Milk paint is a non toxic, natural paint originally made from milk protein, lime and earth pigments. It has been used throughout history for thousands of years. Not to name drop or nothin’, but King Tut’s tomb was loaded with milk painted artifacts. Prehistoric cave paintings were also found to use the same recipe described above. So if you’re wondering, yes this paint can endure the test of time.
I never tire of painting with milk paint, because the possibilities are endless, you don’t really know exactly how the finished product will look until it is done, and because of the good things it does for the environment. It can be diluted to create a wash effect on raw wood, or mixed with a special non toxic bond to adhere to ball jars or any non porous surface (as seen below), painted on an old piece of furniture, sanded a touch between coats —or not, then finished with wax or tung oil. Anything goes with this versatile paint, you just have to be willing to experiment this medium and allow it do its thing.
Milk paint can be used to create interesting finishes, from the ever popular distressed “crackly” or “chipped paint” look (which often requires crackle compound) to a solid paint finish. Furniture restoration professionals use milk paint to restore antique furniture and artists value it for its saturated colors and translucent finish. A finish, such as tung oil, must be used in order for the paint to endure the test of time. I have used both pure tung oil and pure tung oil that was mixed with mineral spirits to cut down cost and on drying time between coats. Both work equally well.
There are many companies that produce different versions of milk paint, however there are two that I have personally used. I have found different reasons to like them both. Most of this paint on the market today comes in powder form to be mixed with water. According to the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company’s website, unmixed milk paint (in powder form) has an indefinite shelf life, which is another reason to like it. Once it is mixed with water, however, it has a much shorter shelf life.
The Real Milk Paint Company
The Real Milk Paint Company offers an extensive line of products that include not only milk paint but also a line of paint enhancing additives and wood finishing products. Founded in 1995 by Dwayne Siever as an answer to antique paint restoration and repair issues he encountered while working for antique dealers. Unlike paints made with petro chemicals, milk paint is completely environmentally friendly, you can even throw old paint in your garden. The Real Milk Paint Company’s focus is always on creating environmentally friendly products.
One of the things I like most about Real Milk Paint is the variety of vibrant colors available, the second is the way each container of paint comes with a marble and plastic container for mixing. From Aqua and Blue Lagoon to Fresh Lemon, Real Milk Paint offers a vivid line of contemporary colors. I used this product on a vanity make-over to create a colorful folk art effect to great success. (see photo). I like to use Real Milk Paint when I have a project that requires vivid, bright colors.
Old Fashioned Milk Paint
Old Fashioned Milk Paint’s focus is on historically accurate colors and recipes. Being the history geek that I am, they had me at history. Their paint comes in twenty colors that were created to match specific colonial period colors and it comes in powder form in cute eco-friendly paper bags.
Founded by Charles Thibeau in 1974, Old Fashioned Milk Paint was developed from an old paint formula to recreate an authentic finish for their primary business of reproduction furniture. Their customer base includes professionals who restore antique Colonial and Shaker furniture, artists and DIY novices as well. Old Fashioned Milk Paint also has great customer service. If you have a question or are unsure of something, just call or email them and they will get back to you. You get a bit more value for your dollar with Old Fashioned Milk Paint. A pint of their paint is $12.95 vs $13.99 at The Real Milk Paint Company (this is probably due to the fancy packaging which I can live without).
There are a lot of resources including YouTube tutorials out there about these unique paints. My suggestion to you, if you have never used it, is to do a bit more research before you dive in. I have included links to some of the online resources I have found helpful.