How to Create a Non-Chippy Milk Paint Finish on Raw Wood

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I couple of weeks ago, I made a trek to my local IKEA to look at cabinets for Phase 2 of the renovation here at the farmhouse. Of course, once I finished that, I spent the next hour and a half looking at everything else including a couple of these adorable, unfinished, step stools.  I just knew that they would be perfect to use to reach the upper cabinets in the kitchen and the shelves in the garage show you how Miss Mustard Seed milk paint behaves on raw, previously unfinished, wood. Today, I'm sharing the first one which I painted using milk paint in "kitchen scale".

 This was my first experience with Ikea furniture.  I probably don't have to tell you that I'm not a fan of following directions so the fact that their assembly instructions were a series of drawings actually worked out really well....after I actually looked at them. 

In case you're wondering, this step stool is not for a child.  Both of my children are over 6 feet tall. No, this stool (and the one that I'll show you in a couple of weeks) are for me.  This is because while I've certainly got a large persona, my stature doesn't quite match it.  I'm not short...I'm just not particularly tall. Not tall enough to reach the top shelves of my kitchen cabinets, or the linen closet, or the shelves in the garage without standing on something.  "Something" has included swivel counter stools, cardboard boxes, stacks of books, pieces of get the picture.   

I'm happy to report that, once assembled, this stool is sturdy enough to hold a grown least so far and that there are people in my family (and probably the neighbor whose window faces my kitchen if she has happened to glance across while I was standing on the kitchen counter or on one of the counter stools while trying to lower a handful of Pyrex casserole dishes onto the island from the top shelf of the cabinet) who are breathing a collective sigh of relief that they won't have to witness the horror of watching me fall...I'll admit it, it's been close more than a few times.

I decided on Miss Mustard Seed's "kitchen scale" milk paint for this piece. It's a glorious shade of turquoise with a greenish undertone.  In the bag, it looked yellow gray but as soon as I added water, it changed to the perfect shade of blue green.

When using milk paint on raw, previously unfinished wood, no bonding agent is necessary since the surface grain of the wood is still "open" and can absorb the pigment and the water. I simply mixed the paint and water using 1 part paint and 2 parts warm water. (I used 1/4 cup of paint powder for this project)

After mixing the paint well, I used a 2 inch, natural bristle brush to apply it to my step stool.   Milk paint mixed at this consistency is very runny, almost like watercolor. I applied it like a stain for the first coat. The water seeps into the wood and helps the pigment to adhere to the surface. The water in the paint also raises the grain  of the wood very slightly.

NOTE: It's important to remember to stir the paint every 5 minutes or so to keep the pigment evenly suspended in the water and to help make the coverage more uniform.

When applied in this manner, the first coat looks like a semi-transparent, colored stain. The grain (and part of the tonality) of the original wood shows through in some places.  After the first coat dried, I lightly sanded the piece to smooth the surface grain  and the applied a second coat.  You can see the difference in the photo above.

As you can also see, the paint is not chippy.  It adheres to the wood, covers evenly, and doesn't flake off.  This is perfect for applications where a more traditional finish is desired.  The color is every bit as beautiful as the Shutter Gray that I used for my Pine Armoire Makeover (link HERE). 

After the paint is dry, I again sanded it lightly to level out the areas where the grain of the wood raised from the water (it's much less on the second coat than it was on the first). Since the paint is made of pigments only and contains no drying agent or additives, it will dry more slowly and the finish will be flat and just a little chalky.  After sanding, the piece should be finished with wax or another finish such as polyurethane if you want it to hold up to heavy traffic.

I haven't done anything to mine, ye,t because I'm not sure whether or not it's going to get a second "layer" of color. For now, I'm enjoying it as a non-chippy milk painted piece. I'll show you how to achieve that "well loved, been around for ages, chippy" look on raw wood in coming weeks. I'm using these stools as a trial ground not only to show you how the paint acts but also to help me decide whether or not to use MMS Milk Paint on the new kitchen cabinets that I'm having made for the farmhouse.

Transforming this unfinished, $15, raw wood, Ikea step stool into this non-chippy, turquoise beauty was easy using Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in "kitchen scale".  I'm sure that its pristine and "non-chippy" condition will be short, I hope, will the six inches of snow that fell here yesterday!


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