Woman applying paint with paintbrushOne of the greatest things about milk paint is that you can achieve such an incredible range of looks and finishes with the medium. Suitable for numerous projects on porous surfaces indoors and out, milk paint like Real Milk Paint offers smooth, even coverage that stays put on old furniture and is safe for kids and pets. This incredible versatility makes milk paints the go-to choice for furniture makers, designers, and do-it-yourselfers when they want to achieve a professional-looking finish makeover of your wood piece.

A short visit to Pinterest can provide endless inspiration for milk paint furniture refinishing projects to work on if you’re looking for a practical way to spend your weekend. In fact, you may already have a furniture paint to-do list on your phone or notepad. But if you don’t know just where to begin when it comes to painting furniture using milk paint, we’ve prepared a few easy tips to get you started with this nontoxic medium that utilizes natural pigments.

Refer to this primer on using milk paint for furniture to learn how to bring new life to old pieces, but keep in mind these tips work equally well on most any milk paint project. No matter if you want to add color to raw wood chairs you’ve built, refinish furniture like china cabinets handed down from family members or restore an old table you snagged at a tag sale, Real Milk Paint has you covered.

Paint Furniture With Milk Paint

Reasons abound for using Real Milk Paint in your furniture makeovers rather than other paints like chalk paint. Made from all-natural ingredients including milk protein, lime, and pigment, our milk paints offer complete environmentally friendliness with a formulation that’s free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The mostly odorless formulation also makes our medium safe to use in areas without a lot of ventilation where you want to paint furniture with milk paint.

Since Real Milk Paint comes in powder form and you mix it yourself, it’s likely thinner than other paints you’ve used, so it may take you a bit of time to get used to it. This variable consistency, however, helps you achieve the right thinness or thickness for your projects. Unlike milk paint brands that come ready to use, our milk paint powder lets you mix paint to the perfect consistency and create only as much or as little as you need to paint furniture, and it simplifies storage of the milk paint powder between projects.

Painting Wood Furniture Technique: Untreated or Raw Wood

paint wood furniture

There’s no need to use a primer or do much prep work before using milk paint to paint furniture or home decor, but keep in mind that it’s always best to follow the grain when painting raw wood. Since this medium comes in a powder form, you must first mix milk paint before you begin your project. To do this, you need water and an empty container in which to shake or stir the water and milk paint powder formulation.

Typically, our milk paint mix has a 1:1 ratio with water. Tap water is suitable, but for best results use distilled water. Simply add the mixture to an empty container, then mix it up until the contents are blended completely. After you mix milk paint, let the paint sit for roughly 20 minutes for any naturally occurring foam to settle. If you’d rather avoid letting the paint sit, add our Anti-Foaming Agent to the mixture according to the instructions so you can use your mixture immediately.

Painting Two Colors for a Rustic Look

Choose two complementary yet contrasting paint colors, like blue and white milk paint. For this DIY project, start painting the undercoat color. Lightly sand the surface to which you’re applying milk paint to help the paint adhere, wipe away the dust, then use a paintbrush to apply one coat thinly.

Let that first coat dry for a half hout to an hour depending on the ambient conditions, then apply a second coat. Allow the freshly painted surface to dry overnight, because allowing the undercoat color to dry completely usually prevents the colors from mixing or muddling.

Next, apply one coat of paint in the second color and wait 20 minutes to an hour for it to dry. Then, dip a clean cloth in a bucket of water, wring it out well, then wipe it across areas where you’d like the undercoat color to show. Usually, those areas, including edges and spaces near handles, are best suited to distressed paint techniques. The cloth should slowly lift some color from the painted surface for a unique look.

If you’d like the rustic appearance to be more pronounced and look more antiqued, you can use fine-grit sandpaper to rough up a tough coat of milk paint a bit. Keep in mind, however, that sandpaper is much harder to control during the distressing process.

