Cottage painted in Milk Paint!


Exterior Milk Paint Cottage

With summer finally approaching us after what seems like the longest winter ever(!), we are starting to think about painting exterior projects. Decks, porches, bird houses, sheds or plant beds, Milk Paint can be used on any size project. If you’re going to invest your time in a project for the exterior, and don’t want to have to worry about re painting it two years down the road, then Milk Paint is your new best friend!

Question: “I was wondering if milk paint has been used to paint exterior wood clapboards? I am restoring a 1860’s house and am replacing the siding. The wood is unfinished right now. Will milk paint protect the wood? How long will it last in direct sunlight? What prepwork is required to repaint when needed? What treatment would you recommend for the backside of the trim?”

Why Milk Paint outside?

It will never chip or peel! We have all experienced painting a project outside, and after a few years, mostly all of the paint has peeled right off, leaving you a big project to tackle to re paint it.
With Milk Paint, as long as you apply the paint to a porous wood, one that has no finish on it, the Milk Paint cements itself to the wood, binding with it creating a very durable hard wearing paint that will last decades. Over time, with much physical abrasion, for example on steps, you will notice gentle wearing away in those areas only. However there is no prep work required to re paint over it, simply apply the paint and go! If you were using a conventional paint you would be required to fully remove any and all of the chipping paint and sand down the surface! Vertical surfaces painted in milk paint fair extremely well and almost never need to be repainted in our life times!


Why does paint fade outside?

Depending on the quality of the pigments used, most pigments are not rated to withstand years of UV rays. Car paints are typically the most UV resistant, however most conventional house paints will fade quickly. The beauty of the Milk Paints. UV Rays do not affect the Milk Paint colours, they will retain their vibrancy for many years!

Why do paints peel in the first place?

It is important to understand the most basic chemistry of conventional paints and how they are not breathable. They are essentially a by-product of the petrochemical industry, similar to a plastic. (A conventional paint is anything that comes premixed in a can/container.)

If you apply a conventional paint, let’s say for example on a deck, within 1-2 years you will have major peeling and “paint failure”. Conventional paints are not breathable, but what does this mean? When you have moisture seeping into the wood from the ground, the sun hits the wood, it starts to heat up, and that water or moisture trapped under the paint will force its way out, resulting in peeling. With Milk Paint, there is no synthetic barrier therefore it is completely breathable, allowing the moisture trapped inside the wood to evaporate right through the Milk Paint without harming the finish.

Really quite simple isn’t it?!

Exterior Milk Paint Cottage 2

What is the best top coat to use outside?
Tung Oil! It is the most water resistant of all of the natural oils on the market. Our pure Tung Oil is 100% unpolymerized, and not cut with any thinners or solvents like most are on the market. For your first coat, adding a thinner makes it easier to penetrate into the wood and dry a little faster, however it is not 100% necessary to use a thinner. You will get a very pure, clear matte finish that is water resistant. This oil is natural and breathable therefore you will not have the issues with trapping moisture within. Using waxes or other poly coatings will lead to many problems outside.

A few more answers to the Question of the Week!

-Milk Paint itself will not protect the wood, therefore a coat or two of Tung Oil, a natural breathable non peeling oil should be applied on top of the milk paint to protect it from water spots. If you decide not to put a top coat natural oil, then the colour will not achieve its true vibrancy, and you may see water spots from rain.

-There is no prep work required is the wood is already unfinished. If it was coated in something you would need to remove it down to the porous bare wood.

-I would not recommend any treatment at all on the backside of the boards, nothing is required when using Milk Paint for prep.

*Colours Used- Algonquin and Bard Red from Homestead House Paint Co.

Painting Radiator Covers in Milk Paint!

Last summer I had the pleasure of painting custom made Radiator covers for a historic century home. I was so pleased to take on this job as it really fit with the heritage aspect of milk paints, and the finish turned out to be spectacular!

Milk Paint is ideal as it does not react to heat and is breathable, therefore never leading to potential peeling issues. It was a scorcher of a day, over 100 degrees and I was painting this outside in the garage! Not to worry though, as Milk Paint doesn’t react to temperatures when painting, where it’s cold or super hot, all it will do is slightly affect drying time. Since Milk Paint in synthetic free, there’s no “curing” time as in acrylics or oil paints, when it’s dry, it’s dry! Usually about 30 minutes between coats and then you can top coat!

