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Milk Paint vs. Chalk Paint vs. Latex: Which is The Ultimate Paint for Furniture?

milk paint vs chalk paint

What is the Best Paint for Furniture Makeovers?

Overwhelmed with options for painting furniture? Here we compare milk paint vs chalk paint vs latex and test all three side-by-side!

Walking into a quaint home décor boutique, I saw towering shelves filled with an array of furniture paint cans.  I walked over and was mesmerized by the soft farmhouse colors and chalky finish.  But then I looked at the price…. Was I really going to pay $40 for a small container of paint???

Soon after Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint came the popularity of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint and its amazing ability to give furniture pieces their own unique look and finish.

But what about our good old friend latex???  Is it the dinosaur that some claim?  Do these newer paints really surpass its durability and ease of use?

All of these paint products are good – there is no denying that. But some are better than others in terms of coverage, durability, ease of use, finish, versatility, and your budget!

Here we will define terms and test each product to decide once and for all which is the best furniture paint for your specific furniture project! There are a lot of differences in each type of paint but this post will answer ALL of your questions. Be sure to check out the video’s side-by-side comparison.

UPDATE: Since writing this post I blind-tested and reviewed 24 different furniture paints. You can see the results for each specific paint here: The Absolute Best Furniture Paint Brand.

This post is for you if you:

  • Want clarity on the best furniture paint for your desired look
  • Need a budget-friendly paint that doesn’t cost more than the piece you are refinishing
  • Are looking for clear instructions on how to refinish a furniture piece

Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint vs Latex: What’s the Best Furniture Paint for Beginners?

You want a cute dresser for your bedroom without paying a lot so you check out Facebook Marketplace to find the PERFECT tall dresser with spindly legs that you would love to paint in a delicious light blue/gray.

But when you start to Google how to refinish it, you are inundated with claims about which furniture paint to use.  The information is as clear as mud on which is best: milk paint vs chalk paint vs regular paint (latex).

The information overload is enough to make a girl give up on the idea of hand painting her own unique furniture piece and head to target for something in white laminate.

There is nothing like the relaxing time spent personalizing your own one-of-a-kind furniture piece in the color of your choice!  This guide will help you pick the right paint to make your project go smoothly!

The Best Paint for Redoing Furniture

Whether you are a beginner or have your own furniture painting business, this post will hopefully shed some light on the main differences in these types of paints.  I picked the brands that were leaders in their respective groups:  Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Sherwin Williams ProClassic as a Latex Paint.  All of these are GOOD paints but information and video will help you make the best choice for your next furniture project.



milk paint vs chalk paint


(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclosure HERE).

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint

Milk Paint has been around for years going all the way back to colonial times as it’s main ingredients were easily sourced.  It is also the most natural paint on the market for furniture painting.  The natural ingredients in milk paint are limestone, clay, pigment, and the milk protein casein which is where milk paint gets it’s name. The milk protein also accounts for the earthy smell which disappears when the paint dries.  Milk paint also includes natural pigments to give it color.

Miss Mustard’s Seed Milk Paint allows for a lot of creativity with furniture painting. When comparing milk paint vs regular paint, milk paint is better for achieving a  distressed chippy look, for that vintage, time-worn feel.

best paint for furniture makeovers

Adhesion and Prep Work for Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint

As I mention in the video, painting with milk paint is a little different because it actually comes in a powder form. You mix the powder to a smooth consistency with water.  If you want a more traditional, thick consistency, you want to add Miss Mustard Seed’s Bonding Agent to your powder and water mixture as the bonding agent helps the milk paint to adhere to surfaces.

Milk-based paint can be difficult to mix to find the right consistency. For that reason, if you are mixing a large amount of milk paint, it is best to use a blender just for milk paint. Also, you have to be careful to mix enough paint in liquid form so you don’t run out for your project.

For best results when refinishing furniture with milk paint, I recommend a light sanding on all furniture pieces. By sanding you are only roughing up the surface, not removing the paint. Here is a guide on sanding: How to Sand Furniture in 5 Minutes

If you are mixing in the bonding agent, you don’t need a primer.

