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Milk Paint substitute

princewood's picture

Got a good deal on six windsor chairs that are painted with a white wash directly over there natural varnish.  I would like to use a milk paint using three different colors but found that it doesn't stick to painted or stripped surfaces well.  What can I use to get that look besides milk paint?  


SteveSchoene's picture

(post #111182, reply #1 of 7)

There are a number of paint lines that have milk paint colors in the line. 

There are also additives for actual milk paint that allow it to adhere to previously painted surfaces or to stripped surfaces. Check the and Both companies sell these additives.  They are only needed for the first coat over the previously painted surface and then regular milk paint should work.  (Follow the manufacturer's directions.)

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

princewood's picture

(post #111182, reply #4 of 7)

Thanks for your input.  I did look at the real milk paint website before I posted the question.  But after reading an article by Mike Dunbar in Fine Woodworking, May/June 1999, on using Milk Paint he said that if the wood has been sealed in any way he doesn't use milk paint.  So my question is have you used the bonding products in the first coat successfully? 


Gretchen's picture

(post #111182, reply #5 of 7)

All due respect to someone who wrote an article, but I would think that the people who formulate this product have a vested interest in making it work in this situation. And on several other quotes available, others said that even sanding would create enough "tooth" to allow it to adhere.

And since it is 8 years since the article, this product may have been developed in the interim.



AdamCherubini's picture

(post #111182, reply #6 of 7)

A couple things-

I don't agree with Dunbar.  I've used Milk paint over freshly applied stain!  I was looking for some level of translucence so I used no bonding agent.  It worked fine and looks great.

Milk paint was probably not used on windsor chairs and they weren't actually painted over with the different colors.  Now that we know that, I find the look "kitchy".  They painted windsors with a glossy oil based paint that was made blue green with copper.  They believed the copper was a wood preservative (what do they use in pressure treated wood today?)  It was also a cheap "utility" paint.  That paint turned dull and nearly black within a decade, maybe sooner.  Tool boxes were typically painted with this paint.

For an authentic look, paint your chairs bright glossy green- almost candy apple green (but add a little blue) with oil based paint.  There are things you could do to really mimic early paints.

If you don't care about authenticity (and that's fine- they're your chairs) I'd strip off the old paint as best you can and slap on straight milkpaint.  You'll need several coats- rub out each coat with a scotch brite pad and a terry rag after the second.  I think Dunbar recommends applying one coat of green, then one coat of red, then one black.  I wouldn't do this.  I'd apply several coats of green before doing anything else.  If you want the color strained translucent look, try my trick with stain.  Start with a coat of minwax stain - choose a dark oily one - I like puritan pine, let that dry at least 2 days, then start milk painting.


BenM's picture

(post #111182, reply #7 of 7)

Some paint strippers have wax in them so they don't evaporate to quickly.  If you are using one of those you have to make sure to strip all the wax off before applying the milk paint.  Mineral spirits will work.  Milk paint will not adhere to wood where the wax has not been completely removed.  BTDT.

forestgirl's picture

(post #111182, reply #2 of 7)

Have you researched the problem at the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company web site?  I seem to remember that they have something you can prime with that helps.

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

Gretchen's picture

(post #111182, reply #3 of 7)

As Steve and Forestgirl say, their site has a lot of info, including this below. Other places say sanding will make the paint adhere, which I would believe, having tried to remove it from some things!

Ultra-Bond Adhesion Promoter is a vinyl acetate monomer, latex emulsion in water. When combined with Real Milk Paint ® it will give greater adhesion to non-porous surfaces and previously painted surfaces.

Ultra-Bond Adhesion Promoter is mixed 25% to 75% liquid Real Milk Paint ® and will adhere to surfaces such as metal, glass, previously painted or finished surfaces and some plastics. Always do a test for compatibility and allow 24 hours to dry.

Be sure to visit our informative how-to article on How to Apply Real Milk Paint ® on Unknown Surface

Will promote adhesion of Real Milk Paint ® to:

  • Glass, metal, some plastic including melamine
  • Previous painted sound surfaces
  • Lacquered, shellacked, varnished surfaces
  • Oil base polyurethane, water base polyurethane

Physical Properties: