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Chalk paint or milk paint?

Recently, I have written articles on both what is milk paint and what is chalk paint, giving recognition to each of them for their distinctive qualities. But, you may still be wondering- when is it best to use milk paint, and when would it be better to use chalk paint? Is there really much of a difference between the two? Let me tell you: there is a difference. Let’s take a look and find out (even more) about milk paint and chalk paint.

The differences: chalk paint and milk paint

Milk paint and chalk paint may seem to be quite a bit the same, but the more you look into it, the more you begin to realize that the two paint varieties are actually quite different. Let’s talk about milk paint: it has been used for centuries and it’s a very natural approach to painting (an environmentally friendly alternative to most other paints). Milk paint provides a rich and luxurious finish, but its results can be less consistent than chalk paint, which for a distressed looking finish is great. However if you want a smoother matte look, chalk paint is your better option. Milk paint is a fun choice because it’s easy to make from ingredients around the home.

Chalk paint, on the other hand, has only really been on the market for the past couple of decades, although its popularity is increasing steadily. Chalk paint is also a eco-friendly option, with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), but the toxicity tends to vary dependent on the manufacturer. Annie Sloan will point out, quite rightly, that she is the originator of chalk paint, so check out her website for a ton of information.

Chalk paint provides a more consistent finish compared to milk paint, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better paint to work with. It really does depend on the look you want to achieve. Chalk paint tends to sand well, so you can still get a distressed finish when you use this paint. Furthermore, it’s quite a bit easier to mix chalk paint than it is to mix milk paint, but it can be more expensive to buy by the can.

Tips and tricks to make painting more affordable

The first thing you need to consider with any painting project is the item that you want to paint. Figure out what kind of style you’re going for, and then choose the type of paint you will use. Do you already have a piece of used furniture to paint? Painting used furniture can be an excellent way to keep expenses down, especially while you are just learning about how to paint with chalk paint and milk paint. This way you can afford to make mistakes.

Another key factor in keeping costs down when painting includes the whole DIY thang. Yes- I just said “thang.” Realistically, furniture can be expensive, unless you find it in the free section on your site (hollar!). If you can be crafty enough, even just for one day, to mix up some homemade paint, then you are golden. Check out our What is Milk Paint post for more information on making your own paint at home.

You don’t need to spend too much time mixing to create a gorgeous paint colour; all you need is a good recipe or two and some trust in yourself. I can’t help you much with trusting yourself, except to say “you can do it!” So, here’s an excellent milk paint recipe by Have fun with your painting project and remember, you can do it!

Useful links

Remember to check the free category of your local site. Monday is the best day to find freebies!

Vintage and Used Furniture


Nadine is a content and blog writer in Victoria, BC. She very honestly loves long walks on the beach. She loves her family and she loves you for reading.

One Response to “Chalk paint or milk paint?”


just beautiful, nadine, thanks for sharing your technique. amazing the differences!


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