winner, winner, chicken dinner.

First thanks so much for all of the many comments you guys left last week during milk paint madness!  I appreciated every single one and I wish you could all be winners.

But, I only had six prizes to give away.

I say only, but seriously, how incredible were my sponsors in giving me so much fabulous product to give away to you guys?!  I’d like to once again say thank you to Homestead House, Miss Mustard Seed, The Real Milk Paint Co and Sweet Pickins.  They made this all possible.

I used a random number generator to choose a winner from among the comments left on each day’s blog.  Yesterday I notified each winner by email, so if you didn’t get an email, I’m sorry to say that you didn’t win.

But here are the people that did win!

Jeanne R. won the milk paint basics prize.

Constance C. won the milk paint topcoats prize.

Sharon V. won the milk paint chalkboards prize.

Paula G. won the milk paint advanced techniques prize.

Paris B. won the milk paint magic prize.

And Laura W. won the bonus Sweet Pickins prize.

I hope I inspired a few of you to get out the milk paint and start painting something!

milk paint magic.

Hey everybody!  Thanks so much for joining me this week for milk paint madness.  It has been fun sharing lots of info about milk paint with you.  I hope that all of you learned at least one or two new things.  Before I continue I want to take a moment to thank you guys for all of your comments, as well as your continued support of my blog.  I really do appreciate every one of you!

For today’s post I want to take everything we’ve learned over the last week and put it all into practice on piece of furniture.  So let’s get started.

My friend Meggan or, as I now call her, the thrift doctor (I’m trying to convince her to start writing her own column here on my blog called ‘ask the doctor’ with thrifting tips, what do you think?), texted me a few weeks ago letting me know that there was a fabulous desk at the local Goodwill with a bargain price tag.  Luckily Mr. Q was available to dash over there and pick it up for me because I know it would have gone fast.

It doesn’t have a lot of frills, but I like the legs and the drawer pulls are really lovely.  It also was in fairly good shape.

I really didn’t love the orange-y color of this piece though.  I didn’t even want that color to show through in the chippy spots.  So I decided to layer some colors on it using bonding agent in the first color so that it wouldn’t chip down to the wood.

I could also have used a base layer of chalk paint or Fusion acrylic paint, but in this case I had a particular color in mind, Homestead House milk paint in Maritime.  A very pretty blue.  So I mixed my paint first using one part water to one part powder.  Once that was well mixed, I added another one part Miss Mustard Seed bonding agent and stirred it in.

Next I moved on to the prep work.  As I mentioned yesterday, good prep is key to controlling the chipping you might get with milk paint.  But in this case I was using bonding agent in my first layer of paint so I could slack off a little.  Still, I sanded the piece briefly by hand and wiped it down with a damp cloth.

Then I brushed on just one coat of the Maritime milk paint with the bonding agent added.  Now, if I was a really good blogger I would have taken a photo at that point to share with you now.  But no, I didn’t (although that photo of the brush above is taken on top of the desk with its coat of Maritime).  I can tell you that the paint did not chip at all and it had just a little bit more sheen than milk paint normally does.  Similar to the slight sheen of Fusion acrylic paint.

A couple of days went by before I got to the next step in my project, which gave the Maritime plenty of time to dry.  Next, my plan was to use the Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish (or beeswax finish) to encourage a controlled amount of chipping and paint over it with The Real Milk Paint Co’s Soft White milk paint.  So I mixed up the white milk paint, again using equal parts water and powder, and left that to sit while I used my finger to smear some beeswax finish along the edges of the desk.

After painting one coat of the Soft White, you can see the areas where the beeswax is resisting the paint.    The areas without beeswax are not chipping at all.  This also gives you a good feel for the coverage of the Soft White over a darker color.  Pretty good for one coat I think.

I added a second coat of Soft White and left it to dry.

My initial plan was to leave the desk white, but you know what?  I didn’t like it.  I felt there was too great a  contrast between the white and the blue.  It looked splotchy instead of perfectly chippy.  Sorry, again no photo of that step!

One thing that I have learned over the years is to follow my instincts when it comes to these moments.  If my gut is telling me that I don’t like it, I switch gears instead of trying to make it work as is.

So I decided to mix a custom color of milk paint that was about halfway between the lighter Soft White and the darker Maritime.  I pulled out three almost empty bags of milk paint, Miss Mustard Seed’s Shutter Grey and Eulalie’s Sky and Homestead House’s Upper Canada Green and started mixing.

I ended up with this pretty smoky blue with just a tiny hint of green.

I added just one coat of this color over the white.  Once dry I started sanding the edges and discovered the most perfect chipping.

For me, this is the magic of milk paint.

I know you can get a similar look layering chalk paint or even Fusion paint, but I think milk paint always looks the most authentic.

As you can see, I did end up with a little of the wood showing after all, but those are spots where I sanded through the layer of Maritime, not spots where the paint chipped due to the application of the beeswax.

After sanding the entire piece lightly with some 220 grit sandpaper to get it nice and smooth, I added a topcoat of The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat finishing cream.  Since this is a desk there is the potential it will get a fair amount of use, so I wanted a little more protection than just wax.

