Have you ever come across a piece of furniture that you loved but was in bad shape? Maybe it wasn’t the right color or you didn’t think it would go well with your current decor? Well, with a little elbow grease and milk paint, I will show you how to update that piece and be able to use and enjoy it for years to come.
Materials Needed for This Project
- A Piece of Furniture
- Drop Cloth
- Paint Brush
- Milk Paint
- Bonding Agent (optional)
- Sealer (Wax, Poly or Oil)
- Sanding Block
- Respirator (if sanding)
- Degreaser Cleaner
- Paint Scraper
Most of my family knows I have a passion for repairing and reviving furniture that would otherwise end up in landfills. When my little sister text me a picture of this antique linen chess and said “you want?”, I couldn’t hit reply fast enough. I saw the potential in this piece no matter it’s rough shape.
I knew almost immediately due to its condition that milk paint would be perfect. I tend to use milk paint on antique pieces because of the way the paint reacts to them. The older the better. Something about the stains and sealants they used to use makes for the perfect canvas for milk paint, if you like the aged and distressed look. Milk paint is also one of the oldest versions of paint and is all natural.
As with many of these older pieces, sections of it were a wood veneer. Over time, these tend to start to pull away from the piece and usually have to be removed. The veneer is just glued over the wood. After exposure to years of heat and humidity, that glue breaks down. No special tools are needed. Just a simple chisel and hammer. It takes some time and a little hard work but so worth it.
Removing the Damage
Once that layer of veneer is removed, I sanded off all the remaining glue. Make sure to wear a respirator for this for your safety and health. Plus, they are super cute, right? Ha!
You don’t have to use an electric sander, but since I already had one…
I typically clean my pieces with a degreaser cleaner. When using milk paint some prefer to leave all the oils alone and paint directly over them. These oils allow the paint to pull away from the piece and flake off (which is what you’re going for) but a word of caution. I’ve also seen pieces that had so much oil, that all the paint chipped off once dry. This is why I choose to clean mine a little.
I started with one coat. Once it was dry I gave it a light sanding to even out the texture. I do this in between coats. On this piece, I ended up doing three coats which doesn’t take long due to the quick dry time. Make sure after every coat you are also making sure to clean up any dripping. Milk paint is a lot thinner than most paints. The paint line I used for this piece is the Olde Barn Milk Paint in “Stoneware”. I love this paint line and even used it on a dresser in my daughters room.
Once the paint dries, you will begin to see the “crackling”. It’s where the milk paint will flake off of the piece. This is the part I love. It’s so unique to every piece. I take a flat paint scraper scrape the entire piece. I also go over it once more with fine grit sand paper once finished scraping.
The best and worst part of using milk paint? Its unpredictable. I love that I don’t know how much will flake off or how the finished piece will look. If you have major OCD, it can be difficult because there is literally no control. However, you can use a bonding agent made specifically for milk paint that will adhere the paint to the piece. Also know that with raw wood, milk paint acts like more of stain. It soaks into the wood instead of sitting on top. Which is beautiful but just be aware, the areas that you have to removed the veneer and sand, the paint will react differently.
When using a porous paint like milk paint or chalk paint, it’s very important to seal your piece when completed. You can do this will poly, wax, or even hemp oil. Each one produces a slightly different look. For this piece I chose to use a lime wax. Lime wax is tinted white and I wanted to dull some of the dark stain that came through after I scraped the piece. Wax takes slightly longer to cure than the other two options.
I replaced the handles with some old ceramic knobs I had left over from another project and was finished! I’m super happy with the way it turned out!
Have you tried milk paint? Did you love it?
Thanks so much for stopping by!