Written By Miss Mustard Seed's MilkPaint™ Team
This is part 5 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 four parts of this series, in case you missed them…
On to Part 5!
In the Miss Mustard Seed’s MilkPaint™ collection, we have lots of beautiful and durable topcoats (aka “finishes”) for you to use on your projects. We’re breaking down all of our topcoats for you in this post so you can determine which is appropriate for the surface you’re refinishing. Plus, we’re sharing best practices for caring for your refinished furniture after your project is complete.
Read on, fellow Milk Painter!
We have several wax finishes in our MilkPaint™ collection. Some are clear while others are tinted/colored.
All of our wax finishes have a lovely natural scent and do not have strong chemical odors. They are easy to apply, spread beautifully and are buildable. (A buildable finish is one that can be built up in thin layers to provide extra protection.)
Our wax finishes provide protection on medium-use pieces. Those are your everyday surfaces like desks, chairs, dressers, etc. They have a medium absorbability, meaning they soak into the surface rather than sitting on top like a polyurethane.
Wax finishes are interior use only and are excellent options if you’re brand new to furniture refinishing. Let’s take a look at our wax finish options, shall we?
We have 2 beautiful clear wax finishes in our collection - MilkWax™ Clear and MilkWax™-ECO in Natural.
MilkWax™ - Clear
MilkWax™ Clear is made with a blend of beeswax and carnauba wax. This special formula makes it so easy to apply on your project. If you’ve ever experienced stiff waxes in the past and found them difficult to work with, you won’t have any of those problems with our MilkWax™!
It has a pleasant natural scent, making it stand out from other smelly and pungent waxes on the market today.
MilkWax™ is not food-safe, so if you need one for surfaces that will come in contact with food, consider our MilkWax™-ECO!
Our MilkWax™-ECO is a natural, food-contact safe wax made with beeswax and walnut oil. This wax is plant-based, which makes it vegan-friendly. MilkWax™-ECO™ is easy to apply, provides a scrubbable finish with a beautiful luster and has almost no odor. It is perfect for cutting boards, butcher blocks, servingware, etc.
It’s a bit stiffer than our MilkWax™, and is great for applying over breadboards, wooden bowls, serving spoons, etc. Many of our woodcarving customers enjoy using our MilkWax™-ECO Finish as their topcoat of choice for their beautiful creations.
MilkWax™-ECO can also be used as a resist for creating the chippy look!
Have a favorite pair of boots? Consider using a touch of MilkWax™-ECO to polish and protect them during the winter months.
Our tinted waxes have the same spreadability of our clear MilkWax™ combined with gorgeous colors, providing you with endless possibilities for your MilkPaint™ projects! They are topcoats in and of themselves, so no additional sealers are needed.
If you’re looking to add age and contrast to your project, then our Antiquing Wax topcoat is the perfect choice for you! It’s tinted to a warm brown, simulating the natural patina a true antique would develop over decades.
Antiquing Wax settles beautifully into recessed areas, carved details and little nicks.
It can also be applied directly over raw wood! It will stain the wood while protecting it at the same time.
Our MilkWax™™ Antiquing topcoat can be applied directly over Miss Mustard Seed’s MilkPaint™ for a rustic aged finish. If a cleaner, more controlled look is desired, apply a layer of our clear MilkWax™ first. Then, apply Antiquing Wax. Having that clear layer of wax down first will help control the intensity of the Antiquing Wax.
MilkWax™ - White
If you love a soft whitewashed look on your pieces, then White Wax is right up your alley!
Our White Wax topcoat has the spreadability of our MilkWax™ but is tinted to a soft shade of white. This allows you to create a gorgeous whitewashed or limed effect on your projects.
Like our Antiquing Wax, you can apply White Wax directly over raw wood to stain and protect it at the same time!
Here are the results of the empire buffet that’s pictured above. Marian Parsons, aka Miss Mustard Seed, painted it in Colonial Blue with a hand-painted design on the front. She finished everything with White Wax.
MilkWax™ - Grime Gray
Our Grime Gray Wax is tinted to a lovely metallic gray that mimics the look and feel of zinc metal surfaces.
Grime Gray Wax can be applied using a pouncing or stippling motion (moving your brush straight up and down), in a zig-zag or crosshatch pattern, or swirled in varying directions. The effects you can create are endless!
Grime Gray Wax crosshatched over Typewriter MilkPaint™
Chris Hardine of Midwest Cottage and Finds is a member of our core administrative team here at MMS MilkPaint™ and a proud retailer in Illinois. When we first launched Grime Gray Wax, she found an old trophy and transformed it with MilkPaint™ and Grime Gray Wax.
Chris painted the trophy in 2 coats of Typewriter with MilkGrip™ Indoor Bonding Agent.
She then added our Grime Gray Wax to mimic the look of metal! Isn’t the transformation incredible?
Photo Credit: Midwest Cottage and Finds
MilkWax™ - Saddle Brown
Saddle Brown wax is made from beeswax with a little carnauba wax. It’s ideal for use on wood or as a finish over MilkPaint™. It is easy to apply, provides a durable finish with a beautiful luster, and has almost no odor.
