Magazine article Sunset

Got Milk Paint?

Magazine article Sunset

Got Milk Paint?

Article excerpt

How to turn a piece of unfinished furniture into an heirloom

* The softly weathered, two-toned drawers of this tall bureau have a well-used charm found in many antiques. Yet the bureau is an inexpensive pine model purchased at an unfinished-furniture store. The character comes from layers of milk paint that have been sanded and then sealed with a final layer of beeswax (an alternative to beeswax is any paste floor wax). This paint-and-finishing technique has been used for centuries.

Milk paint is sold as a powder made from milk protein (also called casein), clay, natural pigments, and lime. Mix the powder with water to make the paint; more water thins it to create a stain. Unlike its oil- or acrylic-base cousins, milk paint, once mixed, has a limited shelf life. For a project such as this, make only as much as you need.

The paint dries quickly and produces a flat, almost chalky finish with a slightly uneven surface texture (because of small lumps left from the mixing process). Since the paint soaks quickly into a soft, unfinished wood (such as pine), it takes several coats to achieve uniform coverage. …

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