I love the countless looks you can get from using simple milk paint and chalk paint. If you’re on our email list you know I love finding new ways of doing things – simply and inexpensively. If you’re not receiving our emails, you can join here. It’s free and you receive DIY Cheat Sheet and the Interior Decorating Secrets series as a thank you, full of great photos with 42 secrets that are low cost, high impact to get you on your way.
Now back to business, let’s talk about milk paint and chalk paint. I’ve written about both milk paint and chalk paint but everyone keeps asking ‘what is the difference’? These pointers should help you decide which one is right for you.
Yes! The paint finishes might look similar but contain different ingredients and can be used to create different paint finishes.
Milk paint recipes have been used for centuries. They are natural and eco-friendly. You can make your own paint following the video below or buy ready made powders. The main ingredients are milk (or quark) and lime.
Chalk paint can be non-toxic or toxic depending on the supplier, so make sure you read the tin before buying.
Both paints give amazing paint finishes; chalk paint finishes are a little consistent, whereas milk paint is often less predictable. There’s a lovely comparison of the two paints as sister’s from the same family; different in their own ways. Read it here at Me & Mrs Jones Painted Finishes. Now, let’s look at some of the differences between the two famous paints.
Buying milk paints is easy. They come in powder form, often in a small brown paper bag and super easy to carry. Making up a milk paint recipe is easy too – just add water and stir. This means you make only what you need, along with the intensity or color.
Like MilkPaint.com specialists say, ‘Milk paint is quick, easy and forgiving.’
It results in a rich, lustrous and complex finish that improves with time.’ Here are the main milk paint characteristics.
Great looks can be created by layering paint colors on top of each other. Professional chair makers and painters apply multiple coats of different colors such as Lexington green as the base, followed by Barn Red and topped off with Pitch Black to create a subtle tortoiseshell appearance. This may sound like a strange trio but wear and tear creates a close imitation of an old paint loved by antique collectors. There are so many different look you can create by layering any two or three colors such as gray, green and blue paint colors.
The amount of water you use changes the effect and your end results. If you thin your milk paint with one and a half parts water to one part paint and you’ve created a color wash. Add more water and it becomes a color stain which you can wipe off with a rag. This works well with red milk paint thinned right down.
To get a smooth finish, strain the paint using a strainer or old pantyhose. Unstrained milk paint will leave a grainy finish. You can also spray your furniture with water before you begin painting to see if there is any glue or oil that needs to be removed and that could stop the milk paint from bonding with your piece.
It is often said that milk paint has a mind of it’s own – which means it looks and sticks differently on each piece. This can be worrying for some but for most people that is part of its charm.
I’ve put together a page of leading milk paints, waxes, oils and brushes along with prices here.
Now let’s look at chalk paint, starting with a Annie Sloan chalk paint tutorial who coined the term ‘chalk paint’.
Recipes to make your own chalk paint can be found at InMyOwnStyle, Elizabeth & Co and LilyfieldLife. These are simple and inexpensive recipes, the cheapest is $4.00 from Elizabeth & Co. You simple use latex (acrylic) paint mixed with either grout, plaster of Paris and powdered calcium carbonate.
The video below has 4 chalk paint recipes and shows the different finishes they create. Some are easier than others.
You can find reduced additives, powders, paints, wax and brushes here.
But if you have all your gear and just want more painting and waxing techniques and ways to make chalk paint there are four great videos here. Even on a budget, there’s no excuse for not getting your hands on chalk paint.
Still on the fence about buying or making your own chalk paint? Liz Marie Blog has a review on home made chalk paint versus Annie Sloan paint which basically comes down to this – Homemade chalk paint is easy to make, there is no prep work on furniture, since it sticks to any surface, and its cheap!
Finish off with a wax or other sealer and you have a long lasting finish. You can age it with simple sanding or distressing and, most of the time, all you need it one coat of paint.
The downside is has a rough texture when dry and needs sanding between coats and may need some water added to it if it becomes clumpy. Not so hard so far. And Annie Sloan Chalk Paint?
Again, there is no prep work, priming or sanding. It is very smooth and easy to work with. You can layer colors and it dries with a velvety finish. needed. Most of the time only one coat is needed and its easy to age or distress.
There is an ever expanding color range but Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is more expensive – even compared to other Chalk Paint brands, which do a similar job. Annie Sloan has a lot of chalk paint tutorials but you don’t really need them to get the process right. The subject seems inexhaustible but I hope this answers some general questions. Find a selection of milk paints here and chalk paints to buy here.