Milk Paint 101 - First Coat And The Ugly Stage - Fresh Coat Finishes

Milk Paint 101 - First Coat And The Ugly Stage

Written By Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Team


This is part 4 of our Milk Paint 101 series, teaching you the basics of refinishing furniture with milk paint. So, let’s continue.

But first, here are links to the first three parts of this series, in case you missed them…

part 1 | what is milk paint?

 Part 1: What is milk paint?


part 2 | how to mix milk paint

How to Mix Milk Paint


part 3 | surface prep

Guide to Prep


And now you’ve brushed on your first coat of milk paint and you’re pretty certain you’ve destroyed your piece of furniture.  Because it looks something like this…

Dresser looking ugly after first coat


I call this the ugly stage. It’s just a thing with makeovers.  It’s the part of the makeover when you have foil all over your head or when the entire contents of your closet are on your floor.

It gets worse before it gets better.

The key is to resist the urge to drag that piece of streaky, half-painted furniture to your curb.

It will work out.


Sneak peek of finished dresser


Yes. That really is the same dresser.

I will be the first to admit that milk paint can look a little scary after the first coat (and it has on many occasions.)

One of the contributing factors to the ugly stage is that milk paint is thinner than most other paints on the market.  This is an advantage because it’s very forgiving when it comes to brushstrokes and drips.  It goes on smooth, even for sloppy painters.  It’s a pretty good tradeoff, getting an ugly first coat.

The other nice thing about thin paint is that it dries super fast.  I can usually apply the second coat as soon as I’m done with the first coat.

Another factor is that you rarely, if ever, need to use primer before applying milk paint, so the first coat goes directly onto the surface you’re painting.


Another dresser at the ugly stage


Just trust me on this one.  Push through to the second coat.


Push through and start painting second coat


Things get worlds better on the second coat.


Start of second coat


…and they get even better when everything is finished.


Finished dresser


…and we’ll talk about distressing and finishes in upcoming installments of Milk Paint 101.

Still have questions? I'll do my very best to answer them. Comment below or email me at And don't forget to subscribe to our mailing list so you'll be notified when new blogs are up!

Happy painting!

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