Milk Paint vs. Chalk Paint

by | Aug 2, 2011 | Decorating, Tips and Tricks | 45 comments

I get a lot of e-mail from people wanting to know which paint they should use for their project…Milk Paint or Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint.  So, for the benefit of everyone, here’s my opinion…

First, let’s look at examples of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint (ASCP)…

…and some examples of Milk Paint (MP)…

So, let’s now put them side-by-side…

What does the paint look like?

MP: Comes in a brown paper bag in a powdered form and has to be mixed with water.
ASCP: Comes in quarts, premixed.

Do you have to use primer?

MP: No, but you do have to add a bonding agent if you want the paint to grip to non-porous surfaces. I do not use the bonding agent, since I like an antique look.
ASCP: No.  ASCP has great gripping power and primer isn’t necessary.

Do you have to sand before painting?

No for both paints.

Do you have to use wax or a topcoat?

MP: No, but I would suggest it.  You can use either a wax or poly topcoat to protect the paint from moisture and wear.
ASCP: No, but again, I would suggest it.  The only time I don’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.

Can the colors be mixed to make custom colors?

MP: Yes and the colors mix beautifully.  The available colors are definitely more “primitive country” with mustard yellows and barn reds, but they have some beautiful blues, greens and grays and all colors can be mixed to suit your taste.
ASCP: Yes and the colors mix beautifully as well.  The available colors are inspired by European cities and antique furniture, so they are right up my alley.

How can you apply the paint?

Both paints can be applied with a brush, roller or sprayer.

Do the paints distress well?

MP: 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!
ASCP: 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.  (Annie prefers to distress after waxing, so the paint is rubbed back.)

Do I have to distress these paints?


Why should I use ASCP or MP instead of latex?

Latex has its place and won’t ever be removed from my paint shelf, but I love ASCP and MP 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?

Both.  That’s not a wishy-washy answer, it’s the truth.  I 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.


I know this is not a comprehensive comparison, but I hope this answers some general questions and gives you a point in the right direction.  (By the way, this post was not sponsored by MP or ASCP.  It’s just my opinion.)

Now, I need some help.  Actually Jenni needs your help.  She saw the amazing response I received when I put the call out for green Ralph Lauren pillows and turned to me (and you) as a last resort.  She found this lamp at Marshalls, bought it, loves it, but she needs one more.

Can you help a girl out?  I know it’s such a tough thing to ask all of you to go to Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Ross or Home Goods to shop.  Sigh…that’s rough.  Can you bear the burden?  If you are up to this challenge, Jenni says it’s about 2′ tall with a white drum shade.  It was $29.99, made by Illumination Station and the item number is 12446.  Send me an e-mail if you find one and I’ll put you in touch with Jenni.
Have you entered the DIY True Stories Contest?  You have a few more days…
Oh…my…who’s that girl in the bandanna?


  1. Judy

    Wish I could help her out…I have that exact lamp in my sunroom and I love it! I got mine a good while back at a local TJ Maxx and I believe I've seen them since then, hope she can find one.


  2. stefanie

    what about cost comparisons? thanks

  3. Garden Grunt

    Thanks so much for your thoughts on Milk vs Chalk! I know I'll be using one of them…{or both} in the near future–much thanks to you!

  4. downthelanegirl

    Been looking for a red, waxed paint finish like the 6th photo in your post. What did you use? LOVE all your furniture. You do a wonderful job.

  5. Kristina

    A well written post (as usual)! Thanks for explaining the difference, I've been wondering myself for a while 🙂


  6. Connie the crafterbug

    Does the wax make the chalk paint feel smooth, or does it feel like a chalk board?

  7. Farmer's Wyfe

    Thanks so much for the explanation. I wondered how milk paint was used. You made it so simple. I'll have to try it sometime. I wish I looked as good as you do in a bandana. 🙂 I always end up with paint in my hair.

  8. Jessica Singletary


    Thanks so much for this post! I've been using ASCP but have been wanting to order OFMP because of the chippy look it creates! I love the new colors that ASCP has coming out in September too! I do have one question for you if you don't mind. I just painted a table using Old Ochre & Graphite. The Graphite looks more slate than black. Any suggestions on how to make it a true black like in your photos? Thanks so much in advance!

    • Helen

      Add Mixol #1 black tinting base.

  9. Charlene Austin

    My ASCP will be arriving this week. Can't wait to try it out. I have those lamps but in the jadeite green color. I love them so much but sadly have to return them as the are too pastel for my living room. I know my store has 2 of those great lamps in Jennies color but I live in Canada so I'm no help. ((And they cost $39.99 here. Not fair as our dollar is so good right now.))

  10. Christine

    I've been making my own milk paint lately and its a lot of fun. Mine is very transparent. I have yet to try the chalk paint but I do need to soon!

  11. Sunnyside Dru

    Thanks for the comparison! I've been eyeing up some pieces to paint and this serves as a great foundation. Appreciate it.

  12. Lauren

    Thanks for the comparisons. I'm looking forward to working with the OFMP. And, I appreciate your honest opinions 🙂

  13. Carolyn

    Thanks so much for the information–you answer a lot of my questions! I'm learning so much from your blog!

  14. {hooked on hickory}

    super informative! i'm inbetween too! both look so great!


  15. Neverland

    I like the Old Fashioned Milk Paint primarily because of the cost and the sizes you can get. I've found that the 4oz testers of ASCP aren't quite enough for me to really see on a piece of furniture, like a side table – however the ~$10 pint of milk paint powder is plenty for me to play with and finish an entire piece of furniture, distress, give another top wash, etc. I feel like I get a lot more bang for my buck with milk paint. For $40 you can get 4 colors to mix for a huge variety of color choices. I like that, and I like that you can thicken it up at will. However I like the finish of ASCP better if the piece has been given several coats plus wax. I just can't stomach the cost to get to that point.

