"Haint Paint"

Ever heard of it?

My geriatric shrink shared an anecdote with us a few months back about this.

He was seeing a nursing home patient, who the nurses couldn’t do anything with, because they said he kept complaining of seeing “haints” and was looking for some blue paint, (but it had to be “haint-blue”) to keep them out of his room.

So my doctor did a search and found thissite.

He went to an old mom and pop hardware store, told them what he was looking for, and sure enough, they had a quart.

So he goes to an art store buys a big canvas, paints it and takes it to this old gentleman.

No more haints!


Never heard of it before, but am so glad to have heard of it now! I find it positively charming and also quite pretty. I am seriously painting my porch ceiling haint-blue the first chance I get.

Pretty common around here (southeast Georgia,) especially for porches, windowsills, or entire houses, and an easy way to pick out the older black neighborhoods in southern US towns. I first read about “haint blue” in an old book* about the culture and practices of Georgia’s barrier islands. Apparently, the color mimics the daytime sky, which keeps away the “haints” (i.e. ghosts - local dialect for the noun “haunts.”)

*Wish I had that book. It was one at my grandparents’ house, and I was absolutely fascinated with it as a kid. One of the most vivid things I recall from that book - whose title I don’t remember - was a picture and article about slave and post-slavery burial customs on the islands, along with a picture of a grave decorated with a little plaster figure of a young Jackie Coogan. Too bad I was never offered anything from my grandparents home when the estate was settled… nothing I wanted was valuable in any monetary sense, but there were a handful of things that I’d’ve liked for purely sentimental reasons - including that book. I wish I at least remembered the title!

Well, you just made my day, Elret. It’s very rare I post something helpful to someone else. I think I may have caught a Benjamin Moore link that contained those words.

They’ve been around awhile, so I’ll bet they’ve got the formula to make it for you. Good luck making it look nice, and, of course keepin’ away them :wink:haints!:wink:


It’s something you see more in the Lowcountry, but yes.

Yup, ran into it in New Orleans back in the 70s when I was working down there briefly.

Haven’t thought about it in years. Maybe Ill paint a ceiling haint blue sometime =)

I sure as hell thought that read “Taint Paint.”


It was extremely common when I was growing up ('60-'70s small-town Kentucky) but I rarely see it any more. Of course, big porches aren’t as common any longer either.

What I don’t get is that, sure, you keep the ghosts off the porch, but what about the rest of the house? And if it’s supposed to look like water, which they cannot cross, then why paint the ceiling and not the floor?

I think somebody painted his ceiling blue and made up a story when somebody else remarked on it.

Haint Blue - very common in Charleston, where I grew up.

Here’s what you’ve got.

In order to keep spirits (haints) out of your house, you are supposed to use indigo dye on all of your thresholds and sills. Basically, any entrance to the house - air vents, windows, doors - were supposed to be bordered by indigo. Apparently indigo is very offensive to spirits, similar to the Irish idea that rowan wards people from the fae.

Indigo was freakishly expensive, as was real paint. So, you used whitewash, and the smallest amount of indigo you could and still see a trace of color, and used that instead.

Along with that tradition, the huge wide porches were necessary for keeping cool. You didn’t want to be all exposed to haints out there beyond the safety of your four house walls, so you painted the ceiling of the porch haint blue as well (and often the steps up to the porch also) so that you were protected while enjoying the breeze.

If you were REALLY worried about spirits getting you, then you also installed a witch trap (also called a bottle tree or spirit tree) in your yard. Evil greedy spirits would see the light in the bottles and fly in, getting caught because they weren’t able to get back out due to their fear of flying downwards (closer to hell).

Even as a child I saw the flaws in that logic, but bottle trees are still fairly common around old houses and in old graveyards, and some of the houses in downtown Charleston are specifically protected by mandate and required to use approved haint blue paint on the appropriate places so that the tradition continues.

Looks more like the sky to me, but yeah, I kinda wondered why the ceiling and not the rest of the house as well.

If made up, it’s a damn good story, huh, DZ? :slight_smile:


Finest kind! And to have caught on as thoroughly shows how good it is. Plus that’s a pretty shade of blue.

I painted my bathroom mirror blue. I hate ghosts in the machine.

I’ve only heard that it keeps bugs away, not ghosts.

I haint ever heard that one before. Cool info, thanks!

Well if it haint blue, then what color is it?

False. It originally was made with lime, milk and pigment. It was supposed to look like the water, as spirits were believed unable to cross water.