By the way, I spruced up the drawer pulls a bit by adding some of Prima Marketing’s Metallique wax in Vintage Gold.

To learn more about that product check out this post.

In the end I love how the desk turned out.  I think I’m going to do more multi-layered pieces using milk paint.  It really adds some authentic age to the piece to see multiple layers of color as though it has been painted several times through the years.

This brings us to today’s giveaway, and guess what?  I have two prizes for today!

The first prize includes:  five colors of milk paint, a Homestead House Espresso wax, a Miss Mustard Seed white wax and a brush.  Thank you to Homestead House, Miss Mustard Seed and The Real Milk Paint Co for providing the items for this giveaway.  Approx. value:  $135.

And I also have a bonus giveaway today!  A while back I had asked Sausha at Sweet Pickins if she wanted to participate in milk paint madness week by providing some merchandise to giveaway.  She said yes, but then life happened and she didn’t get her stuff shipped right away so I just received it in the nick of time in yesterday’s mail.  So I decided to just give that away as a bonus prize today.

Includes:  my absolute favorite Sweet Pickins color, In A Pickle, Oil Wax, Extra Bond, a sanding block, paint brush and paint mixing whisk.  Thank you to Sweet Pickins for providing these items.  Approx. value:  $55.

The basic rules:  to be eligible to win today’s prize leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite milk paint color is.  Your comment must be left on the blog, not on Facebook.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

I will randomly draw the names of two winners for today’s prizes from all of the comments left on this post by Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the stroke of midnight.  You are eligible to win each day, so if you have left a comment on each day’s post, your name is eligible to be drawn for each prize.

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, April 13, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

I’ll be announcing the names of all six winners from milk paint madness week on Monday, so be sure to check back.

In the meantime, remember to pin today’s post for future reference.

And if you are local and in need of a pretty smoky blue desk, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details on the desk.

milk paint advanced techniques.

Welcome to day 4 of milk paint madness week!

Today I’m going to share some of my favorite advanced milk paint techniques including using bonding agent, layering milk paint with other types of paint, resists, how to control the chipping, how to create a crackle effect, and custom mixing.

bonding agent.

All of the milk paint brands sell a bonding agent.  The purpose of bonding agent is to improve the adhesion of milk paint.  I’ve never been a big fan of bonding agent, and here’s why.  If you don’t want any chipping when using milk paint, then why use milk paint?  I feel like bonding agent basically turns milk paint into an acrylic paint.  That may not be scientifically accurate, but you get the idea.  Your paint will become smoother and have a little bit more sheen.  If you want a creamy smooth paint that adheres well and doesn’t chip, use Fusion acrylic paint.  It will be cheaper to buy one jar of Fusion paint than it is to buy milk paint plus bonding agent plus a top coat.

However, bonding agent does have its place.  For example, when there is a milk paint color that you absolutely love and you want that exact color but you don’t want it to chip.  This came up recently for me (and you’ll read more about that tomorrow).  Another time you may want to use it is when you have a surface that you know is going to really resist milk paint far more than you want it to, you can paint a first coat of your color with the bonding agent and then a second coat without.  You’ll still get the look of milk paint with your second coat, but probably not a lot of chipping.

It’s easy enough to use bonding agent.  It’s important to mix your milk paint powder with the water first.  Once that’s well mixed, add the bonding agent directly into your paint and mix well.  You should add one part bonding agent to two parts paint.

layering.

Back when I first started using milk paint I was very confused about what you could paint over with milk paint and what you couldn’t.  Over time I’ve learned a little bit from other painters and a little bit from trial and error.  Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Chalk paint and acrylic paint are perfect for layering with milk paint, especially if you’re worried about milk paint chipping right off the existing finish on your piece.  Much like painting the first coat using bonding agent, you can also paint a first coat of chalk or acrylic paint.  Then use a resist to encourage the milk paint you put over it to chip where you want it to.  But more on resists and chipping in a minute.

When layering milk paint over chalk or acrylic paint you do not need to sand the chalk or acrylic paint.  Just paint right over it with your milk paint.  Please note, this is assuming you have a fresh coat of these paints, not an old paint job with a topcoat of some kind over it.

If you are painting over a piece that was painted previously and then sealed with wax or hemp oil, you need to be sure the topcoat is cured (30 days) before trying to paint over it with milk paint.

If you are painting over a piece that was sealed with The Real Milk Paint Co’s finishing creams or the Tough Coat Sealer you are fine painting over those with milk paint as soon as they are dry.

I treat old latex or oil based paint the same way I would an old varnished finish because all three of those will resist the milk paint to varying degrees.  I’ll go into that a bit more in a minute.

I have also found that milk paint does not adhere well to spray paint.  You’re probably wondering why in the world anyone would want to put milk paint over spray paint, but I have tried that when painting cane or wicker.  I also once tried to paint over a chair that was initially spray painted.  Not much of the milk paint stuck.

the chippy factor.

The most unique thing about milk paint is its tendency to chip when it meets resistance and thus can’t absorb into the surface that you are painting.

