Comparing Chalk Paint and Milk Paint


Chalk paint is latex paint with calcium carbonate added in the form of baking soda, grout, or plaster of Paris to act as a porous bonding agent. When it dries it resembles a chalkboard that can be written on with chalk but this only works when there is no additional finish on the surface.

The biggest attraction is that it doesn’t need primer, and will often require fewer coats to cover. It will adhere better to non-porous surfaces than milk paint does.

The biggest downside is that it requires waxing to protect the finish, and waxing can be a very time consuming task that takes practice to achieve good results. In addition, regular maintenance waxing may be required.


Milk paint is a water-based mix of milk, lime and colour pigments used primarily to give an antique look to furniture. With milk as the main ingredient, it must be used within a few days, even if refrigerated.

The milk binds the colour pigments in the same way that polymers do in latex paints and oils do in oil-based ones. It doesn’t give off noxious vapors (often called VOCs – volatile organic compounds) so is appealing to today’s green community.

Milk paint is designed to seep into porous materials so that it won’t chip or peel.  If it is to be painted on non-porous materials, it will need bonding additives to adhere.

There is a lot of information in this fascinating page called A Brief History of Milk Paint which reviews its beginnings thousands of years ago through its transitions to the recipes used today.

Water is added to milk paint to achieve the desired consistency: less creates a translucent colour like stains while more produces a thicker layer. Any mixture will likely need regular stirring to prevent settling during use.

Most milk paint comes in a powder form that must be mixed in a blender along with bonding agents if required.

If you are interested in trying it, this link has a recipe Milk Paint Recipe.


3 Replies to “Comparing Chalk Paint and Milk Paint”

  1. Hi. You have some very pretty things. I saw your blue and coral tables on Kijiji-a great colour combo. I just want to comment on your definition of chalk paint since what you are describing is the home-made recipe for it. Commercial chalk paint is not latex with those additives. I use a lot of chalk paint , milk paint and sometimes latex and there is a difference. Latex is not completely water soluble the way chalk paint is-I get the brushes completely clean with just water and when you spill it on something you can get it out completely. That is not always possible with latex especially once it has started to set. Homemade chalk paint has to be sanded a lot before it is waxed because it will have a rough texture-something regular chalk paint does not have. You are correct in saying that it has to be sealed with wax or poly if you want a water-proof finish. I use both depending on the surface but wax is a much nicer look because it isn’t shiny. Chalk paint was originally designed to create faux-finishes on furniture-in other words, to make it look like old French furniture and it is perfect for this application. Good luck in your business-I share your philosophy about upcycling old things.


    1. Hi Cathy. I am so glad to hear from you! I am in the process of getting my site up and running, having spent the last many months working on inventory. It will be most enjoyable locating and interacting with others like yourself. As I know you’re aware, it’s all about the balance between what you like yourself and what you think others might enjoy, plus the continual learning curve as we move along. I have noticed some of your delightful items as I wander the internet and local offerings! Thank you for your comments on chalk paint – I’ll certainly update my notes on it. Might I quote you within my blog? Sydney


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