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If Milk Paint freaks you out…


…this post may help prevent that.  Hopefully.

Let me start by saying that I love Milk Paint and I’m currently selling Milk Paint under my own brand.  That doesn’t mean that I think everyone else will love Milk Paint as much as I do or that I think it’s perfect for every painting situation.  I love it, but I can love it realistically.  So, when people tell me they are scared to try it, I understand.  It comes in powder form, which is different.  It has a different texture, which is…well…different.  It doesn’t behave the way modern paints do.  All of those things can freak people out.  BUT, it’s an amazing paint.  Everything that makes it different also makes it special.

I think the key to loving Milk Paint is understanding it.  I think it might help to show a piece in progress, so when your milk paint starts to look different from the other paints you’re used to, you don’t freak out.

This is my subject.  A 100+ year old wardrobe.  She’s a beauty.


One of my readers sent an amazing picture to me showing a fireplace surround she painted in Tricycle, Typewriter, then Shutter Gray.  It looked amazing, so I’m ripping her off.  :)  I told her I was and I’ll show you the piece she sent me.  (By the way, she doesn’t have a blog or I would link to her.)

Anyway, here is how the piece looked with one coat of Tricycle.  I decided not to paint the door panels, since I’m going to paint those in Grain Sack and they won’t get distressed a lot.  I did add the bonding agent, because I didn’t want chipping.


I used a fairly thin coat, since the final color isn’t going to be Tricycle.


I then painted on a thin coat of Typewriter over the Tricycle, again leaving the door panels unpainted.



…and now Shutter Gray…



See.  This is the stage of the game where some people might freak out.  It looks streaky.  The finish is uneven.  I’ve said it before…there is almost always a point as I’m working on a piece of furniture when I hate it and want to haul it to the closest thrift store just to get it out of my sight.  I resist that urge, though, knowing it’s going to look amazing in the end.



Now, I have no idea how this cool texture happened.  It looks like crackling, but it’s smooth.  That’s just how it happened and I’m sort of digging it.  It just goes to show how unexpected furniture painting can be.  I am afraid I’m going to lose it with the second coat, but we’ll see.



So, if you’re working on a piece and it looks like this about halfway through, don’t fret.  It’s going to look much, much better once it’s done.  Just get through the ugly stage.



I also wanted to show what the paint I was using looked like.  This is paint that was mixed up about ten days ago with the bonding agent added.  I left it sitting on my workbench covered with plastic wrap.  It was thick and the pigment was separated, but I added more water and stirred it around.


 It was a little lumpy, but went on smooth.


So, if your paint looks like this, it’s okay.  If latex paint looks like this, something is wrong, but it’s okay for Milk Paint to look a little funky.  Just remember it’s different.  And the differences are what make it a great paint.

Here are a couple other pieces in the hopper…



I know.  I love a good caned French chair.

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  1. txdakini says:

    I’m still trying to work up the courage to use my milk paint. I really appreciate your efforts at educating and encouraging us. Every day, I say, today’s the day, just do it. Then I think, maybe I should watch the videos again!
    Is this the final on that piece or are you waiting for it to chip? And I would love to see the piece that the other person sent in as well. Every little bit is inspiring.

  2. Cheryl Victor says:

    Thanks for letting us all know, not to be afraid,
    NOW, when will we see this piece finished,
    that will help us, know that the end result
    will be OK, and look great

  3. If you want the chippy look, does it matter if the milk paint is applied somewhat thin or thickly? Is one more likely to ensure chippiness?

    So on this wardrobe, I see the layers of different colors. If one is going for the chippy look, would all colors be seen?


    and also, THANK you for emphasizing this point – abou the ugly time. I have an “ugly” piece sitting out in my barn – taunting me. It got the best of me – I walked away WEEKS ago. I’ve got to get back out there and GET PAST THE UGLY!!

    and, please! show us the wardrobe?


    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      It’s not finished yet! :) I’m hoping to finish painting it today and will take pictures of it tomorrow.

  5. Shawna says:

    I bought LINEN just the other day. I mixed a small batch just to paint some dresser drawers. I was going over a really dark mahogany finish and felt I needed a good three coats to get a solid finish, however I didn’t mix enough paint. So I went to mix up another batch of paint but used warm water instead and got a completely different consistency – it was way too thin and it didn’t help when I added more of the powder. I’m thinking I probably should just use cool water from now on?? Long story short, I ended up painting the drawers a different color for a completely different reason, but I was still able to achieve a little bit of a chippy look due to the fact that there was milk paint underneath – and I LOVED the chippy effect!! I’m going to give it a whirl again on a different piece tomorrow. I think it takes some trial and error, so maybe start out on a smaller piece just to get a feel for it. The lumps did drive me a little crazy as well, but like Marian stated, they do work themselves out. I’m a believer and am determined to make chalk paint my primary paint for my new business!!