Resistance can take many forms.  It can be a pre-existing impervious finish like varnish, it can be layers of furniture wax or polish that have been applied to a piece over the years, it can be oils from handling (or from cooking in the case of kitchen cabinets), or it can be old oil based or latex paint.

With lots of experience painting pieces in milk paint I’ve gotten better at predicting whether or not something is going to chip, but it still sneaks up on me sometimes.

The best way to control unwanted chipping is with good prep!

I can’t stress that enough.  If you don’t want out of control chipping, prep your piece by sanding it well, vacuuming off the dust, then cleaning with a grease cutting cleanser like TSP Substitute.

But if you like to live on the edge and you can roll with the punches, just wipe your piece down with a damp cloth and then take your chances.  Sometimes that’s a fun way to go too.

resists.

Once you’ve prepped your piece you can apply your own resist in a purposeful way to encourage chipping where you want it.  There are lots of choices when it comes to a resist.  You can use hemp oil, furniture wax, petroleum jelly, a wax puck, canning wax or candle wax.  However, my favorite product to use is the Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish.

This is a beeswax finish that is formulated just a little bit differently from furniture wax.  It’s harder and a little bit more oily, and it works perfectly as a resist.  A little bit goes a long way.  I have the small jar and haven’t even used half of it yet, and I’ve probably used it on at least a dozen or more pieces.  As a side note, it works really well as a resist under Fusion paint too.  I’m giving away the larger jar as part of today’s giveaway, so the person who wins will practically have a lifetime supply!

I apply the Salad Bowl Finish much like one would apply lip balm.  Get a little on my finger, then use it to rub the wax onto the furniture in a very thin coat only where I want chipping.  Add it very sparingly if you just want a little chipping, add more if you want a lot.

Miss Mustard Seed and Sweet Pickins also carry a beeswax finish.

the tape method.

What if you painted your piece and totally forgot to add a resist to encourage chipping?  Or maybe you expected the piece to chip naturally and it just didn’t (because sometimes that happens too).

Well, all is not lost.  I’ve had great success with using tape to pull off some of the paint.  Just press some tape onto the area you want to chip and then yank it off again.  It’s sort of like the process of removing lint from your black slacks using tape.  I always start with the yellow Frog tape (for delicate surfaces).  However, if I find the paint still isn’t coming off I’ve been known to try a stronger tape like packing tape.  Just use caution when doing this, you can also pull off a big solid strip of paint which isn’t quite what you want.  Go slowly, start out with a very small area and go from there.

crackling.

Applying heat is a great way to encourage your milk paint to crackle.  You can do this the accidental way (which I totally do not recommend), which is to paint your piece in the hot sun on a summer day.  I’ve done that a few times and have gotten some great crackling, but that’s not very practical or predictable.  A better way to encourage crackling is to use a blow dryer which gives you a little more control.  I recommend mixing your milk paint a little bit thicker than you would normally, then as soon as you’ve painted it on add some heat by ‘drying’ it with the blow dryer on high heat.

If you want to emphasize the look of a crackled finish, try adding a colored top coat such as antiquing wax or white wax which will catch in those cracks and highlight them.

custom colors.

Mixing a custom color is one of my favorite ways to play around with milk paint.  I know you can mix other kinds of paints to create your own colors too, but somehow with milk paint it feels a little more mad scientist-y.  Maybe it’s because you mix various powders, then add water, then you have to wait 5 or 10 minutes to make sure the pigments are all fully dissolved before really getting a good look at the color you’ve created.  Or maybe it’s because I sometimes practice my evil mad scientist laugh while I’m mixing my own paint colors.

Some of my favorite custom mixed colors are Blue Alligator

British Rocker Mint

and French Desk Grey …

Mixing custom colors is a great way to use up those partial bags of milk paint that don’t have quite enough in them to paint a full piece of furniture.

I hope today’s post has given you some ideas for different techniques you can try with milk paint.  Now for the fun part, today’s giveaway:

Includes: Four colors of milk paint, a jar of Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish and a Miss Mustard Seed wax puck.  Thank you to Homestead House, Miss Mustard Seed and The Real Milk Paint Co for providing items for today’s giveaway. 

The basic rules:  to be eligible to win today’s prize leave a comment on this blog post telling me if you’ve tried any of these milk paint techniques, or if not, which one you want to try.  Your comment must be left on the blog, not on Facebook.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

Normally I make a point of answering every comment left on my blog.  If someone takes the time to leave a comment, I like to acknowledge that.  But I usually only get 10 to 20 comments so it’s easy to fulfill that promise.  But I’m guessing that I’ll get many more comments on these posts so I’m going to warn you up front that I won’t be answering each one.  That helps make it easier for me when it’s time to pick a winner too, so I hope you guys will cut me some slack on that this week.

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the stroke of midnight.  You are eligible to win each day, so if you leave a comment on each day’s post, your name is eligible to be drawn for each prize.

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $106, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, April 13, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the final segment of milk paint madness, and in the meantime remember to pin today’s post for future reference.

 

milk paint chalkboards.

Did you know that you can make a chalkboard using milk paint?

