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Milk Paint vs. Chalk-type Paints (again)

The number one question people ask me when I tell them about my milk paint line is, “What’s the difference between milk paint and chalk-type paints?”
That’s a fair question!  It seems like boutique paint lines are flooding the market and it’s causing a lot of confusion.  Which one is best for your project?  Why would you choose one over the other?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
First, let’s take a look at examples of pieces painted in milk paint…
MMS Milk Paint Boxwood dresser before and after -
Miss Mustard Seed-7257

Now, let’s look at examples of pieces that were painted in a chalk-type paint…

Now that you can see the looks that can be achieved with both of them, let’s talk about the similarities and differences.

What is milk paint and chalk-type paints?  

Milk Paint: Is a 100% natural paint that’s been around for hundreds of years.  It’s called milk paint, because one of the ingredients is casein, which is milk protein.  Our milk paint recipe is casein, limestone, chalk, clay and natural pigments.  That’s it.
Chalk-type paints:  Chalk-type paints are fairly new to the market, named  for their “chalky appearance” when dried.  They are similar to a matte acrylic paint and are known for sticking to just about anything without prep or primer.


What does the paint look like?

Milk Paint: Comes in a bag in powdered form and has to be mixed with water.  The texture tends to be thinner than modern paints.
Chalk-type paints:  Comes in traditional quart cans, premixed, in liquid form.  This paint tends to be on the thicker side.

milk paint vs chalk paint 1

Do you have to use primer?

Milk Paint: No, but you do have to add a Bonding Agent if you want the paint to grip to non-porous surfaces. I usually don’t use the Bonding Agent, since I like the “chippy look.”  The nice thing about the Bonding Agent is it’s not a separate primer.  It’s something you add to the paint, so it’s still one step, as if you were using a paint/primer combo.
Chalk-type paints: No. These paints are really grippy and primer isn’t necessary in most cases.

Do you have to sand before painting?

No for both paints, but it’s a good idea to do for both paints if the surface is really glossy or uneven.  I know sanding has gotten a bad reputation in recent years, but sanding a piece to give it “tooth” is totally different from stripping the finish off.  Prepping it should only take about 5-10 minutes for an average dresser.  It’s just about roughing it up.


Do you have to use wax or a topcoat?

Milk Paint: No, but I do in most cases. You can use either a Wax, Hemp Oil, Tung Oil, or poly topcoat to protect the paint from moisture and wear.
Chalk-type paint: No, but again, I would suggest it. The only time I wouldn’t use Wax is on a piece that won’t get a lot of wear and I don’t mind if the paint gets distressed naturally.

missmustardseed-48 (534x800)

Can the colors be mixed to make custom colors?

Yes, types of paint mix beautifully to create all kinds of yummy custom colors.

missmustardseed-35 (534x800)

How can you apply the paint?

Both paints can be applied with a brush, roller or sprayer.  If spraying, chalk-type paints need to be thinned and milk paint needs to be well mixed and strained.


Do the paints distress well?

Milk Paint: Milk paint is unpredictable in how it will distress. Sometimes it grips really well and just comes off in a fine powder. Other times the paint cracks and flakes away, creating this wonderful chippy look. You just have to go with it!
Chalk-type paints: Comes off in a fine powder when sanded before waxing. It’s easy to control the amount of wear and results in a soft, distressed finish.


Do I have to distress these paints?

No.  I think a lot of people love the way these paints distress, so that look is prevalent among these paint-types.

Why should I use chalk-type paint or milk paint instead of latex?

Latex has its place and won’t ever be removed from my paint shelf, but I definitely prefer these paints for furniture. Both of them are fun to work with and give pieces an authentic, old feel and they distress much better than latex.

Which paint do you like better?

This is really hard for me to answer, because I love, love love milk paint.  That’s why I have a milk paint line with my name on it.  I used it exclusively now and it’s not because I feel like I have to.

