How to Refinish Furniture With Milk Paint

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Milk paint is one of the oldest painting techniques, dating all the way back to cave drawings. Although no name was assigned to it then, the recipe has remained essentially the same all the way to modern times. A mixture of water, milk, limestone, clay, soot and a variety of minerals, this homemade recipe for paint is flexible enough to create any color found in nature. Furniture painted with milk paint has a washed out appearance. In fact white milk paint is very similar in appearance to a whitewash. Although applying milk paint is different than applying traditional paint in that sanding is required, the final effect is worth the work.

Things You'll Need

  • Milk paint
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Paint brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Cloth
  • Pour the milk paint powder into a bucket, and mix with water in the following ratio: one part milk paint to one part water. The consistency will be slightly thinner than paint but not as thin as water.

  • Using sandpaper, lightly sand the entire surface of the wooden furniture piece. Make sure to sand with the grain, paying special attention to corners and crevices. Milk paint must soak into the wood, so any section that is not sanded will not accept the milk paint.

  • Using a cloth, completely wipe down the entire surface of the furniture to remove all dust. Slightly dampen the cloth with water to help in the removal process.

  • Using a paint brush, apply a coat of milk paint to the entire surface of the furniture, and allow it to dry completely. The milk paint will soak into the wood and in some cases may seem to disappear.

  • Using a fine grain sandpaper, lightly sand the entire surface of the furniture again. Then use a cloth to wipe the furniture free of all dust.

  • Apply a second coat of milk paint to the entire surface of the furniture, and allow it to dry.

  • Continue sanding and applying layers of milk paint until the desired look is achieved.

  • Apply a top coat of polyurethane or water-based urethane to seal the furniture. This is only necessary for furniture pieces that will receive heavy use because milk paint will develop white water spots if not sealed.

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