How to Use Milk Paint on Furniture


While milk paint is thousands of years old, it has become a hot item for avid DIY aficionados in recent years. It can be made in a variety of ways, using combinations of milk, pigment, and lime juice or Borax to create a vintage, matte effect.

In addition to being cheap to make and durable– lasting for decades if treated properly– milk paint is non-toxic and can be completely natural (depending on the recipe you use or supplier you buy from). Before applying Real Milk Paint to your furniture, here are some important things you should know:

Know What Look You’re Going For

Once you have an idea in mind, you might be so excited that you feel like grabbing your brushes and starting right away. Take a moment to slow down and consider what look you’re going for. Like any other painting project, there are different techniques that yield different results.

For example, if you want all over coverage with a shiny finish, you will likely be required to apply a few coats and a polish on top. This means you will have days worth of work when you include drying time. On the other hand, if you like a vintage or chippy look, you may have to put different additives into the mix to get the look you want or use different brushing techniques. Knowing what you want before you get started can help you keep your project quick and enjoyable, which is especially important as milk paint has a short lifespan once mixed.

Identify Raw or Finished Wood

Painting on raw wood is always the easiest way to do things. Think about it, the paint you’re using will absorb nicely into the porous surface and you don’t have to worry about sanding, priming, bonding issues, and other challenges. On raw wood, milk paint works especially well as it has the viscosity of stain and the coverage of paint.

To use milk paint on a previously finished surface, you’ll need to do a little extra work. You can either sand and rework the surface, exposing the raw wood. Alternatively, you can use a bonding agent as a primer for your milk paint. Note that if you like the chipped, vintage look and want some of the base layer to show through, avoid putting a bonding agent in that area. For the best results possible, you should also sand the surface before applying the bonding agent.

Getting the Chippy Look

To achieve the chippy look on your furniture, you basically take the opposite approach to bonding. You can either paint over a surface that is already finished or apply a resist to raw wood to get the same effect. A resist is something like hemp oil that will prevent the milk paint from absorbing entirely. If you apply hemp oil in spots you want to chip, then immediately paint over, you will see that the paint doesn’t absorb as readily as non-resisted areas.

To enhance the aged, chippy look, you can distress the piece further using heat and sandpaper. There are also numerous types of finishes that work well with milk paint to capture that antique essence for which you strive.

At a certain point, you’ll want to make sure the milk paint stops chipping so that all your hard work doesn’t flake off onto the floor. To do so, coat the chipped areas in polyurethane to prevent further distress to the piece. Be sure to stop applying hemp oil and wipe off the excess as soon as you have achieved the look you desire.

The versatility of milk paint makes it a fantastic product to liven up a room by applying it to furniture. It will look so good, visitors to your home will hardly believe you did it yourself!