Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Part One~Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint vs Latex

Originally I was going to write a comparison of all 3 types of paints, with a couple finish treatments, in one post.  As I tried to do that, it became so long winded and I was tired of reading myself 'talk'.  So I am going to break them down as such:

Part One-Milk paint
Part Two-Chalk paint
Part Three-Latex 

I'll try to get all 3 up within the week and I will include some examples of glazing and waxing finishes as well.  There are many tutorials on all of these, in particular www.missmustardseed.com or www.perfectlyimperfectblog.com, have some great ones.  But I wanted to share some advice based on my own personal experiences with each. You can never have enough info when you are trying to learn this stuff yet sometimes simple tips are overlooked.  These are mine:

Milk Paint
As you've probably read before, Milk Paint has a mind of it's own and adheres differently on every piece.  I have used this a few times with COMPLETELY different results. I buy mine from John Miller Hardware but am anxious to try MMS own brand soon as it's out!  True milk paint comes in a powder form and needs to be mixed with water.  Simply follow the directions on the package, however my tips are these:

-Use HOT water (NOT boiling-just hot) and preferably filtered,  it will help dissolve the clumps that much easier.  It will take several minutes of stirring at minimum to get a fluid consistency, and the most for your money (I imagine every clump is another 1/4 oz of paint! lol) Inevitably there will be still be clumps, and that's fine since they seemingly disappear once your piece dries.  Just try to get as many out as you can.  Also, as I've learned, the color will not be consistent if you don't mix really well.

-DO NOT mix in a blender, do this by hand.  True Milk Paint has powdered lime in it which is like colored concrete when it decides to adhere to something!  Like they say; you NEVER know how this paint is going to react....so think twice before using anything you can't clean thoroughly within minutes afterward.  I mix mine in leftover cottage cheese or sour cream containers with the lids!  You can actually store it this way for a couple weeks after you've mixed it.

-You CAN use a sprayer to apply but just be sure to strain it through something disposable first :)  And strain it several times. It will save you lots of frustration to do that right off the bat, but again...hand-painting it with a brush works in favor of milk paints special effects.

-It does not discern and it does not listen to your plans :) One aggravation with milk paint is that sometimes it will chip or peel exactly where you don't want it to.  If you try to paint over those 'flaky' parts it will only make them flake more. If it's chipping somewhere you didn't want it too-the deed is done.  You really will save yourself the frustration if you just go with it.  However if it's really not what you want, you could try to sand down the spot with some extra margin around it and reapply the milk paint later.  That is why I always keep mine a for a week or so before tossing.  However be sure to remix the leftover paint really well so color stays consistent.

Here was my first Milk Paint piece, an unfinished oak dresser.  I brushed the paint on by hand, clumps and all.  This piece had no wax or barrier of a sealant, so the milk paint acted like a beautiful 'stain' that penetrated the wood to give it a subtle yet uniform color effect, that I loved.  You could see the wood grain through the color, so it didn't look 'painted' if that makes sense...
Before Milk Paint
Gorgeous sea-green color, no glazing on this one just the paint and coat of clear wax.
My most recent experience with milk paint was on a desk that had lots of 'gunk' and wax or surface oils on top of the wood.  I didn't use any mineral spirits or special prep products, but I washed it down with some hot water and a drop of dawn dish-washing liquid.  The simpler the better I say. Then I let it dry (in 101 degree weather that took about 20 minutes ;p)  I used the same Sea-Green color as I did on the previous dresser.

I didn't get a before pic with drawers in, but you can see the existing finish was really worn and uneven.
The backs were covered in veneer that was badly rippled, in this case I chose to rip it off and paint over.  Not worth the effort in saving and since it was in back-not a detractor.
This piece chipped beautifully!
I loved the way it flaked in a 'speckled' way-like an egg.

Here is an example of where I DIDN'T want it to chip but I've learned not to mess with it.
You can apply a glaze to darken up your color if you like too.  I did glaze the the top of this desk to give it more depth and blend it in with the dark wood chipping through the rest of the piece.  To seal Milk Paint pieces I like to work with a wax, it controls and stops the flaking well while still allowing it to look authentic and vintage.  I prefer Minwax Finishing Paste over Annie Sloan's myself, it feels more durable and dries quickly but use whatever you are most comfortable with.

So there is my 2 cents on working with Milk Paint:)  Up next in Part 2, Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint.......XO


  1. I have used Porter's Milk paint in New Zealand and it is a bit strange, however the effect (in white) on a small chest of drawers for a bedroom, was fabulous. I also used it on a pair of wooden sconces with elaborate scrolls down each side. The oak piece above and the desk in the grey-blue are beautifully done and would enhance any room. Well done. We are so lucky to have people taking the time to show and tell

    1. Thank you for the comments:). I'll have to look into Porters, I'll give it a go if I can find it here.

  2. I love the green color on the desk. What brand and name was used?

  3. Thanks for sharing/scaring! haha...little nervous to try the milk paint, but your experiences are so helpful. :)

  4. what kind of glaze did you use to darken the colour?

    1. I use Valspars glazing agent (sold in a quart can or sometimes a jug) and mix with whatever color stain I want. For this desk I used walnut:)

  5. Thanks for your tips, very helpful!