Budget-Friendliness of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint

The amount of powder to make a quart of mixed milk paint is $23.00 and the bonding agent is $12.00.  Milk paint costs about the same as chalk paint because it is thinner and doesn’t cover as much as chalk paint.

Coverage: Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint Coverage & Smoothness

For some, wondering how your furniture piece will turn out is exciting as this milk paint reacts to all pieces a little differently. Sometimes its difficult to know if the paint will slough off in a fine powder or in larger chips.

If you are like me and don’t like as much unpredictability in your furniture painting, Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk paint might not be a good option for you.  With that said, if you are more artistic and like using lots of layering and distressing, then Miss Mustard Milk Paint is ideal.

This gorgeous dresser from Denise at Salvaged Inspirations gives you an idea of the look you can achieve with Miss Mustard Seed’s milk Paint.  Isn’t it stunning?!?  The first time I saw this piece I was in awe!  You can read more about the painting process in her post here: How to Milk Paint Furniture (Before and After Makeover)

On raw wood, milk paint acts like a stain, because it easily penetrates porous surfaces. Because it soaks into the wood, it usually always takes at least two coats to get full coverage.  Because it acts like a stain, it gives a unique paint finish to raw wood that cannot be replicated with any other paint.

If you are not into the chippy look, you will definitely want to add the bonding agent because without it you will lack control in getting a traditional finish.  Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk paint does have more brush marks than chalk paint.

Durability of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint

If you mix in the bonding agent, you don’t need a top coat as long as the furniture piece won’t get a lot of wear and tear. If you are unsure, it’s best to add a top coat.  If you don’t add in the bonding agent for a chippy look, you definitely need a top coat for a lasting finish. For the best top coat for milk paint, check out my post here: The Best Clear Coats for Furniture

Ease of Use and Dry Time of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint

Since milk paint comes in a powdered form, it has to be mixed each time a furniture piece is painted. It can stay fresh in the refrigerator for 5-7 days but after that time it will spoil.
Because milk paint is thin, it dries quickly so you need only 2 hours between coats.

How to Finish Milk Paint: Does Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Require a Top Coat?

If your piece will only get very light use, you might be able to get away without a top coat. But in most cases, you will need a top coat. You can clear wax over milk paint but it’s cheaper and more inexpensive to use a clear coat.

The Best Product for Sealing Milk Paint

Most clear coats need a couple coats minimum but there is only about an hour of dry time in between. You can read about my favorite clear coat for milk paint here: Best Clear Coats for Furniture 

Most pieces painted with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint will need 2-3 coats for a consistent look. For a chippy finish, you may only need one coat depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

If you want a more consistent finish, you will need 4 hours for two coats to dry and another 1 hour between clear coats and 24 hours for a final dry time.

For a non-chippy, consistent finish with Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, you dry time will be 29 hours from start to finish.

milk paint vs chalk paint


Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Technique: A 5 Step Process

For a typical project, mix your powdered milk paint in a 1:1 ratio according to the directions on the back to determine how much you will need. If you don’t want a chippy look, you’ll need to mix in the Miss Mustard Seed Bonding Agent.

Sand lightly before starting your process if you don’t want a chippy look.

Sometimes you will need two to three coats depending on the color of your piece and the paint color. Brush it on and wait 2 hours between coats.

To provide durability, add two coats of a good clear coat. I like the following clear coat to provide a beautiful soft wax finish: Flat Out Flat Clear Coat

Lightly Sand + 1 Coat of Milk Paint + 1 Coat of Milk Paint + 1 Coat of Clear Coat + 1 Coat of Clear Coat = 5 Steps

You can read more instructions and about the different ingredients here: Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Tips and Techniques

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Colors

Miss Mustard Seed Milk paint comes in over 25 colors in a matte finish. You can see them all by clicking here: Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Color Options

Where Can I Buy Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint?

My favorite place to buy Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint is a shop on Etsy called Rundown Rustics.

