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Frequently Asked Questions
|What is Milk Paint?|
|WHAT IS MILK
Early American Colonists and Shakers painted their furniture and interiors with Milk Paint using a formula that dated back to Ancient Egypt. Up until the middle 1800's paint was not sold commercially. People made their own. The most common recipe contained milk protein, quicklime and earth pigments. Because of the unique durability of milk paint, many fine examples still exist that are hundreds of years old and whose finish is just as true as the day the paint was applied. For more information see "A brief history of Milk Paint".
Base is simply our Milk Paint Formula with no pigment added. Some of our customers like to add their own 'universal tinting colors' or other water soluble pigments to obtain colors other than the ones we carry. If possible, use 'lime proof' pigments as the lime in the paint tends to bleach out color.
Yes! To experiment you should use small amounts of the powders - teaspoons, tablespoons, even fractions of teaspoons. Mix the powders together in a small cup, add a little water and stir well. Paint a sample on a piece of scrap wood or cardboard. Keep in mind the color will look lighter when dry. Write down the ratio of your mixture, this way you will be able to easily duplicate a color combination you like in a larger batch. See our color tinting chart for some of the possibilities.
For detailed instructions on how to apply Milk Paint to walls or plaster see 'PAINTING PROCEDURES' in the Milk Paint Product Bulletin. You can paint directly over new plaster, but, as it is so porous, you may end up using far more Milk Paint than necessary if you are going for an opaque coverage. If you are going for a thin washed look, then go right ahead!
Mix the Milk Paint according to the enclosed directions, then add more water and test on a piece of scrap wood. Allow to dry and adjust the mixture with more or less water until you achieve the finish you want.
Yes! Milk Paint will water-spot white spots if it has not been sealed and something gets spilled on it. It will also spot if it is wiped with water or washed. Decorative pieces, walls etc., do not need to be sealed, but functional pieces should be. A bench, chair or similar piece of furniture can be waxed or oiled, which provides a nice finish and helps prevent water spotting. We carry a clear acrylic finish, Clear Coat, which has a satin finish and is suitable for most furniture and woodwork applications, but a tabletop, kitchen cabinetry, etc. should have a much stronger finish such as polyurethane. For more detailed information refer to the "Applications" section of our Milk Paint Product Bulletin.
Real, natural, Milk Paint is always made in powder form. Other companies may offer 'Milk Paint Colors' but they are usually oil or acrylic based paints.
When applying any paint, whether milk paint or any other kind of paint, planning and prior preparation are always key to successful use. So, plan ahead; mix up only the amount you will use that day. Due to the organic nature of true milk paint, it always works best when mixed up fresh.
If you do have leftover paint, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days or more. Be sure it is not too thick when you go to store it, then add a little water on top without stirring before you put it in the fridge. When you need to use it again, stir well and add a bit more water if necessary.
Our paint contains no preservatives, which is why gelling might occur. Some other paints on the market claim to be real milk paint, but they contain synthetic extenders that will allow a mixed batch to last longer without gelling. But, even with those paints containing synthetic extenders, you will find you get your best results when applying freshly-mixed paint.
Most modern strippers won't touch Milk Paint. There is a Behlen Masters product, however - P.D.E. paint remover that will remove it. It comes in one pound cans of powder that you mix with water to form a paste. It is the only method of removing milk paint that we know of other than a lot of elbow grease and sanding. You can order Behlen's P.D.E. through us or you may be able to find it locally through a distributor who carries Behlen products.
Many of our customers (such as Pennsylvania Folk, in our Gallery) have far more experience than we do ourselves in various finishing and distressing techniques. Many such practices can be done with Milk Paint (rolling, sponging, ragging, graining, etc.) and there are many books available on decorative painting such as this. Our best advice is to mix up a little paint, get a piece of scrap, and experiment!
If you wish to paint multiple layers of different colors and sand through the edges to expose the underneath color, one tip is to wipe off an edge or corner with a rag while the top layer is still wet. This will save a little effort in sanding once dry, although you'll probably still want to go at it with a little touch-up sanding as well.
Our genuine Milk Paint is environmentally safe and non-toxic when dry, which is considered safe for use on children's furniture and toys. Our paint is also VOC free and latex free and is safe for use by anyone who is chemically sensitive or allergic to modern paints, women who are pregnant and on hospital and nursery walls.
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