Before there were paint stores, the coating most often used to paint pictures on cave walls, brighten log cabin walls, and furniture, was Milk Paint. It can be traced back as far as 20,000 years but for our purposes the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s are what we are most concerned about. If you are making reproduction furniture and want to replicate a painted finish that is 100 - 200 years old there is nothing better than a milk paint. Sure you can go out and purchase one of the new latex paints, and they are good, but nothing beats the original milk paint it just has something that is difficult if not impossible to mimic in latex or oil paints. If you are making reproduction furniture, milk paint will give your pieces the most authentic look, OR ... if all you want is a safe paint to use, milk paint is your answer. If you want to make your own milk paint, click below to read how you can make authentic looking "antique" furniture.

Before you go ahead and start painting your furniture, wall, fence, barn, kids toys and your vehicles with milk paint, there is one small thing you should know. If you ever want to remove the paint there is almost nothing on the market that will remove milk paint other than sand paper (with lots of elbow grease) or a blast furnace. The only exception seems to be "H. Behlen Bros." product called P.D.E. ... not easily found but available a few places on the internet that sell milk paint products.

The other thing to know about milk paints is that they can give a "crackle" effect on your wood depending on how think you prepare the paint, how thick you apply it and the ingredients and pre-paint preparations that you do. If you want a crackle finish, you may not get it and if you don't want a crackle finish, you may get it anyway ... so be forewarned and test the paint before you begin.

If you are making replica furniture you may want to "pre-stress" your project before you paint and you may also want to "stress" it after you paint. Your methods of doing this are varied and unique to each woodworker, and will depend on the project and the amount of  "patina" you want the project to show. Gouging, beating with a chain and or a hammer will all add to the "look of the piece".

There are a number of  "formulas" for milk paint but most are pretty similar. Here is one that gave us so very nice (non crackled) results 1 Quart skim milk (room temperature) 1 Once of hydrated lime (by weight) (available at most building centers. Do NOT use quick lime, it will react with the water and heat up. Hydrated lime has been soaked in water then air dried moderately) 1 to 2 1/2 pounds of chalk may also be added as a filler Also ... if you are looking for different colors any organic, natural (lime-proof) water soluble tints should work fine ... again test them before painting your finished product.

Stir in enough skim milk to make the into a creamy mixture. Now add sufficient amount of powder tint to desired color and consistency and stir in well. The milk paint can be applied with any synthetic fibre paint bruch (do not use a natural fibre brush as the bristles will splay).

Your project will then need to dry sufficiently before applying next coat, usually 3 - 4 hours. Extra paint may be kept for several days in the refrigerator, until the milk sours. recipe for paint. Once the project is finished and well dried it is suggested that a coat of bees wax be rubbed onto the pain for extra protection and to help seal the paint. Again test this before applying, this may NOT be the effect you are looking for in your project.

What ever you do, make sure you test, test, test. Working with milk paints is a bit like experimenting. If you are painting a fence, it's not so important but if you are painting a piece of furniture make sure you have the desired look BEFORE you start applying your version of milk paint.

General Finishes EF Milk Paints Great Deal General Finishes EF Milk Paints
EF Milk Paints are classic interior/exterior acrylic paints suitable for furniture, crafts, cabinets, and outdoor furniture...

Copyright Colin Knecht