Yep.  No need to buy special chalkboard paint.  Plus the sky is the limit color-wise.

First, the technique.  It’s super simple.  Mix your milk paint as per usual (equal parts water and powder).

Let your paint sit while you prep the surface of your chalkboard by sanding it well, then cleaning it with TSP Substitute.  If I’m using new hardboard for my chalkboard I skip the TSP and just wipe it clean with a damp rag.  Remember, you don’t want a chippy chalkboard so be sure you’ve given your surface plenty of gripping power with good prep.

Give your paint another good stir or two and then brush one coat onto your chalkboard surface.  Once dry, lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper.  Normally I don’t sand between coats of milk paint, but in this case sanding between coats will help keep your chalkboard super smooth.  Paint a 2nd coat of milk paint.  Once dry, sand again.  The final step is to season your chalkboard by rubbing chalk all over the surface, then wiping it away with a dry cloth.  No other sort of topcoat is needed.

And voila, you have a chalkboard.  Keep in mind that freshly applied paint is always easier to scratch than cured paint.  I’d wait a day or two before drawing on your chalkboard.

Black is a no-brainer and probably everyone’s first instinct for a chalkboard, but I’ve done several green chalkboards too.

I like the look of a green chalkboard with a white painted frame.  This is one of my favorite ways to re-purpose a dresser mirror.

I’ve used a recipe of 3 parts Miss Mustard Seed Boxwood mixed with 2 parts Miss Mustard Seed Artissimo to make a green chalkboard.  But I’ve also discovered that Homestead House milk paint in Bayberry is the perfect chalkboard green.

But you don’t have to stick with just black or green chalkboards.  I’ve also painted a chalkboard using Homestead House milk paint in Laurentien, which is a pretty aqua color.

I make a lot of chalkboards.  In addition to re-purposing a dresser’s mirror frame, it’s also a great way to use a picture frame that no longer has its glass.  I even like to turn unconventional items into chalkboards like small folding chairs …

 or washboards …

I always keep a packet of milk paint on hand for whipping up a quick chalkboard.

By the way, not sure what to do with your chalkboard once you have it painted?  I’ve used a few different techniques for drawing on a chalkboard.

You can use chalk to transfer a printed design onto the chalkboard and then fill it in (more details on that here), you can use a stencil (more details on that here), or you can just work on practicing your chalk lettering skills using the book that comes with today’s giveaway.

Speaking of which, it’s time for the fun part!  Today’s prize:

Includes: the Complete Book of Chalk Lettering, 4 colors of milk paint perfect for chalkboards, and a lovely Miss Mustard Seed paint brush for a smooth chalkboard finish.  Thank you to Homestead House, Miss Mustard Seed and The Real Milk Paint Co for providing items for today’s giveaway.

The basic rules:  to be eligible to win today’s prize leave a comment on this blog post telling me whether or not you have at least one chalkboard in your house (I have five!).  Your comment must be left on the blog, not on Facebook.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

Normally I make a point of answering every comment left on my blog.  If someone takes the time to leave a comment, I like to acknowledge that.  But I usually only get 10 to 20 comments so it’s easy to fulfill that promise.  But I’m guessing that I’ll get many more comments on these posts so I’m going to warn you up front that I won’t be answering each one.  That helps make it easier for me when it’s time to pick a winner too, so I hope you guys will cut me some slack on that this week.

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the stroke of midnight.  You are eligible to win each day, so if you leave a comment on each day’s post, your name is eligible to be drawn for each prize.

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $122, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, April 13, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next segment of milk paint madness, and in the meantime remember to pin today’s post for future reference.

 

milk paint topcoats.

Welcome back for day 2 of milk paint madness week!

Today I’m going to share a bit of information about the various topcoats you can choose for your milk painted furniture, but I gotta say one could write an entire book about this stuff.  There are so many options out there!  I haven’t tried them all though, so I’m just going to scratch the surface on this topic (pardon the pun).  You may want to go grab a cup of coffee first, this is going to be a long one.  I’m going to list the finish options starting with least amount of protection/added durability and ending with the most durable finish.

going topless.

Before we get into the topcoats, what about not using a topcoat at all?  This is an option with milk paint.  It’s definitely not the most durable option and your milk paint won’t be especially water resistant or scrub-able, but if those factors aren’t important to you, you can go topless!  Without a top coat milk paint has a very matte finish.  I would probably never go without a topcoat on the darker colors, but I do like the look with white or other pale shades.

I didn’t use a topcoat on my Belgian bench.

I painted this piece back in July 2016.  We sit on it to put out shoes on, so it gets a fair amount of use.  The finish has definitely worn a bit more since I first painted it.  But if you’re a fan of the distressed, chippy look that’s a bonus.  The paint itself cures rock hard and won’t rub off on your skin or clothing.

hemp oil.

