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How to Make Milk Paint

Now almost forgotten by home decorators, milk paint was used in ancient Egypt and colonial America. With its translucent patina, this non-toxic paint gives furniture and walls a color-washed appear. Discover milk paint for yourself and learn how to make it at home.

Milk paint is a non-toxic paint that lets off no fumes and grants furniture and walls an antique, translucent patina. Used as far back as ancient Egypt, milk paint is perhaps not a new invention but certainly one worth rediscovering.

Made with… you guessed it, milk, the non-toxic alternative that milk paint offers home decorators uses milk to bind pigments together instead of polymers, which are found in the more common, home decorating latex paints.

Today milk paint is often used by craftsmen, because of its beautiful, antique colonial feel. For home decorators who are looking for a non-toxic paint alternative, milk paint is an excellent choice, especially for vintage, shabby chic or cottage style decorating, which encapsulating the memory of days gone by.

You can buy ready-made milk paint at, but you can also make milk paint at home. The following recipe for milk paint comes from Martha Stewart (see references). Simple to make, this recipe will render enough milk paint to cover a large piece of furniture or one wall.

How to Make Milk Paint

To make milk paint you will need: a lemon, 1 quart of milk, 2 large bowls, a cheese cloth, dry color pigment (from an art supply store),

Step 1. In a large bowl, mix the juice from one large lemon with 1 quart of skim milk.

Step 2. Leave the mixture overnight (at room temperature) to allow the milk to curdle from the lemon acid.

Step 3. Rest a cheese cloth over a large bowl and secure it loosely with a large rubber band. Pour the mixture onto the cheese cloth. The solid curds will remain trapped on the cheese cloth, while the liquid whey will trickle into the bowl.

Step 4. Pour away the liquid whey and place the curd in the bowl.

Step 5. Put on a protective mask to avoid inhaling pigment powder. Add 4 tbsp. of dry color pigment to the curd. Mix until the color pigment and curd become one.

And that’s it. Your milk paint is done. It will have a sour scent when wet, but this will disappear once the paint dries. Be sure to use your homemade milk paint immediately. After a few hours, milk paint will go bad.


1. Milk Authentic Finish
2. Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine: Ask Martha, Homemade Milk Paint. May 2007, #162, p. 40.

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line.
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