Click the links below to see their selection:

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint
Miss Mustard Seed Bonding Agent


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint is a decorative furniture paint developed by Annie Sloan over 25 years ago.  It is said to “require little preparation and can be used indoors or outside, on just about any surface. It can revitalize old pieces of furniture, walls, ceilings and floors with ease”.  The results are fast and accessible.

milk paint vs chalk paint

Adhesion & Prep Work for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint’s claim to fame is that you do not need a primer.  It’s very sticky making it adhere easily to many surfaces better than traditional furniture paint.  This is very appealing in the furniture painting business and especially for first-time furniture painters.  Chalk Paint is comprised of calcium carbonate, talc and pigment.

As I mention in the video, the calcium carbonate is a powdery substance that makes the paint “sticky”.  Another benefit of the powdery element of chalk paint is the fact that you have more control when distressing.  When distressing, the paint comes off in a powder instead of peeling like latex paint to get a beautiful farmhouse look.

You can see how easy it is to achieve a distressed finish with this rustic dining table from Repurpose and Upcycle’s post here: Rustic Beach Cottage Dining Room.

Unfortunately, the “stickiness” of chalk paint is not the same as durability.  Ironically, the very substance that makes chalk paint adhere to surfaces also makes the paint surface very “soft”.  In other words, chalk paint is not durable as it won’t hold up well to scratches and does a poor job of holding up to water. 

As a general rule, I lightly sand and prime all furniture pieces because the potential cost and hassle of ruining a piece is just too high.  To determine if your piece needs primer, do the primer test below.  Any slick surface will need light sanding and primer no matter what paint you use.

How to Know if You Need to Primer Your Furniture Piece

What is primer?  Think of primer as a sticky paint that works as a glue for your furniture paint to adhere.  As Jennifer Allwood says, “primer sticks to things, and paint sticks to primer.”

Here’s a failproof way to know if you need a primer before chalk painting a furniture piece.  Take a very small amount of chalk paint and paint small area in an inconspicuous spot on your furniture piece.  Let it dry a couple hours.   If the chalk paint easily scrapes off with your finger nail, you need to use a primer before painting.  For my favorite primer, click here: Zinnser Bullseye Water-Based Primer

Budget-Friendliness of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint

A litre of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is $34.95  and the bristle brush is $22.70 with my local stockist. For the sake of comparison, we will compare the price of a quart.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is $36.93 a quart.  If you use wax, it is $21.95 for a pot and a wax brush is $41.95.  For an easier matte alternative to wax, I like: Flat Out Flat Clear Sealant

milk paint vs chalk paint


Coverage & Smoothness of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I’ve been told that Annie Sloan’s brand of chalk paint has a thicker paint consistency than others which provides for better coverage.  Unfortunately, the downside of thick paints is that they can often cause brush strokes in the finish, but brush strokes can be a good thing if you want a more antique look.

The only time I ever want brush stokes in my paint finish is when I’m doing one of my faux finishes to simulate wood grain but that’s a matter of personal preference.

Chalk-type paint is famous for it’s chalky appearance which looks so great on antique furniture.  This matte finish is really forgiving as it helps to disguise damage on furniture.  Unfortunately, matter sheens are a little less durable than shinier finishes on furniture.

Durability of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

As we mentioned above, the substance (calcium carbonate) that makes chalk paint stick well to surfaces actually makes it less durable.  In fact, if you set a cold glass on a chalk-painted surface that is not sealed, the paint will reliquify, ruining the finish and perhaps anything that comes in contact with it.

For that reason, chalk paint must have a sealant of some kind as it will not hold up well without a top coat.  Traditionally, chalk paint has always been waxed.  Unfortunately wax is also expensive and there is a learning curve in buffing it correctly with a special brush.  Fortunately, there are clear coats that are much more inexpensive and easier to apply that will mimic the matte surface and soft finish of wax.  You can read about those here:  Best Top Coats for Chalk Paint

Ease of Use and Dry Time of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Most chalk painters recommend waiting 24 hours between coats.  So, you are looking at 48 hours of dry time for two coats and a dry time of around 1 hour between the two clear coats and 24 hours after the last clear coat (or wax). 

You are looking at 73 hours from start to finish using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on a typical project.