I’ll try to step back for a moment and be objective.  I think they are both great types of paint and there is room in a paint arsenal for both of them.  In fact, they can work really well together and I am a fan of experimenting, mixing and matching, so you can find the combination that suits you and your project the best.

I know this is not a comprehensive comparison, but I hope this answers some general questions about both types of paints.


I have written a lot about milk paint and you can scroll through tutorials, tips, makeovers and inspiration HERE.

If you’d like to purchase Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, you can find a list of shops and online stores that sell our products HERE.

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  1. Pauline says:

    Congrats on everything and thank you so much for all of the valuable information you share! I personally have found it very helpful. Best wishes! — Pauline in Rockville, MD

  2. I think I love the idea of the milk paint being in a bag. Is it possible that you only mix what you need. This makes it ideal for really small craft projects. I can see bags and bags of this on my shelf since it can be mixed when I want to use it!

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Yes, you only mix what you want to use and the powdered form has a very long shelf life.

  3. Milk paint or Chalk paint, either way, I loved all the pretty photos of furniture in this post! Thanks for all the info on the two. I’m a total newbie at both of these paints. Sad but true!

  4. Thank you for sharing your opinions and many of your wonderful visual references of finished projects using these paints. You are a wonderful point of reference and we value your opinion. Best Wishes!

  5. You continue to inspire me. You are so knowledgeable and talented. Best wishes on this new and exciting adventure!

  6. Thank You for todays update,Very good info as usual. I will use some Milk paint ! Thank you for all your efforts and Your Email must be overful.You and your support team need a lil break from all of who are so excited for you. Hope Lucketts upcoming event is a success for you!

  7. Suzanne says:

    Can you do a comparison of the cost? I’ve seen the cost of ASCP but how much does the milk paint cost? I know that I have read the ASCP lasts for many projects, is the milk paint as long lasting?

  8. The news about your new milk paint line is so incredible. My heart leaps for joy for you!!!

  9. I am looking forward to trying your paint! Good luck.

  10. I’m glad you posted about this. I’ve never used either and wondered what the benefits were. Thank you!

  11. Andrea says:

    Totally off subject, but is the random music annoying anyone else?? Am i the only one hearing this junk? I can’t even read a full sentence without this musc coming back on!!!

    • Mama Mustard Seed says:

      I don’t hear any music

    • I don’t have any music playing on my blog (or ads without sound), so it may have been music from a different page?

      • Andrea says:

        In my head? Really?

        It was an ad that is right below the NATE ad and last night when I was trying to read the blog post, it was advertising free internet radio and then Clearasil commercials over and over again. It is not making any noise now.

        I minimized the IE to make sure nothing else was running that would be playing music, for a minute I thought the computer was possessed. it may be something you want to check into. It was very aggravating trying to read and constantly scrolling downt the page to pause or mute the commercial.

        • That’s really strange! Yeah, I hate noise or music from sites and ads. I’m sorry about that. I’ve never had that happen to me on my blog or had any other complaints about it. Hopefully you won’t have that problem again.

    • the music is in your head maybe???? I hear nothing ;->

      Janet xox

  12. Ok, sorry if this seems like an unintelligent question, but is chalk paint like a painting a chalkboard to a wall/ piece of furniture? In other words is the texture like a chalk board so you can write on it with chalk?

    Miss Riss

  13. Thanks for the info…I always wondered if milk paint was durable.

  14. Ellen Ambron says:

    Regarding your comment on milk paint being unpredictable in how it will distress, I thought I would add something I learned. I was trying to find a local source of chalk paint or milk paint and ended up finding a milk paint locally from a company that has been around for a while. In their flyer they stated that milk paint has a tendency to “shrink,” so if you are painting over something that was not painted/prepared properly before or the finish is cracking you will get more cracking. Hope that is helpful. I can’t wait to try it out and see your line when it is available. Blessings!

