I am so excited to share this project with you! I have been on the hunt for a month or so for the perfect piece to milk paint. Milk painting is a super old paint method, made to be safe and chemical free and also really durable to last for years. It is also the style of paint that gives us that beautiful chippy finish. I found this vintage piece at a garage sale. It was the end of the day on a Saturday and the piece had been marked down to $10. I saw the legs and couldn’t turn it down!
I prepped my piece by doing a rough sand on the glossy surfaces. My piece wasn’t super glossy but I didn’t want to risk unwanted chipping. I found Miss Mustard Seed’s post about surface prep to be the most helpful. You can check it out here. I chose to use Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint because she has such amazing tutorials and also because her paint mixes are available on amazon! I used the color Farmhouse White and you can find it on Amazon, here.
One of the big differences with milk paint vs other paint types is that milk paint comes as a powder that requires mixing. You only want to mix what you will use because it is perishable. It seems a little daunting to mix your own but if you follow the recipe of one part paint to one part water the consistency is great. You want to mix the powder and water really well for 2 minutes with a whisk or electric mixer and then let it rest for 10 minutes before starting to paint (this helps it to thicken and helps the dry particles to dissolve).
Milk paint is really thin so don’t expect it to be the same consistency as regular paint. Because of it’s pigment though, it really covers a lot of area without using a lot of paint. I painted 3 coats on my piece and it took about 3/4 cup of powder and water. I mixed each coat separately (1/4 cups at a time) so I wouldn’t have any waste. As far as painting, it really is similar to any other project. I was careful to be consistent with brush strokes and go with the grain of the wood because you can see the grain through the coats of paint.
Milk paint seems to dry really fast, it’s pretty dry to the touch within about 15 minutes. After I painted all 3 coats, I let the piece dry overnight. In the morning I was super surprised at how well it came out! I was actually expecting more flaking from my surfaces than I had because I really didn’t sand super thoroughly. But I could see in some areas where the paint had crackled and that’s where I started distressing. To get the chippy look you don’t want to use sandpaper but rather a flat metal surface. Sandpaper will sand away paint in streaks whereas chipping the paint will lift up the flaky pieces to reveal the wood under the paint. Chipping is not something that has to happen with milk paint and Miss Mustard Seed’s Blog explains all the ways to use the paint, but I did want the chippy look so I followed instructions to achieve that.
The chipping was the most fun part for me. I actually loved the wood on my piece so I intentionally chipped away in a lot of areas. I used a metal spatula to scrape around corners and edges to lift up the paint. Some areas came up really easily and some took a little more effort. I tried to make the chips happen in areas that looked natural to me, that way with age the piece may continue to wear. I love how it came out! A couple other things to note – I did leave the legs as is on the front because I loved the wood and thought it would tie in with the chipping. Also, I left my hardware on and painted over all of the hinges, knobs and pulls because just like with the wood, the metal distresses really nicely. I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the hardware, I would totally do that again, even to add to pieces that aren’t milk painted.
Titus was a great helper with the chipping process!
Milk paint seems daunting (I have had the paint for a month and have been scared to try it) because of not knowing how it will react to certain finishes and also because, like chalk paint, it’s way more spendy than your average paint. However, there is no other type of paint that can achieve this beautiful antique look, the paint goes way further than you think it will (I still have half a bag of paint powder left after this 3 coats on this large piece and it’s a super pet and kid friendly way to paint without chemicals. Give it a try and let me know what you think!