Milk paint is made from three ingredients: milk, lime powder and earth-based pigments taken from clay or minerals. As a result, it is purely natural and completely non-toxic. It’s even biodegradable, and could be poured out into a flower bed without doing any harm.
Applied to almost any wooden surface, milk paint is also exceedingly durable. In fact, it’s infamously difficult for anyone who tries to remove it — even after many decades or centuries of wear, a trained professional is ofen required to completely strip an item of its milk paint.
The use of milk paint dates to prehistoric times, but its use increased greatly in both Europe and America during the 19th. century, as improved farming techniques made milk abundant and inexpensive. The reason a great many barns were traditionally painted red was that a large quantity of paint could easilly be made using surplus milk and red clay.
During the Industrial Revolution, there were an array of developments in other, chemical-based paints which provided many more options. The ultimate undoing of milk paint, however, was the rapid distribution of other paints which were mass-produced and shipped around the continent to turn up conveniently on store shelves. Milk paint, naturally, will spoil in a short period of time, and so cannot be transported in that way. (It was, and is today, shipped as a powder just like powdered milk, but that’s relatively inconvenient to the average barn-painter.)
More and more, however, milk paint is being rediscovered by furniture makers and crafters. A newfound appreciation for these timeless paints stems not only from their eco-friendly credentials, but their usefulness in creating “antiqued” and distressed looks as well. If you’re thinking about trying your hand at your own project, you can learn about making your own milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co.
A wide range of our Cottage Furniture products are available with a variety of milk paint finishes, which are glazed for protection as well as an added sheen. They can be found throughout our Furniture categories, as well as our Country and Farmhouse Collections such as: