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Rustoleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

I have a love/hate thing going on with paint. It can be super time consuming and messy. But, it’s also totally magical right? I mean, nothing really transforms a space or furniture quite like paint. When painting furniture, I usually opt for flat finishes. But after years of chalk paint, I was ready to try something new! I landed upon Rustoleum Milk Paint in Eclipse and have used it on 3 different projects. After trying it out, here is my honest review of milk paint vs chalk paint for furniture makeovers!

painted dresser with Rustoluem Milk Paint in Eclipse

(First, let me say that this post is not sponsored – it’s my honest to goodness review. That said, some of my content includes affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click and purchase.  This commission allows me to write more home decor content and support my two boys, so thank you!)

What is Milk Paint?

You might be wondering, exactly what is milk paint? I was curious too! Well, it’s a type of non-toxic milk based paint that creates a flat matte appearance.

French furniture has used milk paint for hundreds of years! Historically, it is made from mixing milk protein, lime and pigments into a powder and then adding water.

There are still powder options you can use, but here, I opted for the pre-mixed Rust-oleum Milk Paint Eclipse.

It’s non-toxic and creates a rich, velvety finish. In many ways, it’s really similar to chalk paint. For both paints, most projects don’t need sanding and they provide a nice , matte flat finish.

Chalk paint is pretty common now, but if you’re curious, this chalk paint guide covers all the details!

painted piano with Rustoluem Milk Paint in Eclipse

I’ve used milk paint to paint my dresser, a small cabinet, and the grand furniture makeover, my Painted Black Piano project.

The black milk paint in eclipse completely transformed my cherry wood piano and made it one of my all time favorite DIY projects.

Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Ok, so let’s get into it! There are a lot of similarities between milk paint and chalk paint.

They both are fantastic options for furniture projects because they require little prep work and offer a nice matte finish. They are also easy to use paints making them a good option for DIY furniture makeovers.

There are some differences too, and for me, this is what really sets something like Rust Oleum Milk Paint apart.

Here’s a side by side comparison of Milk Paint in Eclipse and Charcoal Chalk Paint:

milk paint vs chalk paint
Rustoleum Milk Paint in Eclipse (top) vs Rustoleum Chalked Paint in Charcoal (bottom)


  • No sanding needed – Just like chalk paint, sanding is not required for using milk paint on furniture. It magically adheres to surfaces and covers blemishes well. For shinier surfaces, like my piano, I still gave it a brief sanding.
  • Easy to apply – The thickness of milk paint makes it easy to apply as it glides on smoothly. Similar to chalk paint, it’s really easy to use which makes a good option for a DIY furniture update.
  • Some areas can be inconsistent – Both options can go on a little inconsistently. For reasons I’ve yet to figure out, milk paint seems to be even more inconsistent with some areas darker than others.
milk paint vs chalk paint comparison chart


  • Needs protective finish – Although the label suggests that a protective coating is not required, I found that milk paint scratches easily without it. Chalk paint also benefits from a protective coat but seems to wear more naturally. My unprotected milk paint projects scratch easily and quickly, but not in a distressed way, more of an “oops, this is damaged kind of look.
  • Color Richness – Milk paint provides a really rich, deep, almost velvety finish. In this way, I really prefer it to chalk paint which can lack depth and can seem dull even for flat finishes.
  • Number of coats – I find that some of my milk paint projects required several coats for that richer look (2-3 maybe 4 in some spots). This can be a benefit if you’re looking to control the intensity. But if you’re hoping for a quick paint project, it may take a bit longer than anticipated. Chalk paint often only needs one coat.

So, is milk paint better than chalk paint?

sealing milk paint with wax
Piano Bench Painted with Milk Paint with Protective Soft Wax Finish

Weighing all of the pros and cons, I would say YES, I prefer this milk paint over chalk paint. For me, the rich, deep color wins out, even if it takes a wee bit more time to achieve.

Hopefully this outlines all the information you need to make a decision about Rust-oleum milk paint!

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

ikea dresser painted with black milk paint