1st Coat


You can see here the first coat applied. I had a very nice mixture made up with excellent coverage for this off white colour. If your paint colour is too transparent, or thin looking, simply add more powder and mix again until you get this type of coverage.


Here you can see I’ve put one coat of milk paint on almost the entire left side of the piece. the right side is un stained or treated before applying the paint. I didn’t stain as there was to be no distressing to these pieces. There was no primer required for this as it was bare wood allowing for the milk paint to soak in a bind with the wood fibers nicely.

She’s a beauty!

I found it helpful to lean down the radiators and spray the middle parts as there was a lot of detailing that was very difficult to achieve with just a brush. I just used a simple spray bottle typically used to water plants- it didn’t gunk up or clog the spray gun at all. This all has one coat of milk paint. Typically you will need 2-3 coats depending on your mixture.





A Close up shot of one coat of milk paint. This could be considered a lime wash, or stain.





Voila! The finished piece.

I used a Milk Paint wood stain, the finished it with Hemp Oil as a protective non peeling top coat.   A Close up of the finished product!

Easy Mixing!

Milk Paint can sometimes be daunting to use, as there is a little more “hands on” shall we call it to create the perfect consistency with milk paint. I like to think that this adds to the whole character of milk paint and gives yourself a true sense of accomplishment.

An easy tool, that you probably already have at hand is a latte frother! You can pick theseup anywhere for a very low cost and is a fantastic way to mix the paint, perhaps for slightly smaller project such as dressers, coffee tables etc. If you’re working on larger projects such as Hutches, Kitchen Cabinets etc, you may want to invest in a slightly larger hand held immersion blender. Lots of second hand stores have used blenders for sale!

Milk Paint for Walls

On walls, Milk Paint can accomplish a variety of trendy textures, classic, modern and old world finishes. Milk Painting Walls can give you a beautiful old world effect, without dealing with any of the negative harmful chemicals that are in modern day conventional paints.






It’s important to understand your surface, and if your walls are appropriate for Milk Paint.

1. What is currently on the walls?

Are they coated in something glossy? Is there paint peeling or chipping away? You will want to make sure that you have a sound surface, meaning that it is in good condition to paint. You will want to remove any peeling, flaking paint and do any patches that are necessary prior to painting with Milk Paint. If you have a high gloss surface you will want to de-gloss it, with either a light sanding, or wash with TSP if in any greasy areas like a kitchen. Always test the milk paint on your surface to see if it will adhere as is, otherwise you may need to add bonding agent to guarantee its adhesion on difficult surfaces.

 2. What is the best surface?

For Milk Paint a porous surface is best, so bare wood walls, plaster walls that have not been painted previously are the best for absorbing the milk paint, although with the proper prep and use of the bonding agent you can use milk paint on a variety of surfaces.

 3. What will the finish be like?

Because milk paint is natural, and doesn’t contain any resins at all, any imperfections or differences below your milk paint may show up. For example, if you patched up the wall and didn’t use a primer to seal it up, then you may notice that variation in the surface once you milk paint it. For some this is not a concern next to the health benefits of using a natural product, for others who want a 100% flawless finish it may not be the paint for you.

Drywall Application

When applying Milk Paint directly to the surface of unpainted unprimed drywall, you will often see a difference where the drywall has a mud coat. For an even application, it is best to apply your first coat using Milk Paint Bond.

 4. Is it easy to apply?

Yes it is relatively easy to apply with either a brush or a roller, the most important part is the preparation and once you have a good condition surface, then the mixing of the milk paint powder to create your paint is very important to achieve your desired look. The basics are, mix the paint in a blender 1 part powder to 1 part water and adjust from there. If you want a wash affect, just mix the paint with more water, if you want an opaque effect, mix it with more paint powder. There should be no clumps, lumps, streaks of pigment etc. If so, then you need to revisit how you’re mixing the paint.

Watch this video on how to mix Milk Paint

5. Will the colour be consistent?

It’s very important to understand that different batches may result in different colours, as with any paint, so it is important to purchase enough paint to complete your project and have a little more than you need just in case! When painting a wall, always have enough paint pre-mixed to complete at least one full wall, otherwise if you don’t mix it the same the next time you may see a slight colour variation. From wall to wall with different angles this isn’t so much a concern.

