How do you paint walls with milk paint?

blue milk paint on plaster wall

You might have heard of milk paint for furniture, but milk paint for walls or plaster? You can definitely use it. If you’d like a soft, velvety, unusual look on your walls, consider milk paint.

In this video I’ll show you how to paint walls with milk paint. If you’d rather read, I’ve written it all out just below the video. Thanks so much for watching or reading.

What Is Milk Paint?

Milk paint is one of the, if not the oldest way of making paint known to man. Casein is a milk protein and that’s what’s in there that makes the paint bind to things. Lime makes it strong. It actually gets harder as it ages. And then pigments give it beautiful colors.

The first paintings ever, on those cave walls, were painted with milk paint. When they opened King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, all of the paintings were done in milk paint, and the colors were still vibrant.

You can find this and more fascinating details about milk paint at the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company’s website.

In recent years it’s gotten prominent with a lot of DIY bloggers as a way to paint and distress furniture to make it look antique. But it has a lot it has other applications, as well.

Why Use Milk Paint?

When we were thinking about what to do with this room, I was really intrigued as to how it might work on the walls, because underneath all of this gnarly old wallpaper, the walls were old lime plaster, and they had never been painted. I had read that – and I know, from using milk paint, that it sinks into raw wood. It – it behaves like a stain.

And I had read somewhere, too, that because it’s got limestone in it, over time it gets harder. It’s almost like stone. So instead of just sitting on top of whatever you’ve painted, it like really becomes part of the wall.

An added benefit is that the paint is breathable – since there’s no synthetic barrier of plastic, any moisture that gets into the wall can evaporate through the milk paint instead of getting stuck behind synthetic paint and causing mold.

I thought that sounded really cool, and also our house is quite old, and so it is conceivable that they might have used milk paint in here somewhere and it would be in that way historically accurate.

Do You Need a Special Kind of Milk Paint?

What I did was, I researched different kinds of milk paint, and I found that the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company actually makes a special finish. They call it their Farmhouse Finishes. It’s actually specially formulated for walls, which means that you don’t have to worry about it flaking off the way that traditional milk paint can. It doesn’t always adhere that great to everything.

They’ve done something with this farmhouse finishes so you don’t have to add the extra bond that you would add to traditional milk paint to make sure it stuck to everything, if you didn’t want the chippy look.

Does Milk Paint Need to Be Sealed?

The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company recommends sealing milk paint on the walls if they’re in a kitchen or bathroom, or somewhere where they will be touched a lot.

If you want to, the company sells something called Safe Bond Acriglaze, a clear coat that you can paint over your milk painted walls. It will make them easier to wash and less likely to get dirty. You could also seal the walls with hemp oil.

The Farmhouse Finishes line is already formulated so you don’t have to do that. I went ahead and I ordered two gallons of this stuff. It comes in a powder form, and it costs $65.75 for a gallon of the farmhouse finishes paint. It comes in in a box. It comes in a powdered form. A gallon covers 288 square feet, according to the box. A quart covers 72 square feet.

What Are the Advantages of Milk Paint?

Another great reason to use milk paint, and this Farmhouse Finishes formula, according to the spec sheets on their website it’s the same as regular milk paint. It’s biodegradable; it’s totally VOC and HAP free, so it has no odor.

When you put it on, it it kind of smells a little bit milky, but then once it’s dry, there’s no smell at all. The milky smell is really kind of cool, just a very natural smell.

If you’re concerned about painting while you’re pregnant, or you just don’t want to breathe in icky paint fumes, this is a great option.

Another advantage is that, as long as you haven’t mixed your milk paint powder, you can store it indefinitely without worrying it will go bad. Once you have mixed it, however, you need to use it within a few days because since it doesn’t have any preservatives in it it will get stinky.

Is Milk Paint Environmentally Friendly?

Milk paint is biodegrabable and is made of only basic ingredients easily found in nature.

What makes milk paint a nontoxic alternative?

I don’t think you should eat it, but milk paint doesn’t have any solvents or preservatives like other paints do. That’s why it’s VOC and HAP free, and nontoxic.

What is the Difference Between Milk Paint and Regular Paint?