  15. Jeanine C says:

    Congratulations on your new paint line! I can’t wait to see it! When you have a minute…sometime between midnight and six!…could you tell me the colors of ASCP used in the first picture of the desk? Thanks so much and God bless all your efforts and hard work. :o)

  16. Jeanine C says:

    PS: The above was suppose to be a “smiley face” but looks more angry!

  17. Cari Kreps says:

    Congratulations! Just curious – will you be using large retailers or stockist type dealers to sell your paint?

  18. You may have already answered this, but will your milk paint be premixed or will it come in powder form?

  19. Hello:

    Congratulations on your new paints, there are a lot of choices out there. I guess you chose the milk paint because its cheaper than than the chalkpaint. I understand, if you want to make money you would choose the cheaper one so you can make more money. To be a chalkpaint sales person you need a lot of money I think about $3000.00 to start and I don’t know how much can you make when you sell each can of paint. It retails for $38.00 a quart. Definetily if you are looking for income, you would make more money with the milk paint. I know because I was thinking about selling the chalkpaint, but you cannot make much money versus the effort,.

    I like the chalk paint “finish” better, the milk paint looks very very shabby almost too distress for my taste.

    Anyway, you paint very well, and I wish you luck in making money with paints, furniture, vintage items in your shop.


    • The milk paint examples in this post were done without the bonding agent and they were heavily distressed. You can have a beautiful, smooth, non-distressed finish with milk paint as well.

  20. Thanks for sharing this again:) one of my goals for this year is to use both of these paints for something. I love painting and distressing furniture but have always used latex. I don’t have a close plae to get either milk paint or ASCP or I would have tried it before now. it will happen this year though I hope!

  21. Thanks for the great comparison! It was easy to understand for a newbie like me! :) Congrats on your milk line, so exciting for you! I haven’t tried either of these yet, but hope to convince a current client to go with some Annie Sloan, so I can give it a try! :)

  22. I am so happy for you! It must be terribly exciting to have your book published and now this. Congratulations. By the way, what sort of was is good avter using chalk paint. Please give me an inexpensive alternative–not Ann Sloan–as I don’t have much money to budget for it. And here in Springfield, MO we may not have access to anything that you couldn’t find at Lowe’s or Walmart.Thanks

  23. I remember reading the post on the differences between the two I think it was last spring?Love it and it gave me confidence to try both.And I love using both.Really comes down to what look you want.And with milk paint you get a totally different look.More authentic looking when it peels away in my opinion.Can’t wait to see the colors and give yours a try.Have a great day!

  24. Carolyn says:

    I love your blog and reading about all you do. I want your life!!! I also love to paint furniture, picture frames and re-cycle things and try to think outside the box. I am very excited to hear about your paint line. I have used RECLAIM paint and really like it and I just finshed shabby chic-ing my girlfriends bathroom cabinets with some “chalk” paint that I mixed myself (found a formula online) and it did well.You are my inspiration to follow your dream – my dream is to one day have my own site something adorable and cute like your site is. Congratulations on all your success!

  25. Charlotte says:

    First, congratulations on your new career path. My goodness, you are one busy lady. I read (or stalk) your blog everyday, but rarely comment. I’m not very good with words, and you have so many other great comments from your readers. However, today I feel that I must comment. Thank you for the statement you posted from one of your readers…”don’t let your business run you, run your business”. I really needed to hear that advice today. I’m starting a new business and I was about to give up because I thought the business had taken over… I know what to do. Thank you. Good Luck with all the great things you have in the works..

  26. Loved your post. I am a decorative furniture painter and an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (TM) Stockists…however- I have a ton of latex paint at my shop. Sometimes I have customers gasp when they see it in one my hutches….as if I am Benedict Arnold. They will ask me, “why don’t you use ASCP for everything?” Well, just like you said- most of what I do is in ASCP but I also do other jobs that based on the end result or “mural” I am painting – I feel latex is the way to go. Thank you for your honest post. I am excited for you and anxious to see pieces completed in your Milk Paint line. I can share first hand- that all ASCP stockists support you and are happy for you! You, Miss Mustard Seed are a class act and any product referred by you or endorsed by you – is going to be a quality product!!!! I also agree with your followers post about..”don’t let your business run you, run your business” At the end of the day and at the end of our lives- all of this in regards to our business is nice- but it is your family and sanity that is important. Finding a balance can be difficult- but critical to preventing burn out. I love that I own my shop. I get my 1st grader on her bus every morning and get her off the buss every day but one. Being a mom – to me is my most important job! So, the sky is the limit for you! Enjoy the ride!!!

