Milk paint finish

The ultimate do-it-yourself finish: milk paint

By Shane Eagen

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The Rise

However, milk paint is a very strong and tough paint that lasts and lasts. It also has its own distinctive soft glow. It was used on a great deal of country furniture, and so has nostalgic value. Modern milk paint can be acquired in powder form, ready to mix with water when its needed. The powder form obviously has a much longer shelf life than the original. For these reasons it has become popular again.

There are many companies presently making and selling milk paint. For those with Internet access, simply type “milk paint” into a search engine and marvel at the list. For those who don’t, one Canadian source is the Homestead House Paint Company of Toronto (877-866-5098). If you decide to buy the milk paint here’s a tip: acquire a used food processor for mixing the paint, do not use the one in the kitchen.

Paint (and stain) is made up of a binder and a pigment. The binder in milk paint comes from mixing the casein protein, found in milk, with one of the following ingredients: ammonia, borax or builder’s lime. The casein protein mixed with builder’s lime is stronger than the borax mix (molecularly), but requires the use of alkali fast pigments. The borax mix is not as strong but can make use of a far wider range of pigments. Also, the borax mix is the best formula to use if you want to incorporate some oil into the paint. The ammonia has no advantages over the other two so use what is available.

Depending on the formula used milk paint can be extremely tough. So tough that it can be very hard to remove even with paint remover. Generally, milk paint is more durable than latex paint. It will dry in a couple of hours but may take days, even weeks, to cure, again depending on the formula used.


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