Painting the exterior of a smoke house?

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by pat1200, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. I'm in the process of making a smoke house; separate fire box from the house.  The bottom 2 feet to the house are stone and the top will be wood (not sure what type).  Can the outside of the smokehouse (wood top) be painted???  Some books say don't put anything on the wood, some books say don't put an oil but a paint is ok, and other books don't talk about it.  The pics on the internet show some painted and some left raw wood.  Not sure what to do; thought I'd ask some experienced smoke house builders.  Appreciate any advice.
  2. Hello.  Hopefully my "bump" will get you more replies.  I am certainly not "the man" when it comes to smoke houses but I would use a water based exterior paint.  There are a couple givens with any type smoker.  1: the more air tight the easier to control temps so the smoke house needs to be sealed.  2: there must be positive air flow for the smoker to function properly.  SO! a controlled inlet form a vent in the bottom and an outlet in the top to keep smoke moving.  Keeping those two things in mind,  I would say you are in no danger from paint fumes contaminating your food.  Maybe someone will have other advice.  Keep Smokin!

  3. Thanks Danny.  A painter told me the same thing.  He doesn't know anything about smoke houses but told me that a latex paint will seal the wood but not penetrate.  Any oil or oil-based product will penetrate.  Therefore, when the wood is warm; it could cause some fumes to leave the wood through the inside of the house.  That was the painter's advice.  I will have controlled airflow from top to bottom.  I appreciate the advice.  Thanks again.
  4. Pat1200,

    My smokehouse is plywood, not painted on the outside works fine. I don't think a smokehouse has to be air tight.  Depending on the type of wood, the thickness of the wood, and the temps you plan to smoke with will determine how you protect the outside.  I've seen painted, stained, and shellacked, just my 2 cents.

  5. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    We are so fortunate to have such great products in the modern era.

    Originally, a great part of the smoking process was to drive off water content.  One method was to salt the meat to facilitate the removal of the water. Typically that process took about 6 weeks and THEN the meats were smoked. Salt is damaging to both wooden and brick/stone structures that were built for smoking.

    The smoking process then helped remove additional amounts of the residual water that caused spoilage, and imparted flavor as well.  

    Traditional smokehouses or "meat houses" were wooden, roughly square, many with a conical roof.  The fire was made in the floor. Pegs or nails allowed a more dense pack of the pork or other products.  The use of green wood, sawdust, fruit woods, or even corn cobs were used as smoking media.  The idea was to smoke, not have additional heat.  A small fire would be stoked and then be allowed to essentially smolder the remainder of the day.  It was generally re-lit the following morning.

    A wooden smokehouse often utilized clapboards (hand hewn), made of poplar, with the chinks between boards filled with horse hair or wool, mixed with a binder. Other times it was left as it was and simply packed into the gaps.  The wooden smokehouses obviously held less heat and allowed the smoke to dissipate.  A benefit was that it allowed more oxygen into the sheltered opening and caused a hotter smoke initially.  The detrimental effect was that it took longer to smoke completely.

    Some smoke houses actually maintained the storage environment for months or years.  But there was a bigger problem, of insects, vermin and spoilage due to moisture.

    One solution was to actually place a layer of stucco between the moisture and the meat. So having a wooden smokehouse with stucco exterior and interior allowed the structure to breath to a certain extent, but prevented some of the dangers of insects and vermin.

    The object was to allow smoke to penetrate over time and multiple smokes, sometimes taking up to two years.  

    Either way, Good Luck!!!


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