    • Annie says:

      “chalk paint” .. so not Milk paint?? I use Chalk paint now and am waiting to try MMS s Milk paint soon .. I cant wait to play around with it am hoping for great results!

  6. I think this is interesting– different paint technique turn out so vastly different. I’m finding this out in all my experimenting with paints. Most of my painting has been…DIY stuff. I can’t afford to buy certain chalk paints and things. In fact you’ve heard me say it before…Ooops! paint is my favorite color. Why? because it’s $5 !!!

    So when I experiment… I certainly don’t freak out. It’s just paint. I guess maybe some people might get upset about their projects because of money they put into it. I you just tell’s only paint.
    It might be a little more stress free. :)
    I love this piece when it was ‘tricycle’ with a brush of ‘typewriter over it’ …very rich looking. Can’t wait to see the finished product.


  7. “You had me at Typewriter” :)

  8. I’ve been wondering….what happens if you don’t use the bonding agent, the final piece is all chippy and falling apart but you really wanted something different. Or you didn’t want it THAT chippy. Can you add the bonding agent and go over it a second time? Or do you have chippy texture under smooth paint with an overall mess?

    I have a piece sitting in my garage waiting for my milk paint order 😉 It was originally mint green with something beige/orange underneath. I stripped more than 2 coats of paint off (or so I thought) with the intent to stain it before milk paint so when the milk paint chipped off, you’d see dark wood underneath. Well, the stain didn’t take so well (mostly in the recessed panels) because maybe I didn’t really have all the paint off? I sure thought I did….went through 2 cans of stripper. So while I want some chippy action, I’m worried it’s going to come off and show not-so-pretty-kinda-stained-wood underneath.

  9. Wait…what happens after the ugly stage? Oh, the suspense!

  10. Great post! Just got your book yesterday and I’m loving it. All the photos are so gorgeous and loving all your tutorials. Can’t wait to see how all these pieces come out.

  11. Deb Miller says:

    Today I had my first exciting encounter with MMS Milk Paint, and I am thrilled beyond belief! Starting small, I painted the legs (stained and poly’d) with that GORGEOUS Kitchen Scale milk paint – and it started to self-distress after only about 15 minutes! I had such a fun afternoon watching it ‘cook’ – when the paint was completely dry, I simply rubbed with a very fine sanding cloth, then just a paper towel to loosen and remove the scaley, flakey paint, leaving beautiful, AUTHENTIC looking chippy gloriousness! So much superior to my previous distressing techniques. Next, I’m painting an entire piece in Boxwood, using the bonding agent to give a consistent finish to that piece. Can’t wait! Thank you, Marian, for such a wonderful line of products!

  12. Oh how fun to see some pics of the piece in progress! I am so amazed at how true it is that at some point the piece I am painting I think ‘yuck’ and ‘I’m not going to like this’ and if I just keep going it all turns out ok! I’ve been madly trying to get sewing projects caught up so I can finally do some more painting!

  13. I have now painted several pieces with all kinds of paint from AS chalk paint which I love to using a milk paint already mixed for me in a can-of which you cannot get the chippy look. I bought MMS milk paint and took a leap of faith on a dresser i found in a dumpster….so if it didnt work no costs to me. Let me tell you it was wonderful. I got chippy look and it was great. The 2nd piece I used MMS milk paint and it chipped so much i needed to re-sand what was left off. So what did I learn? Decide if you want the chippy look (and sometimes its too much chippy) or use the bonding agent. You will be taking chances on what you paint but the outcome has been great with the exception of one piece that was soooo chippy. Both pieces of furniture had the same type top coat and both reacted differently. I do have to say it is my favorite so far and if keep comparing it to chalk paint you will never like it.

    You go MMS and best of luck to you and your business. I support it 100%.

  14. aaah! teaser! I want to see what the wardrobe looks like after!!! Love this post, cant wait to get more creative with milk paint :)

  15. I am still plucking up the courage & getting the knowledge to jump in & do some milk paint …. I have a little bookcase that is glossy & dark & it is just begging to be light & gorgeous so I am trying to decide how to do that … it seems like bonding agent is the way to go … I am loving the “Shutter Gray”- what a fabulous colour.

    I just need the courage now to go for it. Thanks for a lovely post & I really want to see how that piece turns out ….

    Dee at the Carlton

  16. Thanks for the tips and what a great hutch! I started a second piece with your milk paint today. Yup, I am in love but no surprise there…using Mustard Seed Yellow and noticed that the mixture (vs. the French Enamel I used on a different piece) coated differently even though I used the same measurements. Wondering if different colors (because of tinting differences,formulas, etc.) will sometimes do that? Does that make sense? I am a painting fool over here though and have been sharing with my readers on my blog about your new product! Want to get as much knowledge about it as I can…thanks for any feedback!

