Today I want to do a little “Milk Paint Education” here on the blog. Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint is such an amazing and fun paint to work with! I would love to help you become more familiar with it so you can start experimenting with milk paint on your own.
So I have a few tips on how to finish out your milk paint projects so that they will be sealed and durable.
Milk Paint is a porous paint, which means that if you do not seal it, water, dirt, and other contaminants can get down into your painted finish and stain or damage it.
Sealing milk paint though is really very easy! There are 3 main top coats I use to seal milk paint, each for different reasons. Let’s dive in!
1. Furniture Wax
If you’ve never tried the MMS Milk Paint Furniture Wax, you are missing out! It has long been my absolute favorite wax to work with–it has the consistency of softened butter, no nasty odor, and spreads so easily over your furniture.
Using Furniture Wax to seal your milk paint works really well. I find it’s easiest to brush it on using a good wax brush, then just wipe off any excess using a lint-free rag.
The wax works by soaking down into the pores of the milk paint, then hardening over time, which creates what’s called a soft finish. Don’t let the name fool you though! A soft finish doesn’t mean it’s not durable, just that the finish does not have a solid, hard surface on top.
A waxed surface is very easy to touch up–if you ever need to fix a scratch in your paint, just lightly sand, repaint the spot, then wax again. The old finish and new finish will blend together really well.
There is the possibility that after a period of time, you may see the need to apply more wax if your wax finish seems to be drying out too much. In my experience though, I have never felt the need to reapply, even after having a waxed piece in my home for over 3 years.
A few things to remember when choosing wax . . .
Wax and water don’t work well together–so if you’re painting something that will be exposed to wetness (i.e. outdoor furniture, cabinets) you will probably do better picking a different top coat that will provide a more water-permanent finish.
Also, a wax finish won’t harden up well if exposed to high heat. If you’re painting pieces then for outside, or pieces to sell that may sit outside for a while at a flea market tent, wax isn’t your best choice for a top coat.
2. Hemp Oil
Hemp Oil is an organic, all-natural product that you can use for about a million different things–including as a topcoat for your milk paint.
This is probably my favorite product to use because it is sooooo easy! You just brush it on, then wipe back the excess with a cloth.
You can also use hemp oil to wet sand your milk paint piece–after brushing on your oil, sand with a fine grit (320+) sandpaper and then wipe off all the excess oil and dust. Your finish will not only then be sealed, but also incredibly soft and smooth!
I actually have a short video using hemp oil, so you can see for yourself how easy it is:
Hemp Oil performs better in the heat than does wax, so it’s a better option if you’re working in the hot outdoors.
A few things to remember when using Hemp Oil . . .
A Hemp Oil topcoat does tend to deepen the color of your paint a bit. So if you’re wanting the purest representation of the milk paint color you used, be aware that hemp oil may alter that a bit. It also could yellow a bit over the white colors in the line and/or take away some of their crisp brightness.
You also want to give your hemp oiled piece about a week to harden up before you start sitting things on top of it.
Like with wax, using hemp oil will give you a soft finish, so touching up any damaged spots is easy.
3. Matte Tough Coat
Tough Coat is the final of the 3 topcoat choices from the MMS line. It works very differently than the other two and has its own benefits, as well as drawbacks.
Tough Coat is a matte polyacrylic, and so instead of settling down into the pores of milk paint, it will sit on top of it–think nail polish, instead of lotion (which would be the wax or hemp oil).
This means though that Tough Coat is a great option for areas that may get wet because it will repel all of that water right off the finish. So if you’re painting cabinets, outdoor furniture, or even kitchen furniture, Tough Coat is a great choice for your topcoat.
It also works well as a topcoat for those pieces where you get a lot of chipping with your milk paint. If you want to be 100% sure that no more paint chips off of your finish, sealing it with Tough Coat is the way to go.
Side note– I have sealed several very chippy milk paint pieces with both wax and hemp oil, and it has worked just fine! No more paint has chipped off . . .But if you’re concerned at all about the durability of a super chippy finish, then go with the Tough Coat.
Something to remember when using Tough Coat . . .
Unlike the wax and hemp oil, Tough Coat is going to give you a hard finish on your piece. This means it will be a bit more difficult to touch up if you ever have a spot that needs it.
It’s also not quite as easy to apply as the other topcoats. Applying the Tough Coat (or any poly topcoat for that matter) requires a little bit of finesse–too thick and it may get cloudy, too thin and it may streak. I always recommend practicing with different techniques (using a brush to apply, or a rag, or a sponge) on a practice board first before applying to your actual piece.
So there you have it!
Now you know how to finish out your milk paint pieces so they will be durable and stay beautiful for a long, long time!
If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to use Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, check out my Milk Paint 101 Online Workshop.
It’s an hour and a half of video demo of everything you need to know–start to finish–for how to work with this amazing paint!
Thanks for joining me today and Happy Painting!