Bring New Life to Old Furniture with Real Milk Paint

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Disclosure review
I have a confession to make…

I may like change just a tad bit too much and I may have an inner Joanna Gaines (HGTV Fixer Upper!) that’s just dying to show herself.

There, I said it.

While living in our last house, I would literally rearrange our living room furniture on an almost monthly basis and reorganize, well, everything far too often. Thankfully for the mister’s sake, our new house’s layout prevents me from doing anything all too crazy. Usually I find refuge in small craft projects here or there but every once in a while I’ll still challenge myself with something a bit bigger. The other day, for example, I randomly decided to paint our kitchen cabinets. Of course that particular project currently sits half-finished but that’s another story. Today, I wanted to take some time to share with you one of those bigger projects that I’m quite proud of.

Over the years, I’ve familiarized myself with a number of various products in the word of crafting – canvases, glues, brushes, wood types, tools, and of course paints. More recently however, I was pleasantly surprised and quite excited to be introduced to a new type of paint. So, now, please allow me to similarly introduce you to Real Milk Paint.

The Real Milk Paint Company Logo
Although this particular company and its products were new to me, the existence of milk paint itself is not “new” at all. As a nontoxic water-based paint, milk paint is often made up of a general combination of milk, lime, color pigments, and sometimes a bit of borax to help with the dissolving and preservation process. Despite it being used for thousands of years, somewhere along the line it became overshadowed by the everyday mass-produced paints that we find in stores.

Lately, there have been many trends surrounding the restoration of furniture, the bringing back of original finishes, and the importance of using “real” products. Coincidentally enough, that is exactly where Real Milk Paint found its start. After embarking on a project to restore an heirloom piece of furniture and researching the idea of making milk paint from scratch, it was quickly realized that consumers wanted the very same thing. However, there was one catch; consumers did not want to make it from scratch on their own. So after spending some time experimenting with dry powdered milk products, the perfect nontoxic paint formula was found and Real Milk Paint came to life.

Real Milk Paint, Collections
When I was originally presented with the opportunity to try Real Milk Paint out first hand, my head started spinning with all of the fun projects that I could embark on. Having discussed my aforementioned kitchen cabinet idea among others with the company’s team, I decided that starting off with a bit of a smaller task would be best. My target, you ask? It ended up being an old desk that had been passed down to us from family. After all, momma could use a lovely home office and, well, this just wasn’t it.

Real Milk Paint, Randi's Restoration
I had been hoping to refinish this particular piece for quite some time but, unfortunately, the condition of the piece left me fearful. When together, the desk is sturdy as a rock but after having been taken apart numerous times to be moved from one place to another, few areas had been weakened. That had led me to opt against causing further damage by sanding down the piece in preparation for refinishing. Having expressed my concerns with the Real Milk Paint team, they assured me that a quartet of their products would help me to achieve the results that I had been envisioning.

Just picture it…

A creamy white base for the lower portion of the desk, a gorgeous dark glaze to finish that off, all topped with a dark stain allowing the grain of the wood to show through. That was my goal. And Real Milk Paint was going to make it happen.

I decided on these four particular products:

  • Real Milk Paint Finishing Cream in Dead Flat
  • Real Milk Paint Pearl Paint
  • Real Milk Paint Mocha Finishing Glaze
  • Real Milk Paint Dark Tung Oil

Real Milk Paint
After getting the room cleared out, step one was to prepare the desk for painting. Without wanting to sand down the entire desk, we chose to take on this project from two separate starting points. For the top surface area of the desk, I had the mister put some of his power tool skills (thank you Makita!) to work and we sanded off the original finish. Doing so would later help to bring life to the grain of the wood once the desk was complete.

Real Milk Paint, Randi's Restoration
As for the lower portion of the desk, that’s where the fun with the Real Milk Paint products begins. For those of you that have ever refinished a wood piece before, you’ll know that an unsanded surface often means that the new paint will not adhere well. In addition to giving you a bit more of a blank canvas to start with, the sanding process essentially roughs up the surface of the material thus providing the new paint with something to better stick to. Because of this particular desk’s condition and my unwillingness to sand the body of the desk itself, Real Milk Paint graciously sent me their Finishing Cream in Dead Flat.

Real Milk Paint, Finishing Cream in Dead Flat

Finishing Creams (or Burnishing Pastes) by the Real Milk Paint company are easy to apply thick or thin. You can also add more of any of the burnishing finishes years down the road if the finish wears away with use.

In addition to being a finisher later in the project, I was excited to learn that this product would allow me to skip the deep sanding step for the majority of the desk. Once we had the surface cleaned, the application of this particular product was quite easy. The texture of it reminded me of something along the lines of hair conditioner and it was brushed onto the desk just as easily. See for yourself…

Real Milk Paint
Real Milk Paint
After allowing the Finishing Cream in Dead Flat the recommended 24-hours to dry, we were onto step two. That brings us to the Real Milk Paint Pearl Paint.

Real Milk Paint, Pearl Paint

Real Milk Paint is a powdered paint that’s versatile and easy to use. It is the ideal choice for an environmentally friendly, non-toxic paint that gives you convenience and a broad color selection.

This paint will give you a matte, velvet, chalky paint surface so we chose to refinish our piece in the brand’s Pearl color option. Differing from store-bought paint, we actually had to get the Real Milk Paint mixture together prior to painting.

Real Milk Paint
Real Milk Paint
The mix process was quite simple in the fact that the paint to water ratio is of equal parts. Included within each container of Real Milk Paint is a bag of powdered milk paint containing your color pigment of choice. To that, you then need to combine an equal portion of water and mix thoroughly. To help you along with that, the each container also includes a small marble to further mix while you shake. Needless to say, the kids had a field day helping out with the mixing process.

Once finished, we were ready to start painting!

