Painting is such an important part of remodeling and repurposing that everyone should know the basics of painting. But when it comes to choosing paints, most people don’t know that not all paint formulas are the same.
Two quite popular paints today are milk paint and chalk paint. These two paints are often confused with one another for a variety of reasons that we will talk more about later on. For now, let’s break them down.
What Is Milk Paint?
True milk paint is made using milk protein, also known as casein, as well as lime, scientifically calcium carbonate. Then pigments are added as well as a natural preservative like borax to extend shelf life.
When you start applying milk paint, you may be turned away by the milky scent as this really is a milk-based paint, but don’t worry, it dries without a smell. The milky smell is worth the lack of chemicals and toxic elements.
However, unlike most paints that are sold in cans, milk paint is typically sold as a powder in packets. You usually need to add water. This just proves that the concoction is natural since selling it mixed will cause it to spoil.
Milk paint is a low luster and gives a distressed look, much like whitewash only richer. When finished painting, milk-painted furniture will last a long time and the distressed look won’t get any more distressed.
What Is Chalk Paint?
Chalk paint looks similar to milk paint. But it is a very specific, even name-brand paint created in 1990 by a woman named Annie Sloan. Annie Sloan brand Chalk Paint is the official chalk paint with a registered trademark.
When you hear the term chalk paint otherwise, it usually refers to chalkboard paint, which creates a surface that can be written on with chalk and looks like a chalkboard. This is also a very interesting paint.
But when it comes to Chalk Paint, which we will call chalk paint, there is a matte finish that can come in any color and usually is finished with wax. The ingredients are unique and likely a special Annie Sloan recipe.
Milk Paint Vs. Chalk Paint
Milk paint and chalkboard are very similar in appearance but they also have their differences. Both of these paints dry quite quickly and are environmentally friendly. But this isn’t their greatest similarity.
Both milk and chalk paints work best on wood but can be used on a variety of surfaces. They provide a rather vintage finish and look amazing on furniture that you want to fit into a farmhouse or shabby vibe.
Differences Between Milk Paint Vs. Chalk Paint
Milk paint is much, much older than chalk paint. In fact, milk paint is just about as old as milk. Because lime and milk protein, the only two necessary ingredients, are ancient, so is milk paint, dating back to at least colonial times.
Because it isn’t trademarked nor in large cans, milk paint is usually slightly cheaper than chalk paint. This is probably because milk paint can be copied while chalk paint is unique to Annie Sloan and her team.
As for textured, chalk paint is a bit thicker though both milk paint and chalk paint are thin compared to other paints. This is sometimes preferred so that the undertones of the furniture shines through, giving a unique texture.
If you want an extra distressed look that occurs naturally, milk paint is a better bet. It cracks, flakes, and distresses for that perfect farmhouse-style furniture. Don’t count on adding multiple coats for full coverage.
When it comes to chalk paint, you can actually control the distressing. If you want an extra-distressed look to the furniture with chalk paint, you’ll have to sand it, which will give you full control over how vintage the item looks.
Using Milk Paint
Milk paint works much better on wood than other materials, especially raw wood that is a bit porous. Milk paint doesn’t need priming before painting and priming will actually destroy the process of distressing.
What you may need to add is a bonding agent which will help milk paint stick to non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal, and plastic. Non-bonded milk paint won’t stick well to anything other than porous wood.
Once you mix the milk paint, you should use it within a day. It isn’t recommended to use on walls and works best for furniture. This isn’t a bad thing because a specialty item can do wonders for its specialty.
Step 1: Prepare Surface
Thankfully, you don’t need to do much except clean and dry the surface that you are painting. However, it can help if you sand the wood with 150- to 220-grit sandpaper. Do so if you want a more distressed look.
Step 2: Mix The Paint
Combine equal amounts of powder and water, then add a bonding agent if painting on something other than unfinished wood. It is best to use a mixer attached to a drill to mix the paint since you don’t want lumps.
Step 3: Let Sit
Let milk paint sit for 15 to 30 minutes. This allows the pigments to dissolve properly and the texture to set in and be at its prime. After this amount of time, use the paint as soon as possible as it can spoil.
Step 4: Apply First Coat
using a natural bristle brush apply the first coat just as you would paint or limewash. It dries within an hour so you don’t have to wait long before you apply another coat if you want a heavier effect.
Step 5: Smooth And Seal
If you want a smoother more even look, remove flakes with a putty knife. These will occur naturally and will flake off naturally, so it is best to remove loose pieces now before they make a mess on your floor.
Now you can lightly sand the area and choose to seal or not. Sealing is optional and can add a protective layer. The paint is durable but adding a sealer is always a good idea, especially if you want a shiny finish.
How To Use Chalk Paint
Unlike milk paint, chalk paint can be used on walls too. It can work just like any type of paint for interiors but has a matte and slightly vintage look. It is a safe choice for use on almost any material.
The best part is that you can use it over any other paint, it doesn’t have to be a porous surface and the other paint doesn’t need to be removed. You can just paint over any clean surface like magic and you will love the look.
Step 1: Prepare The Area
Unlike other paints which emit toxic fumes that are better let loose outdoors, chalk paint dries better if indoors. So use it indoors. Just remember to add a drop cloth on the floor under the furniture or walls.
Step 2: Sanding (Optional)
You can usually skip priming and sanding, but if you want a more distressed look, then you will need to sand the surface. If you are painting over glossy paint or laminate then it is recommended to sand it.
When you do sand, use 150-grit sandpaper or something even finer. You don’t want to rough it up too much, just give the paint something to hold onto. Remember, you can always try forgoing the sanding.
Step 3: Clean
Using a soft cloth very wet with soapy water to wipe down the entire piece of furniture or the wall. After that, use a new wet rag to rinse it. Then dry it well with a dry cloth or let it air dry for even better results.
Step 4: Start Painting
Most people choose to use a soft brush for furniture and a roller for walls. If you happen to be working outdoors, a sprayer can also work. Chalk paint is thin enough for a sprayer and thick enough for a roller.
When using a brush, which is most common, dip the brush in the paint then tap it on the rim of the can. You can do the same even if you move paint to another container to carry with you. Dip and tap.
Step 5: Finish Painting
You want to work in even coats starting at one end and going to the other. This way, whenever you decide to go for another coat, you can easily start at the dryest parts first. This way, you can have even coats.
Most people just do one coat of chalk paint but you can get by with two or more if you prefer the thicker look. It will always be matte however unless you add a layer of wax or sealer, which brings us to this next point.
Step 6: Customize
Although sealing isn’t necessary, it is often recommended. It will ensure that the furniture lasts much longer. Just make sure that if you like the matte look that you use a sealer that protects and doesn’t shine with a gloss.
Other than that, it’s up to you. If you want an even more distressed look, you can sand the furniture lightly. Want a different color underneath the distression? Paint with one color of chalk paint and then another. Sand the top layer and voila!