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Porches are a great outdoor extension of our indoor living spaces, and as such, add value both aesthetically and financially to any home. If you’ve had the opportunity to walk among the lanes of Southern states, we’re sure you would have observed that a common feature is to paint porch roofs blue.
While this practice is now common in a lot of places in our country, we can trace its beginnings to Georgia and South Carolina. Nowadays, people paint their porch ceilings blue because the color has a calming effect and because it adds to the curb appeal of the home.
However, the actual reasons behind this particular Southern tradition make for quite the story. Here are the reasons why porch ceilings are blue in the Southern states.
The reasons behind blue porch ceilings
Ward off spirits
The practice of painting porch ceilings blue was started originally by enslaved African Americans in the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. These people receive the name of the Gullah people or the Gullah Geechee.
The Gullah believed that the lost souls of their dead, or ghosts, could not cross water. In the Creole language, these ghosts were called haints (the word is pronounced haunts). This belief made them start painting porch roofs, as well as doors, window frames, and shutters a shade of pale blue known as haint blue to this day.
They believed that since the water was blue, painting the porch ceilings blue would mimic the water, and keep the evil spirits out of their homes. This practice soon made its way to homes in the Northwest, as well as to East Coast Colonial and Victorian homes all the way from Boston to Philadelphia.
To keep bugs away
There’s another reason why people painted the ceilings of porches a shade of blue 200 years ago. People in those days also believed that by painting their porch ceilings blue, they could prevent insects like wasps from nesting on them. Their logic was that blue was the color of the sky, and that would trick the insects into thinking the porch ceilings were not good nesting places.
This ruse did work in keeping these pests away, but the reason was definitely not the paint color. It was, in fact, because a lot of the paints used in those days were infused with a natural insect repellent called lye, which was effective in keeping these pests at bay.
To make days seem longer
A pale blue porch ceiling at the end of the day reflects more light and gives one the illusion of blue skies and extended daylight. This was another reason why blue porch ceilings became popular choices around two centuries ago.
Are all blue porch ceilings the same blue?
We now know the reason behind the tradition of painting the porches blue. There are, however, differences in the kind of blue used to paint porch ceilings in different places, ranging from sky blue and blue-green to a deeper blue in the Northwest. For example, haint blue could refer to any shade of light blue-green.
On the other hand, the shade used on blue porch ceilings on the East coast is an airy light blue color, such as Sherwin Williams’ Atmospheric, while the blue dye used on porch ceilings in the Northwest is a deeper aurora blue.
Planning to build a front porch?
If you’ve been considering adding a front porch to your home, you ought to take the plunge. With an estimated ROI of around 84%, this is one home improvement that is sure to add value to your home. Depending on where you live, you could pick a shade of blue to color the ceiling.
And of course, you can always come back to us to get pro tips for porch maintenance.