How to use Milk Paint


Please Read Carefully

The Primitive Life Milk Paint Properties

No primer needed with bare wood or dry wall.

On previously painted or sealed surfaces, no preparation needed when used with a bonding agent.

With out bonding agent, glossy painted or sealed surfaces just need a basic “roughing up” with sand paper.

Environmentally safe, non-toxic and biodegradable.

Zero VOC’s- entirely solvent free.


Faint milky odor when wet, odorless when dry.

Clean up with soap and water.

Dry to the touch in 30 minutes with a flat finish.

To re-coat, wait two hours.

Cures, hardens, and builds water resistance over time.

The dry powder form mixes best with room temperature water.

Powder in sealed bags should last indefinitely.

After opening, save powder in a glass jar or covered tin or airtight plastic storage bin.

Permanent colors.

Available in a variety of colors which can be blended, by the user, to produce many tints and shades.

Very Important: Please read this entire Direction Sheet before using this product.

Very glossy surfaces must be roughed up with sandpaper and cleaned before painting.

*If you can rub the palm of your hand across the wall and see dust, you will need to vacuum and wash the wall.


Primitive Life Milk Paint works on some surfaces better than others. Unless you know the condition of the surfaces beneath previous coats of finish, we do caution you about the use of milk paint over layers of paint that may have been applied without proper cleaning beforehand.

Milk paint dries very rapidly and shrinks in all directions while drying. This can pull and tug on the previous layers quite strongly, enough in some cases to cause any weakly bonded existing under layers to peel off, thereby creating serious problems. We also do not recommend using milk paint over primer-sealers with stain blockers such as Kilz or Zinsser Bin, or any flexible caulks including silicone or latex.


Calcimine Paint: Calcimine was widely used for ceilings into the early 20th century, and contained minimal binders. It is essentially chalk. It is almost impossible to paint anything over calcimine paint- especially milk paint. Sometimes the calcimine extends onto the upper part of a wall. If you choose to paint on such a surface, the calcimine paint needs to be removed. 
Note: Use extra caution and test surface when painting over modern ceiling paint as well, as it often contains minimal binders.

Horsehair Plaster: Plaster, especially old horsehair plaster, can be somewhat crumbly, and would not be considered a sound surface. If the walls appear to be in good shape, they must be cleaned thoroughly and should not be primed.

Old Wallpaper Paste: Wallpaper paste residues may create a problem with adhesion and or lead to the new paint cracking or peeling. It should be removed and the surface cleaned before painting.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of testing if you want to paint with milk paint on a questionable surface, and are more than happy to provide samples for your use. And, if you have any questions about surface preparation or testing, please do not hesitate to call us, toll free at (407) 476-7136. We are available from 9 to 5 Eastern time, Monday through Friday, except holidays.


Primitive Life Organic milk paint has excellent adhesion to most surfaces. We will be happy to send you a sample to test on your particular substrate to ensure that you will have good results.


For previously painted multiple coated surfaces, it is very important to also test the layers of paint for adhesion to each other. This is to be sure that the old paint won’t peel off and take the new paint with it. First, cut a one inch long “X” in the old paint film with a razor blade or sharp knife. This is not foolproof, however,so it’s best to do this in a few different areas. Then apply a strip of masking tape over the “X,” and rub the tape on firmly. Then pull it off quickly. If the old paint comes off with the tape, you have poor adhesion, usually created from re-painting over an unclean surface.


Professional finishing practice states that any surface to be painted or repainted must be cleaned and dulled, not shiny. All grime should be removed with a washing soda such as T.S.P., according to the manufacturer's recommendations, and shiny surfaces should be scuffed up with sandpaper. Surface must be clean, sound and free of oil, grease, dust and dirt. By ignoring this practice, the new paint may not adhere well and future coats could peel off when repainted.


If the old paint films do have poor adhesion, we do NOT recommend painting over with any water paint, including milk paint. The old paint should be removed by stripping or sanding and scraping. If you don’t remove it, the new paint may lift off the old paint, at least in some areas.**

**WARNING! If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-880-424-LEAD or log on to


On any surfaces that have been chemically stripped of finish, be sure to neutralize any residual chemicals by wiping the surface with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution prior to repainting.


The Primitive Life organic milk paint is self priming over unpainted wood, wood that has sanded to remove glossy or clear finishes, drywall, joint compound and new plaster. If surface has been primed or previously painted apply two coats of milk paint in a small area and test for adhesion, as described above, after 24 hours.



The final approximate ratios of water to paint is 1 to 1 for most amounts mixed. Add more water if you want a white washed look.

To make a small amount, say enough to paint a chair, start with ¼ cup of water and 3 rounded tables spoons of paint, adding 1 table spoon at a time until consistency is creamy like regular paint.

To make one pint of paint- start with 9 oz. (1-1/8 cup) water & a 1-pint package of milk paint powder.

To make one quart of paint- start with 18 oz. (2-1/4 cups) water & a 1-quart package of milk paint powder.

