Milk paint finish

The ultimate do-it-yourself finish: milk paint

By Shane Eagen

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Recipe #1

The first recipe uses no lime, borax or ammonia. Mix together powdered skim milk and water to the consistency of paint. Mix in some food dye (there should be a colour chart on the back of the dye package). Strain the mixture through some layers of cheese cloth. Apply with a brush. Just for fun I tried some instant coffee as a dye. It works, but mix the coffee with a little bit of water before adding to the milk. The best thing about this recipe is you can safely use the kitchen food processor to mix it.

Recipe #2

This second recipe uses skim milk, lime, plaster of paris and the coloured chalk from your chalk line. Mix 1.5 cups of skim milk with 1 oz. of lime. Mix well, then add 8 oz. of plaster of paris. Add the coloured chalk while mixing in the plaster of paris. Let the mixture stop foaming before using it. This paint will require re-stirring every five minutes to prevent everything from settling.

Recipe #3

This last recipe is for milk paint for exterior use, and makes five gallons of paint. Mix two quarts of builder’s lime with four gallons of skim milk. Stir thoroughly. Then stir in one gallon of linseed oil. Then stir in the dye. Strain through a piece of cheese cloth and be sure to use within two days of mixing. You can substitute three quarts of sifted, white, hardwood ashes for the lime.


It’s a good idea to use water-soluble dyes. It also helps if you mix a little water with the dyes before adding them to the mix. Use powdered skim milk in all the recipes to keep the cost down.

If you mix the milk with lime, make sure you use builder’s lime, also known as slaked lime or hydrated lime.

For cleanup, use soap and water.

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