So Many Paints, So Little Time
Paint is one of the oldest forms of decor, yet the technology of paint production and use has progressed to keep up with current technology. The choices you have for painting your furniture are varred. The primary types of paint used in furniture painting are chalk style paint, milk paint and latex paint. Oil-based or Alkyd Paint is not typically used in furniture. There are plenty of variations within those categories.
Chalk Style Paint
Essentially any water based paint with a chalky binder is chalk paint. Chalk is defined by Webster as “a soft white, gray, or buff limestone composed chiefly of the shells of foraminifera or a prepared form of chalk.” In the paint world, this chalky substance has expanded to include fossil, mud, plaster of paris, tile grout and more. While the market previously was dominantly by Annie Sloan, there are now loads of great chalk paints on the market. My far leading favorite is a newcomer on the block: General Finishes Chalk Style Paint. The color palette is rich and deep, the ease of use and cleanup are unmatched and the leveling properties are remarkable. No matter how many times I have to go over and fix one of my mistakes, the finish always comes out smooth and consistent – no brush strokes.
I am also a fan of making my own chalk paint from latex paint – described in the Latex section..
Milk paint is a nontoxic water-based paint. It is made from milk and lime, generally with pigments added for color. Borax may be added to the milk paint recipe to assist the lime in dissolving the casein (milk protein) and as a preservative. Milk paint has been used for thousands of years. It is extremely durable, often lasting for hundreds of years if protected from the elements. It is made of all-natural ingredients, and is very safe and non-toxic once applied. Traditional milk paint is sold as a powder and must be mixed with water for each use. Once milk paint has been mixed, it must be used within a day. My favorite milk paint is the next generation of technology. General Finishes Milk Paint is a high quality interior/exterior pre-mixed paint. It’s not a true “casein based milk paint” but a modern version of old world paint with a strong mineral base. It is adaptable and UV resistant, and can mixed, lightened, distressed, glazed and layered. It is the best paint on the market, in my opinion, for painting kitchen cabinets. This translates to furniture by providing rock solid adhesion after it has cured for three week. It does not need a top coat, but I always use a wax or poly to a furniture paint job.
You can make your own milk paint at home that is closely related to the original version. Here is a recipe from Earth’s Pigments and a recipe from Martha Stewart and a recipe from Bob Vila.
Latex or Acrylic – or is it – Latex and Acrylic
I often get asked about the difference between acrylic and latex paint. Essentially there is no difference. Natural latex is a milky fluid produced by various seed plants (milkweed, spurge, and poppy families) and is the basis of rubber. Latex paint is a category of paints that includes several types of acrylic paint. This Latex category is water-based and made up of synthetic polymers that resemble natural latex—but there is no actual natural latex in them. So, when comparing, it’s not latex or acrylic: the terms can loosely be used interchangeably. Generally speaking, the higher the acrylic amount, the better the quality.
When making my Furniture Rescue Paint, I like to use Behr Matte Premium Plus Ultra. It is paint and primer in one, can be tinted to any color, is super durable and mixes well with plaster or paris. Here is my recipe.