Painting Over a Finished Surface

milk paint for furniture

In most cases, you can apply milk paint directly over an already finished surface. To get a uniform and not a distressed finish, however, you may need to add a bonding agent like our Ultra Bond Adhesion Promoter to your milk paint powder mixture to ensure the paint adheres well to your surface. On the other hand, if you prefer a distressed or chippy look, apply the paint directly to the finished surface, making sure it’s clean first. When using true milk paint, chipping or flaking can occur when applied to a finished surface, giving you a natural antiqued look.

Getting a More Distressed Look

When painting your piece of furniture, if you want to achieve an even more rustic look, you can apply some Chippy Paste where you want it to look like the paint has chipped off for an authentically antique look.

For a crackled look, apply two thin coats of Natural Crackle Paint Finish as a topcoat over the first coat of milk paint you want to show through, allowing each coat to dry. Then, apply two coats of the top color of milk paint. The first coat should still be a bit wet when you apply the second coat. When you’re done, you can protect the existing finish of your painted furniture with a coat of pure tung oil, a finishing cream, a glaze or furniture wax.

Now that you understand the basics of distressing furniture, here’s an expert at the craft — Christina from Pretty Distressed — to help you learn more. If you’re looking for more painting tips, check out the blog for tons more DIY painting techniques and tips.

Christina Muscari

What is your business or online name?

Pretty Distressed

What is your first name?


If you had to give a 140 character summary of who you are and what you do, what would that be? (Don’t worry, you can cheat a bit on the character count!)

I’m a full time YouTuber and the creative force behind Pretty Distressed. You can find me making over thrifted furniture on my YouTube channel with over 385K subscribers as well as on Instagram and Tik Tok. I started Pretty Distressed in 2014 as a creative outlet from my day-to-day duties as a stay-at-home mom and have grown my brand into an authority in the furniture flipping space across all social platforms.

Could you explain your journey in how you came to be in the craft/trade that you are currently in?

I started thrifting and flipping furniture as a hobby back in 2014. We had recently relocated to be near family, and bought quite a fixer upper. After new floors, carpet, lights, etc. there just wasn’t any budget left to furnish our home. It gave me the push I needed to start making over furniture we had and things I thrifted. I quickly fell in love with transforming old, discarded furniture. And it wasn’t long after that I started doing furniture flips for clients and selling online.

What is your favorite part about your craft/trade?

I love the symbolism behind what I do. I’m taking things that are discarded that someone thinks don’t hold value anymore, and redeeming them and giving them new life for someone else to enjoy. I love the message that anything can be brought back to life with a little love and care.

How did you find out about Real Milk Paint Co?

I found the Real Milk Paint Co through some amazing projects on Pinterest. I’m based in Tennessee where it is made, and just love the intention behind the brand and its products.

What is your favorite project to do with our products?

I’m a sucker for a chippy, old world finish, so I love using The Real Milk Paint Co. on really old furniture to give it that lived in look.

Do you have a particularly favorite product of ours? If so, what would be one tip/trick to offer to others that you have found produced great results?

I love all sealing waxes and how they give a rich finish free of brush strokes. I recently used the Wood Wax on a two toned piece that had natural wood and milk painted portions. I love that it is all natural and even food safe, and gave a beautiful finish on both substrates. When I’m applying it to a dark color, I like to use a dark old t-shirt to reduce any white lint popping up on my piece.

If you had to give one tip to those looking to “follow in your footsteps” what would it be?

Just create and don’t worry about what other people think. You will have people who love your projects and some that really hate them. You don’t have to please everyone, so don’t be afraid to be creative.

Where can people see your work or contact you?

https://www.prettydistressed.com/ https://www.instagram.com/pretty_distressed/ https://www.facebook.com/prettydistressed
https://www.youtube.com/christinamuscari https://www.tiktok.com/@pretty_distressed

Products Used:

Milk paint Mustard, Soft Wax Clear, Milk Paint Cheesecake, Arabian Night, Wood Wax

What is the best email to contact you by? This will only be used by us if we need additional information, clarification, or notifying you about your feature.

[email protected]