Milk Paint: how to


Our Milk Paints are organic, non-toxic and environmentally safe. Made from natural materials: milk protein, lime, and earth pigments… no petrochemicals, leads, solvents, or other harmful additives. Safe for bedrooms, hospital rooms, hotel rooms and other areas for the environmentally sensitive. With our traditional Milk Paint formula you can achieve an authentic “old look” immediately without the use of complicated antiquing kits.

This is an excellent painted finish for all types of furniture, children’s toys, wood floors and cupboards, woodwork, traditional plaster walls or stenciling. The deep, rich natural colors of milk paint authentically reflect those colors found on existing antique furniture and buildings. Maison e Maison milk paint is made in small batches, using earth pigments. Modern paints cannot compare with the colors and the texture of this finish for achieving the “old” or “country” look of antique or furniture and interiors mostly known for Swedish and French county furniture. Like the paints used hundreds of years ago, the colors in our milk paint will not fade. Many variations in texture can be easily achieved. Maison e Maison milk paint will produce an antique uneven matte surface when first applied. You can also create a semigloss look by simply burnishing the painted surface.

When used with an ANTIQUE CRACKLE or exposed to a heat gun while drying, milk paint will result in a textured surface with a “time-worn” look to accent country interiors. We package milk paint in dry powder form allowing you to control the thickness of the paint for use as either a wash stain, full cover coat, or for stenciling. Also, colors can be mixed to form various other hues and tones. Maison e Maison MILK PAINT is a re-creation of the ancient MILK PAINT formula used for centuries before the sale of commercially made paints. It is an authentic finish for use in the restoration of antiques or in the reproduction of antique furniture. It comes in rich colors that are durable and do not fade. Since MILK PAINT is made from elements that pre-date the use of petrochemicals and other toxic bases and solvents, it is biodegradable, non-toxic, and odor-free when dry.

MILK PAINT is preferred by custom furniture builders, interior designers, artists, craftsmen, do-it-yourselfers, and those who are sensitive to the need to protect the environment. MILK PAINT penetrates into all clean, porous (unfinished) surfaces. With a clear topcoat to seal the painted surface, it can be used for furniture subject to fingerprints and spills. For surfaces expected to receive heavier wear, we recommend using a heavy-duty topcoat. An oil or solvent-based sealer is recommended for kitchen cabinets as acrylics may not protect against certain kitchen oils such as grease splatters and olive oil spills.

SIMPLE TO USE Mix: Measure about equal amounts of water and powder into separate containers. The one pint package contains about 1-1/2 cups of powder, and when mixed with 1-1/2 cups of water it will make about 1 pint of paint. (Note: warm water helps.)

Apply: Apply with a dry brush, roller or spray gun. Natural bristle brushes are fine, but foam brushes may require less effort and leave fewer brush marks. Milk paint is naturally somewhat streaky in color. This is normal. The most even color is achieved by spraying. Next best for evenness is by roller application. Again, you may find that foam rollers are easier to control. For spraying, paint should be a little thinner than for brushing, and should be strained. Spray with conventional spray equipment at about 30 lbs. pressure. Adjust pressure and nozzle to get a good paint film, not dry and not runny. Remember always wear proper protection when spraying any paint. Clean up: Clean all tools now with water and a Scotch-brite pad so that the paint doesn't dry on them.


Small Amounts: When mixing small containers of the paint by hand it is easiest to make a paste of the powder with some of the water and stir until smooth, like making gravy, using a rubber spatula or paint stick. Then gradually add more water until you reach the desired consistency.

Large Amounts: When mixing up larger amounts it may be easier to mix equal amounts of water and powder together using a wire paint paddle on a drill or similar method, on lowest speed, being careful not to mix too fast which can create foam.

Timing: Mix thoroughly for 2-3 minutes. Then let stand for 10-15 minutes so everything has a chance to disperse completely. Strain: Sometimes powder lumps don't fully dissolve. You may want to strain the mixed paint through a paper mesh paint funnel, a piece of cheesecloth, or, better still, a piece of nylon stocking.

Stir: Stir paint every 10 minutes or so while using, and add more water to the proper consistency if the paint thickens.

