Milk + Chalk, Part 2: Final Product and Review

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).

So, I’ve waited a few months between when I first told you about my adventure with chalk and milk paints and revealing the finished product. I wanted to see how the paint held up (under daily use) before I gave you my final thoughts. Some people just throw something together and then feel comfortable telling everyone “This is awesome! Do it, too!” I’m always a little skeptical unless they’ve lived with it for a good long while.

So, without further ado:

Here’s the before, again, as a reminder:

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).
Here’s where the mismatched set began (well, almost—this is after a little sanding and shellac).

And the after (ta-da!):

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).
And here’s where they ended up!

So, first: The Upside

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the color of these chairs. I went on a trip shortly after painting these, and upon arriving home, I was delighted when I walked into the kitchen and saw these! I’d momentarily forgotten about them and was so excited to be coming home to such cute kitchen chairs.

The milk paint crackled beautifully, especially on this chair shown here in the front. As is the case with milk paint, it did something a little different on each of the chairs.

The finish on these chairs really is quite durable. I can wipe them off with a wet washcloth after grimy little fingers cake food all over them (not that that ever happens…). My two kids are constantly climbing up and down off of them, knocking them over, etc. and I have yet to see a mark from any of that.

But…

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).
Details of milk paint color and crackle

The Downside:

#1: I have major peeling paint issues 🙁

The chalk paint covered the chairs and adhered nicely. I sanded it down after the last coat. Nothing was peeling.

And then I put the milk paint directly on that.

Fatal error, I’m afraid.

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).

I knew that chalk paint is sometimes recommended as a primer for milk paint. I’d hoped this meant that the chalk paint would stick to the chair, then some of the milk paint would flake off a bit, revealing the chalk paint beneath.

Unfortunately, the actual case is that milk paint REALLY, REALLY, REALLY sticks to chalk paint. Like, sticks so strong that it pulls the chalk paint right off the wood. Oops.

Most of my chairs held up okay and the paint didn’t flake. I had one chair, though, that was a mess. Paint was flaking off everywhere. I had to sand it down to the wood again, and paint it with the milk paint and hope for the best.

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).

 

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).

Surprisingly, it actually did hold up okay after all that.

Unfortunately, the problem of paint peeling back to the original wood surface has continued on a couple of the other chairs, too.

Problem #1: Conclusion

If I were starting all over (and I still decided not to just spray paint them and be done with it!), I think I would try putting a coat of shellac over the chalk paint before applying the milk paint. I think that might seal in the chalk paint and then the milk paint would just flake off the shellac and leave the chalk paint showing through in places like I’d hoped. I’ve used milk paint over shellac before, too, and it does some cool things.

But honestly, who knows. It’s kind of all a guessing game. The fun and awful thing about milk paint is it is unpredictable.

I’m still happy I painted my chairs, but I’ll probably just have to go back through and touch them up (i.e. sand spots down and rework them) at some point. Or, y’know, there’s always red permanent marker… 😉

#2: Potential Mess

So, this downside is really more of a word of caution than a major problem.

Milk paint comes in a powder form and you have to mix it.

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).

That means the potential is there to explode a blender full of paint, spill fine powder pigment all over your house, or have a curious three-year-old pull your last half cup of paint powder off the kitchen counter when you’re trying to finish a project that’s requiring more paint than you thought it would and you don’t want to buy more so you have to pick out all the hairs and crumbs and mix up paint that you swept off the floor and keep your kids out of the mess so they don’t track paint all over your house. Hypothetically speaking. It’s possible.

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).
Bad picture, but you get the idea…

Problem #2: Conclusion

Use caution.

Final Thoughts

I really am happy about many things with my new chairs. I love the color, the crackle, and the durability.

Would I try this method again? I’m really not sure. Probably not. I definitely would only try this if I put that extra coat of shellac between the chalk paint and the milk paint. But that means something like 9 coats of paint and shellac. At that point, I think there’s probably a better way to go.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried this before? What was your experience with either chalk or milk paint? What’s your favorite furniture refinishing paint? Latex? Chalk? Spray paint? I’d love to hear what you think!

Details of furniture refinishing project using a combination of chalk and milk paints (final thoughts and review).

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