    • Yes, I totally agree! I don’t think one paint is right for everything. I still use latex, acrylic, oil, ASCP, milk paint…all of them.

      Thanks so much for your sweet comments, Trish. You’re a class act, too.

  27. bargainmom10 says:

    Is there any way that you could specify which paint you use, either Milk Paint or Chalk Paint, on the pieces of furniture you make or on the ones already shown on your site? In the samples above, the colors of the milk painted furniture was basically shades of green and it was hard for me to visualize other colors of milk paint being used on pieces. I LOVE your site and all the pieces of furniture and other things you make and create. You are very talented and I appreciate you sharing this talent with your readers. Keep creating, dreaming, and blogging and as one reader said to you, “Don’t let this business own you. You need to own it.” So, take care of yourself, rest as your body demands, and work only as much as you are able to, in order to remain healthy.

    • Yes, you picked up on something! Milk paint is currently made in a very colonial/primitive color scheme, which isn’t my thing, so I mostly stick with the blues and greens and mix them to make them what I want. That is why I’m creating a line of colors! :)

  28. I love every single one of your images. I have a friend who loves to antique furniture – I’m going to pass this blog post on to him to read too! :)

  29. Mary Melber says:

    I read your blog all the time and really enjoy it. I can’t wait to see your new line of milk paints. I am sure the colors will be wonderful. Are you thinking of carrying any of the other products from that company like their latex paint? You could have your own paint line of products. Congrats on your great business!

  30. I forgot in my last comment to tell you that if ever you want French names for some of your paint colours and need help to make sure the translation is ok, I’ll be glad to help… Not that I want to influence you, of course! I just noticed French names are popular…

  31. Dear Marian!
    Thanks again for explaining the specifics of each paint. I am a fan of ASCP
    and have been wanting to experience with milk paint. I will wait for your line
    and order it one of the great thinks about it is that comes in powder form, so no getting old!!!
    Can’t wait to see the colors… I use whites blues and grays…
    will order something different…

  32. LaDonna Thompson says:

    Is there a particular craft show or festival going on in Lucketts? I know there is one in August. I live nearly so would be interested in attending If I knew the date and exact location. Thank you.

  33. Carol says:

    MMS, I just ordered my first ASCP, and am excited to try it! I’m going to paint a sideboard. The doors on it, though, are new unfinished wood (my husband made new ones for me ’cause the originals were warped and ruined). Do I need to do anything different before using the chalk paint on the unfinished wood and the stained wood? I’m going to do some light distressing. What do you recommend?? Thanks!

    • You can paint it straight onto raw wood as well. Sand the wood if it’s rough at all and you may want to seal any knots if there are any. If the wood is smooth and doesn’t have knots, you can go right to the painting.

  34. I want to do my childrens old baby crib (40 years old) i want to chalk paint it, is it safe for baby’s, (some babies do teeth on the crib)
    thank you

  35. Thereasa Gargano says:

    When will your paints be hitting the market or did I miss that info above? I love allyour posts and have been a followe for sometime now. Congrats on your new endeavor, that is so awesome. I will wait for your colors to come out and try them. Very excited!

  36. Tammy says:

    Thanks so much for this comparison! I think I really want to try the milk paint. I love distressed pieces. I am going to pin this one.

  37. have you or anyone tried milk paint or chalk paint on walls?