 6. Do I need to seal it with something?

Applying a top coat of hemp oil will saturate your Milk Paint colour to its true vibrancy and provide a surface that can be washed gently. A simple thin coat can be applied with a roller or rag. Make sure to wipe away the excess. You’re Finished!That is completely up to you. If you leave it unsealed, then the true colour of the milk paint will not pop and come to life. If you leave it un sealed, there is a potential for water marks, should your walls come into contact with water. Ceilings, or low traffic walls can easily be left unsealed as long as you like the colour as is. You may seal it with a Natural Oil if applied to wood, or if applied to plaster or gypsum( drywall) using a Wax is a gorgeous and easy to apply finish.

 7. What if my paint finish crackled?

Sometimes if milk paint is applied too thickly, or there was something on the surface resisting the paint, it may crackle here and there. This can be a very interesting and fun look for the old world affect. You may gently sand and re paint this area if it is a cause for concern.

Always test your methods and process prior to tacking a large project. Milk Painting your walls can be done with great success if you take the time to understand how to mix the paint, (which is really easy) however I can’t stress enough to use a blender- it makes mixing quick, easy and flawless!

Happy Painting!



Milk Paint Distressing Techniques

What is Milk Paint?

Milk Paint is an ancient organic paint containing basic ingredients including milk protein (casein), limestone, clay and natural pigments. The result is a very durable paint popularly used by modern designers, green consumers and home owners seeking to capture a variety of modern, trendy, antique and textured looks.

When absorbed into the surface, Milk Paint will never chip or peel. Milk Paint is suitable for both interior and exterior applications and is naturally mold resistant. Milk paint provides a completely breathable coating and is ideal for painting plaster, drywall, straw bale houses and a variety of other surfaces.

Getting Started

Milk Paint comes in a powder custom prepared by Homestead House. When you get home you simply mix the powder in water.


Step 1. Preparation

Depending on your project, you will be starting with either new wood, plaster, drywall or a previously painted or coated surface. Milk Paint requires a porous surface to be absorbed. In this example we are working with bare wood so no preparation is necessary. If your project is previously coated with a paint or other sealer then you will need to add the Milk Paint Bond to your first coat to ensure proper adhesion.

Step 2. Staining

Why stain? It is the stain coat that is exposed during the sanding process to create those areas that appear distressed! *If you’re not going for a distressed look then skip this step. The distressed look is especially desirable around the corners and edges of your project to give your piece the appearance that is has been worn. The stain lends an authentic look to new wood by making it appear aged.

Mixture for Stain: Mix 3 parts water to 1 part powder. Mix with a blender, or stir by hand. The consistency will be very thin, like water. Apply with even strokes from end to end for consistency. The stain will completely dry in approximately 15 minutes.

Tip. Add Homestead House Milk Paint Extender to your stain to keep the pigments suspended so that your colour remains even. Stir your Milk Paint every 10 minutes.

Tip. Apply beeswax along the edges where you would like to see the distressed/antiquing effect. Beeswax protects the stain coat from being sanded off.


Step 3. Applying Milk Paint Choose your Milk Paint colour. Mix 1 part water to 1 part Milk Paint powder. 1 part can be anything: 1 Table spoon, 1 cup, etc. Mix the Milk Paint with the water in a blender or stir by hand until there is an even consistency like milk. If the consistency is too thick, add 1/2 part more water and mix again. Apply the Milk Paint to your project evenly. Darker colours require one to two coats for even coverage while lighter colours, such as off white variations, take up to three coats. Add our Milk Paint Extender once you’ve mixed your Milk Paint to keep the pigments suspended for even coverage. Stir every 10 minutes.

Step 4. FinishingOnce you are satisfied with the application of your Milk Paint, you can gently sand with a 300 grit sand paper to smooth out any raised wood grain. Apply extra pressure to the areas you would like distressed. The areas where you applied beeswax in step 2 will help you to expose the stained layer without sanding too far into the original wood.


Once you are satisfied, you may continue with your desired top coat. Hemp oil, tung oil or beeswax are all excellent top coat finishes that are 100% natural and food safe. The oil helps to seal and protect the surface and to saturate the Milk Paint so it appears vibrant and not chalky. Hemp oil and beeswax are recommended for interior applications. Tung oil is recommended for exterior. Two coats of oil is ideal and you’re done! A varnish or urethane may also be used.