Hemp oil is one of my favorite topcoats over dark milk paint colors, especially black.  It’s all natural, has zero VOC’s and is solvent free.  Remember what I said yesterday about milk paint having similar qualities?  If you work with these things frequently, it’s important to think about not only the environment, but also your own health.  Homestead House, Miss Mustard Seed and The Real Milk Paint Co all sell an all natural hemp oil in their milk paint lines.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a topcoat is that all topcoats may change up the color of milk paint to varying degrees.  Hemp oil will deepen the color quite a bit, that’s why it’s perfect for use over dark colors.  It works equally well over mid-tone or lighter colors, but you may want to experiment a bit to see how you like the color with the hemp oil topcoat.  Here you can see how much it changes up Sweet Pickins’ In a Pickle

I like to apply hemp oil with a cheap chip brush that I reserve especially for that purpose.  Once applied, I wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.  There is no buffing required with hemp oil.  Hemp oil dries to a matte finish with no sheen.

Your hemp oiled finish will be somewhat more water resistant and durable than if you went topless, but not as much so as the rest of the topcoat options.  Also, the hemp oil will wear away over time.  If you want to maintain that deep rich color you will have to reapply the hemp oil every year or two.

Here’s a q tip for you that’s just good to know, don’t use hemp oil on your leather goods.  According to The Real Milk Paint Co’s website:  ‘Because Hemp Oil is a drying oil it will soak into leather and dry. This will cause the leather to crack and prematurely destroy your leather goods. Repeated applications of Hemp Oil to leather will just speed of the destruction. Use oil products made to treat leather. These will protect your leather goods for the long term.’

wax.

Wax is another great topcoat for milk paint.  There are so many waxes on the market these days, I could probably write a week’s worth of posts just about wax.  I did write a post about how all waxes are not created equal back in January 2017 (read that here).  Based on the research that I did for that post there are some brands of wax that I won’t use anymore because of their harmful ingredients so be sure to read it for more info on that.

Wax comes in quite a few different colors these days too.  You can get clear, white, brown, grey and black.  Fusion even has some metallic furniture waxes available.

Clear wax will darken the color of your paint somewhat, but not as much as hemp oil.  Brown, grey and black waxes will deepen your paint color and add a tint of their own color to it, while white wax will lighten your color and add a bit of a whitewashed sort of look.

Here’s a great tip;  if you’ve never used colored wax, I highly recommend doing some experimenting with it before you apply it to a piece of furniture.  Paint an old board with your milk paint color, and then try the colored wax over it.  If the look is too dramatic for you, you can try applying clear wax first, then adding a colored wax over it.

I like to apply my wax with a wax brush.  I find it easier to get into the nooks & crannies with the wax.  Since I do a lot of waxing, I keep a separate wax brush for each color I use regularly.  That way I don’t have to clean them after every use.  I only clean them a couple of times a year (I probably shouldn’t admit that out loud).

  Once you’ve applied the wax using a circular motion, wipe away the excess with clean cloth in the direction of the grain.  After the wax dries for about 5 – 10 minutes you can go back and buff it with a clean cloth to get more shine if you want it, but I have to admit I rarely do that.

If you’ve struggled in the past with a waxed finish that ends up feeling tacky, you’ve likely used too much wax.  Keep switching to a section of clean cloth to wipe away excess wax until your surface feels smooth.  Once cured (after about 30 days) a properly waxed surface will feel smooth and silky.

Personally I love the look of a waxed finish.  It has a patina that appeals to me, not super shiny but not completely flat either.  A waxed finish is more durable than hemp oil, but still not really scrub-able.  It will resist liquids though, sort of like a freshly waxed car.  In addition, a waxed surface is pretty easy to ‘fix’ if it does get dinged up.  Just simply sand very lightly and re-wax that spot.  No need to touch up the entire surface.

Much like hemp oil, wax will wear away over time and to maintain water resistance you’ll want to reapply every year or two.  I’m not gonna lie though, I’ve yet to re-wax a single one of my waxed pieces.  But then durability is not something I really worry about in my household.  If you have small children it might be more important to you.

finishing cream.

The Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream is rapidly becoming one of my favorite topcoats for milk paint, especially for the lighter colors.  I’ve used the low sheen and the dead flat versions and I like them both.  This topcoat won’t change the color of your milk paint by much, if at all.  The low sheen adds just a minimal amount of shine and the dead flat is more matte.

You can apply this product with a rag, brush or damp sponge.  I usually go with a brush.  What I love about the finishing cream is that it’s very thick.  Sort of like the consistency of a body cream rather than a lotion.  Because of that you really don’t have to worry about runs (which seem to be a problem for me).  So far I have found this stuff to be pretty fool proof.  It also takes less effort and time than a hemp oil or waxed finish.  You just brush it on, no need to wipe away excess or buff.

After drying for 24 hours, a piece with this topcoat will be fully washable and more durable than hemp oil or wax.  You shouldn’t have to reapply the product unless your piece gets a lot of wear, in which case you can re-apply if necessary.  I used a finishing cream top coat on the nightstands in our bedroom to protect them from glasses of water left overnight.

One thing to note here, the Dead Flat version is not recommended for use over black or other dark colors.

tough coat.

Tough Coat Sealer is a non-yellowing, clear topcoat that is available under both the Miss Mustard Seed brand and the Fusion brand.  This product also will have a minimal effect on the color of your milk paint, although it may darken it just slightly.  It is considered a matte finish, but it gives a little bit more sheen than hemp oil or wax.  Please note, this topcoat is also not recommended for use over dark colors as it may look cloudy.

