I get asked so often as to the difference between Milk Paint & Chalk Paint and how the 2 paints compare. It is a great question and an important one, as what you choose to paint with can have a big impact on achieving the specific ‘look’ that you are after.
Sometimes some of the comparison break downs get a bit messy and confusing so lets try and break it down into the main and clear distinctions between these two fantastic products:
BOTH paints are used for decorative finish, particularly for refinishing or up-cycling furniture and décor and are water based.
Chalk Paint (the real authentic stuff) generally will come pre mixed in a can, you just pop the lid and start painting/use at your leisure. If you keep it sealed it lasts for an age.
True Milk Paint is always a pigmented paint powder (made up of clay pigments, limestone and milk protein – hence the name) which you mix with water to make up the paint (the tinned liquid stuff is not true milk paint). In its powdered form as long as it is kept dry and sealed it will last forever. However due to the milk protein, once mixed it will only last a couple of hours before spoiling, so only mix up as much as you need.
Chalk Paint has naturally fantastic adhesion to most surfaces. So it will generally stick to most things like glass, metal, varnished or previously polished furniture etc. with minimal prep. It is a thicker paint and holds its texture. So when painting you need to be aware of your technique so as to avoid too many brush marks showing up. On the other hand the paint can be layered and manipulated to create patina and texture.
EXAMPLE: CHALK PAINT PAINTED STRAIGHT OVER AN AN OLD/PREVIOUSLY VARNISHED PIECE AND SEALED WITH ANTIQUING WAX
EXAMPLE: CHALK PAINT WITH ADDED DISTRESSING ON THE EDGES – BY HAND
With Chalk Paint you have to add any distressing by hand. The paint will not chip or flake during distressing. So if you want a rustic or shabby effect with chalk paint you need to use sandpaper or a wet sponge to rub the paint back in places (see above picture).
Milk Paint is a thinner consistency than chalk paint, however, it is not runny like milk and the coverage is still excellent. It will stick to raw wood with fabulous adhesion. However over previously finished or varnished surfaces and non porous surfaces the paint is well known for self distressing. This is where the paint randomly bubbles up and chips off over the surface to varying degrees giving you an authentic farmhouse weathered “chippy” finish that you cannot get with chalk paint. If you don’t want the paint to chip then you either have to sand your piece back or add a bonding agent called extra bond into your first coat of paint. Milk Paint is self levelling meaning the brush marks level out as the paint dries.
Both Paints can be used to achieve a provincial finish and can be sealed with antiquing waxes or clear coats. Only Milk Paint can be used to achieve a chippy authentic farmhouse finish.
EXAMPLE OF SELF DISTRESSED ‘CHIPPY’ MILK PAINT FINISHES
The pictures show how milk paint has been used to achieve a ‘farmhouse’ chippy weathered finish and a non chippy more provincial finish
EXAMPLE OF MILK PAINT WITH NO CHIPPING / BONDING AGENT ADDED
So which one should you use? Really its up to you. If you want a distressed chippy farm finish then definitely use Milk Paint, you won’t get the same authentic weathered finish with chalk paint.
If you want to achieve a traditional more provincial finish and don’t want to do much/if an prep work, then chalk paint might just be the way to go.
Both paints however have fantastic attributes and whichever way you go, you can achieve fantastic results and hopefully have fun in the process.
If you are interested in learning how to use Sweet Pickins Milk Paint.. why not join our upcoming class? You can read more about that HERE.