Why To Paint Your Porch Ceiling Haint Blue

Recently, pulling up to a house for an inspection, I noticed that there was a large, wrap-around front porch.  And I couldn't help but notice that the ceiling was not painted blue.  There is a tradition of painting front porch ceilings blue in Virginia, and perhaps elsewhere, and that is so for a reason.  In some places the color is called "Haint Blue."  An important part of any home inspection is explaining why it should  be blue. 

One of my fluff classes at the University of Virginia was called "Virginia Folklore."  It was a very fun class, all about the sayings and rhymes and songs and traditions that we are all familiar with, at least in part.

One tradition I learned about in class was that of painting a front porch ceiling light blue, or "haint blue."  I see this everywhere, and virtually every week on my home inspections.

Some people do it to bring a nice blue sky onto the porch during a cloudy day.  Others do it to keep bees away.  Those are NOT the reason!  The real reason is, according to traditional Virginia folklore, that a blue porch ceiling wards off ghosts!  This is Virginia - we have a lot of those here!

In Virginia folklore a ghost is also called a "haint."  If you go to an old hardware store in rural Virginia today you can still run across "haint blue" paint colors, developed and sold for warding off ghosts!

If the porch ceiling is not painted blue I dutifully note it as a home inspection deficiency and warn the buyers ... says he with a wink.  ;>)

Well, on an inspection one day, when pulling up to the house, I noted that the porch ceiling was white.  White!  I felt an immediate chill.

While up on the roof, knocking around with my thermal infrared camera, I looked into a window and boom!  There it was!  An image!

Ghosts are far easier to see in a reflection or mirror (unlike vampires...) and he was sitting on the ridge of the roof, just staring at me.  In the image the purple color shows his cold eyes and cold heart.  Looking into his eyes was like looking right into his skull!  And he was holding out his warm, yellow hands like he was asking for something.  Sure, like I'm carrying ghost treats around during an inspection. I shuddered!

I turned around and looked in his direction, and boom, he was gone!  Just like that...

My recommendation:  Paint your front porch ceilings a beautiful light blue!  Don't let happen to you what happened to me...

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Aunt Sue (not verified) | Sat, 09/15/2012 - 08:34

Thanks for the story! I found it rather amusing even though here in south Alabama my husband has relatives who still call ghosts... You guessed it... haints!!! I find all of the old haint stories wonderfully entertaining! And they make great stories to tell while sitting around a campfire in the middle of the woods on a hunting trip!!!
Another reason I have heard of for blue porch ceilings is to deter wasps! Yes, apparently the bird egg blue color mimics the color of the sky and causes depth perception problems for the wasps which keeps them from building nests on the porch! I'm not sure if blue ceilings deters wasps or haints, but if I had a beautiful southern porch I wouldn't want either hanging around! ;)

jay | Wed, 03/07/2012 - 13:10

G.H. I was thinking and came up with another thing too. There are still paint stores which sell "haint blue" paint. A haint is a ghost, so there may be patrons who have heard about that!

Anonymous - they seem to know! They seem to know...

Anonymous (not verified) | Thu, 02/09/2012 - 19:39

If your ghost was on the roof, how did he know the porch ceiling wasn't blue?

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!