The basic formula for milk paint – milk, lime, and pigment – dates back to ancient Egypt. Since 1974, The Old Fashioned Milk Paint company has put a slightly more modern spin on this historic paint by offering pre-made, just-add-water milk paint powders.
The powdered paint takes the guess work out of brewing up a batch of milk paint. True to the original formula, it contains only milk protein, lime, earth pigments, and clay fillers. The paint yields a flat finish, bold earthy colors, and a unique “old-fashioned” appearance. Twenty different colors are available, as well as a pigment-free formula for those wishing to add their own coloring.
Homemade milk paint was widely used by Shakers and early Colonists, making this manufactured milk paint an excellent choice for reproduction furnishings. There's also renewed interest from the green building community because milk paint is biodegradable, non-toxic, and free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The classic formula adheres best to porous surfaces like untreated wood, but the company offers “Extra Bond,” a polymer emulsion that can be mixed in to allow the paint to stick to almost any clean surface. They also offer “Safe Paint,” a self-priming formula designed for use on both bare and previously painted walls.
Milk paint is not quite as durable as modern paints, nor is it completely waterproof, so the company recommends applying a clear coat once the paint is dry (a selection of natural, non-toxic ones are sold on the company's website).