To make one gallon of paint- start with 72 oz. (9 cups) water & a 1-gallon package of milk paint powder.

Note: these amounts are approximate, and may vary with paint color. But they are a good place to start.

After following mixing instructions adjust paint mixture by stirring in a little more water if it seems to be too thick. Consistency should be that of conventional paint.


For larger quantities use a paint paddle on an electric drill and a container larger than the amount of paint you are mixing (for example use a 2 1/2 gallon bucket when mixing a gallon of paint). Milk paint mixes best with a mixer, rather than by hand. We’ve had good results using the “Exomixer” brand paint mixer, the “Original Ribbon Mixer,” which blends vertically and horizontally, and which should be readily available at most home improvement stores.

For small amounts use a kitchen mixer and a small round container.

It’s best to use room temperature water.

Start off with about 1/3 of the water in the bucket and gradually add paint powder, mixing until dissolved. Start mixing at low speed until the powder is wet, then increase to a higher speed.

The paint may start off looking foamy and frothy, which is normal.

Keep alternating powder and water in small amounts, thoroughly mixing at each step and not allowing the mixture to get too thick or dry, until you get the desired volume and consistency. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bucket or container while mixing. The paint should now be very smooth and not foamy.

Before pouring the mixed paint into a roller tray, check the bottom of the bucket for lumps — continue mixing until they are gone.

Stir paint every ten minutes or so while using, and add more water to achieve the proper consistency if the paint thickens. Be careful not to thin it too much as you will not achieve good coverage if paint is too thin. If lumps should appear as the paint sits, remix with your mixer.

Note: Milk paint thickens the most in the first hour after mixing. Therefore it's important not to leave it unattended after mixing for long periods of time (i.e. lunch breaks, etc.) without being able to stir or thin it if necessary.

If you have paint left over, you may be able to save it, especially if mixed on the thinner side, like light cream. Store in a sealed container or with saran wrap and a rubber band stretched over your mixing vessel. After sitting the paint may need to be remixed.


You will want to use a good quality brush for cutting in, and short nap rollers. Cut in as little as possible around windows, doors, etc. to avoid differences in appearance between brushing and rolling.

Two coats will provide best coverage. Your first coat may not look perfect — that’s normal. Do not keep pushing the paint around. Allow this first coat to dry and form a primer coat. You should have even coverage with your second coat. Too many coats or excessively thick coats can cause cracking. Paint that is too thin will result in poor coverage. Wait at least two hours between coats. Clean up tools immediately with soap and water.

Any unused powder can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container such as a glass jar.


A natural paint like The Primitive Life Organic Milk Paint does have its limitations and quirks, but it has inherently beautiful qualities that you will not see in a chemically based paint. Not only does it give a room character and a certain presence, and changes color in different light throughout the day, but you may also paint your bedroom in the afternoon and sleep in it that night without having to breathe noxious fumes.

Why it’s best to mix up only what you plan to use that day if possible:

Since we choose not to use unnatural extenders or preservatives in our paint, it can thicken and gel up over time. This was true with pre-industrial era milk paint. But we think the inconvenience is worth it to keep our paint truly natural and safe.

You may also notice a slight ammonia odor when opening a stored container of liquid milk paint. This is a natural occurrence and dissipates quickly.

Keep in mind that although milk paint may look like conventional flat paint, it is not like using typical latex or oil-based paint that you might be used to.


We do not recommend milk paint for exterior use.


The colors will vary slightly from batch to batch due to minor variations in the natural earth materials. If you wish to change the hues, or make tints of the colors start with “Cotton” white and add colors to suit your taste. Any of our colors may be mixed together to create new colors.

The best way to develop your “ideal color” is to start with a paper cup and some measuring spoons. Mix your powders together first. Try a tablespoon of a major color and add teaspoons or even fractions of teaspoons of another color. Add a little water and mix well. The color will look darker when wet, so paint the sample on a piece of cardboard. The first quick test will show you which direction to go from there. Then simply multiply your measurements and make up the needed quantity. If you are going to use a sealer over the paint, try it first on your test piece to check the final color and sheen.


Primitive Life Organic Milk Paint paint does contain lime, milk protein, clays and earth pigments. We use no lead, no chemical preservatives and no hydrocarbons or other petroleum derivatives. The other ingredients are inert materials.


Milk paint is non-toxic as it contains no petrochemicals or VOC’S. When wet, our paint has a slight earthy milk odor which will disappear in a few hours. The hydrated lime is highly alkaline, naturally anti-bacterial and lowers its alkalinity as it catalyzes with the acidic milk protein.


Keep the paint powder sealed until ready to use. If it is kept dry and air-tight, it should last indefinitely. If exposed to air or dampness for any period, the active lime becomes inert and turns to chalk. When this happens, the paint won’t mix up properly and if applied can powder off. We recommend storing unused powder in a glass or metal container with a tight lid.

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