The texture of Real Milk Paint Pearl Paint was one that I wasn’t all too familiar with and slightly reminded me of a face scrub. It was creamy to the eye but, upon closer look, you could notice the chalkiness of it. It went on thick and smoothed out from there.

Real Milk Paint
Some of the trim areas were a bit tricky to cover properly because the paint had a tendency to want to stay thick in those spaces. Thankfully, Real Milk Paint was kind enough to include their Blue Tip Brush which definitely came in handy.

Made with natural hog bristle that have a split hair tip to hold paint well, these brushes hold the paint to provide great coverage with every stroke.

Real Milk Paint
Because we hadn’t sanded off the original finish, the painting process did take quite a while. After all, one coat of white will never completely cover what was dark brown. Allowing the proper dry time in between coats, we ended up going over everything a good three times before we were satisfied with the coverage. Once the layer of Pearl White was finished, we then moved onto the glazing phase of the refinishing project. Of course, that’s where the Real Milk Paint Mocha Finishing Glaze came into play.

Real Milk Paint, Mocha Finishing Glaze

Mocha Finishing Glaze has no odor and is a Non-VOC product. Finishing Glaze is a water base top coat that has a minimal non-existent matte appearance. When applied over our non-toxic paint or used to protect wood finishes, Finishing Glazes are versatile and strong. These glazes will slightly wet the pigment in the paint to make it a shade darker.

It did take a bit of getting used to, primarily because this was my first time using a glaze, but eventually I got the hang of it. With the glazing, you simply need to brush the Mocha Finishing Glaze over the surface and follow up by wiping off the excess with a clean soft cloth. Some areas with the glaze did dry a bit quicker and thus darker than other areas but we were able to even it out once we familiarized ourselves with the process. Real Milk Paint includes tutorial videos on their site and, within the one focusing on the glazing process, they shared a tip to use water in order to remove excess glaze and even out the finish’s final results.

Real Milk Paint
Real Milk Paint
Real Milk Paint
I love the look of glaze over a painted surface. It really just gives a piece that little added something that takes it to the next level. The combination of the Pearl White base paint with the Mocha Finishing Glaze topcoat gave our desk a bit of a country-chic, new but old, clean but characterized look and I could not be happier with it.

Finally, after we had the lower portion of the desk complete and topped off with the Finishing Cream in Dead Flat, it was time to tackle the top surface. That brings us to the Real Milk Paint Dark Tung Oil.

Real Milk Paint, Dark Tung Oil

The same as our Pure Tung Oil except that we have added a non-toxic naturally occurring resinous hydrocarbon for color. The resin is non-carcinogenic and does not contain any PCB’s. Dark Raw Tung Oil by the Real Milk Paint company is water and alkali resistant. It resists marring, penetrates well, is elastic and unlikely to check. Dark Raw Tung Oil builds quickly, consolidates the wood surface, and builds a dark matte wood finish.

As much as I love the look that the Real Milk Paint Pearl Paint provided, I didn’t want to overpower the piece or the room with an overabundance of white. At the same time, I wanted to be able to show the character of the desk itself not only by highlighting the trim work with the Mocha Finishing Glaze but by accentuating the majestic grain within the wood. The Dark Tung Oil allowed me to do just that.

Real Milk Paint
Applied much like a wood stain, the Dark Tung Oil is simply rubbed on and should be allowed up to forty minutes to set. The top of our desk was quite porous and easily soaked up the first two coats that were applied. Finishing off with a third and final coat, making sure that the surface was thoroughly saturated, we wiped away the excess and voilà!

Real Milk Paint
Last but certainly not least, I gave the desk’s hardware a fresh coat of spray paint and we put the final stamp of approval on our newly refinished desk.

I absolutely love it!

Real Milk Paint
Real Milk Paint, Randi's Restoration
Real Milk Paint, Randi's Restoration
Refinishing any piece of furniture is certainly a huge undertaking but I could not be more thankful for the existence of companies such as Real Milk Paint. Not only do they provide products of the highest quality but they strive to give their customers safe, environmentally friendly products that can truly make a world of difference. Whether you’re taking on something as simple as a new picture frame, trying your hand at a larger piece of furniture, or going all out and revamping an entire room, I implore you to give Real Milk Paint a try. I’m confident that you’ll be just as happy with the results as we are.

Now for that wall color…

Buy:
You can purchase the Real Milk Paint products featured here along with numerous other painting and finishing products direct from their website at www.RealMilkPaint.com. The items used for this restoration project range in price from $18.99 to $31.99.

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About Author

Randi is a stay-at-home mother to two wildly crazy little boys, in love with one hell of a great man, a hobbyist writer and, more or less, glued to her camera. In a world where making mud pies, searching for bugs and racing Matchbox cars have become her forte, her true passion can be found all around her (or attached to her hip) at any given moment - her family.

20 Comments

  1. That turned out really nice. I haven’t tried milk paint because after years of cleaning up after children I always wanted a gloss or semi gloss but they are grown now and this looks so nice you have inspired me to try milk paint!

  2. I really like this change in this desk and really gave it a new fun look. It really is great using Milk Paint. I have never used it before. I will have to try this paint on my old desk.

  3. Pamela Gurganus on

    Oh my! What a fantastic makeover! I had never heard of Real Milk Paint before, but I’ll be checking it out. I have an old coffee table I’ve been wanting to give a makeover for a long time and this has inspired me! Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I haven’t tried milk paint yet, partly due to the cost. I’m in the middle of a project now, it’s base white, going over it with light grey and hope to find a darker grey glaze. Looking forward to getting some tester milk paint to tjy out in the future.

  5. That is so beautiful you did a great job, this would be perfect paint for little projects around the house. I love that its non toxic I would usually have to wait for my kids to leave before I paint.

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