The paint dries quickly but a chalk painted piece is only cured after 30 days leaving them susceptable to damage during that time.  At 30 days, they will reach maximum hardness and durability.  So, a piece should only be used lightly for the first month.  If you use wax, you will have to re-wax every 6 months.

Chalk Paint Technique: A 5 Step Process

To get started, tip the pot of chalk paint upside down and shake before use. Then open and stir it well. If the paint seems too thick just add a little water and stir. For the best results, they recommend using a paintbrush like the Chalk Paint Brushes to apply the paint.  You can get more tips here: Annie Sloan Tips and Techniques

If you want good results, a light sanding is key.  If you are taking more than 5 minutes to sand a piece of furniture, you are doing more than you need to: How to Sand Furniture in Less Than 5 Minutes.   Remember, you are just roughing up the surface so your piece accepts the new paint to ensure a beautiful finish for years to come!

You will most likely need two coats of paint and then you will need to buff on a wax OR you can use a clear coat but most clear coats need a couple coats for maximum durability at minimum. So, in most cases you are looking at a 5 step process:

5 Minute Sanding +1 Coat of Paint + 1 Coat of Paint + 1 Coat of Clear Coat + 1 Coat of Clear Coat = 5 Steps*

*If you use wax, it is a 4 step process but applying wax will take more effort than applying 2 coats of clear coat.  Also, if you apply wax you will have to rewax every 6 months as it is not a permanent protective finish.  See this post: Why I Rarely Use Wax to Seal Furniture  For me, wax is not a viable option for sealing paint.


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Colors

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint comes in over 40 colors that you can see here:  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Color Options.    You can also mix different colors to customize your own shade.

Where can I Buy Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint? 

To find a Annie Sloan paint stockiest, you can go here: Find an Annie Sloan Stockist Near You.

The Best Chalk Paint Recipe

For a great recipe to make your own chalk paint and save money, my friend Kim at Salvaged Inspirations has got you covered!  By making your own chalk paint, you can still get the benefits without the cost.  Check out her post here: Homemade Chalky Paint Recipe with Video Tutorial


Latex Paint: Sherwin Williams ProClassic Waterbased Acrylic – Alkyd Enamel (Their Hybrid Product)

People have been using latex paint on furniture for years and it has come a long way.  When I use the term latex paint, I am referring to water-based paints. 

In the past, alkyd or oil-based paints always worked best on furniture and cabinets in terms of durability and a smooth finish, but oil-based paints can often yellow over time and have strong paint fumes.  In other words, oil based paints are highly toxic!  Oh, and they are very flammable.

The latex paint sold in big box stores for walls is usually a latex acrylic.  That means there are mostly acrylic resins used.  I prefer these paints over chalk paint but paint that works well on a wall doesn’t always work best for furniture projects because people don’t walk on walls.  Often latex paint for walls have a lot of fillers like calcium carbonate.

There are good acrylic paints made with less fillers for furniture but an even better option came on the market in 2010 when Sherwin Williams formed a Water-based Acrylic Aklyd.

Basically, it has the positives of oil-based paints (hardness, smoothness and coverage) and the positives of  water-based paints (less VOC’s, faster dry time, easy clean-up).  It basically mimics the gorgeous finish of oil-based paint but doesn’t have the fumes.

The fact that its water-based means easy clean up with soap and water.  It dries extremely hard to the touch in only 24 hours or less.  Also, since the surface is so durable it is easy to wipe down, resists scratching and chemicals while still giving you a consistent matte appearance.

Is there such a thing as a Sherwin Williams Furniture Paint?

There isn’t technically a Sherwin Williams furniture paint, but Proclassic Interior Waterbased Acrylic Alkyd Enamel is used for cabinets, trim and doors, which is very similar in form and function.  A paint that is durable enough for wear and tear on cabinets is more than tough enough for furniture.


Adhesion and Prep Work for Sherwin Williams ProClassic

As with all surfaces, it requires sanding to scuff up the surface to accept paint.  You do need to use a primer with this product to ensure it sticks to the surface of your furniture.  For a primer, I like to use this option: Zinsser Water-Based Primer

Budget-Friendliness of Sherwin Williams ProClassic

When comparing chalk paint The price for one quart of Sherwin Williams ProClassic is $20.36 and a quart of Zinsser Bullseye is $9.56.

