5 Milk Paint Mistakes You Don't Know You Are Making

So, you’ve started your first Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint project and things aren’t turning out as you thought. If you are a first-timer, check out my blog post on three tips on using milk paint for the first time. If you've already done a couple milk paint projects and still aren't seeing the results you want, you could be making one of these 5 milk paint mistakes (don't worry...I still make some of these):

1)      Not Prepping

A quick prep can make a huge difference on your finished piece. Start with a clean surface by cleaning away any dirt and grime (TSP, Krud Kutter and warm/soap and water all work great). Give your furniture a little tooth (for the paint to grab on to) by scuffing with a sanding block. Don’t forget to wipe off all of the dust and start with a clean surface.

Lots of chippy goodness around the handle. Could have been from oils from the previous owner's hands (and me not following the proper prep!)

Lots of chippy goodness around the handle. Could have been from oils from the previous owner's hands (and me not following the proper prep!)

2)      Not Knowing The Surface

Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint reacts differently on different surfaces (it's why we all love it!). If you are painting something with a high gloss or sheen, has oils, or is glass or metal, it will most likely chip and flake. Remember, it’s all-natural, so there’s nothing in it to make it grip these surfaces. This is where proper prep and the bonding agent are extremely important.

I got full coverage on this previously painted piece by adding bonding agent to the paint.

I got full coverage on this previously painted piece by adding bonding agent to the paint.

This is also where it can be unpredictable. I’ve painted many pieces where I was convinced I would get the sought-after “chippy goodness,” with not a chip in sight. And others where I ignored the high poly finish and had the paint fall off in sheets. My tip: if you definitely do NOT want it chippy, just add the bonding agent. Following the proper prep and adding the bonding agent will give you the full coverage you desire.

See how shiny this chair is? Half was painted with just milk paint (extreme chippiness!) and the other with milk paint + bonding agent. Huge difference!

See how shiny this chair is? Half was painted with just milk paint (extreme chippiness!) and the other with milk paint + bonding agent. Huge difference!

3)      Not Mixing Properly

It all starts with the mix! I always tell my milk paint class attendees that it’s not an exact science. When painting furniture with milk paint, I always aim for a heavy cream. If I mix it too thick, I’ll add a bit more water. If it’s too thin, I’ll add some more milk paint powder. Remember, it will thicken slightly as it sits (and, if you are adding bonding agent, that will also thicken it). Give it a good stir, working out all of the clumps. You want a nice, creamy mixture.

Because of the pigments, Tricycle is the hardest to mix. Shaking it up in a mason jar works great!

Because of the pigments, Tricycle is the hardest to mix. Shaking it up in a mason jar works great!

Also, let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will give the ingredients time to absorb the water. Your mix won’t reach its true color until all of the limestone, chalk, clay and natural pigments have had a chance to absorb. Once you are ready, give your mix a good stir and then it’s time to paint!

4)      Not Continuously Stirring

Remember those all-natural ingredients I talked about? Well, they tend to settle at the bottom of your container. No biggie, just give your paint a stir every once in awhile as you go along and you’ll be fine.  This is really important when painting with the greens or blues. To avoid color variations in coats, make sure you are continually mixing your batch.

The milk paint mixer is an easy way to get a nice, smooth consistency.

The milk paint mixer is an easy way to get a nice, smooth consistency.

5)    Not Sitting Back and Letting It Do Its Thing  

Milk paint is a very versatile paint. For example, when used on raw wood, it makes a great stain.

The frame and back of this sign were stained with milk paint. Curio gives a great naturally aged look to new wood while Farmhouse white gave this sign just enough color to let some of the grain still peek through.

The frame and back of this sign were stained with milk paint. Curio gives a great naturally aged look to new wood while Farmhouse white gave this sign just enough color to let some of the grain still peek through.

But, milk paint can be unpredictable. And, this is hard for some people! But, it's what I love most about it. For me, painting furniture is therapeutic and relaxing. When I find myself getting too caught up in an image I have in my head, I try to remind myself to sit back, relax and let it do it's thing. Some of my favorite pieces came from that. And, when I find I'm not getting the results I want, it's usually because I've made one of the previous mistakes!

Here's some of my fave Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint projects. Happy painting!

Random chippyness.

Random chippyness.

Random crackle and crazing.

Random crackle and crazing.