  17. love seeing the work,and how you did this stage …can’t wait to see the final…me can’t wait to finish a piece I am working on right…now…and it is kicking my ….so we see how your pieces will end up …and I hope what I am doing will come out…because I have to get to another..

    how well does milk paint handle shiny,80’s finishes
    I love true antique,vintage but ever now and then find a cool piece with a shiny finish..and I hate sanding…how does milk paint work

  18. Thank you for this. I have typewriter and tricycle on their way here to be used with the bonding agent. I’m really hoping I like the way it works. I’ll be putting the paint over laminate and I’m hoping with the bonding agent I only get a little chipping if any. It’s going into my boys’ room with WWII inspired finishes. We’ll see…I’m so excited to use them.

  19. I have a wardrobe that was built as a wedding gift from my grandparents in 1927. Except for the drawer, it looks very similar to yours. I think it might even be the same kind of wood. Before I inherited it, it was refinished by my uncle in the 1960’s (at my grandmother’s request) and in some places the finish is the same texture as the cool texture you showed. No one knows how or why it happened. I wonder if it’s something in the wood?
    Now when are you going to show us how your wardrobe turned out so I can get over my fear and think about redoing my wardrobe? You know, when we eventually move back to the States and I pry it from my mother, who is holding for me so the army movers don’t destroy it.

  20. I’m going to take the plunge and paint my dining table and chairs! Your tutorials have given me confidence. Thanks! I went on the Luckett’s website to purchase the milk paint, but the antiquing wax was out of stock. Do you know when it will be back in stock?

  21. I’m so glad you shared this! I really want to try your milk paint but I needed to learn a little more about it first so I understand what would be the right piece for it. I can’t wait to see how the finished wardrobe looks. And I’m just loving your colors.

  22. mary eguia says:

    LOVE IT. Oh lock your door cause I’m coming for the empire chest of drawers!!!!!!!! ha.have a great day.

  23. fit to be tied ties says:

    please do not paint that lovely walnut chest.

  24. Thank you! I can’t wait to give this a try! Your pieces are wonderful! I started reading your book last night and I couldn’t put it down! What a great read! It’s informative and inspiring! The photographs are gorgeous! I really love it!

  25. I have SO many old garage sale pieces of furniture I’d LOVE to try something like this on, but I’m such a chicken… so they sit around all mis-matched shades of brown. :( You inspire me.. maybe one day I’ll jump in and try this!

  26. Anne Boykin says:

    Dear MMS, I have your book! It’s absolutely fabulous!! Perfectly wonderful. Chocked full of pictures we haven’t seen before too. Congratulations on a wondeful book. Hugs, Anne Boykin

  27. We literally have an almost exact wardrobe. I’ve been considering painting it and now I can see how shutter gray would look. Thank you!

  28. I also have a piece similar to the wardrobe. Looking forward to see the whole process.

  29. Nitra says:

    I am wondering if you have tried using milk paint with a hvlp sprayer ?

  30. I gasped when I saw the third coat!!! SO gorgeous!!!! Thanks for showing this. I just got the wax, crackle agent and my first color- linen :) I cannot wait to paint my dresser this afternoon! So excited to be a part of your “baby”!

  31. Eilene says:

    My Milk Paint in Boxwood was delivered today, and I want to paint tonight! No waiting.. no fear. Well, maybe waiting if my newborn doesn’t sleep. :-)

  32. Cannot wait to see how this turns out!


  33. Sue Hoke says:

    so am i getting it right that to make it not so chippy you have to add the bonding agent when painting? also is typewriter color-brown? i am in need of a dark brown color.thanks

  34. Lillian says:

    Why did you paint the item three different colors?

  35. Everything you do, I love. When I read about it, I think, “I’d never do that.” Then I look at it again, and the love begins, and then I am on Craigslist looking around for something similar. I am waiting for time to use my first 2 bags of milk paint and I went out and bought two brand new 2″ brushes just for the special occasion.

    I just LOVE that dresser. What is it called exactly so that I may look for one? And I am so envious of your crystal knobs.

  36. Laura says:

    Finally received notice my Tricycle shipped today! I have been planning a project for 6 months (which is how I discovered your blog) Guess what I will be doing this weekend? You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

  37. Jerri C. TN says:

    Okay, I need exacts ……… I know you used the Bonding Agent w/ the Tricycle, but did you use the Bonding Agent w/ Typewriter & Shutter Grey too?

    Can’t wait for my Milk Paint to arrive!!!

