Thrift store finds

Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Sooo one of the things I have been reading about is people using milk and chalk paints.  I am not too much into the distressed look but I do like the soft finish.  Before I started working on my desk  I asked my expert.   ” Google what is the difference between chalk and milk paint?”   She came through with loads of websites with loads of info… I love Google

Here is a couple of things I found to be consistent from various websites on milk paint:

  • $17 a quart
  • Milk paint does not chip like regular paint, instead it wears off as it ages and takes on different levels of sheen.
  • It can scratch
  • It needs a bonding agent if you don’t want to an antique or distressed look. Without a bonding agent, it self-distresses over time. If you add a bonding agent, add it to your milk paint before you start painting.
  • You can apply it with a brush, roller or sprayer.
  • It’s made from a mixture of milk, lime, casein, clay and any one of a variety of earth pigments.
  • You buy it in powder form and mix it up yourself.
  • Milk paint bonds well only to fresh, raw wood or to itself.
  • This interested me the most:  “A favorite finish among chair makers is to paint a chair with several coats of different colors – the most common sequence being Lexington green, barn red and pitch black. Over time, the wear caused by repeated use will cut through the various colors, creating a close approximation of the old paint that is so prized by antique collectors. Pitch Black over barn red produces a subtle tortoiseshell appearance.”
  • Because milk paint is water based, it will raise the grain of the wood, making it necessary to sand between coats. To save time, raise the grain well before the first coat, using a spray water bottle, available at any hardware store. The trick is to wet the surface thoroughly but not as if you were washing a car.
  • Milk paint dries quickly and is difficult to remove once it dries
  • You need to apply a coat of wax to the finished piece
  • Unused pant goes bad in a day so you should not mix more than you need

Here is what I found on chalk paint:

  • $34 a QUART
  • Chalk paint sticks easily and doesn’t need a primer,
  • Chalk paint is versatile; from distressed paint, crackled paint to lime-wash looks. (If you want the ‘chippy’ look, milk paint is better.)
  • It doesn’t need wax or a varnish coat which makes it super easy to apply but consider it if you want to protect your piece. A thin coat of wax makes it look modern.
  • You can mix it to create custom chalk paint colors. There is a growing selection on the market such as Annie Sloan, or Websters Chalk Paint to choose from but if you want your own colors – you might want to make them.
  • You can apply chalk paint with a brush, roller or sprayer.
  • Chalk paint distresses well. You can distress before or after you wax. Chalk paint comes off in a fine powder if sanded. Just sand back to get the look you want for a soft, distressed finish.
  • It’s the calcium in the paint that give it a chalky finish.
  • Homemade chalk paint is easy to make, there is no prep work on furniture, since it sticks to any surface, and its cheap!
  • The down side of making your own chalk paint is that it can have a rough texture when dry and needs sanding between coats.

Here is a good video with four techniques on how to make “chalk style” paint which is fairly inexpensive

I decided I am going to make my own chalk paint using the plaster of paris and the instructions in this video.  OKAY?

If you have experience with either paint  please feel free to share your tips or stories, even horror stories are welcome

4 thoughts on “Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

  1. Ohh this is so informative. I knew about chalk paint but had never ever heard about milk paint (what rock am I living under, I know right?). Seems like hard work though. Good that you are sticking to chalk paint. Also, do share whenever you make your own chalk paint. That will be fun to read!


    • and I had never really heard about chalk paint,,,I thought everyone was raving about milk paint LOL. I am planning on using it on my vanity as soon as I can make up my mind on colors and how I am going to finish it (wax vs poly). Thanks for the comment and share


  2. Good breakdown there! I haven’t tried chalk paint, but I went thru a learning curve when I first used milk paint from Miss Mustard Seed. I loved the result once I got the hang of mixing the paint, but it took several very frustrating tries, lol. I did a post on all my errors and victory here if you’re interested: . Also, I’ve been using General Finishes milk paint for several months now, and LOVE them because they require NO mixing and have excellent colors and coverage. Highly recommend them! 🙂 (I did a little review on using GF paints here: Hope all that helps!

    Liked by 1 person

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