let’s talk about chipping.

So, I know a lot of people have asked the question “does a chippy milk painted piece continue to chip after it is finished?”  Well, I thought I would give an answer to that question based on my own experience.  Disclaimer:  these are only my own opinions based on my own experience with milk painted pieces, this is not a sponsored post.

green chippy close up

It’s not a simple yes or no answer though (it never is, is it?)  The answer is yes, and no, and it depends.

Let’s start with the “yes” answer.  If your piece is (1) fairly chippy, and (2) you haven’t thoroughly removed all chipping paint, and (3) it gets a fair amount of use, and (4) you haven’t sealed your piece with something like poly or Miss Mustard’s Tough Coat Sealer, then yes, your piece will probably continue to chip.

An example of this is my French cane back chair.  I painted this piece back in February 2014 (here is the original post) and this is how it looked then.


As you can see in the above photo, it’s nicely chippy.  Not extremely chippy, but there is definitely some chipping.

For about a year the chair was not used much, but then I moved it into the Q Branch in January 2015 and have been using it quite regularly since then.

study desk w french chair

And here is how it looks now.

chair back now

I’d say it has lost a fair amount of paint, especially on the cane back, but also on any raised areas or areas where the chair is handled a lot.

chair back 2

Personally I love this look!  The more worn the better, this is what I’m aiming for on pieces that I’m keeping for myself.  This chair was finished with wax, by the way.  It has not been sealed.  I haven’t ever felt like there are paint chips on the floor every day or anything like that, but over time I clearly have lost some paint.

Here, I’ll make it easier for you to see with a side by side comparison …

side by side

The cane was also painted with milk paint.  I painted this chair in the winter, so I couldn’t use my cheater spray paint method on it (I don’t like to spray paint in the house).  I’ll have to keep an eye on my new cane back dining chairs and see if the spray paint holds up better on the cane.  I suspect it will.  Maybe I will regret that down the road, because I’d be happier if my dining chairs did look this chippy and shabby.

My next example of chipping is the French Market sign in my kitchen.  This was uber chippy when I finished it.

sign 2

I have it leaning on the back splash of my kitchen counter.  It also just happens to be where we lean freshly washed dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher, or as I like to say my dishwasher is named Mr. Q), and as it turns out, damp conditions will definitely contribute to continued chipping.  Here is how it started to look after being there for a few months.

chippy close up

I knew that if I tried to sand and/or scrape off these chips I would have barely any paint left.

So instead, I added a coat of Miss Mustard’s Tough Coat Sealer.  And it no longer chips at all.  We still lean freshly washed dishes on it with no problem.  The Tough Coat Sealer does add a little shine to the finish, but just a little (you can’t even see it in the photo).  Here is how it looks today.

sign after

It sort of ‘glues’ the chips into place.  So if you have a really chippy piece, and you want to keep those chips, then this is a great option for you.

Then there is my “Kitchen Scale” buffet.

Kitchen Scale hutch

You can see that it has a decent amount of chipping around the edges.  This piece was thoroughly sanded, vacuumed and finished with hemp oil.  I believe I got all of the loose paint off when I finished it almost two years ago.  It also gets a fair amount of use.  In the winter I store my paint inside this (some people store dishes in a buffet, I store paint!) and I constantly push it out of this spot so that I can use the spot for photo shoots of finished furniture.  So it gets manhandled fairly often.  Yet I have not had any continued chipping on this one.

So, to recap.  If your milk painted piece turns out really chippy and you don’t remove absolutely all of the flaking paint, it will continue to chip (unless you seal it with Tough Coat Sealer or something similar).  Also, if your milk painted piece is exposed to damp conditions, it will likely continue to chip (again, unless you seal it).  In addition, if your piece is going to get heavy use (like a chair that one sits in for many hours while posting on their blog) you may get both additional chipping and general wearing off of paint.  However, if you’ve done a good job getting all of the flakes off to begin with, and your piece stays in a fairly dry area, and it’s only manhandled once in a while it shouldn’t chip more down the road.

vintage vanity detail 2

And finally, just for the record, I love the chippy look, so I generally don’t use a sealer on my pieces (I stick with wax and hemp oil).  I also don’t usually sand every last scrap of chippy paint off, because I want to see those flaky bits left behind.  To me that is the beauty of milk paint!

you can

If you don’t love the chippy look, I’d recommend using chalk paint or Fusion paint.  Why bother with milk paint unless you are going for a chippy look?


15 thoughts on “let’s talk about chipping.

  1. quote
    “I haven’t ever felt like there are paint chips on the floor every day or anything like that, but over time I clearly have lost some paint.”

    Gee, somebody must vacuum fairly regularly. 😉


    1. Actually, I think the wax and oil don’t really stop the chipping when a piece is really super chippy. They might contain it for a while, but over time you will get more chipping/wear as evidenced by my chair which was waxed. I think the Tough Coat Sealer is the only ‘sealer’ that will contain the chipping on a more permanent basis. But personally I like the chippy look, so I’m fine with not using a more permanent sealer on my pieces, and I bet you feel the same!


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