Coverage & Smoothness of Sherwin Williams ProClassic

This paint levels out to hide brush marks and small surface irregularies, ensuring  a smooth surface that acyrlic latex paints cannot match.  You can basically get a sprayed-on finish with a brush or roller.  I didn’t believe it until I saw the finish for myself!  It also will not yellow over time as it is water-based.

Durability of Sherwin Williams ProClassic

ProClassic forms an extremely durable surface 7 hours from the time it’s painted because it actually makes an enamel coating over the surface of the furniture piece.  It will not easily chip, scratch or dent.


the best paint for furniture makeovers


Ease of Use and Dry Time of Sherwin Williams ProClassic

Traditional acrylic latex paints (like you use on walls) can be repainted in 2 hours but don’t reach full hardness until after a 30-day cure time.  The long cure times leaves them susceptible to damage in that 30 days.

Performance paints like Sherwin Williams ProClassic have a different chemistry.   Some take 24 hours to recoat but during that time, they reach maximum hardness with no long cure time!  Fortunately, ProClassic only takes 4 hours before you can recoat!  Also, it has a cure time of only 7 days.

For a piece of furniture that takes two coats of paint, it will take 1 hour for the primer to dry and 4 hours of recoat time and 7 hours of final dry time.  A piece painted with ProClassic will only take 12 hours of dry time.

Want To See More Furniture Makeovers with Sherwin Williams ProClassic?

To see my best furniture reveals click here:  15 Stunning Painted Furniture (Before and After Reveals)

Latex Paint Technique for Furniture: A 4 Step Process

Lightly sand your furniture piece just to rough up the surface like I describe here.  Then, wipe your furniture piece down with a moist rag to remove any dust.  Then, paint on a layer of primer.  (I like to use a tinted primer on darker pieces will save me the time of an extra coat of paint.)  Wait about an hour for your primer to dry before your first coat of paint.  Paint on your first coat of paint and then wait 4 hours before you recoat with your new coat of paint.  Wait 7 hours for the final coat to dry.

Lightly Sand + Primer + 1st Coat of Paint + 2nd Coat of Paint = 4 Steps


Color Options for Sherwin Williams ProClassic

There are hundreds of color options and they also have options for custom colors if you need to match an existing color.  If you have an outdated furniture piece, Sherwin Williams has hundreds of shades of color to that work well for your home decor no matter if your style is modern farmhouse, boho or contemporary.  You can choose from in satin, semigloss and gloss.  If you want a matte finish, you can use my matte clear coats I listed in this post:  Best Clear Coats for a Soft, Matte Finish 

Where to Buy Sherwin Williams ProClassic

You can purchase Sherwin Williams ProClassic at any Sherwin Williams store.  You might have seen some Sherwin Williams products in Lowe’s but they do not carry ProClassic.  Fortunately, there are 5,000 Sherwin Williams stores nationwide and you can click here to find one near you:  Find a Sherwin Williams Near Me

Often times I will call ahead to place my order so they can have it ready.  For a furniture project, you usually only need one quart of paint.  I tell them I want “1 quart of ProClassic in x color in a satin sheen”.  Also, be sure to tell them you want the hybrid version but the technical term is “water-borne acrylic alkyd”.

General Finishes Milk Paint

Wondering why I didn’t include General Finishes Milk Paint in the milk paint section of this review?  That’s because it isn’t milk paint at all!  However, if you want to compare GF milk paint vs chalk paint, I’ve devoted an entire post to show you how this paint compares to our other three paints and you can also see how I transformed an old desk into a gorgeous vanity in General Finishes Halcyon Blue by clicking here:  General Finishes Milk Paint Review

The All-Around Best Furniture Paint: Latex Paint (Sherwin Williams ProClassic)

Sherwin Williams ProClassic Waterborne Alkyd Enamel exceeded our expectations in every category.   For a beautiful sprayed on finish with a brush or roller, ProClassic is tough to beat.  

