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Milk Paint Basics


Since I announced that I would be coming out with my own paint line, I’ve received lots of questions about Milk Paint.  I’ve made some video tutorials showing how to use the paint, different techniques and the best way to use the companion products that will be sold with it, but this is just a quick introduction for those who are like, “Milk Paint…what?!”



So, what is Milk Paint?

Well, first of all, it’s nothing new.  It’s been around for hundreds of years and has even been discovered in cave paintings and Egyptian tombs.  It’s made of milk powder, lime, and pigment, so it’s all natural and behaves very different from its more modern counterparts like latex and acrylics.  It comes in a powder form and you mix it with warm water prior to use.  It provides a beautiful matte finish that shows amazing variances in the color.


Why did I choose Milk Paint?

It is a very unique paint that does a lot of things really well.  My two very favorite things about Milk Paint are…  1.) It is the absolute best paint for raw wood.  It penetrates the wood like a stain, but looks like a paint.  Since it penetrates the wood, it won’t chip off and it’s super durable.  2.) On certain finished surfaces, it will flake away in some areas, giving a piece an authentically chippy finish you can’t get with any other paints.  The way it will chip is unpredictable, so you have to be willing to go with it.



What if you don’t want the chippy look on a piece with an existing finish?

No problem.  There is a bonding agent that can be added directly to the first coat of paint.  It will make the paint adhere to existing finishes, other types of paint, metal, glass, and other slick surfaces.  It does help to rough up the surface with sand paper a bit prior to painting, but it’s not necessary.  In fact, I haven’t sanded any of the pieces I’ve painted with Milk Paint.  I even painted a hutch with an old oil based finish.  I didn’t sand, but I added some of the bonding agent to the first coat and it stuck beautifully.

mix with wisk 2


What is the paint supposed to look like it’s mixed? 

I’ve always mixed it by hand, but a blender will make the paint even smoother.  I sort of like feeling the consistency when I’m stirring it, but that’s just me.  The cool thing about milk paint is you can make it the consistency that works for your project.  Sometimes I like it very watery for a wash or a translucent coat and other times I like it thick, so it brushes on more opaque.  It definitely feels more watery than latex, acrylic or Chalk Paint, so don’t expect that thick, smooth body you’ve become used to.  It’s also pretty common to have a lump here or there and to have to stir it occasionally.  When you brush the paint on, though, the lumps work themselves out.  I have also found if you let the mixed paint sit for about an hour before using it, the powder is absorbed into the water and it’s a bit smoother.



Milk Paint is the sort of product you start using and it’s so different from other paints that you think you’ve messed it all up.  My mom helped me with painting my Mustard Seed dresser and she kept calling me over to make sure it was right.  That is why we have lots of tutorials and education available to support you.

Milk Paint does have a learning curve.  Because it’s 100% natural, it doesn’t have chemicals in it that make it smooth and creamy like modern paints.  I have found, though, that the more I use milk paint, the more I love it.  I hope you feel the same way.

Here’s another excellent tutorial that shows how milk paint works on different finishes.

More to come…

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  1. I really really love the dresser that your Mom was helping you paint – amazing color!

    The yellow dresser is also pretty awesome.

  2. Will you allow your paint to be sold by vendors?

  3. Hi,

    I along with my business partner, Kimberley Wilson, are stockists in Newburyport, MA for Chalk Painttm brand decorative paints by Annie Sloan. We are very interested in carrying your milk paint in our shop. Please let us know how to proceed. We are very excited about this product!!

    • Dave Wenners says:

      Where in Newburyport? We are currently looking at a job which the home owner wants us to use chalk paint or milk paint. We are a professional painting company based out of Newburyport. Do you hold classes for chalk painting? If you do what is your stores name, we will drop by and check it out.

  4. Carolyn Payne says:

    I really want to try the milk paint but I think I’ll want to use a bonding agent. What do you use as your bonding agent.? Love the milk paint because it takes us back to the old days and the look does the same thing – where things were not perfect. Love, love your site and all your tuts.

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      I actually sell a bonding agent with my line and you can add it directly to the first coat of paint.

  5. Joanna says:

    Hello, just discovered Milk Paint from your YouTube videos and I look forward to trying it out. Re Bonding Agent can one make this at home?

    Thank you.

  6. I just painted a piece “Typewriter”, when I went to see if it would “chip” it seemed to just scrape it?! Help!
    Now it has scrapes and the paint looks streaky. What to do? When I wax it will it even out the color, it looks uneven.

  7. Sharee says:

    How did u achieve the yellow on the cabinet-dresser with the white floral design painted on it?

  8. marge says:

    Can milk paint be used over furniture that has already been painted? What if it has already been painted with chalk paint?

  9. Annette LaSalata says:

    Does Milk Paint cover Latex, Acrylic and/or water based paints?

    If so, would the BONDING agent help the Milk Paint adhere better?

    Also, what do I use as a SEALER after the Milk Paint is applied?

    Please let me know.




    Hello! I love your milk paint. Coudl you send your products to Spain (Mallorca)?

    Congratulations for your beautifull work and best regards,

  11. I am a fine art painter and paint pictures on canvas. Would milk paint work on canvas in the place of oils or acrylics?

  12. Is there a special technique for painting stained wood?

  13. Lauren says:

    Hi! I know this is an older post but u can’t seem to find an answer anywhere. If I stain a table with a minwax oil based stain, and wait for it to dry, then whitewash over it with milk paint…. Will the paint stick? Do I need bonding agent? Very confused.


  14. I like this idea and I am refinishing an antique piece of furniture. Can you paint milk paint over a black wood finish if it is lightly sanded and wipe off for the black to show through?


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