Start Your Own Whitewash Business

Learn how to make whitewash as well as how to start up a small business of whitewash painting.

| May/June 1977

Altogether, there are probably about 9,993 ways to make money in the country. My way, though, has to be one of the simplest and most rewarding (in every sense of the word) of all: I whitewash barns.

Here in Wisconsin (and — I suspect — in many other states as well), dairy farmers are required to either whitewash their barns on the inside every year or repaint them. (Alternately the walls and ceilings may be steam-cleaned on a frequent basis, but that gets to be expensive.) Because whitewash costs so much less than paint, most dairymen opt to have their barns sprayed by a local whitewasher. And that's where I come in.

Three years ago, you see, my partner (John) and I each put up about $200 in cash to buy [1] an old whitewashing machine, [2] a new portable barn blower, and [3] a few sacks of whitewash. Within weeks, our shoestring enterprise — Tom Sawyer Whitewashing and Barn Cleaning — had earned enough money to pay back our initial investment ... and by the end of our first summer, John and I had built our individual monthly incomes to nearly $900!

We can't guarantee that, you'll be as successful with your own whitewash operation. I can guarantee this, however: After reading the following story you'll be a lot better prepared to start a successful whitewash business than John and I were when we first began!

What is Whitewashing

You probably know what whitewashing is if you grew up on a farm and can remember the yearly visits of the whitewasher, whose job it was to chase the spiders out of the barn and make the inside of the building look good as new again. In case you don't know what it is, however, whitewashing is simply an age-old, low-cost way of beautifying and sanitizing fences, outbuildings, and other structures that often need to be beautified and sanitized.

Until not many years ago, the principal ingredient of most whitewashes was lime (calcium oxide) ... which is still used that way by many folks. Unfortunately, lime has one serious drawback: It's highly corrosive. Which means it's harmful to machinery, bad for animals (calves, lick everything around them, including whitewashed walls), and irritating to the skin and lungs of the person spraying it.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!