In terms of adhesion, you do have to use a primer with ProClassic but fortunately you save a step in not having to apply a top coat or furniture wax as the finish forms an extremely tough enamel in a matter of a few hours.  It’s rare to find a product that provides not only a very durable finish that can hold up to scratches, scrapes and dents, but one that comes to full hardness in only 7 hours!

Although it has the performance characteristics of an oil-based furniture paint, Sherwin Williams ProClassic is waterborne meaning that it has very low VOC’s and easy soap and water clean up.

I’ve learned the hard way that there is no true economy in cheap paint.   Buy the best-quality paint you can afford.But ironically, ProClassic was the cheapest of the options with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint coming in second.

Want to see how General Finishes Milk Paint compares against chalk paint, milk paint and latex?  Click here:  General Finishes Milk Paint Review

Furniture Painting Tips to Save Time and Money

When it comes to painting furniture, I’ve learned several tricks the hard way.  Hopefully, my mistakes will save you some time and money the next time you paint a furniture and you can apply the same tips to other home improvement projects.  Click here: Must-Have Furniture Painting Tips


Miss Mustard Seed Milk paint vs Chalk Paint 

When it comes to comparing Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint, it’s important to ask yourself what you want the final product to look like.  If you want different layers to accent vintage furniture with chippy accents, Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint is the way to go.


Best Paint for Antique Furniture with a Distressed Look

If you need a good paint for antique furniture with controlled distressing, chalk paint is a good option.  With chalk paint, you can sand to distresses in a fine powder unlike latex that can sometimes distress in pieces.  You can also control where you want the paint to distress unlike Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint which can be unpredictable.

Best Paint for Unfinished Furniture

Milk Paint, Chalk Paint and Latex Paint all adhere really well on unfinished furniture.  You might need to lighly sand the piece if it is really smooth but for an unfinished piece with no cleaning products on the surface, you will have no problem using all three paints without a primer.

Best Clear Coat for Painted Furniture

Whether you use chalk paint, milk paint or regular paint, you cannot go wrong with using a brush-on clear coat to protect your furniture piece’s finish.  Different pieces get varying amounts of use.  On furniture pieces like kitchen tables and coffee tables that get a lot of finish, it’s a good idea to use a clear coat to retain your beautiful paint finish.  You can see how I tested different clear coats and why I like them better than wax or hemp oil here: The Best Cleat Coats for Furniture

For chalk painted piece, you always need a protective finish so the chalk paint doesn’t reliquifiy when a wet glass is set on it. The good news is that using a clear coat on chalk-painted furniture is so much easier than waxing and does a much better job of keeping out moisture.  Also, the finished product is more durable than if you had used wax.

So What’s The Best Paint for Furniture?

For a previously painted piece, all three of these paints will work well but I prefer latex paint specifically Sherwin Williams Proclassic Hybrid.  For best results, use a primer.  I like to buy tinted primer so that it saves me a step of an extra coat of paint.  The tinted primer gives great coverage and often removes a step by replacing a coat of paint. For my full process on painting furniture with latex paint, click here: The Ultimate Guide on How to Paint Furniture for Beginners

Chalk Paint vs Regular Paint (Latex)

As I wrote recently in my post A Better Alternative to Chalk Paint, I prefer latex paint over chalk and milk paint for most furniture pieces. You have so many more color options, the paint is more durable, lasts longer, there are fewer brush strokes and so much more cheaper. I also share why the process is just as easy as chalk paint here: Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture

Chalk Paint vs Milk Paint

A common question I get is “what’s the difference between milk paint and chalk paint?” Milk paint has to be mixed and acts more like a stain which penetrates the surface of the wood. Chalk paint sits on the surface. Both give a matte finish and can be easily distressed. But milk paint has interacts more with the wood’s surface so it can have a more uneven sheen which is really pretty if that’s the look you are going for. If you want more predictability, go with chalk paint but chalk paint always needs a protective coat whether it’s wax or a clear coat.

For my project gallery of painted furniture pieces, click here:

Painted Furniture Ideas: Before and After

The Best Paint for Furniture, YouTube Video

Here’s a video so you can see the comparison and some helpful tips for using these three paints.

