How to Use Milk Paint

You can use milk paint to update your cabinets, like we did inside Lou Lou, the Scotty Trailer we renovated for Julie Phipps of Piper Farms.


You apply milk paint in 5 easy steps.

Step 1 - Prepare your surface

  • Make sure your surface is smooth. Do a little bit of sanding to rough up the surface to get a little better adherence. Then, make sure your surface is clean and dust free. You can use a dust cloth to wipe the surface after sanding.

Step 2 - Apply the paint

  • Brush on one to three coats if desired.
  • Make sure you stir your milk paint really well.
  • You want your milk paint to run, so make sure to add water until the paint drips easily off of your brush.
  • When applying, try to go right with the grain of the wood.
  • Milk paint dries really quickly so you may be able to apply your second coat in a short time after the first. Sometimes as little as 5 to 10 minutes will work.

Step 3 – Sanding and Distressing

  • If you don’t want a distressed look, you should use a really fine sand paper. Just give it a nice smoothing before using your dust cloth again to wipe clean.
  • If you prefer a distressed look like we did with Lou Lou, you will take a rough sander and choose places you want to show through the paint. For example a seam in the wood you might want to show through.
  • Always make sure to clean off any dust from sanding.

Step 4 – Glazing

  • The whole point of glazing is to put a color on and then you are going to take some off.
  • (Hot Tip for glazing: Use baby wipes!)
  • You always want to do a small section at a time.
  • The biggest mistakes people make when glazing are:
  •       a. Use too much glaze
  •       b. Use too big of a brush or sponge
  •       c. Try to glaze too large an area at one time
  • We used General Finishes Glaze Effect.
  • Put a small amount of glaze on your sponge brush and apply small thin strokes of glaze to your milk painted area.
  • Next, take a wet baby wipe and wipe lightly so that the glaze is diffused and is mostly wiped away, leaving the desired amount/effect.
  • You want to try to wipe your baby wipes with the grain because you want your glaze to look like part of the wood grain.
  • Use the baby wipes to blend in each of your small sections of glaze.
  • Then, just let it dry!

Step 5 – Apply a Top Coat

  • Make sure your surface is not sticky at all, and is dry to the touch.
  • Put on a nice layer of smooth top coat. Make sure it is not too thick. If it starts to show a white foam, or white drops, that means it needs to be smoothed out.
  • You can do three top coats.

And there you have it!! Now you know how to use milk paint!