Milk paint is the perfect example of taking an old idea and making it new and fashionable. Vintage aficionados and antique lovers use this decor medium to bring an old-world atmosphere into their home, without the cost and maintenance of real antiques.
If you want to incorporate tribute pieces to a bygone era into your decor scheme and portray a vintage vibe in your home, milk paint is the best option to make it happen. Here’s what you need to know about how milk paint is made and how best to apply it for amazing results.
What is Milk Paint?
Milk paint is a combination of pigments– usually in powder form– milk, and an acidic component like lemon or lime. Some do-it-yourself recipes use Borax as a preservative, as the shelf life of the homemade version is short. It is recommended that you purchase high-quality milk paint from a supplier.
The milk acts as a binding agent for the pigment, similar to the polymers in latex paint. Milk paint sticks to a majority of surfaces, making it a versatile decor option. It has been used throughout history, most prominently during the colonial era. There are even artifacts that show that ancient Egyptians used milk paint.
How to Apply Milk Paint
As milk paint is translucent, painting will have to be done in layers. The number of layers is up to you and depends on the material you are painting, the color of the object in contrast to the paint, and the desired effect. More layers will create an opaque, matte effect. Fewer layers will allow color and texture to come through, which can be especially lovely on wooden furniture.
To apply milk paint, you will want to use a high-quality flat brush. Apply the paint in sweeping, even strokes to the piece. Allow the first coat to completely dry before adding another.
To really capture the vintage vibe, you can incorporate the rough, chipped look. This is easiest to accomplish over high-gloss furniture. On the areas that are bubbled over the surface of your piece, use a putty knife to distress the surface. You can also purchase products that help this process along.
If the chipping does not appeal to you, you can still capture the less polished essence of the furniture by distressing the edges with sandpaper. To avoid chipping, use a primer on glossy surfaces before painting.
What Can I Paint?
As previously stated, milk paint will stick to most surfaces without a problem, which makes the application possibilities practically endless. If you aren’t ready to commit to painting a piece of furniture, try creating accent pieces around your home by painting photo frames, mirror frames, shelves, vases, or candy bowls.
If you try milk paint on a small item and aspire to greater things, you can use it to create a textured accent wall or paint your kitchen cupboards. Due to the transparency of the paint, you can also choose to layer in different, complementary colors to really capture the Colonial decor style.
Finishing Your Items
Depending on your project, you might want to consider adding a protective sealant as the final coat. In addition to finishes that will help your piece chip or crackle, you can purchase finishes that will prevent this effect. High-gloss finishes will make your piece pop, while a matte finish will add protection while maintaining the muted, antique quality of the piece.
If you are planning on painting a piece that will remain outdoors– an Adirondack chair, for example– be sure to procure a paint additive that will make your paint weather resistant in addition to adding a protective top coat.
When it comes to choosing a home, many contractors recommend building new to look old rather than purchasing an old house. For those who like the vintage look, but have no desire to search for (or pay for) genuine antiques, milk paint is an easy way to capture the vintage vibe without the modern expenses.