These premium natural food-contact-safe waxes create a durable washable finish with a soft luster. These waxes should not be applied over other finishes, and work best over raw wood or milk painted and water or oil-based stained surfaces.
In addition to our wax finishes, we have liquid options for you to consider for your next project.
MilkOil™ is a natural hemp oil finish that absorbs deep into the surface, protecting from the inside out.
Unlike our waxes, MilkOil™ is not buildable. If you apply layer after layer of MilkOil™, eventually your piece will be saturated and won’t be able to absorb any more. It’s kind of like a sponge soaking up water. There’s only so much water it can hold before it starts to drip out! The same applies for MilkOil™ - apply as much as your piece can absorb.
MilkOil™ is an interior finish and can be topped with any of our waxes for added durability. You can’t go the other way around though. Think of how water beads off a car that has recently been waxed. If you try to apply liquid finishes over our wax finishes, they will simply bead off. That’s why wax is always last!
Here are some tips for working with MilkOil™:
- You may notice excess MilkOil™ leaching out of the surface a day or two after application. Just wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. It will stop, but the surface has reached its saturation point.
- In dryer climates, you may need to reapply MilkOil™ every few months for hydration.
- One of our favorite techniques with MilkOil™ is "wet sanding". Apply MilkOil™ and don't wipe up the excess. Leave the surface wet and then sand right over top of it using fine grit sandpaper (like 320 or 400). Once you've finished sanding, wipe away the excess oil. The result is a buttery smooth finish like no other!
Here’s a helpful tutorial video on the process!
*Matte is not recommended over black paints, instead try one of our other finishes such as MilkWax™ or MilkOil™. Recommended for indoor use.
MilkCoat™ is the perfect finish for extra chippy projects, like this oak washstand.
It also seals in existing chippy paint on old doors and fireplace mantles.
Photo Credit: Jenn Baker of Eight Hundred Furniture, LLC.
MilkCoat™ does prevent paint from chipping further, but it is not a lead encapsulant. You can read more about the EPA’s guidelines for handling lead paint on their website.
*** QUESTIONS ***
How Long Do MMS MilkPaint's Finishes Take to Dry and Cure?
Almost all of our finishes will be dry to the touch within a few hours. The exception is our MilkOil™, as that takes some time to absorb into the surface. How long it takes will vary from one piece to the next. (A super dry wooden crate may be dry to the touch in an hour while a vintage dresser may take 2-3 days to be fully dry to the touch.)
All of our finishes take the industry standard 20-30 days to fully cure. Cure time is totally different from dry time. Cure time is how long it takes until the finish has finished settling out and is ready to perform as per the manufacturer’s specifications.
This means that you cannot expect the topcoat to perform at its best until it has been allowed to cure completely. That's like expecting a fresh manicure to hold up while you're fishing your keys out of your purse. We all know how that goes!
The finish needs to dry AND cure before it's heavily used. You can certainly use pieces the same day they are finished - just be gentle with them. Don't place things that are heavy or wet on top. Be careful as you're moving them and living with them. Use coasters, trivets and wipe up spills immediately.
You will notice a difference in the feel and durability of the finish once it has cured, so be patient!
Which Finish is Right for My Project?
Consider these questions when choosing a finish for your project:
- What do you want the piece to look like i.e. chippy, whitewashed, antiqued, etc.?
- How often/heavily will this piece be used? Every day? Once in a while? Hardly ever?
- Where will the piece be placed? On a wall? In the bathroom? In an office? In a child’s room?
For example, if you have a nightstand that you’d like to refinish, this will be a surface that will receive daily use. It may be a good idea to use MilkCoat™ on the top to protect against glasses of water, your charging smartphone, a heavy stack of books to read at night, etc. The base of the piece can be finished in MilkWax™ or MilkOil™, because it won’t receive as much use at the top.
See what we mean?
Considering these questions will help you determine which finishes are the best for your individual needs.
Can I Leave Miss Mustard Seed’s MilkPaint™ Unsealed?
Absolutely! Raw MilkPaint™ is matte, chalky and beautiful on certain pieces and in certain colors. Take this hutch that Miss Mustard Seed finished for example.
She decided not to seal this piece and leave MilkPaint™ in its raw state. Here’s another hutch she decided to leave raw.
The paint is Shutter Gray mixed with some Lucketts Green and Linen. It made a soft, blue/green/gray color that coordinates beautifully with her wall mural (also done in MilkPaint™). She decided not to distress this piece at all, and left the MilkPaint™ unfinished. This will allow it to wear over time.
It is important to note that MilkPaint™ is porous and will absorb oils from your hands as you use your piece. You may notice these spots appearing over time around knobs, handles and doors.
Whether you use Grime Gray Wax on a lamp, hydrate your dresser top with MilkOil™ or seal in your chippy nightstand with MilkCoat™, we’re sure you’re going to love all of the finishes in the Miss Mustard Seed’s MilkPaint™ collection!
A note from Nancy:
The team at Miss Mustard Seed's MilkPaint have presented a LOT of options! All this info is bound to raise questions when it comes to your particular projects. Please feel free to message me with any questions. If I don't know the answer, I'll talk to the experts and get you the info you need.