You can also apply the Tough Coat with a brush or sponge applicator, or just wipe it on with a lint free cloth.  The Tough Coat Sealer is more of a liquid than the finishing creams.  For that reason you want to be careful to watch for drips, especially on vertical surfaces like the sides of a dresser.  For more info on how to apply this product click here.

Tough Coat is very durable, and even more so if you apply two coats.  It’s a great choice for tabletops or other areas that will get a lot of wear.

stain and finishing oil.

Homestead House Stain & Finishing Oil All is made from safflower oil, tung oil, linseed oil, vegetable wax, safe odourless mineral solvent and cobalt free siccative which means effective drying without toxic cobalt dryers.  Initially I assumed this product was just meant for use over bare wood as a stain and sealer in one.  I never would have thought to use it over milk paint until I saw it done by someone else.

You might have noticed that both of the more durable topcoats I’ve mentioned so far, Finishing Cream and Tough Coat Sealer, are not recommended for use over dark colors.  There is some sort of science-y reason for that and it has to do with the matte finish which can look cloudy or spotty over dark colors.  For that reason I tend to use either hemp oil or one of the dark colored waxes over dark colors.  However, if you are looking for a more durable option that works great over dark colors, the Stain & Finishing oil is perfect for that.

This product comes in a selection of colors (see them here), the natural option will have the least impact on your milk paint color while the Cappucino will darken up your color quite a bit.  Multiple coats of SFO will increase durability, but also increase the color it adds to your piece.

I used one coat of the Cappucino SFO over black milk paint on this desk and got great results.

Refer back to that post for much more detail on how to use SFO over milk paint.

And that brings us to the fun part, today’s prize!

Includes: four colors of milk paint, Homestead House Stain & Finishing Oil in Cappucino, The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat Finishing Cream, Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing Wax, a Miss Mustard Seed waxing brush and a paint brush.  Thank you to Homestead House, Miss Mustard Seed and The Real Milk Paint Co for providing items for today’s giveaway. 

The basic rules:  to be eligible to win today’s prize leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite topcoat is (or maybe you prefer topless!).  Your comment must be left on the blog, not on Facebook.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

Normally I make a point of answering every comment left on my blog.  If someone takes the time to leave a comment, I like to acknowledge that.  But I usually only get 10 to 20 comments so it’s easy to fulfill that promise.  But I’m guessing that I’ll get many more comments on these posts so I’m going to warn you up front that I won’t be answering each one.  That helps make it easier for me when it’s time to pick a winner too, so I hope you guys will cut me some slack on that this week.

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the stroke of midnight.  You are eligible to win each day, so if you leave a comment on each day’s post, your name is eligible to be drawn for each prize.

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $150, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, April 13, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next segment of milk paint madness, and in the meantime remember to pin today’s post for future reference.

milk paint basics.

Welcome to day 1 of milk paint madness week, milk paint basics.

For those of you who might be entirely unfamiliar with milk paint, this post is for you.  But everybody, be sure to read to the end for details on today’s giveaway.

  First of all let’s just establish that when I’m talking about milk paint, I’m talking about paint that comes in powder form and you mix it yourself with water when you’re ready to use it.  Some of my favorite brands of milk paint include Miss Mustard Seed, Homestead House, The Real Milk Paint Co and Sweet Pickins.

Don’t be confused by General Finishes Milk Paint which is really an acrylic paint and not a milk paint at all.

Also, don’t be confused by The Real Milk Paint Co’s packaging.  It looks more like a traditional paint can, but there is a bag of powder inside.  There is also a marble inside which is a very clever tool for mixing your paint, but I’ll get to mixing in a minute.

Milk paint is made with only a handful of basic ingredients including milk protein, lime and pigment.  It is non-toxic and has zero VOC’s.  In other words, it is a very green product that is not harmful to the environment or to you while you’re using it (go here to read more about the green quality of milk paint).  Since I paint a lot, I’m exposing myself to the products I use on a regular basis and I bet you are too.  Don’t forget to take this important quality into consideration when choosing which products you’re going to use.

Milk paint in powdered form can be stored pretty much indefinitely as long as it is in a sealed container and stays dry.  It doesn’t take up very much space on your shelf this way, which is an added bonus.

Although these days most of us use milk paint over a pre-existing finish and are delighted when it chips and crackles because of that resistance, historically milk paint was intended for use on raw wood.  When used on raw wood, milk paint soaks into the wood much like a stain rather than sitting on the surface like other paints.  That makes it incredibly long lasting and durable.  When used on raw wood milk paint won’t chip or peel away.

So let’s talk about mixing your milk paint.  The basic rule of thumb is to mix equal parts water to powder.  However I like to mix darker colors a little thinner (more water, less powder) and lighter colors a little thicker (less water, more powder).  But half and half is a good starting point.

You can also mix your paint really thin and use it as a wash.  Or leave it thicker if you want to add some texture to your piece.

