Chalk Paint® & Milk Paint: Transforming Treasures
While the idea of upcycling furniture and accessories can be part of a green lifestyle, is usually budget friendly, and often can even incorporate items with sentimental value into your living space, sometimes used pieces need a little refresh to better suit your personal style. The most common way to update is with a fresh coat of paint – bringing new life, character and color to an otherwise lackluster piece. While traditional latex paint has been used to transform many pieces of furniture over the years, recently two other paint products have been getting a lot of attention in the home furnishings scene: Chalk Paint and Milk Paint. Both of these products have gained a lot of popularity and are changing the way many of us transform our treasures. To learn more about each of these products, I spent some time talking with experienced furniture refinisher Jeff Lee at The Vintage Nest in Mt. Holly.
The huge advantage of both of these products is neither requires any prep or pre-painting drama. In other words, rarely any sanding or priming is needed, regardless of the material or surface quality (untreated wood requires a clear shellac prior to applying). Jeff suggests simply cleaning the surface with a damp cloth before applying the first coat of paint, eliminating a huge amount of time and effort from the traditional prime and paint process.
Chalk Paint comes premixed in a can and is ready to use. Milk Paint requires a little more prep because it is a powder that you add to water, which allows some control over the consistency of the paint.
Easy, Quick Application
Since I had never used these products myself and I wanted the opinion of a true DIY-er, I reached out to a friend of mine, Dee Kimble, who recently tackled her first project using Chalk Paint. Dee painted her family’s much-used dinette table and four chairs and attested to the product’s marketing materials, claiming how simple and easy the product is to use. She said she spent a total of four hours – maybe less – completely transforming all five pieces of furniture and has been very happy with the durability, as her busy family of four uses the table for daily meals, homework, crafting, etc.
The drying times for these paints are unbelievable. Chalk Paint dries in approximately 45 minutes, meaning you could apply two coats to most pieces of furniture in less than two hours. Milk Paint dries even faster in approximately 15-20 minutes! Both require the application of a wax product and some buffing (the most time consuming and labor intensive part of the process, it seems) to enhance the colors and add a slight sheen to the finish.
Adds Character and Color
Jeff gave a wonderful description of each paint’s transforming value. He said, “Chalk Paint is a great way to achieve a European Estate, vintage finish while Milk Paint can offer a more farmhouse, weathered, chippy look.” Both offer a wide range of vibrant colors that can be mixed to create the perfect custom color needed to coordinate with your space. Also, both products can be lightly (or heavily if you so desire) sanded prior to waxing to achieve an even more distressed look.
Possibilities are Endless
There really doesn’t seem to be any surface or material that isn’t ideal for these products. They can be used on wood, metal, plastic, glass, walls and floors – even outdoors. The versatility of these paints is truly remarkable, making them ideal for transforming any treasure into the perfect new focal point or accent piece in your space. Jeff from The Vintage Nest even painted a sofa & chair, and not just the frame, but the upholstery, too. The finished product may not suit everyone’s taste, but it’s a fabulous conversation piece and incredibly unique.
These paint products may seem pricey when compared to their latex counterparts, but they go a long way. Dee commented that she used less than half a quart to put three full coats on her table and four chairs. Plus, you eliminate the need for primer products. Not to mention, when done correctly, both products can elevate the sophistication of a multitude of pieces, giving you a quality, professional-looking finish with handmade character.
The Vintage Nest carries Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, as well as many examples of each of these paints applied to a variety of materials. Happy Painting!