How to Make Your Own Permanent Paint

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Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic bucket

  • Wooden or plastic spoon or spatula

  • 1 quart skim milk at room temperature

  • 1 ounce hydrated lime, by weight

  • Pigment of choice

  • Oil finish, varnish or sealant

  • Natural bristle paintbrushes

At least since colonial times, people have been making durable, permanent paint with milk. The casein in the milk adheres the paint to the surface. Milk paint was used during colonial times to cover furniture and houses. Because it is made from natural and biodegradable products, it is both Earth-friendly and nontoxic. Many people are interested in leaving the toxic petroleum-based fumes of commercial paints behind and returning to these old recipes for permanent paint.


Step 1

Choose a pigment. One easy way to do this is to purchase powdered pigments from any art and craft supply shop. Permanent paint materials will be added to a measure of the powder. You can also experiment by mixing ratios of the powders together to create you own color paints.

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Step 2

Nature provides many natural pigments. Strong, black coffee is a pigment for brown paint. The juice of blueberries makes a blue stain, just as grape juice makes a purple stain. For green, pick a lot of fresh grass or fresh grass clippings and press through a juicer. The green liquid this produces will make a good stain. Make sure if you press grass through a food juicer that you only use grass that has not been treated with chemicals.


Step 3

Place hydrated lime in the plastic bucket. Stir in enough milk to make a paste. Stir in the rest of the milk, and stir in enough pigment to create the color you want.

Step 4

Test a little paint on an inconspicuous area of the object you wish to paint. Allow to dry, and make sure you like the color. The dry color may be different from the color of the wet paint.


Step 5

Use a natural bristle brush to apply paint, and stir now and then as you work. Allow paint to dry for a few hours between coats. When the last coat of paint is dry, paint on an oil finish or sealer.

Step 6

Use this homemade paint within a couple of days after you make it. Unused paint can be stored in the refrigerator, but it will eventually sour and any unused paint will need to be disposed of.


Hydrated lime is available at home improvement and home building centers.