What is Milk Paint?

Milk Paint 101 - What is Milk Paint?

Our Number 1 Most Frequently Asked Question

If you’ve landed on our website, chances are you are curious about Milk Paint! Many folks have heard of oil, acrylic, latex and chalk type paints, but what about MILK PAINT?

Allow us to introduce you to the world of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint!

What is Milk Paint?

What is Milk Paint?

Milk Paint is a powdered form of paint. It’s mixed with water to become liquid. Our formula has 5 ingredients - Casein (milk protein), Chalk, Clay, Limestone and Pigments.

This simple formulation causes Milk Paint to behave very different from its more modern counterparts like latex and acrylics. It provides a beautiful matte finish that shows amazing color variance.

Milk Paint is also the oldest known form of paint! It pre-dates chalk type, latex, acrylic and even oil paints! Milk Paint has been around for thousands of years and has been discovered in cave paintings and Egyptian tombs. 

Shutter Gray Milk Paint in a Bowl
Now, you may ask "Why would I want to mix powdered paint when I can buy mixed paint elsewhere?" Excellent question! There are many advantages to buying paint in powdered form.
  • First, the powder has an unlimited shelf life and will not spoil, so it can be stored for as long as you need until you finally get around to redoing that old dresser. {wink}
  • Second, you can vary the consistency by adding more or less water to achieve the look you want from a transparent wood stain to an opaque full coverage.
  • Third, you only mix up as much as you need so you don't have a bunch of partially filled paint cans taking up space. And who knows if those paint can will still be usable when you want to do another project!
  • Lastly, you can mix any number of color combinations to create your own colors (more on that later). The possibilities are endless!

What Makes Milk Paint Special?

Milk Paint is a very unique paint both in its composition and the looks it can create.

It is the absolute best paint for raw wood. It penetrates like a stain, but looks like a paint. This not only preserves the grain and original texture of the surface, but it also won't chip or flake away.

Arabesque Milk Paint by Miss Mustard Seed being brushed onto a raw wood board

On pre-finished surfaces, it can flake away in some areas, giving a piece an authentically aged finish that can’t be achieved with any other paints. How it chips, when it chips and to what extent is quite random and unpredictable. While this may make some beginner painters nervous, it’s part of the fun of using Milk Paint!

Chippy antique dresser painted in Mustard Seed Yellow Milk Paint with hand-painted floral design

A Non-Chippy Milk Paint Finish

What if you don't want the chippy look on a piece with an existing finish?

We carry a product called MilkGrip that can be squirted directly into your mixed Milk Paint. This water-based acrylic emulsion will make the paint adhere to existing finishes, other types of paint, metal, glass, and other slick surfaces. 

Bonding Agent

How Do I Prep for Milk Paint?

Raw Wood - No prep is required.

Pre-Finished Surfaces - Scuff up the surface with medium grit sandpaper (100-150) prior to painting. Remove the dust with your vacuum. If you want the chippy look, do a light scuff sanding. If you don’t, go a bit heavier on the scuffing and mix Bonding Agent into your Milk Paint.

Glass & Metal - Clean the surfaces with either Windex or a slightly dampened rag. Obviously you can’t sand these surfaces, so mix up your Milk Paint, add MilkGrip and have fun!

You can find complete instructions and helpful tips for mixing milk paint here.

Be Flexible!

Milk Paint does have a bit of a learning curve if you’ve never used it before. It’s practically 180 degrees different than modern paints, and there’s a reason for that! Because of its simple formulation, it doesn't have chemicals in it that make it smooth and creamy like modern paints. It’s kind of the “natural peanut butter” of the paint world!

We recommend trying Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint out on a scrap piece of wood or on furniture with which you don’t have a strong emotional attachment. Painting great-grandma’s antique table might not be the best first-time project!

Kitchen Scale Milk Paint on a bistro chair

    So what do you want to create? Do you like a vintage, distressed look or do you prefer a sleek, minimalist decor? No matter what your style, milk paint can help you achieve it.

    Need a little inspiration? Check in here as I continue to provide information, inspiration and tips to help you give your tired, old decor a brand new makeover. Better yet, sign up below for my mailing list so you'll be notified when a new blog is available.

    As always, I'll do my very best to answer any questions you may have. Just email me at nancy@freshcoatfinishes.com

    Happy painting!

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    1 comment

    I love what you are doing. I’m looking for something like this.
    Thanks for the info.
    Keep posting for us!

    Lisa Andrews

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