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Milk Paint Basics

By Miss Mustard Seed on Jun 05, 2012

Since I announced that I would be coming out with my own paint line, I’ve received lots of questions about Milk Paint.  I’ll be making 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.  Until those are up and available, I thought I would start sharing about the Milk Paint in a few posts, so everyone knows what to expect when it hits the shelves.



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.

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 I am going to make the video tutorials.  I think if you can SEE what it looks like step-by-step, the potential for panic will be greatly minimized.  That’s the goal, anyway!

More to come…

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