Milk paint comes in a powder form and needs to be mixed with an equal part of water.

When I got the two gallons of milk paint powder, I emptied them into this clean plastic container just in case the dye lots were slightly different. I mixed all of the dry pigment together.

The Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company has a lot of colors. These are all available in their regular milk paint, or also in their Farmhouse Finishes, if you’re interested in the walls. I am going to use this color Federal Blue on my walls. I think the Providence color and the Summer Cottage color are also really beautiful.

Farmhouse Finishes Color Card

The company was founded in the 1970s by Charles Thibeau. He wanted to recreate the formula of the type of paint people would have used in colonial times. He was inspired by the colors he saw at Colonial Williamsburg and a couple other of those old historic villages on the East Coast.

These are all colors that are pulled from actual historic villages, and they’re colors that people would have been using back in the day.

How Do You Mix Milk Paint?

If you’re considering using milk paint on any walls in your home, I hope this video helps you make a decision about whether it would be a the right fit for you. Let’s get started.

Measuring cup here. Four and a half cups, 36 ounces is what it holds. I’m gonna scoop that out and I’m gonna take it and I’m gonna put it in this bucket. And then I’m gonna go fill this up with water.

I’ve got my pigment in the bucket. It’s a color called Federal Blue. And here is my equal parts of water. I’m just – I’m going to pour that in. I’m going to stir it around with a paint stir stick.

With milk paint you can tend to get these little clumps. It – it’s hard to get out every single little clump, kind of like pancake batter. Sometimes you get these, like, you know, you see how those dry clumps are.

It’s going – it would take forever to to sit here and do that with the stir stick. I have this old immersion blender. So I’m going to use – I’m going to turn this into my paint mixer just because it’s lightweight and that way I don’t have to get out the drill bit and all the rest of that.

I have mixed up this blue Farmhouse Finishes Milk Paint Federal Blue in a ratio of one part water to one part paint. I used this beat up old immersion blender, and now I’m gonna get started painting the wall.

How Do You Apply Milk Paint?

This paint is really watery and splatters a lot, as you see. I’ve already got it all over my face and hands. I am actually a very neat painter with latex. It’s got a thin consistency and handles totally differently from regular paint.

It’s tricky to keep it off the baseboards so I have been keeping a damp cloth or baby wipes handy so I can wipe it off right away. I don’t want to tape my baseboards because I hate taping. I think that taping gives you a false sense of security, because paint can always get, like, underneath the tape. Then you take the tape off and you have these nasty surprises. So I’d rather just see what I’m doing.

You know, I just cut in just like I would with regular paint, but I start up here because it does tend to drip down. See, and right there I’ve got a splash already. But I just wiped it up with my rag and then I just keep on.

Okay, and then once I’ve cut in, I’ll take this block brush, and you definitely want to – I’ve just – I’ve been pressing it against the sides of the bucket to get as much water off as I can. I hold it like this, and I just go every which way, and you can see it covers really quickly and it’s actually quite a bit of fun.

To edge in with the milk paint I just used a regular angled trim brush. But then I did not want to roll the paint, because it is so watery and splotchy. So what I did was, I bought this bristle brush from amazon. I can’t remember offhand exactly the brand. It is I think called a block brush, and it’s about six inches wide and maybe an inch and a half thick.

And I just used this to cover the walls, and it’s actually great fun and it goes really quickly. You can see how drippy the paint is, but you can catch your drips better and easier than with a roller and you just go in every which direction and you can see it goes really quickly. Honestly I think it goes just as fast, if not faster than a roller would.

I’m going to show you my technique with this brush just up close. And then let me show you, since I wasn’t paying very much attention – I wasn’t being as careful because I was trying to film it, look what happened. This is definitely a drawback to this paint. It’s much easier to control for that happening, or not happening, with latex, but I’ve just been wiping it off and I do – I am going to paint the trim last.

Usually I paint it first, but because of how messy this paint is, I decided to do the walls first. And then again here, um, as you’re painting, just be very mindful that you’re gonna have drips and be mindful to catch them before they start dripping down.

How Many Coats of Milk Paint Will You Need?