There are all kinds of methods for mixing your milk paint.  Unlike Mr. Bond’s martini’s, it can be shaken OR stirred.  This is where that marble comes in from The Real Milk Paint Co.  If you like to shake your paint in a jar, throw the marble in the jar as well and it helps mix the paint beautifully.  You can also choose to use one of those battery operated milk frothers to mix your paint (reserving it for paint use only of course).  I’ve even heard that some people use a blender, but that seems like overkill to me.

I used to always shake my milk paint in a glass jar and the marble is pure genius for that.  It was also a very environmentally sound practice.  However, Mr. Q eventually got tired of washing out those jars for me (he does all of the dish washing in our house, we don’t have a dish washer).  So I switched over to stirring my milk paint in a disposable solo cup with a plastic spoon.  I purchased what may prove to be a lifetime supply of plastic spoons at a garage sale for a dollar and I haven’t run out yet.

Do you put the water in first, or the powder in first?  Some say one and some say the other, but I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.  However, if you put the powder in first, just be sure to mix all the way to the bottom.  It’s sort of like making hot chocolate from a powder, you don’t want to get that overly chocolaty last swallow because a bunch of the mix was stuck at the bottom of your cup.

Should you use cold water or warm water?  Again, I’ve heard both.  I suggest meeting in the middle and using room temperature water.

I’ve also heard that sometimes well water may cause problems with milk paint.  When I was in high school a friend of mine had orange hair from washing it with well water.  So if your well water turns things orange, you might want to try using bottled water instead.  But city water from the tap should be perfectly fine.

One thing to keep in mind about milk paint is that once it’s mixed with water it has a limited shelf life (no longer than one week).  So obviously you don’t want to mix way more than you are going to need.  I think this factor stresses people out unnecessarily.  Over time you’ll develop a feel for how much paint you need, but in the meantime I have a little trick for you.  For a typical piece of furniture like a desk or medium sized dresser, start with about a 1/2 cup paint mixed with a 1/2 cup water.  Then start the first coat of paint on your piece and pay attention to how much of the paint you use.

Did you use all of it for the first coat?  If so, mix the same amount again for the 2nd coat.

Did you run out?  If so, mix a bit more the next time adding enough to finish the first coat and complete the 2nd coat.

Did you have way too much?  You get the idea.  As long as you have enough paint mixed to paint your final coat all from one batch you are going to be OK.

That being said, you can not mix a new batch of milk paint just to finish that one last drawer and expect it to match.  It most likely won’t.  So be sure your final coat of paint is all mixed at the same time (see an example of that here) .

Speaking of mixing, be sure to stir your milk paint frequently as you use it (that plastic spoon really comes in handy for this).  Because this paint is all natural, the heavier pigments will sometimes fall to the bottom of your cup as you’re painting.  This can result in some fairly obvious color differences between the beginning and end of your piece .  The best way to prevent that is to give your paint a little stir every 10 minutes or so as you are painting.

Here’s one of the best milk paint tips I ever got; mix your paint first and then let it sit while you are prepping your piece to be painted.  That gives the milk paint ingredients time to dissolve and blend while you are removing knobs, lightly sanding and then cleaning your piece.

Speaking of prep work, I recommend not skipping this step when using milk paint (actually, I recommend taking the time to prep your piece no matter what paint you are using).  Especially the cleaning step.  If there are any oils (or furniture polish) on your piece of furniture it will resist the paint, possibly by a lot.  I like some chipping, but maybe not quite this much (check back later this week to learn how to get the perfect amount of chipping).

When buying a piece of furniture always ask the seller if they cleaned it up with anything recently.  I often find that Craigslist sellers will put a coat of furniture oil on a piece to make it look good for pictures.  If that’s the case, you want to be sure to clean that off before you start painting.  I like to use TSP Substitute for that.

Also, don’t panic if your piece looks like the one above after the first coat of paint.  If this happens to you, get out your shop vac and vacuum off the flaking paint.  Sand the piece thoroughly, you don’t have to remove all of the paint just the lose stuff, but you also want to give the wood underneath some more ‘tooth’ to hold the paint so you don’t repeat the same result.  Vacuum again after sanding, wipe the piece down and start over.

OK, so you’ve mixed your paint and you’ve prepped your piece.  The next step is painting.  This is the simplest part of milk paint.  Because it’s thinner than most paints you don’t have to worry about brush strokes (although do keep an eye out for drips).  You really can use just about any kind of paint brush and still get good results with milk paint.  This may sound odd, but I find it less physically taxing to paint with milk paint versus other kinds of paint because it’s much lighter on your brush and it doesn’t really drag as you’re painting it on.  I don’t think I can really explain that properly, but if you’ve ever gone from painting with milk paint to then painting with another paint you’ll know what I mean.  It just feels like less work.

Another big bonus to milk paint is how quickly it dries.  When painting a dresser I generally remove the drawers and paint them first, then move on the body of the dresser.  By the time I’ve finished the body, the drawers are usually dry (unless it’s a super humid day).  Because the paint dries so quickly, I often am able to complete a piece from start to finish in one day.