  16. Galexi Cupcakes

    Hi Marian,
    This question actually has nothing to do with either paints above. I was wondering a lot of your painted furniture are antiques and I've always been told if you paint them or alter antiques in anyway, they lose their value. I guess my question is what are your thoughts on this? Are most of your customers looking for old pieces regardless of their value? Best regards,
    Jackie Hale

  17. Emily Netz

    Thank you for the comparison! I have been axiously awaiting this post :0)
    I LOVE your blog btw.

  18. Cindy

    Thanks for the great post on the paints… and i will definitely keep my eye out for that lamp at my TJ Maxx!


  19. Alison @ The Polohouse

    Thanks so much for comparison.
    I haven't asked but have been wanting to know the difference.
    I am also glad to know that I should poly top coat my latex painted pieces. I have several pieces in my antique booth right now and with the high humidity, everything that sits upon them is leaving a mark in the paint….which dried for almost a month in my house!

    Now I know what the problem is!
    (These pieces are black so I did not wax them.)

    You are always so helpful and thoughtful.
    Great post. Thanks a million!

  20. Melissa

    I have 2 of the exact lamps from here in Canada at HomeSense (our Home Goods) and just bought them a few weeks ago, so Im sure more will come!

  21. Annie

    I have that exact lamp and wish I'd bought the second one at HomeGoods but it's now gone here in my area of Minnesota. Good luck to her! On another note, I've used milk paint recently on a project as more of a glaze and without the bonding agent and thought it turned out lovely on the dresser over latex paint. I've yet to try the chalk paint but just might after your thoughts. Thanks!

  22. Lori

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you : )

  23. CCL

    Who do you order your chalk paint from? Some of the sites are so new they are not complete – also do you know if it is possible to obtain paint samples of the chalk paint colors?

  24. Anonymous

    A man at a garage sale today told me you can purchase Chalk paint at Carters Antique store in Dekalb. Just wanted to let all of your Chicagoland readers know. Maybe call first but makes a fun day trip lots of cute stores

  25. Steph @ Birdhouse

    Thank you for this post! I was in a store that sold the milk paint this weekend and almost bought some, as I remembered you liking it so much. But, I've also got an order of chalk paint coming in, and in the end I decided I didn't know enough about the milk paint to spend more money on it before trying the chalk paint. Thanks again!

  26. Sophie from Grins and Sighs

    Great post thanks!
    I've been looking everywhere for chalk paint in Australia but no luck so far, Just found 2 places that sell the milk paint but they are really quite expensive! Might try ordering from the US! In any case, thanks for explaining the differences between the 2. I was a bit confused!

  27. Pepper Blossom

    great post! thank you so much. i have a china cabinet that i am wanting to make over and i have been wondering which kind of paint to use.

    i also have another question…the blue "paisley" curtains in the 2nd picture down from the top…would you happen to remember where you got those from? thanks again 🙂 (

  28. Shannon

    I would love to pin this but I am kinda new to pintrest and I can not find the pinit button. Can you help find it. Thanks a bunch!

  29. launa


    Just wondering if you could share with me what color was used on the green dresser, the first image in the milk paint section…….it’s so beautiful! I’m getting ready to do my first project and I would LOVE a color similar!

  30. Vicky

    I was introduced to you by a lady shopping at my garage sale friday. She was buying my painted furniture, and said, do you know about chalk paint? I replied no, but tell me more. She said there is a formula for making it from Latex paint and plaster of paris. She was in a hurry and said just check out Do you know anything about that formula? I’m so excited about trying it! My junk furniture is waiting patiently for this treatment! I ujst love your site.

  31. Jamie Kohler

    I have used ASCP for the last 6 months on my pieces and LOVE it! Now I am considering trying out some milk paint. Thanks for the nice comparison!

  32. Erin

    What exact paint did you use for the 4th picture from the top? Thank you!

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      That’s Aubusson and Old White by ASCP.

  33. Candi McGehee

    I also spend a lot of time on Pinterest. Thats how I found you and your wonderful site. Let me ask you something please…I saw a recipe for DIY chalk paint so I tried it. “1/2 cup plaster of paris to 1/2 cup hot water to 1 1/2 cup latex…I tried it with some satin black Painted a hutch with it then distressed it then waxed it…looks great the buffing took a while thou….any thoughts or opinions? I welcome your thoughts…I am new at this type of painting but so far I love it!

  34. heather

    Dear Miss Mustard Seed,

    Just purchased and old cypress mantle and would love to try one of these finishes! What color combonations are pictured in photos 1 and 10?

  35. Steve

    This lamp Jenni is looking for is at Target, it is made by Threshold and is $39.99 available on-ine

  36. DeborahW

    Very helpful. We will be in B.C. this summer and I thought gee the airlines wont let me bring cans of paint home.. but maybe powder!!!

  37. Courtney

    I am new to painting furniture and heard about you from Layla/The Chapel Market. I was wondering the color combo you used in the second picture from the top? I love it and was thinking it might be perfect for my first project!

  38. Gwen

    Can you layer milk paint over chalk paint? If I want a smooth first coat, but one of Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint colors. Can I paint it over the base coat of chalk paint?
    I have a very dark slick piece of furniture, don’t want a chippy look, and also don’t want to strip or sand either.

  39. Jackie

    What is the bonding agent needed to add to milk paint to make it like chalk paint ?



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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