the barn and entry gate the classic barn red. We were able to achieve the authentic and classic barn color using milk paint – the same historic paint that American farmers used a century ago to paint their timeless homesteads!
Since I was aiming for a weathered, vintage and unique feel, (I wanted to avoid the “I bought this in a box from Home Depot” brand-spanking-new look) I just KNEW that I needed to find a product that would help me to achieve an aged, turn of the century, classic middle-of-America barn red.
So I was just tickled pink to partner with the Homestead House Milk Paint Company and use their amazing milk paint on my barn! The best part is? I initially found this company not because I was looking for a good paint for historical recreation (thought that most certainly was a priority!) but because I was trying to find the safest, cleanest, most eco-friendly paint option I could!
After all, I am going to great lengths to ensure that the environment our new furry friends are raised in are completely safe, natural and earth friendly. The whole purpose of starting a backyard dairy is to have access to raw milk for my daughter that is organic and free from consumed or environmental toxins. Since goats have a lovely tendency to nibble at anything and everything at least once (and sometimes twice.. or thrice.. or until it’s utterly consumed), I had to give some serious thought to what I would use to paint the barn.
Basically, anything I used would need to be safe around the goats, safe around the pregnant lady and safe around my daughter who, perhaps inspired by the goats, has taken to licking random surfaces.
After much research, I discovered the Homestead House Milk Paint Company, mentioned on sites from Apartment Therapy, to Houzz, to Pinterest, and usually in the context of vintage furniture restoration and antique replica reproductions. Can we say WIN WIN?! And lucky me, the lovely folks at the Homestead House Milk Paint Company were awesome enough to send me some samples of their no-VOC, all-natural, eco-friendly paint to use on my goat barn and share with you all!
About Milk Paint
When it comes to barns, if historic accuracy is a priority in a paint job, then you cannot use anything BUT milk paint. Historians assert that early American farmers painted their barns with a mixture of milk, lime and iron oxide or ferrous oxide (basically, rust), because the oxides were known to kill fungi and mosses that might grow on barns. When topped with linseed oil, milk paint was a very effective sealant. So barns were painted red not out of a sense of personal décor preference, but because rust was plentiful on farms and it was the best option for protecting raw wood… it just happened to be a beautiful color that has become a romantic icon through the ages!
But aside from the historical relevance and practical authenticity of the paint, the BEST part is that milk paint is considered 100% safe and as mentioned above, is made from all natural and historic ingredients!
Milk paint is a powdered, no VOC product made up of clay, limestone, chalk, casein (milk protein) and iron oxides for pigments. So it is safe for children, animals and can even be used during pregnancy.
Furthermore, milk paint has great adhesion on raw wood – it does not hide, cover or smother natural wood grain – and it will never chip, peel or fade. In our modern era of VOC-laden, headache inducing paints that are all about concealing cheap drywall and ply board, it’s refreshing to handle an authentic product that is designed to enhance the natural beauty of a structure. Working with milk paint infuses a project with an element of beauty and individuality that is just not available through run of the mill toxin-laden paints. Milk paint is an art form, pure and simple.
Why No-VOC Paints Are Worth the Splurge
The biggest selling point for me, as I mentioned, is the absolute safety of milk paint and the absence of dangerous VOCs.
Volatile organic compounds – or VOCs, as they’re commonly called – are chemicals inside paint that are released into the air as you paint. (These are the components that cause you to develop a headache after painting.)
VOCs are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their high vapor pressure causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate from their liquid form in the paint and enter the surrounding air.
Although the majority of VOCs leave the paint as it dries, not all of them do. In fact, paint can release VOCs into the air for years following the initial painting, putting your family and pets at risk long after the remodel.
VOCs in paint are known carcinogens. A typical bucket of paint contains chemicals such as benzene, methylene chloride and many others that have been linked to cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency VOCs can also cause:
– Eye, nose and throat irritation
– Frequent headaches
– Asthma and allergies
– Can potentially damage the liver, kidney and central nervous system
So, yeaaah.. not anything you want coating your organic barnyard. VOC-free paint is certainly worth the investment for short and long-term health for you and your family!
More About the Homestead House Milk Paint Company
Here is some information about the Homestead House Milk Paint Company, from their website! (Click here to visit!)
Originating as the only Canadian Milk Paint manufacturer, our family run company has shown its dedication and commitment to providing high quality non-toxic paints across North America since 1988. With the increasing demand of eco-conscious consumers and years of innovation we are now able to provide a premium Zero VOC paint that no competitor can rival.
By enforcing GreenSeal standards we help to provide our customer with paint that targets the increasing concerns for the environment without compromising quality, durability or performance. Its about making the right choice and in doing so we all have the ability to provide ourselves with a healthier lifestyle.
In using premium quality raw materials, our zero VOC paint is virtually odourless, non-toxic and provides 30% more coverage per gallon. Another great feature is its ability to cover previously painted surfaces (in good condition) without a primer.
Our outstanding in-store specialists strive to make your decisions easier! Whether you need help selecting colours, quantity of paint or aren’t quite sure which product to select our in-store product specialists are highly knowledgeable and can help you every step of the way.
Our Thoughts on Painting with Milk Paint
While Homestead House has many beautiful colors to choose from, I was drawn to their deep, rich “Trading Post Red” color. (Modern “barn red” tends to be on the brighter, bolder side, but historically barns had a deeper, almost burnt coloring to them, which I wanted to stick to.)
The paint came in a convenient powder form, and when it was time for painting, we simply added water and mixed up a small batch with a hand mixer. We worked in small batches (enough to fit in a baking dish) so we wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with leftovers.
We found that mixing the paint to the instructed consistency (exactly one cup of water to one cup of powder) produced a very easy to work with paint, with no messy drips or splashes while working with the roller or brush. However, we decided to deviate from the suggested ratio and watered ours down a bit more, because I was enjoying the layered effect the paint was producing when applied in multiple thin coats.
My barnyard inspiration board basically consisted of older barns that showed some wear and tear while still being sturdy landmarks, and I wanted to achieve a similar rugged, natural streaked look if possible. I had read on the Homestead House website that the natural little lumps of clay in the paint can be smoothed out after it’s dry, and can lead to some really neat distressed / antiquing affects, so we had a lot of fun experimenting with the myriad possibilities of the paint.
I will say, some areas that I painted too thin and then coated unevenly did not produce a very clean look (it just looked like some idiot who didn’t know how to paint was set loose with a brush), but other areas had a perfect vintage effect that simply could not be reproduced with modern paints. The areas that I messed up through my overly adventurous and attempted artistic exuberance were easily remedied with another, even coat of paint.. and even fixing my artistic flops was fun, easy and quick, with the paint drying to the touch in just 30 minutes!
I am completely ecstatic with how the barn turned out. I like that while providing even and smooth coverage overall, the milk paint leaves enough of a streaked / rustic feel that the barn doesn’t look or feel artificially coated in a veneer. The grain of the wood, with all it’s quirks and imperfections, shines through, giving the structure the unique homespun feel we were working so hard to achieve.
I am particularly smitten with how the color rests to a perfectly aged tone. You would not know if the barn had been painted 30 minutes ago, or 30 years ago.. it maintains a steady, mature texture that does not look overly aged or overly new. The antiques I placed around and over the painted boards provide such an artistic contrast that I will admit, I have spent more time than is probably healthy just hanging out in the barnyard, gawking at my backyard art! lol!