I’ve written a lot of posts about milk paint. In fact, we have an entire blog just dedicated to all things MMS Milk Paint. I could talk about it a lot more than I do, but I never want my readers to feel like this blog is a milk paint commercial. But when I asked you what you wanted from my blog, I was surprised to learn that many of you wanted to hear more about milk paint.
I mention it a lot, but I realized that it’s almost in passing, so if you don’t know anything about milk paint, me simply saying that I painted something in milk paint, distressed it and applied hemp oil might not mean much. I’m glossing over the details that would be helpful for someone trying to replicate the looks I’m achieving.
So, I’ve decided to write a series to those who are brand new to milk paint and to those who have used it, but want to increase their knowledge.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is milk paint?
Milk paint is not new, for those who didn’t know that already. In fact, it’s one of the oldest forms of paint. It was found in the pyramids and cave paintings. If you’ve seen, or are fortunate enough to own, an antique piece (100+ years old) with the original paint on it, that paint is almost certainly a form of milk paint.
So, I didn’t invent milk paint, in case you were under the impression that I did!
Milk paint isn’t just a cutesy name out of left field. It’s called milk paint, because the base ingredient for it is casein, which is the protein found in milk. In the raw state, casein looks a lot like powdered milk! (It’s in the top spoon in the picture below.)
The ingredients used to turn casein into paint are, from top to bottom, casein (milk protein), chalk, clay, oxide (natural pigments) and limestone. That is ALL that is in MMS Milk Paint. Five all natural ingredients.
It comes in powdered form, which can be intimidating for those used to using liquid, pop-the-can-and-go paints.
The reason it’s sold in powdered form, is because once it is mixed, it is perishable. In powdered form, it will last indefinitely, which is nice if you’re an occasional painter.
When it’s mixed with water to make the powder into a paint, it will last about a week, depending on how it’s stored. For this reason, just mix it in small amounts, as you need it.
I usually just cover it in Press-n-Seal wrap and then add some water and give it a good stir when I’m ready to use it again.
So, why milk paint? Why did I choose that paint to sell under my brand?
When I started using it, I was excited to find what I had been looking for in a paint for years – a finish that looks authentically old. I feel like it has more “soul” and personality than any other paint. That’s what hooked me, but I’ve come to learn it’s not just a one-trick pony and I’m constantly surprised by its versatility.
I have to be honest, when I first launched the line, I felt like I might feel obligated to use milk paint all the time. As I started using milk paint more and more, though, I discovered that the more I used it, the more I loved it.
I hope, through this series, you’ll discover the same thing.
In the next Milk Paint 101 post, we’ll work on taking the intimidation out of mixing…
You can find that HERE.
It’s funny what post we decide to comment on…..I read everyday, i want to make a comment often…and just don’t but today I was excited to see this post and am hoping that you can help us figure out how we decide how much milk paint to mix for our pieces of furniture. I painted a 3 drawer dresser and had to mix paint 3 times,,,ugh, it made for some colour variations in the mustard seed yellow.
Looking forward to this series. Thanks Marian
Thank you so much for doing this series! I bought 2 bags of your milk paint almost a year ago and I’m afraid to open and use them because I don’t want to mess up!! I think this is what I need to give me the courage to experiment. Thanks again!
I am looking forward to this series. I have watched all your tutorials and read your two books. So far I have used your milk paint to paint two kitchen stools in Layla’s Mint, one dresser in Apron Strings, one secretary in Ironstone and Bergere and a desk/bureau in Grain Sack. However, when I am painting I always feel that I am doing something wrong: I have trouble mixing the paint without getting a lot of lumps, it takes more coats than I had anticipated, once dry the paint doesn’t feel smooth to the touch like other paints…. But I love the ‘old’ feel that you get with milk paint! I am also dying to find out how painting Kriste’s walls with milk paint turned out. I would like to use it on my living room walls but want to wait until I hear back from you…
Unfortunately, your paint didn’t seem to last “indefinitely” for me. I bought a bag of Ironstone when you first launched. I used it a couple years later and it did not mix well, it had rubbery globs all through the paint–not at all like the clumps that are “normal”. It made a mess of my project. Maybe your paint quality has improved, but it definitely scared me off.
Kari, That can happen sometimes in new bags of paint, so it’s not a problem with the paint being old. I know what you’re talking about and, though it’s rare and definitely not normal, it does happen sometimes, especially with Ironstone. I think there’s something off in the ratio of the mix in that specific bag. If you’d like to try it again, I’d be happy to send you a replacement bag on the house! Just let me know!
Oh yes please….more info will take the intimidation out of it for me! Bring it on!!
btw….thought of you when I saw this page in the White Flower Farms catalog!!
So glad…..bought some paint, but afraid to use!! lol afraid of the mixing quantities. Want to make sure I make enough, but don’t over do it.
Is milk paint safe to use in a home with serious milk allergies? Would it be safe once it’s cured, or when it has been coated over with a sealant? Would the sealant need to be ‘solid’ like poly, or would a ‘flexible’ sealant like hemp oil or wax be sufficient? I have a small relative that has many severe allergies, and love the idea of such a natural product, and I know his momma would be interested, but I’m still a little scared off this product for permanent pieces in my home since they visit so often.
Thank so much. I love all the inspiration you give!
A few of our retailers have milk/dairy allergies and have not had any trouble using the paint. If the allergy is only when dairy is ingested, it wouldn’t be a problem as long as they’re not eating the paint! If an allergy is more severe, like a reaction is caused just with contact, like using a milk-based soap or lotion, then I would definitely ask a doctor/allergist before working with it. I wouldn’t imagine it would be an issue with dry paint that’s been finished, though.
