The Very Creepy Reason Southern Americans Paint Doors and Porches Blue
When I was a youngster, my parents used to loan me out to my grandparents' farm near Lexington, Kentucky, for a couple weeks every summer. My granny was a wonderful woman who kept a beautifully clean house and she believed in hard work. As soon as breakfast was over she had a non-stop list of jobs for me. She had me crawl under the dining room table and dust everything under the tabletop. Then I fed the chickens, gathered the eggs, fed the lambs, carried the garbage to the dump, cut the grass with a push mower, dug a few post holes, and helped her wash clothes in a wringer washer. And that was just the first day.
On day two, she had me painting the front porch. I vividly remember that because of the color of the paint. It was called "haint blue." As my grandmother explained, that color was a tradition in the south. It was supposed to keep bugs away. And there are a lot of bugs in the south. The little devils weren't very smart and they could be tricked into believing the painted area was actually the sky or water and would stay away. I filed that info away until many years later when my wife and I lived in South Carolina. I couldn't help noticing the many doors there that were painted that same color. Here is a home that's for sale in Greer South Carolina. Click to see the listing. north point realty Greer SC
I said something to a friend in South Carolina about the blue doors and keeping the bugs away and got the look that says, "you don't know nothing." That's when I got the whole story.
Evidently folks from the deep southern states had a superstition about ghosts and "haunts" (better known as "haints"). It was believed that painting the door and porch a particular shade called "haint blue" would keep otherworldly trespassers away. As it was explained to me, the haints would mistake the blue for water and they don't cross water. Evidently, haints are just about as smart as bugs when it comes to porch paint.
Many southerners also painted the ceiling of their porch the same sky blue color. What is that color anyway? OK--let's try this test: can you name the colors of the rainbow? There are seven of them. Most are easy to name--red, orange, yellow, green, violet, blue and..that last one....indigo. That one is the one that "haint blue" paint has been made from for centuries. Certain additives have made it lighter blue. At one time lye was added and even milk. Small batches of milk paint are even being manufactured today.
That southern tradition of painting the porch ceiling haint blue has spread across the country. Even the big paint companies are getting in the act. The Benjamin Moore companies recommends their "palladin blue" as a good haint color. Sherwin Williams suggests their "atmospheric blue" color. Of course I had to check in with Evansville's own Red Spot paint manufacturing company. Their color titled "bluebird" looks about right. They all give a nice airy feeling to the porch when you're resting and looking up. But in the south, it will always be there to keep out ghosts, mosquitoes and spiders.