Episode #39: Using Milk Paint

Milk paint is an easy finish to apply, and gives pieces a beautiful and lively color with lots of character. While modern latex acrylic paints give a boring, even, plastic looking finish that sits on the surface, milk paint actually soaks into the wood, allowing the beauty of the wood’s grain to show through. And, unlike modern paints, which dry and chip with age, milk paint polishes, burnishes, and actually gets more beautiful with age and use. Here’s a good way for applying it.


 

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20 thoughts on “Episode #39: Using Milk Paint

  1. Bob, could you clarify exactly what you did for that finish?
    I think it was 2 coats of milk paint, then the boiled linseed oil, then paste wax – is that correct? I really like the finish on that chest, and would like to be able to reproduce it.

  2. Great post Bob! I have heard much of milk paint but had yet to see a practical demonstration of its use.

  3. Thanks Bob. There was a lot of good information in here.

    Jonathan
    =============================

  4. That brush looks very much like a hot glue brush that bookbinders use. I find that using a foam brush works just as well for a fraction of the price. Nice color on the chest!

  5. I was just looking at that exact brand of milk paint at Woodcraft and wondering how it might best be applied to a bookshelf I’m working on. And then, voila!

    Thanks!
    Dallas

  6. Bob,…….Nice chest…..Milk Paint,I love it……..as you said,so easy to apply and results are always great!!!

  7. Bob ……… I like your chest you did a nice job on it. And thank you for taking the time to demonstrate using and applying Milk Paint. I haven’t used this type of paint yet but have a few projects including a chest that I want to.

    Thanks again I enjoyed this !

    Steve

  8. Hi Bob,

    Great tutorial. Another source of great milk paint is the canadian company Homesteadhouse paint Company (www. homestead house.ca). I have used their product on many projects and it is great.

    Francois

  9. Bob,

    Thanks for the tutorial! Can you combine the pigments of milk paint to make different colors (with good, repeatable results)?

    Thanks in advance,
    -Mark

    • You sure can. I’d experiment in small batches first though. Weigh the powder out if you can so it’s easy to scale up.

  10. Great tutorial and just in time, I had just finished a samall chest and was ready for paint when I saw your demonstration,THANK YOU so mush,Love your websit

  11. Bob: Just wanted to thank you for your time and effort in putting up these great tutorials – my best wishes to you and yours mate, from Australia.

    cheers – phil

  12. I really enjoyed your video. I have an old desk that has had the finish sanded off and have been trying to decide how to refinish it. Can I just go ahead and use the milk paint on it, or do I need to use some kind of conditioner on the wood first? It’s kind of chipped and damaged so I’m not hoping for a perfect smooth type of finish. Glad I found your site.

    • If it’s bare wood, you can just use the milk paint as is. Milk paint is designed to be used on bare wood, without a primer. If the previous finish has been sanded just to provide a tooth, but has not been completely removed, you might want to add some bonding agent to the milk paint to help it adhere better to the old finish. The manufacturer will sell a bonding additive that can be added to the paint for this purpose (and will also permit using the paint on things like drywall, cement, etc.).

  13. Thanks . . . I have put on two coats of milk paint, mixed up the linseed oil with paint thinner and applied . . . but what is happening is the oil mixture appears not to be drying in certain spots . . .super tacky after 4 days . . . how do I correct this . . . I live in AZ nile humidity . . . but don’t understand what is going wrong . .

    • Couple of thoughts. Are you wiping off the excess oil or just brushing on and walking away. Linseed oil (any drying oil for that matter) needs to be applied very thin. So you brush it on, wait 5-10 minutes, then wipe off the excess. You may need to wipe off the excess more than once in a previously treated surface (like one that’s been painted) due to excess oil seeping back out. If you don’t wipe off the excess, it gets gummy and will never fully dry.

      Alternatively, the thinner you’re using may be slowing the drying. This happens with oil cut with thinner. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe the thinner impedes the oxidation that causes the oil to cure. Maybe the oil cures faster than the solvent can flash off. I have experienced slower drying with thinned oil though.

      Also, old oil will tend to gum up more easily. Old oil typically thickens. This makes it harder to remove excess, but also more important to remove excess as it will get gummy faster if it’s left on.

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