That being said, I am not a doctor or allergist, so if there is any concern at all, err on the side of caution. It’s just not worth anyone getting sick!
I’m excited to learn more. I’ve used milk paint for several years but admit I want to know all I can about it. I wonder if you could give the paint color for picture #6 (the ironstone dish with spoon on cutting board). It’s gorgeous!
That is Eulalie’s Sky.
I love your milk paint and use it all the time! It is my favorite paint!
Yay! I just bought a dresser off Craigslist, and I want to refinish it with milk paint. It will be my first refinishing job … my husband does all the painting in and around the house. Which is really nice, but I want to do *something* that isn’t cooking, cleaning, caring for children, homeschooling, etc. Something creative for a change! I found a MMS paint distributor nearby and will make the drive soon to pick out a color. This series is very timely for me!
I adore milk paint! I make my own from milk and whatever paint I like. I have learned all kinds of ways to play with it to get varied effects. I save unused amounts in the back of my fridge to paint shabby wicker furniture. I have used milk paint almost exclusively since I discovered a Martha Stewart recipe. I even discovered how to make milk “stain.” Thanks for this article. I hope more people will fall in love with it. I think milk paint is still fairly obscure in light of the chalk paint fervor.
I have questions regarding milk paint. I still have two bags of milk paint, one grain sack and shutter gray. They have not been used since two years. Are they still good to use now? I am planning to do on the miniature secretary desk.
This series is PERFECT timing, thank you! I have been itching to start playing around with milk paint because the colors and finish are so beautiful, but like others, I have been a little intimidated. Eager to learn more about it 🙂
Yay! I’m very excited about this series. Can’t wait to learn about t milk paint and how you use it.
I love this post and the upcoming series of posts on MMS milk paint! I am one of the ones who are intimidated by using something that starts out as a powder and mixing it to make paint.
I’m so excited to read your next post on your wonderful product because I’ve been following your posts and ideas for almost three years now.
Great job overall Marian
You have a separate blog for your milk paint? Not just the page with the colors? What’s the address?
I’ve often wondered about milk paint but never took the time to inquire about it. Just learned that
it is comes dry – how do you know how much water to add? It kinda scares me a bit. Plus, I have
never seen a piece painted with milk paint compared with a piece chalk painted. Could you picture
the comparison? So glad you are taking the time to explain what could turn out to be a fun project.
Can you explain what the difference is between milk paint and chalk paint and what are the benefits of using milk paint.
I am just getting into this so i am a real newbie
Really happy to see e this new series on milk paint. I am one of those that just dive in, so when I found your milk paint line I painted an old cabinet in typewriter and love it. But I did my utility room cabinets in bergere with white wax and not sure about them yet. Would love to go to a class but next best thing is a series on the how to. I am moving up to my kitchen cabinets next. So all the advice you can give will be greatly appreciate.
Thank you so much! I have always been intrigued but have never given it a go. Have been experimenting a lot with Annie Sloan chalk paint but have yet to try your Milk paint….. Maybe it’s time. Thank you for the great info!
I’m very interested in the fact that it’s natural… and a little afraid of the mixing part, but that should all be better after next post!
I use milk paint and f&b and have to say I much rather prefer the milk paint. I love the variation in the colours and how smooth the paint is after a quick sand and a coat of hemp oil. I find it’s as if the paint was always part of the item. It’s a bit scary when I try I new colour and the piece is in it’s ‘ugly’ stage but I know from experience that it will end up fabulous. The paint isn’t very known here in the U.K so I love talking about it to people. The only proem is that once I used the paint I find it very difficult to part with the items I need to sell. I’ve painted a fre dressers, bureaus, bookshelves, sideboard and recently turned an old tv/media untitled into a childrens’s wardrobe/desk. What a fun project!
I enjoyed your article , I’ve been looking for paint like this.
I’m so glad you are doing this series! I was intimidated at first by the idea of using milk paint. The mixing, the risk of ruining a perfectly good piece of furniture, the uncertainty about how it would turn out – all of this goes against my control-freak nature. But I’m now in the middle of my 4th milk paint project and I’m pretty pleased with the results. The more I read the milk paint blog posts and watch the tutorials on line, the more tips and tricks I pick up. For example, I just read a post from a few years ago about how you distress pieces and that you use a light sanding bar between coats to get a smoother finish. I’ve never done that before but am trying it on the current project. I’d love to hear more about how to use the waxes to get the finish that you want, and how to get rid of lumps and avoid clumping as you get to the bottom of your cup of milk paint. Thx again for this series, I can’t wait for the next installment.
This series is JUST what I needed! I’m determined to paint a couple of pieces using milk paint, but I just haven’t been able to make myself do it, because there have been so many unknowns to me. Perfect timing. Bless you!
I have several colors of MMSMP and it has worked out on every piece I’ve painted. I like the ease I am able to stress a piece after it is painted to achieve the look I want. I bought an old farm cupboard a year ago and painted it in Eulalies Sky and I so love it. I allowed the old buttermilk color to come through in spots and it really does give the cabinet that aged over the years look…
You need an ALLERGY FREE VERSION!!!! I so wish the paint could be made without casine. My son has an anaphylaxic milk allergy so we have no milk proteins in the house 🙁 I love your blog though and have been following for years!!!
I’m excited to learn more from this series! I’m a new milk paint user and need all the help I can get!
Do you ever sell your old drapes or things you’ve made that you don’t use anymore? Your work is amazing. I loved those blue drapes in your living room!!