Milk Paint

We got our order of milk paint, all 160 pounds of it. yes pounds. Not gallons. It comes in powder form and you add the water. It is produced by The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. and their web site is the very clear

They have a new line of paint called Safe Paint. I have to say I’m in love with it.

It is real paint.

It makes the other synthetic paints we have all been bamboozled into thinking was paint look like crap. It is the difference between eating over processed hormone packed Mc Donald’s food and a healthy organic meal.

One is crap the other is vibrant with life.

And this paint is alive. It is made with a whey base, literally a derivative of milk. When you put it on the walls it smells of a country barn. It is a fresh smell of cut grass and healthy animals. The smell is faint but if you ever lived on a farm you know the smell. It is a smell that can literally bring you back to your childhood for an intoxicating moment.

The smell is gone in half an hour, though. And then there is nothing…..nothing. No smell……

You have to try it to see how powerful that LACK of smell is. And to think we have been putting chemicals on our walls for so many years. Petrochemicals laced with synthetic hormone disruptors and cancer causing ethers. That nice Benjamin Moore, yup, it’s crap. Martha Stewart? Crap. Ralph Lauren? Crap.

At Eco Brooklyn we have a motto. In fact we have many but one of them is that if we can’t build with a nine month old in the room then don’t build with it. Coincidentally my son is nine months old and he is with me a lot of the time. So I take this really seriously.

You can practically drink milk paint. I have no problems being in a freshly painted Milk Paint room with my son. I would never do that with the synthetic paints. Even the zero VOC stuff. It is still full of chemicals.

This is the real stuff. This is paint. It is free of chemicals. It is good stuff.

And the process is empowering.

The universe is full of millions of colors. And now that I can mix my own I am free to make my own unique color. Nobody in the world has a color exactly like the one we are painting onto the Green Show House in Brooklyn. In fact tomorrow we probably won’t be able to mix it again exactly. That is a special thing. I love it.

Take back your painting. Use Milk Paint.

First we mix the white base with water. Then we add the color as we want it;

The paint goes on just like any other. You don’t need primer. You just put two coats of the paint. I dries really fast and the second coat can go on quickly.

We got a lot of colors. You want to follow these steps to be sure it works nicely. First put some water in the bucket. Then put the white base. This way none of the paint sticks in the corners of the bucket. Then add small quantities of the color until you get what you want. That way you don’t add too much color. Don’t froth the mix with the mixer because if you get too much air into the mix it bubbles and creates possible color inconsistencies.

We got five colors. Warm one for north facing rooms and cool ones for south facing rooms.

The genius of the Milk Paint Co is that they “only” provide a handful of colors. At first you might see this as odd when most paint companies are bending over backwards to provide huge color variations. But the other paint companies are stuck in the mass consumer idea that more is better and that the consumer is an idiot who can’t think for themselves.

With the colors that the Milk Paint Co provides you can mix your own plethora of colors. It is really, really liberating. I can’t understate that. You will discover that you are, like everyone, a very creative person. You will find your unique color. Or it will find you. Or you will find each other as you play alchemist above the cows white pot. It is a great thing.

4 Replies to “Milk Paint”

  1. Oh, first of all, our MSDS are located at this link:

    As far as the first poster goes, it takes two coats, usually, for a solid cover, if the paint is mixed up properly (to a creamy consistency, like that of a conventional paint). The first coat may look crummy/uneven, but it is just a primer coat. The second coat is a covering coat and should look consistent when done. We’ve had painters tell us that our reds are the best covering reds they’ve ever painted with… (I guess that reds are notoriously poor as far as covering goes?)

    And yes, he is right that the name milk paint reminds him of casein paint, because it is! All milk paints are casein paints, but not all casein paints are milk paint. Milk paint is historically a mixture of casein and crushed limestone, which acts as a solvent for the casein. There are other casein paints out there that actually use some nasty stuff, like formaldehye, as the solvent.
    The other ingredients in milk paint are earth pigments, like iron oxides, raw umber and so forth, and some clay to give it body. It was a typical homemade paint made on the spot. We developed the paint in powder form so as to not have to add perservatives to the mixture. So it is siimply mixed with water on the spot- which also, by the way, means that milk paint has about the smallest carbon footprint of any paint on the planet. We are not shipping water- just a few pounds of powder to a gallon rather than 10 or 11 lbs. with conventional paint. And it’s 100% biodegradable.
    And talk about tough- milk paint hardens as it cures, just like concrete. It’s very difficult to remove as time goes on, but you can paint anything over it down the road.

    The calcimine paint he mentions is a whole other story, not the same at all. It was not meant to be a permanent paint and does not contain the binders that milk paint does. I t is a real pain to remove and paint over. I found a great article on it a few years back that I always send to people when they ask me about calcimine paint-

    And, as far as the comments go about mixing colors- if you want to be able to duplicate a color you just have to measure and keep a record of your ratios. It’s really simple.
    You can experiment using very small amounts of the paint powders- teaspoons, tablespoons, even fractions of teaspoons. Mix the powders in a dixie cup, add a little water and mix, then paint on a piece of scrap wood or even cardboard, recording the ratios of color you used. It will look darker when wet. But if you experiment this way you’ll be able to duplicate a color you like in a larger amount, or duplicate it at another time. People do that all the time….
    We have a couple of sources available for small sample sizes if anyone wants to start out that way- (as the smallest size we sell makes one pint).

    That’s about all I can think of right now. Thanks again for your commentary- we are so glad that you are enjoying using our paint!!

  2. I like the sound of milk paint…but what happens when you need some paint to touch up a room? I would suggest trying to measure the colors as your mixing them, so then….when you only want to repaint one wall in a room, it will be the same color. There’s one thing the pimple faced high schooler has, and that’s consistency. Just keep a paint ratio book, and this problem is easily resolved.

    Overall, sounds like an awesome product that I’m curious to try out. Thanks for the consumer report!

  3. in the 1980s many clients wanted to mix their own colors. i used common pigment tubes to color oil or alcohol-based primers many times in order to save clients the cost and drying time of extra coats of oil-based finish paint.

    even with years of experience, it was always a trememdous challenge remotely matching colors using do it yourself pigments. most painters wouldn’t go near pigments and instead simply told the client to pay more and wait an extra day of drying time.

    i’m glad some folks either serendipitously stumbled upon colors they enjoy(pigment is at least fun, if totally unpredictable)…or if they are so committed to the *idea* of home tinting that they happily accept the results during their DIY projects. but color mixing and paint mixing turns out to be way more complicated than most of us (or at least I) would have guessed. turns out that those name brand color chips and formulae exist for a reason.

  4. my bias, probably what killed my liver was working for years alkyd/oil-based high-VOC paint, before the stuff was banned or at least rendered much less effective.

    am curious about whey based paint including its cost and hiding. how many coats needed for color changes? any stain hiding?

    the name, milk paint, reminds me of artists’ casein paint, which is mostly for translucent washes and effects and would give results difficult to sell to most homeowners seeking opacity, uniform finish and high hiding. artists’ casein paint has not been popular for decades, but conceivably they’ve marketed the same or similar stuff to the chemically sensitive. casein was also used for glues.

    Do manufacturers mention painting over the stuff with other paints, say, years later? I ask because I know calsimine whitewash has been painted over on many thousands of NYC ceilings and now house painters must spend weeks painfully scraping the stuff down to bare plaster by hand while breathing toxic dust.

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