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Putting on a good front

If your barn has broken siding and peeling paint, you may be tempted to do something drastic, like cover the whole building with steel siding, or even tear the barn down. A new publication from the BARN AGAIN! program shows how to save money by repairing or replacing broken siding, properly preparing and painting the exterior, and taking steps to ensure that the paint job lasts.

Barn Aid #3: Barn Exteriors and Painting demonstrates how to repair wood siding, doors and windows. It describes the elements of a good paint job, including surface preparation, paint selection, and application.

Ron Seuntjens of Mapleton, Iowa, was part of an early BARN AGAIN! experiment to assess the practicality of repairing and painting heavily damaged wood siding. Seuntjens used a premium paint on his 1920s-vintage cattle barn - a brand guaranteed for 15 years. Almost nine years later, the paint job looks brand new.

"I'm elated," says Seuntjens. "I never saw paint hold on like that in my life." He attributes the excellent results to proper preparation and paint application, as well as the paint quality.

What about steel or vinyl siding? Think twice before you rush to put them on your barn. Synthetic siding can trap moisture inside a building, causing it to rot. This is especially critical with a high-moisture use such as livestock. Synthetic siding also covers up historic materials, which could disqualify your project for federal historic preservation tax credits.

And new siding is often an unnecessary expense. In a 1996 sampling of 29 barns, the average cost for covering a barn with steel siding was $6,353, while the average cost for painting a barn was $1,544.

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