Today I wanted to share some tips and tricks on how to use milk paint for your furniture revamps.
Last week, I mentioned that I had the amazing opportunity while attending the Haven Conference in Atlanta to take an advanced painting class with two of the best decorative furniture painters out there; Marian Parsons (aka “Miss Mustard Seed“) and Shaunna West (from the blog Perfectly Imperfect):
Shaunna West (left), me and Marian Parsons (aka Miss Mustard Seed) (right)
If you happen to follow along with me on my DIY Paint Treatment Board on Pinterest, you’ve probably noticed that many of the paint treatments/techniques that I have pinned are either from Marian or Shaunna. These two ladies seriously know everything there is to know about paint treatments and they’re especially masters when it comes to layering and working with each paint product to create amazing finishes for furniture transformations.
I learned so much with these ladies that it’s really hard for me to recap everything in one post. So I thought today I would focus on one thing- what is milk paint and how to use it for furniture finishes. I will work in some of Marian and Shaunna’s other amazing paint tips and techniques on later posts. So much great stuff coming!!
More than any paint technique or product, I have been really looking forward to learning more about Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. I have been hearing a lot about it lately but know very little about it and have never experimented with it before. How awesome that my introduction to it was straight from Miss Mustard Seed herself! For those of you who don’t know, Marian created her own line of milk paint called Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint and she is known for her amazing milk paint finishes:
So let me just start with the basics and show you first what the finish looks like on a few of Miss Mustard Seed’s own pieces that she finished using her milk paint products in various colors that she offers:
Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in “Shutter Gray“:
Miss Mustard Seed paint in “Flow Blue“:
Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in “Artissimo“:
I think a lot of people think that milk paint and chalk paint are the same thing but they are two very different types of paint with completely different finishes. Of course, you can distress milk paint and make it look like a chalky/shabby type finish but now that I have worked with both paints, I can see the significant differences between the two types of paint. I never realized that I could create a more modern finish with milk paint like a weathered or Restoration Hardware look.
When you paint milk paint to raw wood (no primer needed), to me, the only way I can describe it is that it looks more ink or wood stain. Here are some of my paint samples that I painted in our class to show you what I mean:
I used Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in “Typewriter”. Notice how semi-watery and highly pigmented the paint is:
Look at how intense and vibrant that color is!
Below you can see how “typewriter” dried (in about 15 minutes) and how it has a very stain look when it dries. Actually, if you’ve ever color washed with paint (added water to paint), it has that same feel except the milk paint has an extremely amazing and vibrant pigmentation, if that makes sense. It looks absolutely nothing like chalk paint or any kind of paint for that matter when it dries. It’s very unique.
The top color of milk paint that I painted over the dried Typewriter it is called “Grain Sack”:
When you’re painting with milk paint, it feels like a thinned out paint and you do not need as much paint. The best part of all, there are no brush strokes visible (music to my ears)! Ok, so get this.., when milk paint dries, you can wet a cloth and rub to lightly remove a little paint and distress the finish (not when it’s wet but dry! how cool is that!)
Here is “Grain Sack” painted over dried “Typewriter”:
after it dried, all I had to do was use a slightly damp cloth and just gently wipe to lift a little of the top grain sack and lightly distress:
You have far more control by being able to lightly wipe with water then having to distress with steel wool or sand paper with other paints such as chalk paint. You can’t use this wet wipe technique with any other type paints after they have dried. Because of this, the distressing is more controlled and it’s more subtle and blended. With sand paper or steel wool, you not only lift the top areas of the top coat but you also quickly get down to the wood. With this technique, the distressing can be more subtle and you are more in control of the finish:
Can you believe that?
I loved the finish above but I wanted to experiment some more so I dipped my rag back into the “Typewriter” black milk paint and just swiped on around my piece and this is the finish that I ended up with. I think it’s a beautiful weathered or driftwood look:
Can’t you just see this finish on a dresser or table? So imagine this finish with other color combinations. I was blown away with the amount of control that I had (yikes, how many times have I said that now?). I didn’t have to distress by sanding and I think that the finish looks more natural than trying to achieve this look with layering and sanding. The paint isn’t thick like other paints and doesn’t sit on top of the wood in layers but rather it penetrates the wood. Also, while it may look a little chalky in the image, it is not. It really looks far more natural and sort of dyed more than anything.
So with milk paint, you need to protect or seal your finish by buffing with wax. Miss Mustard Seed also offers a wax as well but she said any kind of wax would work too. She also offers tinted waxes that can add an antique look or a dark look as well, so you can distress and protect with one wax.
Ironically, Miss Mustard Seed shared an image on her blog of the similar driftwood finish that I did where she is showing the look of this finish with her antiquing wax (on the left side) and her white wax (on the right side):
By the way, milk paint comes in powder form and you mix it with water to create the milk paint. Marian said that you add just enough water that it should be somewhere in between normal paint thickness and pure liquid (I would say the consistency of puree). Because it’s paint, you tend to want to add a small amount of water and keep it thick but Marian said that it needs to be a lot thinner but not too watery. Also, it needs to be stirred for at least 3 minutes or more:
One last thing… There are also all kinds of tricks to getting crackled or unqiue patchy chippy looks with milk paint by using resistance such as vaseline or hemp oil. Marian goes into details of using resistance or “trickery” in this great post here.
I love this stuff and can’t wait to order it in all of the colors and experiment more but this time on some old pieces of furniture. After my lessons, I think milk paint is the perfect place to start if you’ve always wanted to paint furniture but not sure where to get started. You have so much control with this paint and technique! This is easier to work with than anything I have ever tried and think of it like a super highly pigmented stain.
I would love to know if you have ever worked with milk paint before. What are your thoughts about the finish? For more details and tutorials for working with milk paint, Miss Mustard Seed’s blog is full of all kinds of information, inspiration and tricks.
Thanks for hanging out with me today!