How to choose the right paint for your next furniture painting project
There are many different types of furniture paint on the market. Chalk paint is probably one of the best known, there are others you might want to consider such as mineral paint or milk paint. We love using mineral paint, for reasons you can read about here. But today we want to explore the differences between milk paint and chalk paint. Once you know the difference, hopefully it will help you choose milk paint vs chalk paint for your next furniture painting project!
What is chalk paint?
Chalk paint is actually a brand name owned by Annie Sloan. When we use “chalk paint” here we mean any brand of thick, ultra-matte chalky style paint. Chalk paints are water based and are known for their super adhesion. Part of the reason chalk-style paints are so popular is because they claim to need “no prep”.** Chalk paint will stick to pretty much any clean surface without sanding or priming (although we always recommend proper prep which you can read about here). Chalk paints are also easy to distress which makes them ideal for creating an aged or antique look on painted furniture. A top coat is required to protect any piece painted with chalk paint.
** we always prep our pieces and recommend you do to! You can read more about our painting technique here.
What is milk paint?
Milk paint is also water based but contains milk protein. It is usually sold in powder form and needs to be mixed with water before applying. Milk paint is thinner than chalk paint. It does not adhere as well to surfaces (although it can be applied with a bonding agent to get good adhesion). Milk paint is ideal for creating a “chippy” worn look as the paint will resist or flake away when the underlying surface is non-porous. In fact, you can encourage the paint to chip by applying an oil or wax to certain areas of your furniture before painting. Like chalk paint, milk paint also requires a top coat to protect it’s finish.
When to use milk paint vs chalk paint
Both chalk paint and milk paint are good choices for creating an aged or distressed look on painted furniture. If you are looking for a uniform, smooth finish that can be distressed how you choose, chalk paint is likely your best option. If you want to see brush strokes, chippiness or any of your underlying surface (like wood grain showing through), you would likely be better off with a milk paint. Milk paint is pretty unpredictable and if you like to be in control of how your paint finish is distressed, milk paint is probably not for you.
The verdict: milk paint vs chalk paint
Here’s the deal. Our go to furniture paint is actually mineral paint (fabulous adhesion, no brush strokes, no top coat needed). However, when we want a distressed, antique or farmhouse look, we will usually turn to chalk paint. The only time we use milk paint is if we specifically want to create a “chippy” look.
Below is a wardrobe we transformed by painting it with Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in the color Artissimo. It didn’t chip as much as we would have liked. Pro tip: stick painter’s tape to your milk paint finish and rip it off quickly to get more chippiness!
Have you used milk paint before? Do you like using it to paint furniture? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!