FAQ’s:  What’s the Best Way to Paint Furniture?

How much does chalk paint cost?

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is $37.99 a liter.  (1 liter = 1.05 quarts)  Cheaper chalk paints include homemade chalk paint or you can get some of the newer versions on the market like Rustoleum chalk paint that has the same finish but not the cost. You can find a recipe for homemade milk paint here:  Easy Homemade Milk Paint Recipe

What is the best paintbrush for a smooth surface?

This is one of the most common questions I get about furniture painting. When you want a smooth, flawless surface without brush strokes, I recommend the Zibra brush.  Not only does it hold a lot of paint so you don’t have to keep dipping into your can but it also shows virtually no brush marks.  You can check the current price here:  Zibra Brush

Can you use milk paint for kitchen cabinets? 

I suppose you can but I wouldn’t recommend it because milk paints aren’t durable enough for the everyday wear and tear of cabinets.  Not only would it be cost prohibitive to milk paint cabinets but you would definitely need to add the bonding agent and a good top coat to seal in the milk paint.  It’s definitely doable if you have a certain look you want to achieve but if you want a consistent color milk paint on cabinets is NOT for you.   The best milk paint for cabinets would actually be General Finishes Milk Paint which isn’t actually milk paint at all.  

Should I use milk paint or chalk paint for cabinets?

When it comes to painting kitchen cabinets, chalk paint and milk paint don’t have the durability you want for cabinets.  Also, they would both be extremely expensive.  See the question above.   ProClassic is actually made for cabinets, giving you a super durable finish with much less work and cost. 

Can you use milk paint on top of chalk paint?

If you want a chippy, distressed finish with layers, you can brush milk paint on top of chalk paint and it will give you a vintage, old world look.  If you don’t want a chippy look, you need to lightly sand the chalk painted surface and then use the Miss Mustard Seed Bonding Agent with the Milk Paint.  You would do the same if you were applying milk paint over stain.

Chalk Paint vs Chalkboard Paint

Chalk paint can sometimes be confused with chalkboard paint.  Chalkboard paint is black paint used exclusively to change surfaces into a writing surface for chalk.

What is Fusion Mineral Paint?

Fusion Mineral paint is a mineral based paint made with acrylic resin.  It has no VOC’s and is said to adhere well to surfaces.  I would recommend still adding a topcoat and the cost is similar to chalk paint except on metallic accents.  You can read more about it here:  Fusion Paint Products

What are the safest interior paints for home use?

Chalk paint has low VOC’s and milk paint has no VOC’s. Chalk paint vs regular paint is generally lower in evaporative chemicals. But each line of latex paints whether Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams or Behr, comes with a no-VOC option.

Is it possible to use chalk paint to paint brick surfaces?

You can use chalk paint on brick but a cheaper alternative is latex paint. Brick absorbs a lot of paint so cost is definitely a factor. You can see how I whitewashed our entire fireplace in white latex here: The Easy Way to Whitewash A Brick Fireplace

Picking the Right Furniture Paint: Related Posts

Must-Have Painting Tips for Your Next Paint Project

The Best Furniture Paint (24 Brands Tested and Reviewed)

Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint For Furniture

Best Tips for Spray Painting Anything

How To Transform a Chandelier Into A Hummingbird Feeder

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric

How to Paint Table Legs The Easy Way

The Best Clear Coats for Furniture, 2019

General Finishes Milk Paint Review

How to Paint IKEA Furniture the Right Way

How to Fix Damaged Wood Furniture

Final thoughts on Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint vs Latex

We have covered a lot of information on which is better: milk paint vs chalk paint vs latex.  Whether you are new to furniture painting or a pro, selling gorgeous pieces online, your time is valuable so pick the best paint for your project!  You can’t go wrong with Sherwin Williams ProClassic for a perfectly smooth rock-hard finish.  Also try Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint if you like a more artistic, rustic feel to your furniture makeovers.  Each of these paints will yield different results, so pick the piece that works best for your tastes, time and budget!


milk paint vs chalk paint

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Chalk Paint vs Milk Paint vs Latex:  Reviews and Comparisons


  1. Hello,
    I just painted a sideboard and chairs. I used SW pro classic hybrid and the floetrol as suggested on you posts and tip sheet. So far the paint has not gone on very smooth and feels like any other latex paint after drying, sticky and easy to peal. I’m at a loss. What should I do?

