Milk Paint: Frequently Asked Questions

Milk paint has been around for thousands of years, but many people are still unfamiliar with it or think of it as a new product. Now that it is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, it’s a good time to learn more about this safe, natural product. If you are wondering how to use milk paint, or what advantages it offers, keep reading.

What is Milk Paint?

Milk paint is an all-natural paint made from five simple ingredients: casein (milk protein), limestone, clay, chalk, and natural earth pigments such as umber, ochre, lampblack, and the like. It is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. It contains no petroleum derivatives and is free from preservatives, fungicides, and other chemicals. It comes in powdered form and is mixed with water to create the paint.

Although some might think that milk paint is a new product created in response to environmental concerns, it has been around for a millennia. In fact, a simple form of milk paint composed of milk, lime, and earth pigments was used as far back as 20,000 years ago for cave paintings.

What Are the Benefits of Using Milk Paint?

Milk paint has many advantages making it an excellent choice for your painting needs. Some of the primary benefits include:

  • It’s environmentally safe. It contains no volatile organic compounds, and no petroleum products are used in its manufacture. This results in very little pollution. It does not give off any toxic gasses and it breaks down faster than normal paint if it ends up in a landfill.

  • It has excellent adhesion. Milk paint is extremely versatile and will adhere to most surfaces provided they have been properly cleaned and dried.

  • It dries quickly. Milk paint dries extremely fast, making it a particularly good choice for high-traffic and public areas. This also means that the finish is less likely to be disturbed if accidentally touched shortly after painting.

  • It is virtually odourless. Milk paint has only a slight odour when wet, but it is quite mild and lasts only a short time, vanishing almost as fast as the paint dries.

  • It is non-flammable. Water-based and free from oils and solvents, milk paint is not flammable. Keep in mind, however, that protecting the finish with oil or wax means it will no longer be non-flammable.

What’s the Difference Between Milk Paint and Regular Paint?

The main difference between milk paint and traditional paint is that milk paint is made entirely from natural ingredients such as milk protein, lime, and pigment. Because of this, milk paint is non-toxic, has less smell, and is biodegradable. While oil paints may require up to 24 hours to completely dry, milk paint will dry in under 30 minutes. Milk paint also comes in a powdered form that must be mixed with water.

What Surfaces Can I Use Milk Paint On?

Milk paint is suitable for virtually any surface, from wood to plastic, drywall to plaster, and even glass or metal. With a natural, porous material, no real preparation is required beyond simple cleaning. This includes raw wood, brick, and concrete. When applying milk paint to any general finish, it is best to sand the finish down thoroughly with fine-grit sandpaper to clean the surface and create a texture that can help adhesion.

Can Milk Paint Go Over Regular Paint?

Yes, though you will need to consider the appearance you are looking for. If you add milk paint over old paint, you will see some cracking, chipping, and flaking where the milk paint has not fully adhered to the old finish. This may be precisely what you wish to achieve, however, if you like the authentic, aged appearance. If you seek a sleek, smoother look, you may want to add Bonding Agent to improve adhesion.

How Long Does Milk Paint Last?

Once mixed, milk paint will last only a day or two, due to the presence of milk proteins. You may be able to extend its lifespan if it is refrigerated. If milk paint is still in its powdered form, it can be stored indefinitely, provided it is kept cool and dry.

Is Milk Paint Safe For Children’s Toys and Furniture?

Owing to its simple and natural components, milk paint is safe for children’s toys and furniture. It is also suitable for use by those who are allergic to modern paints.

Can Milk Paint Be Used Outdoors?

Milk paint is outdoor rated, making it suitable for any outdoor projects. Using an outdoor additive makes a more durable finish that is even more resistant to mold and mildew. If you are painting old furniture, you may wish to remove the old finish to allow for better adhesion and use a finishing oil to seal in the milk paint.


At Craftsman Supply Co., we carry a wide selection of The Real Milk Paint products. Unsure what's best for your project? Contact us to talk to one of our experts.