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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
dresser painted with black milk paint

Matte Furniture Paint

Chalk paint and milk paint both create a flat, matte finish. For many years I used chalk paint and then explored a bit, landing on the classic milk paint. For both paints, most projects don’t need sanding and they provide a nice , matte flat finish. Keep reading for the pros & cons!

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

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.bedroom dresser painted with black milk

There are still powder milk paint options you can use, but here, I opted for the pre-mixed Rust-oleum Milk Paint Eclipse which is even available to buy on Amazon. It’s non-toxic and creates a rich, velvety finish.

painted piano with Rustoluem Milk Paint in Eclipse
The black milk paint in eclipse completely transformed my cherry wood piano and made it one of my all time favorite DIY projects.
What is milk paint used for?

Because it doesn’t require heavy sanding and covers blemishes well, milk paint is often used for furniture makeovers. It’s also readily available in small amounts, perfect for a DIY furniture project.

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

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
Rust-Oleum Milk Paint in Eclipse (top) vs Rust -Oleum Chalked Paint in Charcoal (bottom)

Paint Similarities: 

  • 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

Paint Differences: 

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

Is Milk Paint Better than Chalk Paint?

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

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