Hey there friends! Let’s talk milk paint and how much I LOVE it! (Shh, don’t tell chalk paint.)
I will be honest, I tend to get on a roll with things. Some of my very first DIYs involved chalk paint, and let me tell you it sure has its perks. No prep work, easy to layer and distress, and it even comes in spray paint form. (Did I mention no prep work?) It was love at first sight.
But then a second love came along. And that, my friends, is my very public love affair with all things chippy and vintage.
When we were moving into the house we’re in now, my hubby and I were “shopping” my in-laws’ attic for furniture to help fill some spaces and came across this dresser. It was so full of character and charm but needed some love! #challengeaccepted
It came home with us and sat in the guest room for a long time. Too long of a time, but hey life happens (and if you know me, you know I have two littles ages 3 and under and work full time, so a lot of life happens a lot of the time)!
But recently, I got bit with the DIY bug again, and this lovely piece was at the top of my list! Cue milk paint.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MILK PAINT (THE CHIPPY LOVER’S DREAM)
I knew I wanted it to look all kinds of vintage and chippy, AND I also knew that chalk paint wasn’t going to be the answer. I had heard about milk paint but never tried it for myself. But I decided to give it a go! I mean, there was nothing to lose!
So I found a pretty “Pearl” colored milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co. and went with it. That was the easy part. The part I wasn’t looking forward to, however, was the sanding. Ohhh, sanding.
THE PREP WORK
For milk paint to adhere successfully to the piece you’re painting, it cannot have a smooth, glossy finish. The paint is thin, think milk-like consistency (thanks, Lauren aka Captain Obvious), so it finds its way into the grooves made from sanding and prepping the piece.
The good news? If you want that chippy finish, you do not want to prep the piece perfectly. I repeat we are not going for perfection here!
The paint will ‘chip’ off the parts of the piece that it can’t really grab on to.
So all I did was spend about 20-30 minutes hand sanding this piece with a sanding block. (And that’s what I continue to do with all the other pieces I paint with milk paint.)
Pro-tip: If you’re painting a piece that has all kinds of nooks and crannies, use a wire brush to help strip off some of the glossy varnish – SO much easier than trying to get a sanding block in there!
CLEAN IT UP
Once you’re done sanding, you’ll just want to clean off your piece. I tend to use old cotton t-shirts or towels to do this instead of a paper product – they grab on to the dust a lot more easily.
By the way… if you want your piece to have a vintage vibe AND you like the character that the hardware adds, just plan to paint right over it! I recommend painting over it lightly and sanding it a bit once you’re finished so some of the metal comes through!
AND NOW, WE PAINT
Next, you’ll want to prep your paint! Some milk paints come premixed, but I prefer to purchase the powder for multiple reasons…
- You have the final say on the consistency.
- You can mix some now and save the rest for later (it’s real milk, so it does expire!).
- It’s fresher and more authentic this way.
BUT know that there is more room for error. You do want a milk-like consistency, so if you’re not a recipe follower and/or don’t trust yourself, a pre-mixed brand may be better for you!
With my paint from The Real Milk Paint Co., I simply had to mix the powder with water in a 1:1 ratio. I mixed 3/4 cup of paint with 3/4 cup of water for this dresser, and it was more than enough for me.
Then you just shake it up and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. (You guys… I’m going to let you in on a secret. I’m impatient and tend to break the rules when they require anything involving wait time, so I didn’t wait and it still worked. Follow the instructions for best results, or be impatient like me and just know what you’re about.)
Anywho, wait time, schmate time. I got started painting right away and finished the first coat in about an hour or less. Really, it didn’t take long at all because what are we going for here? IMPERFECT!
I didn’t want an evenly painted piece, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time working on each area. I just painted!
You will need to keep in mind that brush stroke consistency is important here as you will be able to see the strokes when it dries in some areas. But other than that PAINT! And don’t overthink it.
TO SEAL OR NOT TO SEAL
I just used one coat of the pearl colored milk paint on this piece and stopped because I loved how it turned out! I also didn’t seal this guy. I don’t always love the sheen that comes along with a furniture wax, so knowing that this piece wasn’t going to get a lot of heavy use, I didn’t do it.
Plus, I want chippy, so what’s an extra chip or two from wear and tear?
But if you’re painting a piece that’s going to get a lot of us OR one that is going to come into contact with food or drinks (and could be prone to spills), then go over it with a furniture wax to seal and protect it!
And that’s it, you all! Easy as pie, or Sunday morning, or some other cliche that isn’t all that easy.
But the bottom line is, milk paint is oh so good. It might really even be better than chalk paint (for some things), and it’s not an overly time-consuming project!
What do you think? Will you give it a try? Let me know how yours turns out in the comments!