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      No, you only need to use the bonding agent on the first coat, so I only used it with the Tricycle.

  38. Marian…I cannot tell you how happy I am that you posted this! I’ve been telling everyone about milk paint and how wonderful it is and not to be scared of it for weeks now… And yes, that includes 100+ bloggers at the Southern Bloggers Conference this last weekend. It really is such a unique paint and I love it! I finished a Luckett’s Green cabinet last week and a Kitchen Scale sideboard today and just love the authentically aged look the paint gives. BTW…add super-durable to the list of qualities too…one of my painted and waxed pieces fell on a metal potrack in the back of my truck and didn’t even get a scratch or scrape!

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      I saw pictures of you on Twitter! You looked so cute and I heard Milk Paint was very well represented. :) Thanks, Kristen.

  39. Glad to see this post. Just tried my first piece with the Linen color on a small spindal table, for me too chippy. I didn’t use bonding agent but, lovvved the antique wax with it. Waiting to see if I need to sand & start over with bonding agent this time for a less chippy look. Love reading everyones experiences & trials. Just bought a neat wardrobe this weekend at a yard sale, glad I started with a small piece first. I will just keep trying, loving it!!!

  40. Hi Marian! I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to find out that your milk paint is being sold 5 minutes from my house. I just posted yesterday about my buffet that was once my grandmothers. I painted it tricycle, and I have NEVER EVER been more happy with a piece!! I actually had the paint for about a week after I bought it, because I was a little nervous about the paint. But I am SO happy with it. I also have never used wax like your antiquing wax, and I was so pleased with it. It truly was the cherry on top! I also didn’t want this piece too chippy because the wood isn’t dark, so I put a sloppy coat of Graphite on first, and I was thankful that it worked as planned. I also purchased Linen for my bedroom set. I just wondered if you can give me a tip on using the antiquing was on the linen. Should I only use it in creases and use clear wax on the rest? I’d love for you to check out my buffet! I can’t stop talking about your paint!


  41. Carol Duke says:

    It has not freaked me out. I love painting with it. I use a hand blender to mix it, add some bonding agent or not and off I go..

  42. Cynthia Smith says:

    Do you have any tips for painting the caning on a chair? I am working on a frenchy chair right now and everytime I think I have the caning finished, I look at it from a different angle and find spots I’ve missed. Thanks. I am using chalk paint on this chair, but have one in the wings waiting for my milk paint order. Can’t wait to try it.

  43. My table looks like it has scales in some spots. Is this normal? Can I add another coat and is it recommended to add a finish??/

  44. Would milk paint be suitable for kitchen cabinets? I love the way it looks & have a specific look that I am contemplating for my kitchen, just curious if it is durable enough. Thanks. Tiff

  45. Your pieces look awesome! In January I am going to start painting, distressing, and selling furniture it is something I have always wanted to do. It won’t be in big quantities as I do not have the room, and I have a pain disorder so will take me awhile to do the pieces. I have purchased some cheap items at my local restore to start with. you use milk paint which I am assuming you just mix with water and it’s good to start painting with? but…I have heard chalk paint is really awesome too I have used neither milk nor chalk paint. I have a person on my facebook you have probably heard of, Dumpster Diva? I LOVE her painted pieces she uses chalk paint so my question is..What is the difference in the chalk and the milk paint?? If you could let me know I would really appreciate it.

    thank you

  46. I have another question if I may??? If I can not afford milk or chalk paint what kind of store bought paint would I use? latex? satin? I am at a loss
    thank you very much

  47. Hi Marian!!!
    I just opened the bag of Driftwood Genuine Milk paint that I bought on-line, to start practicing with this type of paint. I would love to get some of yours soon, and am figuring out the colors for a large wardrobe the one in this blog, that I am planning to start soon.
    I plan on doing the first coat (not the panels) in this color. Then a second coat , of one of your colors. Does it need the bonding agent on the 2nd coat? Then the third coat in another color ,of yours, should this be the thickest coat? And yes, I will need some bonding agent from you too. Now the last pic is the wardrobe in all Shutter Grey!! What is the final color that you did the rest of the wardrobe and not the panels? I hope that I am not too confusing with my questions!!!Thanks for listening!

  48. Betty says:

    I have a question which I have not been able to get answered: will the MP chip when painted over a piece which has been previously painted? I have an old dresser which is painted a light green but already chipping; I want to use a MP to repaint it and wonder what the results will be.


  1. […] for the suspense, but I didn’t show the reveal of the wardrobe in yesterday’s post about working with Milk Paint because it wasn’t finished, yet.  I worked on it more today […]

  2. […] walking you through as I paint and finish it.  You can check out the first post about painting it HERE and the second post about distressing and waxing it HERE.  I purchased this wardrobe from an […]

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