  38. Hi I am looking for info on if chalk or milk paints are safe to use on cribs. I plan on getting a rubber teething strip so I’m not as concerned about my baby eating the paint as I am about the toxicity of it being on her bed. Any information you have on this subject would be much appreciated. I am really hoping for an answer since there was no response to the last crib question. Thanks for your time and good luck on your paint launch!!

  39. Miss Mustard Seed,

    Thanks for your wonderful blog and videos. I am new to milk paint and chalk paint but am learning as quickly as I can because my husband just made me a desk out of very old, reclaimed lumber. Yippee!

    You state above that you “really love both of these paints and decide which I use depending on the piece of furniture, the look I’m going for and my mood”. Can you expand on that a bit? Both types of paints and techniques look very similar to me, so I’m having trouble deciding which method to try first.

    Also, can you comment on the brands you use for milk paint, chalk paint, and waxes and how you distress with wax? Do you apply the wax first, then sand to distress? Applying wax to paint seems very weird to me for some reason, so I’m not sure if I’m learning things correctly.

    Thanks so much!


    P.S. Oh, and thanks so much for your “starting a business” info as well. I’ll be starting a blog soon so this is VERY helpful info indeed.

  40. I can’t wait to try out your paint. Thanks for your inspiration.

  41. Karen Germany says:

    I am from the central Texas area and wondering how we could become a distributor for Missmustardseed milk paint product line?

  42. Sharee Killpack says:

    So, it appears that you don’t have to sand the milk paint to get the distressed look, but you do sand Chalk Paint to get it distressed. Is that right?. or…does the chalk paint give you that distressed look without sanding it after.

    And…when is your line of colors coming out? I live in Mapleton, Utah and would love a store to sell it around here! I found some milk paint on Luckett’s for $22…is that the going price? and what is the price for Chalk paint? and how much paint for the price on both?
    Can’t wait to try these paints! I have got the bug to paint after I just finished painting my new chicken coop! Thanks for all your great info on the differences!

    Love your website, blog, and furniture!!

  43. I’m just starting to garner courage to attack some of the pieces I can see in my head! Your site, and many others thru links from yours are so inspiring! I love the chippy (not sanded) look and am working to figure that out. I just today read of the Vaseline method.

    I also just read about making your own chalk (I think) paint with 1 cup latex paint and 1/4 cup baking soda. Ok, fine. My question to one who uses both.. In your experienced opinion, why would I prefer one over the other? And if methods would chip and distress latex paint as well, what’s the difference?

    I already build out of palettes, reclaimed lumber, and reuse center items. Stuff looks SO COOL! It’s the finishing that is giving me creative paralysis!

    A single thought with an aphorism you’ve probably heard before: “A lack of planning on your part, (or a creative, driven impulse) does not create an emergency on my part.” Just do the best you can and you’ll continue to be juuuuuust fine. :)

    Thank you so much for your time, experience, skill and enthusiasm!


  1. […] line of Milk Paint soon) has a great comparison of the two products which you can read  here: Milk Paint versus Chalk Paint. I’ll throw in my two cents once I finish my three […]

  2. […] Milk Paint & Chalk Paint™….here is a great read by Miss Mustard Seed herself. Click here to launch her […]

  3. […] out Miss Mustard Seed’s post on the milk paint vs. chalk paint. (She loves both!) Two of my new favorite bloggers Becky and Karah even entered the worst paint […]

  4. […] devote myself to just one type of paint so probably not happening, honey. Check out the pieces Miss Mustard Seed has done with both milk and chalk paint for a better idea. Before (sadly a faux finish made to […]

  5. […] It seems the antique finish on this is a lil unpredictable. More on the differences in this post from Miss Mustard […]

  6. […] (Read more about Annie here.)  I first learned about Annie Sloan and her paint over at the Miss Mustard Seed blog.  Miss Mustard Seed, based out of Gettysburg, PA, is the QUEEN of shabby chic furniture […]

  7. […] line of Milk Paint soon) has a great comparison of the two products which you can read  here: Milk Paint versus Chalk Paint. I’ll throw in my two cents once I finish my three […]

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