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Horizon Structures Horse Barns

by Nikki Alvin-Smith

There are many decisions to make when purchasing a new barn and one of the less thought about is often the barn color.

The selection of the perfect exterior color for the new barn at your property doesn’t just hinge on what already exists structure wise in the vicinity that it should complement. Color can also affect the use of the building and the comfort of your horses.

Originally horse barns and agricultural buildings in general, weren’t painted at all. In the North-Eastern U.S.A. early settlers were just happy to have wood to build the barn and have their shelter for grains and livestock completed. Naturally the weather took its toll on the untreated wood and by the 1700’s farmers were figuring out they needed to provide some sort of protection for the structure from rain, sun and snow.

We have all seen the traditional red/brown barns across the U.S.A. countryside. How did this color become so common? Barns in Scandinavia and Europe in general, were painted in rusty brown/red colors. Perhaps to create the appearance of red brick, which was considered a building material of the wealthy. The early settlers, whether of Dutch, Scandinavian or other origins, devised their own red paint utilizing what was readily and cheaply available to them.

Horizon Structures Horse Barns

The paint mixture was made of lime, red iron oxide and skimmed milk! Red iron oxide is more commonly known as rust. Amazingly this innovative product was later improved by the addition of linseed oil, which transformed the plastic-like coating to a product that could actually soak into the wood and thus further protect it.

This cheap and effective paint was consequently in widespread use as the first paint option for large square foot structures such as barns. This is not surprising as farmers both then and now, are generally not a wealthy lot. Cost is a significant factor in their decision-making.

The burnt red paint was not only effective at keeping the wood of the building protected from the weather, it also made the barn warmer. The dark color absorbs heat from the sun and while this may be an advantage in colder climates, in the warmer regions of the country it was not as beneficial for the comfort of livestock.

Today of course we enjoy a huge array of color choices for our horse barns. Whether we choose paint or stain, the perfect color to complement our home or stable colors is available. We also have the option of wood, metal or plastic as the base component of the siding. Similarly for the roof we can select metal or shingle. All offer a variety of tones and hues when it comes to color choices.

So what should you choose? Should you choose a different upper and lower color for the siding? Here are a few simple guidelines:

Popular colors such white or light gray, will provide a reflective quality in regard to light and heat from the sun and therefore provide the best option for keeping your horse barn cool. So if you live in a desert region or hot climate, light colors are the obvious best choice for your horses’ comfort. Light colors also enhance the presence of a structure by making it appear larger than a darker colored building.

Greens and browns will provide the maximum blending benefit to most landscapes, especially in areas of forest, fields and mountains. Dark colors such as black, dark reds and browns will absorb heat. Dark colors will also show every bite mark, kick, nick or chew point on a building, so use these colors carefully if the exterior of the building is wood and is accessible to pastured livestock.

Horizon Structures Horse Barns

A contrast of colors, with a darker color on the base of the building and a lighter color above will ground the building, and make it appear more sturdy and set it more ‘in place.’ A darker color at the base will also mask mud splashes from the roof of the structure if it doesn’t have a gutter system.

A sharply contrasting trim color to that chosen for the siding, will enhance the architectural lines of the structure. Doors may be painted a different color to the siding to highlight their location.

When choosing colors it is not important that you are a master painter and know the difference between tones, tints, hues and shades. But it is important that you start with a color profile that makes sense for your climate and particular location to ensure the temperature in the building is as comfortable as possible, and does not provide an eyesore for you or your neighbors.

Resale appeal for your property can be largely affected by your choice of colors. So it is prudent to resist making a bold statement with something as large as a barn!

This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Horizon Structures also offers both residential and commercial kennels, coops, multi-use structures and playsets. Please visit to learn more.

About Horizon Structures

One horse or twenty, there's one thing all horse owners have in common...the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart "horse-friendly" design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses' stabling needs.

All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need - Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.

Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.

For additional information about Horizon Structures or their product line you can find them in our section on Barns & Stalls.

About Nikki Alvin-Smith: International and national published freelance writer and photographer in such world renowned publications such as The Chronicle of the Horse, Horse and Hound, Dressage and CT, Warmbloods Today, The Horseman’s Yankee Pedlar, Reiter, The Equine Journal, Spur, Hoofprints, Horsin’ Around, Horses All, Field & Stream, Western Horse and Gun, Pony Quarterly, Horses All Canada, Catskill Horse to name a few. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing copy either direct with manufacturer or for agencies, copy editing and editor services also available. Nikki also produces catalog copy, white papers, e-books, corporate brochures and advertising copy for international corporations and PR/Marketing for celebrities.

As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 34 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international Grand Prix level to scores over 72% and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Baroque breeds for more than 25 years. Together with her husband Paul who is also a Grand Prix trainer, they run Willowview Hill Farm, a private dressage breeding operation and training yard in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit to learn more about her affordable services.

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