Milk paint coverage can be variable.  It will depend on how thick or thin you mixed your paint, what color you are using and what color you’re covering up.  I’ve gotten away with as little as one coat when using black or other very dark colors, but I’ve also needed at least three coats when using white over a dark wood.

Here’s a great tip regarding coverage.  If you’re painting over a dark finish with a very light color, like white, start with a coat of paint in a mid-tone shade of grey first.  Then move on to the white.   You’ll get better coverage in fewer coats.

Don’t worry if you feel like your first coat of milk paint looks terrible.  The first coat rarely looks good (with the exception of those dark colors).  Move on to the 2nd coat and you’ll be amazed at how much better it suddenly looks.

Once your final coat of paint is dry you might notice that milk paint is a little rough to the touch.  Get out your sanding block and some 220 grit sand paper and hand sand over the entire piece (I say you can count this as your cardio for that day).  The finish will become smooth like butta’ and it will be time to move on to the topcoat, which is the subject of our post for tomorrow.

By the way, if you are a visual or auditory learner you can click here for a link to a great milk paint basics video by Marian Parsons, a.k.a. Miss Mustard Seed.

Now it’s time for the fun part, the prize!

Includes:  Miss Mustard Seed Look Books 1 & 2, paint brush, whisk paint mixer, 4 colors of milk paint, Miss Mustard Seed’s Beeswax, Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat Sealer.  Thank you to Miss Mustard Seed, Homestead House and The Real Milk Paint Co for providing items for today’s giveaway!

The basic rules:  to be eligible to win today’s prize leave a comment on this blog post telling me whether or not you’ve tried milk paint.  Your comment must be left on the blog, not on Facebook.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

Normally I make a point of answering every comment left on my blog.  If someone takes the time to leave a comment, I like to acknowledge that.  But I usually only get 10 to 20 comments so it’s easy to fulfill that promise.  But I’m guessing that I’ll get many more comments on these posts so I’m going to warn you up front that I won’t be answering each one.  That helps make it easier for me when it’s time to pick a winner too, so I hope you guys will cut me some slack on that this week.

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the stroke of midnight.  You are eligible to win each day, so if you leave a comment on each day’s post, your name is eligible to be drawn for each prize.

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $140, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, April 13, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next segment of milk paint madness, and in the meantime remember to pin today’s post for future reference.

milk paint madness.

One of the things that you may have noticed about my blog is that I like to use different types of paint, as well as different brands of paint.    Although I do receive free product to use from several different paint brands, I don’t sell paint myself.  I like to think of myself as the Switzerland of furniture painting blogs, able to remain neutral.  I love trying new things, but I only promote the products that I truly love working with.

I love the ease and simplicity of using acrylic paint for some projects, especially mid century pieces.

 And I also love the beautifully smooth finish and the gorgeous coverage you can get with chalk paint.

And sometimes I even resort to using spray paint on certain pieces like wicker and cane items, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone about that little dirty secret.

However, in the end, the paint I love the most for pieces I’m keeping is milk paint.

Just for fun I took a little walk around my house and counted my own painted furniture pieces.  I have 1 piece painted in Fusion, 1 piece painted in latex from way back, 3 pieces painted in chalk paint, 4 cane backed chairs that were partially spray painted, and 19 pieces painted in milk paint!

My guest bed below is painted in Homestead House milk paint in a color called Ochre and finished with the Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat finishing cream.

One of my favorite pieces is my rooster cupboard.  It’s painted in Miss Mustard Seed milk paint, a base layer of Artissimo and a 2nd layer of Flow Blue, then finished with Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax.

The bed in our master bedroom is painted in Homestead House milk paint in Coal Black with Homestead House black wax as a topcoat.

I love the look you can achieve with milk paint, especially when it crackles …

or gets chippy in just the right places.

There is just simply an authentic feel to a distressed milk paint finish that you can’t get with any other kind of paint.  Sure, you can come close, but to me the others always look a bit more faux.

That being said, I thought it would be fun to write a blog post sharing all of my favorite products from the various brands of milk paint that I’ve used over the years.  I’m hoping that I can inspire some of you to break out the milk paint yourselves.  And what better way to do that than having a giveaway?

So I reached out to my favorite Fab Four milk paint companies, Homestead House, Miss Mustard Seed, The Real Milk Paint Co and Sweet Pickins, and asked if any of them would like to offer some product for me to give away.

And you know what?  They all said yes!  And then sent me piles of stuff to give away.

Not just paint, but also different top coats, brushes, books and even some stains.

In fact, they were so generous with the free stuff that I’ve decided to break it down into five prizes!

One for each day of the week, Monday – Friday.  So just for next week, and next week only, I am going to return to posting each weekday.  Five days in a row of posts all about milk paint.  We’ll start with the basics and work our way up.  I’ll post about different techniques such as layering with other types of paint, how to get your paint to crackle, how to achieve perfect chipping every time (and how to fake it if not), what kinds of topcoats to add and how durable they are and any other subject I can think of.

And each day there will be a giveaway!

Details on how to win will be included with each post.

So be sure to check back on Monday for the start of Milk Paint Madness!