Frequently Asked Questions

What is a barn quilt?
Barn quilts are quilt patterns painted on wood, usually plywood, and hung on a barn. Some barn quilts are painted directly on the barn siding but we find that most barn siding is weathered and therefore does not hold the paint as well.

How big are the barn quilts?
Most are 8 feet by 8 feet, or two sheets of plywood put together. We do have some 4-foot blocks on our smaller barns and on those where there was not room for an 8-foot block.

How long does it take to paint a barn quilt?
That depends on the number of colors and the intricacy of the pattern. Since each color is applied separately and the area to be painted taped off, depending on how quickly the paint dries determines how fast you can paint the whole block. Usually it takes a day for each coat of each color and some colors require more coats than others.

I would love to buy a barn quilt. Do you sell completed barn quilts?
Because we are a volunteer organization we only paint barn quilts for our project. We do not sell completed barn quilts. We do however sell kits which include everything needed to build your own barn quilt with complete directions. The kits DO NOT include the paint. Contact Washington County Extension at 319-653-4811 to purchase a kit.

I would like a barn quilt but I do not live on a paved road. Can I have one and what pattern can I use?
Yes, of course, but we will not do it for you. You can put anything you want on your own property and select any pattern you choose. We will be happy to assist with any questions you might have about the process. You will find our set of instructions is very complete.

Do you build barn quilts in neighboring counties?
No sorry we just don’t have the manpower to do so but we will gladly help anyone wanting to start a project.

Did the barn owners have to pay for their barn quilt?
No, the committee raised all the money needed to build and purchase the barn quilts.

What kind of plywood did you use?
After some trial and error we found that a marine grade MDO ¾ inch plywood holds the paint the longest. It is more expensive but well worth it if you are going to the trouble of painting.

What kind of paint did you use?
Actually we sell a very detailed set of instructions for building your own barn quilt and it answers all questions including what paint to use, how many coats, etc. The instructions also include 25 suggested patterns for those who may not have access to quilt patterns. PLEASE NOTE these patterns are not like a dress pattern that you lay out and trace around. You still must measure out and draw your own pattern on the plywood.

Do you put a sealer on the finished product?
We do not use a sealer as it will yellow and then has to be removed it you need to repaint the block.

How did you hang them?
After many different methods of hanging we finally used a lift to do the job. Hanging the barn quilt is the most difficult part of this project as it is very heavy and cumbersome to handle especially if it is a windy day. The frame is nailed to the barn and then each separate sheet of plywood attached to the frame. Our smaller blocks are just screwed into the side of the barn without using a frame.

Do you give tours?
We do not plan tours but do provide a step on guide for large groups. Contact Washington Chamber of Commerce at 319-653-3272 for information.

Is there a fee for a step on guide and how far in advance do I need to call for a step on guide?
Yes, arrangements vary with number of people and how long the tour would last. We appreciate having two weeks advance notice.

How long does it take to complete the tour?
Each loop takes about an hour to an hour and a half to complete depending on how many times you stop to take pictures.


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