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The difference between milk paint and chalk paint

Furniture painting is hugely popular. Serious and amateur DIYers alike enjoy restoring, updating, customizing and repurposing desks, dressers, headboards and more. Milk paint and chalk paint are the go-to treatments for these projects, and here’s why:

Milk paint


Milk paint is natural, eco-friendly paint that consists of lime, casein, clay and earth pigment. The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company, for example, offers 20 different shades of the milk paint powder — you just add water and stir. The experts call it “quick, easy and forgiving.”


Milk paint pros:

  • You don’t have to sand before painting.
  • It’s easy to use and can be applied in a few hours.
  • It’s hard-wearing and doesn’t chip.
  • The first coat seals and the second coat covers.
  • Powders can be combined to create new colors.
  • Layering colors creates a gorgeous, customized look.
  • It ages nicely and actually improves over time.

Ready to give it a go? Check out the milk paint shopping guide on

Chalk paint


The chalk paint finished look is quite similar to milk paint but offers the promise of more consistent results. Chalk paint is so easy to work with and can be used on everything from wood to metal to terracotta. The go-to brand, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®, is available in more than 30 chalky colors and boasts a “matte, velvety finish.”


Chalk paint pros:

  • It adheres to nearly any surface without priming.
  • It’s ready-to-use right out of the can.
  • It can be thinned or thickened for a wide array of finish options.
  • It can appear distressed, limewashed, crackled or perfectly aged.
  • Flat brushes provide a smooth look while bristled brushes offer more texture.
  • You can sand it to get just the right appearance.

Ready to give it a go? Check out the chalk paint shopping guide on

More painting tips

15 Hacks to rock your next painting project
10 Paint colors that make you smarter
How to make DIY puffy paint for kids

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