Milk Paint – Techniques & Common Questions
Milk paint behaves differently from conventional latex paints. In this section, we’ll offer some tips and techniques for getting the best results and answer some common questions.
What should I keep in mind while I’m painting?
- Milk paint can be applied with a roller or sprayed, but in our experience, nylon bristle or foam brushes work best.
- Wipe the piece down with a damp cloth to remove dust and moisten the surface. If you’re working in direct sunlight on a warm day, focus on an area that you can complete in a few minutes, before the water evaporates.
- Do your best to maintain a “wet edge” with the paint, applying new strokes adjacent to paint that is still fresh.
Maintain a wet edge to help keep the colour tone consistent.
- Watch out for foaming where surfaces meet, or on moldings and turnings. Remove this with the brush.
- It is fine to cut in, but the final stroke should be in the direction of the grain.
Before committing to your project, practice on some scrap boards to get the hang of working with this paint and to ensure the final results are what you’re expecting (a good strategy with any finish).
What else should I be aware of?
- After the first coat is dry, you may rub it out with a fine woven abrasive pad or sanding sponge. Be sure to wear breathing protection.
Sanding the first coat to smooth raised grain and even out the colour.
- Whether to apply another coat or two depends on how you want the piece to look. A single coat will leave some of the wood grain showing through; subsequent coats increase color depth and opacity.
- Milk paint may be top-coated with water- or oil-based varnishes, drying oils, furniture wax or an oil/wax blend. Tinted waxes are a good choice for toning down a finish and giving it an aged appearance.
- Applying oils and waxes with an abrasive pad has the benefit of burnishing the surface at the same time.
Pine sample board, with one, two, and three coats of milk paint.
Sample board, rubbed out and top-coated with untinted Allback linseed oil/ beeswax finish.
- Clean your brush and other painting gear with water and dish soap.
- Milk paint is not suitable for exterior projects, even with a topcoat.
- Milk paint is mildly alkaline, so take care to not get an excessive amount on your skin. Wash thoroughly with soap and water. Wearing protective gloves is a good idea.
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