Best Used Fresh: Milk paint is always best mixed up fresh. If you happen to have leftover paint, or need to wait a day to finish your project you may keep any unused paint in a sealed container in the refrigerator (even plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band is fine). It keeps best if mixed on the thinner side, even with a thin layer of water put on top of the paint mixture. Being true to the original formulas we do not add unnatural preservatives or extenders to our paint and due to its organic nature it can thicken and gel up over time, so it is best to mix up what you plan to use that day if possible. Any unused powder can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container such as a jar.


New wood or other porous surfaces such as masonry. No primer is necessary - the first coat acts as its own primer on most softwoods and open-grained hardwoods. However, close-grained hardwoods such as maple or birch will require an initial coat of milk paint.

Clean: Wipe down the item with a damp rag to remove any dust and to pre-dampen the surface. Seal: Then, seal knots, if any (optional) with shellac (apply first coat of milk paint while the shellac is still tacky) OR paint knots with a mixture of prepared milk paint with white glue water based glue. You may also add the glue into your entire first coat if desired.

First Coat: Paint the entire item with a first coat of milk paint. Second Coat: After an hour or more, if you wish, you can rub down the first coat lightly with a Scotch-brite pad, fine sandpaper, or non-oiled steel wool. Now, if it looks like it needs it, you can apply a second coat of straight milk paint.

Finished: If you like the look and the rough texture, your masterpiece is finished!! Optional: After a couple of hours, or overnight, you may wish to rub down to a satin-smooth finish and/or "distress" the finish. You can rub down the surface as   above or do any type of distressing at this time. Alternatively sand with light sand paper to keep a mat chalky finish, and then apply a clear coat if desired. Be sure to try any of these techniques on a test piece to be sure you will like the end result. Prevent Water Spotting: We recommend sealing the paint on any surface that is susceptible to spills or in a damp area or if you will want to be able to wash the surface. Without a sealer the paint is fine but it will water spot and readily absorb dirt. Any sealer will work over the milk paint, but again, it is important to test the finish over a painted scrap to be sure that you like the end result. Penetrating oils such as linseed, tung, or blended oils will deepen the color considerably, but are beautiful over the milk paint, especially on a piece of furniture such as a chair. Wax is fine, too, but, as with the above oils, may not protect enough against coffee cup rings, for example, on a table top. Clear gel finishes and most solvent based finishes usually work well as sealers but like oils and waxes, do darken the paint color, and can tend to yellow a bit which may be of concern if you are using a white milk paint. Look for a non-yellowing topcoat to avoid yellowing over white milk paint. An oil or solvent based sealer may be the best option for kitchen cabinets. On floors use a sealer meant for floors for best protection.


Previously painted or otherwise finished surfaces, any other non-porous surface such as glass, metal, enamel or pre-primed material. Unless you know the condition of the surfaces beneath previous coats of finish, we do caution you about the use of milk paint over multiple layers of paint that may have been applied without proper cleaning beforehand. Milk paint dries very rapidly and shrinks in all directions while drying. This can pull and tug on the previous layers quite strongly, enough in some cases to cause the weakly bonded underlayers to peel off, thereby creating serious problems. We also do not recommend using milk paint over primer-sealers with stain blockers.

Prepare Surface: Good finishing practice states that any surface to be painted or repainted must be cleaned and dulled, not shiny. All grime should be removed with a washing soda and shiny surfaces should be scuffed up with sandpaper. Surface must be clean, sound and free of oil, grease, dust and dirt. By ignoring this practice, the new paint may not adhere well and future coats could peel off when repainted.

Test Surface: For previously painted multiple coated surfaces, it is very important to also test the layers of paint for adhesion to each other. This is to be sure that the old paint won't peel off and take the new paint with it. First, cut a one inch long "X" in the old paint film with a razor blade or sharp knife. It's best to do this in a few different areas. Then apply a strip of Scotch tape or masking tape over the "X", and rub the tape on firmly. Then pull it off quickly. If the old paint comes off with the tape, you have poor adhesion, usually created from re-painting over grime.

Remove Old Paint: If the old paint films have poor adhesion, we do not recommend painting over with any water paint, including milk paint. The old paint should be removed by stripping or sanding and scraping. If you don't remove it, the new paint may lift off the old paint, at least in some areas.

Neutralize: On any surfaces that have been chemically stripped of finish, be sure to neutralize any surface with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution prior to re-painting. Prime Metal: Raw metal should be primed with a rust inhibiting prime.

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