Mixing Milk Paint

Posted by Julie Flood on

First of all, we’re not use to mixing paint, right?  It usually comes in a bottle or can and it’s already a liquid.  Just dip in your brush and go.  I must admit that the convenience of that is nice.  The reason milk paint doesn’t come that way, is that it is perishable once it’s mixed, so it’s sold in powdered form.

Think of milk paint like peanut butter.  Remember the peanut butter most of us grew up with?  The processed, artificial-ingredient-laden peanut butter that would have a perfectly smooth and level top no matter how much the jar was shaken?  The peanut butter that would make stiff peaks on a knife and perfect waves on a piece of bread?  That is like modern paints that have all kinds of things added to it in order to make them smooth and creamy, so they fall off a paint stirrer in a perfect ribbon.


You then decide to kick all artificial ingredients from your diet and you switch to all-natural peanut butter.  You open the jar and frown.  It looks clumpy.  There is an oil slick on top and it needs to be stirred and worked to make it creamier. That is like milk paint.  It doesn’t have all of those additives that modern paints have, so it looks different.
Neither paint is wrong or bad, they are just different.  If you expect them to be different, you’re less likely to freak out when milk paint is, well, different.

There are many different ways to mix milk paint, depending on your preferences, but I’m going to share how I mix 90% of the time.

Pour desired amount of milk paint into cup, jar or container.  If you’re painting a small piece of furniture or an accessory, I would suggest 1/4 cup.  If you’re painting a dresser, about 1 cup.

Add equal part water.  If you put 1/4 cup powder in your cup, add 1/4 cup water.
Stir with a wooden stir stick, spoon, fork or whisk.  If you’re mixing a large batch or a challenging color (see below), then use a blender, immersion blender or a milk frother.

Add more water, if necessary.  For some colors, equal parts is enough and for others, it will be too thick.  The consistency should be thinner than most paints you’re used to.  It will feel watery more than creamy and it will come off your stir stick in a string instead of a ribbon.

Allow the paint to sit for about 15 minutes.  This gives clumps of powder a chance to absorb the water.

    Stir again.  It should feel a little creamier.  There might be a few lumps or some grit clinging to the sides of the cup.  This is totally normal, so don’t stress about a few small lumps.
      Brush the paint onto the surface you wish to paint.  This is the best way to tell if your mix is right.  If your brush is dragging or there are a lot of lumps, the mix is too thick and needs more water and more stirring.  If the paint is runny or dripping, it’s too thin and you need to add a bit more powder and stir again.

        For those who want a quick visual, here is one from Miss Mustard Seed Herself!

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