This is what the walls are looking like after one coat of milk paint. Obviously they need another coat, but the coverage is pretty good.

And then over here this wall with the two lights on it, and you can see, compare the – contrast. This wall is done. It has two coats already. You can see there’s variegation in the color. Slubs and marks up close. And it’s just sunk into the wall like a stain.

And then here’s by contrast one coat over there. One coat on the chimney breast and two coats on the wall over there to its left.

Here is what the room looks like with two coats of Farmhouse Finishes from Old-Fashioned Milk Paint

Federal Blue. This is two coats all the way around.

milk paint on plaster
blue milk paint on plaster wall

Is It A Good Idea To Use Milk Paint On Walls?

The milk paint finish has got a lot of texture both from being brushed on, and the fact that the plaster underneath is rough. It’s gone on like I hoped it would. It’s, like, really sunk into the plaster instead of just sitting on top the way a latex would. I had been thinking of perhaps sealing it with hemp oil to bring out the richness and luster of the blue, but I think, actually, I’m happy with it as is.

As I said in a previous video, these plaster walls are rough; they needed a lot of repair, and we did not make them perfectly smooth, but I think that the sort of natural and raw quality of the paint enhances the rough walls and it works, it works. I like it; I’m pleased with it. There’s a little spot here where I’m gonna have to sand because there’s some drip marks. But, you know, that happens even with latex paint at times.

I do like the fact that it’s a little mottled looking. I did put on two coats and it’s not uniform; there’s a mottled appearance to it. It’s streaky, chalky, and in places looks like two different colors. The painted wall has a matte finish that is far and away more interesting and old fashioned looking than flat latex paint.

If you’re interested in this kind of natural look for your walls, I would say, go for it. If you have previously painted walls, milk paint in this Farmhouse Finishes formulation should work just fine, with no concerns about peeling. In fact, Farmhouse Finishes is especially formulated for these types of surfaces.

If you want the paint to behave even more like a latex paint, you can add Extra Bond, the bonding agent Old Fashioned Milk Paint sells. According to their website, it makes the paint more flexible and less prone to cracking.

If you have a porous surface, like a bare plaster wall or newly applied joint compound, the paint will work very, very well and really sink into the surface. In fact, traditional milk paint would also work very well. I chose the Farmhouse Finishes just to be extra cautious. I didn’t want any peeling or cracking on the walls.

Once you’re finished painting, Old Fashioned Milk Paint recommends sealing the paint with their Safecoat Acriglaze to protect against stains, dirt, and marks. This topcoat also increases washability. I haven’t done this, and I’m not sure I will. If I had painted a kitchen or bathroom, I definitely would, but I’m not sure if it will be necessary in my boys room.

It’s a little harder to handle than just a latex paint, and you have to mix it up and you definitely want to mix it up with something like a paint mixer on a drill or a little immersion blender, because it does tend to clump and you don’t want that. But i it’s not that much harder to use. I say that if you like the look, or you have your heart set on a particular color, then go for it. I like it very much as a wall paint, and I would use it again.

Other Natural, Breathable Paints

If you want to keep looking at other kinds of natural paint, breathable stains and paints, Limeworks.us carries lime wash in powdered form. From what I understand it handles very similarly to milk paint. The one difference is because of the nature of lime, the colors are all very pale pastels or earth tones, so if you have your heart set on a bright color, limewash won’t work.

Pure and Original offers a fresco lime paint in a traditional paint bucket, ready mixed, that you apply over their special primer. It works on any surface.

JH Wall Paints is a newer paint company out of California that also does a lime paint in a gallon bucket. The picture on their website are stunning. I think they even say you can get a Venetian plaster look with their paint. Again, the colors are all pretty pale, but the velvety texture and slubs and variations are like what you can get with milk paint.

I think if you’re’ looking at price, buying the milk paint in powder form or the lime wash in powder form is going to be a lot cheaper than buying gallons of ready mixed lime paint.

These paints offer a unique look you won’t see elsewhere. They’ve go the added benefits of being historic, low or no VOCs, and breathable. A fun, interesting alternative to standard latex paints.

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