Milk Paint Vs. Chalk Paint: Which Should You Use?


If you’re looking to decorate a dresser, dining table or your kitchen cabinets, a distressed look is always a good option. It’s relatively easy to do, and you can get a great look with a quick drying time.

To get this look, you have the option of using milk paint or chalk paint. What’s the difference between the two, and which one should you use?

The Difference Between Chalk And Milk Paint

Firstly, what’s the difference between these two paints? They’re often treated as one and the same, but there is a difference between them.

Milk paint: Milk paint has actually been in use for thousands of years. The first milk paint used actual milk to create the colors needed for art. These days, companies often use a milk protein called casein, as well as limestone and other ingredients to get the same result.

Chalk paint: This is a much newer invention, created by Annie Sloan. It’s designed to replicate the look of chalk, thanks to the use of calcium carbonate in the paint. Most of these paints will have some form of chalk or plaster of Paris in them.

Uses For Milk And Chalk Paint

As these paints are slightly different, there will be different uses for them. For example, chalk paint is usually the best option when you’re upcycling furniture. It gives you a great look on things like sideboards, chairs and so on.

Milk paint works well for this, but it’s also good for other applications, too. These are usually bigger projects, such as painting walls or floors, cabinets, doors and more.

How To Prepare Both Paints

While milk and chalk paints have similar applications, the way you prepare them is very different. As such, this will influence which one you choose.

Chalk paints come to you ready mixed, so they’re almost ready be used right out of the can. All you have to do is give them a shake before use, to ensure that all the ingredients are properly mixed together.

Milk paint, on the other hand, takes some more preparation. To prepare milk paint, you’ll need to mix it up yourself. ‘True milk paints come in a powder form, so they need to be mixed with water first’ says blogger Blake Reese, from Write My X and 1 Day 2 Write. ‘Also, be aware that the paint needs to be used quite quickly, as it can spoil within a few days.’

The Application Of Chalk And Milk Paints

Another important aspect of choosing between these two paints is the way they’re used. When you use a chalk or milk paint, how should they be applied?

This is one area where the two paints work in the same way. They’re a very easy paint to use that needs little prep work. If you’re aiming to get a shabby chic look on the area you’re painting, you won’t even need to sand or prime it first. It’s worth knowing that you do still have the option to sand surfaces before using these paints, to get better adhesion.

These paints are also quite forgiving, allowing you to mix them with other paints to get the look you’re going for. You’re also able to sand a first coat of paint in order to get that shabby chic look, before you use a second coat.

In terms application, both paint types will give you what you’re looking for. As such, you can make your decision based on the other factors at play here.

The Look Of Milk And Chalk Paints

Once you’ve applied your paint, how will it look and stand the test of time? Using chalk paints, you can get a matte finish that doesn’t show brushstrokes. If you want to create a certain look, you can use techniques like sanding and burnishing to get what you’re looking for.

With milk paint, you can use it for styles that show the brushstrokes. It also has a matte finish, similar to chalk paint. ‘Milk paint naturally distresses over time’ says writer Braydon Stafford, from Origin Writings and Brit Student. ‘It’s a good way to get the shabby chic look without the effort.’

Safety Of Both Paints

Finally, you need to consider the safety and environmental effects of both paints. Both are environmentally friendly, as they are water based, non toxic, and odorless too.

When it comes to environmentally friendly ingredients, milk paints have the upper hand here. They have no VOCs and use mostly natural ingredients. Chalk based paints, on the other hand, have a very low amount of VOCs and has harsher ingredients.

As you can see, there aren’t a lot of differences between milk and chalk paints. It all depends on what you need from the finished look of the paint. Choose the one that gives you the style you’re looking for, and you can’t go wrong.

George J. Newton is a business development manager and writer for Write my literature review and Thesis writing service. He has been married for ten years, and with his wide has worked to totally renovate their home. He’s also a writer for Next Coursework.