Water-Based Paints of Old

By: Loree Wallace
Photography By: Cooper


In the last issue, I discussed traditional oil-based paints used by our forefathers.  Recall that a paint is generally made up of three main ingredients: pigment(s), a binder (this holds the pigment particles together and also binds them to the surface to which the paint is being applied), and a thinner (water or spirits) which allows for easy application and spreading of the pigment and binder mixture.  The thinner will evaporate as the paint dries leaving behind a film of the pigments and binder.  Some of the water-based paints are also known as “Distemper”, “Limewash”, “Tempera”, or “Milk Paint”.

You probably recognize these paints of yesteryear and think of them as oldfashioned paints which no longer have a place in modern décor.  On the contrary!  Milk Paint produces a much-sought-after dead-flat to matte finish (produced with 100% environmentally sound ingredients) that appeals to many people.  This type of paint also has unique properties, one of which is its high porosity which is valued by restoration enthusiasts who understand that some surfaces, like lime plaster walls, need to breathe.  We now realize how debilitating damp related issues, such as mould and rot, can affect houses and the people who live in them.


Also called “soft-distemper” it is made of a whiting (chalk, or calcium carbonate) and size (a glue made from animals).  Pigments can be added to make a variety of colours.  This matte sheen paint was used only inside, often on ornamental plaster and ceilings, as it could not be exposed to water.  It was not washable — in fact, washing it would remove it.  This economical paint was often only a temporary décor solution used to give a blush of colour to new lime plaster walls whilst they were setting.  Since it took months — even a year — for the plaster to carbonize (cure), this breathable paint would allow the process to continue allowing you to live in your home with a hint of colour until you could hang your wallpaper, the reason lime plaster walls were created in the first place.  Some recipes called for the addition of some oil and an emulsifier such as “borax” to create a washable Distemper


This is one of the oldest paints used; it is found within tombs, temples and palaces.  It was prepared using pigments, egg yolk and water.  The binder in this case was the egg yolk and we can understand why it worked so well; have you ever tried to wash a dish that has dried egg yolk on it?


This traditional paint was made of pigments, lime and water.  Simple whitewash was lime mixed with water.  Various limewash recipes could result in paint coatings that were either extremely hard or somewhat flexible depending on the ratio and type of ingredients.  This porous paint was used inside and outside the home to, surprisingly, provide a strong paint in a variety of colours. Some recipes, for instance, called for animal fat (tallow) which could be added to make the paint somewhat resistant to water (and subsequently less porous). It was primarily used outside for this reason, and since the fat doesn’t truly dry, the limewash would easily rub off onto clothing.  Alternatives to tallow were other oils and waxes.  Another ingredient found quite useful was casein (protein from milk), which increased the binding properties and adhesion quality of the paint.


As the name implies, milk is one of the ingredients of milk paint.  When mixed with lime and some pigments a paint is produced that can be used on a variety of surfaces.  The protein (casein) within the milk acts as a binder and the water portion of the milk becomes the thinner.  There are many different recipes, including some that called for chalk and or clay to be added.  Remember, it is the lime that plays a big role in both the Limewashes and Milk Paint.  When lime dries it becomes very hard (as it converts back to limestone!) and the result is  almost  like  having  a  thin  layer  of  reconstituted  stone  on  your  project. Another additional benefit attributed to lime is that mould and mildew do not grow on this slightly alkaline material.

These paints were inexpensive and easy to make on the homestead.  Milk paint was used in the home, on furniture, and outside.  Sometimes oil would be mixed into the paint or be applied after the paint had dried.  This was done to seal the porous milk paint surface on furniture or exterior applications where water resistance was required.  Interior walls, however, would not be sealed. Milk paint is used today on a variety of items and its use continues to grow. When used on a porch or fence or grayed wood, for instance, it soaks into the wood fibers to never peel away as modern paints ultimately do.  It can also be applied  to  any  porous  surface  such  as  plaster,  wood,  masonry,  etc. Reproduction furniture makers use milk paint to achieve an authentic appearance.  It is truly unique. Today milk paint is produced in powdered form to be simply mixed with water

Homestead House Paint has Milk Paint available in over 50 colours; however, the choice is limitless as the colours can be intermixed to achieve the desired colour. To protect certain projects and augment the patina on furniture, Homestead House Paint has various products available for purchase such as the Hemp Oil Wood Finish,  Beeswax and a Satin Sheen Varnish.