Milk Paint vs. Chalk Paint… How to choose which one to use for your project

  

I have had a lot of people ask me questions about using milk paint and chalk paint and which one I prefer to use on my projects.  I decided I would write a post to discuss the differences of each paint, and the similarities… As well as explain what makes me pick one over the other on different projects.

First off, I have a brand I prefer of each. I’ve tried several different kinds, and even made my own from time to time, but Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint by Marion, is so easy to work with and I find the color choices in her line stunning.  As far as chalk paint goes, while there are still several out there I haven’t personally used, I always end up coming back to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I love the consistency and the coverage of her paints, and the beautiful colors it is available in.  In both lines, colors can be mixed to one another and layered on top of each other to truly make custom colors.  Add to that the choices in finishes:  clear wax, dark wax, hemp oil, white and tinted waxes… The possibilities are endless! (Sorry for the tangent… I get excited talking about refinishing pieces!). 

So let’s talk about the pros and cons of each kind of paint:

Milk Paint: 

  • Casein, a milk protein, is one of the ingredients in milk paint, which is how it got its name. 
  • It’s made from completely natural ingredients and has been around as a paint medium forever (seriously, like forever). 
  • You don’t have to sand or use a primer with milk paint…but be aware, it has a mind of its own! If it decides to chip on a piece, it’s just gonna go right ahead and do it…no rhyme or reason (I love this about milk paint, but some people find it extremely frustrating to work with an unpredictable medium). 
  • Good news for those of you that need to feel complete control over your project… MMS line has a Bonding Agent you can use if you don’t want the chippy goodness.  This is different from a primer because it’s not an additional step.  You just mix it right in with your paint, and you’re good to go! 
  • Milk paint comes in a powder form that you add water to turn it into liquid paint.  I love this because it’s easy to store, and it makes it easy to decide how thick or thin you want it (full coverage or a stain). 
  • You will want to use some sort of top coat to protect your piece once finished. You can use wax, a poly coat, or even hemp oil (also 100% natural).

Here are a couple examples of milk paint: 

   
  

     

(Never mind about the fork laying on the rug in that last pic…😬)

Chalk Paint: 

  • Annie Sloan is the smarty pants who developed chalk paint.  Chalk paint is different from “chalk board paint”… It’s called chalk paint because when it dries it has a chalky appearance and when you sand or distress it after drying, it looks just like chalk dust.
  • You don’t have to sand or prime a piece before using chalk paint, it will literally stick to almost anything.  
  • It comes premade, usually in a quart size can, ready to paint with (just like you would find a latex paint). 
  • It’s pretty thick consistency, but you can add water to it and stir it up before using if you are wanting more of a “washed” finish.  
  • It dries quickly, but you can have a mess on your hands if you overwork the wet paint in an area too much. 
  • Your finished piece needs to be sealed with a wax or a poly coat or it scratches very easily. 

Here are some examples of chalk paint: 

   
  

   

(I just refinished all of my kitchen cabinets in ASCP, and I love how they turned out!)

So how do I choose which paint to use for each piece?  

I generally lean towards milk paint when I want something a little more worn and chippy (although the bonding agent eliminates that).  I will say that both paints distress beautifully, and give depth to pieces that I find really hard to duplicate with a latex paint.  I’ve used the two paints together in layers on many different pieces, and they really compliment the other.  In fact, chalk paint actually acts as a really great base for milk paint to cling to if you want a dry brush look of milk paint over chalk paint!   

Hopefully, you’ve found this break down helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to provide you with an answer!  Have a lovely weekend! 

❤️ Heather 

ONEHORSELANE

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10 thoughts on “Milk Paint vs. Chalk Paint… How to choose which one to use for your project

  1. You mentioned doing your kitchen cabinets with chalk paint. I was wanting to do mine as well. Will the wax topcoat hold up in the kitchen around the oven, etc. Thanks so much:)

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  2. I want to use chalk paint on a side table presently finished in a glossy stain. Am I to understand you do not need to sand this and the chalk paint will still stick to it?

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    • You might need to just barely sand it to give it a little “teeth” for the paint to grab on to, but by no means the normal sanding you would need for regular paint. I have a new blog, http://www.onehorselane.com that I would love for you to come follow along with!! I’d love to see a pic of your table when you finish it!!

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