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that Kathryn. Usually smoothness and peeling have to do with surface prep. Were you able to sand and prime? Also, most paints take a couple weeks to completely harden so you might let it sit a couple weeks. Please let me know if you have any other questions! – Karin

  2. Hi there… Thanks for this post! I’m with you. I’ve painted cabinets and other furniture pieces with latex in the past and then jumped on the chalk paint train but my chalk painted items aren’t holding up to our family living. So, I’m going back. 😉 I’m about to paint some mahogany antique chairs to white but I’d still really like to distress them some to show off some of their original design. Can I still do this with SW ProClassic Alkyd latex paint?

    1. Hey Jen, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to distress Proclassis Alkyd. You might paint a block of wood and try sanding it just to make sure. I like to use those soft sanding sponges for distressing. I hope this helps! – Karin

  3. Hi! What latex paint do you recomend as an alternative to sherwinn willaims pro classic, It is not for sale where I live. Thank you!

  4. Loved this post. It helped me so much! I am painting dining room chairs and the base/legs or a nice wooden dining table in a black color. I was planning to use the Sherwin Williams you recommended, but it does not offer black (per the website). The Behr Marquee does though, so I can plan to use that. Should I use the topcoat you recommended if using the Behr product? What is the cure time for the Behr paint?

    1. Hey Jessica, I forgot to mention that sometimes for really dark colors Sherwin Williams defers to their Emerald line. It might not say on the website but they can mix whatever color on the website. The Emerald line is really good but it is more expensive. I also like Behr Marquee. If you are painting on the Behr Marquee – that’s a really good paint and I wouldn’t worry about a clear coat. If you do want to clear coat it, be sure to test it on the black in an inconspicuous area just be safe. Let me know if you have any more questions Jessica! Blessings, Karin

  5. I want to apply a slight antique finish to my piece. How would I do that after your recommended SW Pro Classic paint process? Dark wax? Stain? Thank you.

  6. Hello Karin,
    I am a novice at painting furniture, so I am asking you for help. I am trying to send you a picture of the dinning set that we are looking to paint. This dinning set has been with us for over 30 years and is Amish made oak. No verniers, strictly wood. I would like your E-Mail address to send you my pictures of what I am projected to paint.

  7. I have an old
    Kitchen table that was previously painted and is now peeling. I want to repaint it. And after reading your post the SW Pro Classic paint seems best . I would be using this as a kitchen table . Should I apply a topcoat?

  8. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so much for your informative post! I am planning my first thrift flip project and was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information, paint brands, products, methods, etc. So your post was exactly what I needed to figure out the direction I want to go! My one grievance is I was directed to this post from your Benjamin Moor Hale Navy blog post, where you stated you prefer SW over BM, find out why here. However, I did not see this discussion. Has the content been removed, or moved to another post? I really am interested in knowing why because many other bloggers are pulling me towards BM Advanced, whereas there are an equal amount of bloggers that have experienced issues with the paint (tacky/never cures).

    I would greatly appreciate your take on the topic.

    Thanks again!

    1. Great question! I haven’t had any problems with the SW product and have used it several times. I’m not as familiar with the BM product but I hear they are very similar. I wouldn’t have any hesitation in trying it if you want to go that route. I think I’m going to do a post where I text latex paints for furniture, now that you mention it. Let me know if you have any other questions! – Karin

      1. Thank you so much! I’ll go ahead and try it out then. And I’ll definitely keep an eye out for your next post testing latex paints! That would be brilliant!

  9. I heard that tannins can bleed through zinsser 123 from wood but zinsser bin they cannot. Do you ever recommend bin for certain projects?

    1. It doesn’t happen often but it can. Nothing will bleed through Zinsser BIN but ironically, it doesn’t cover well and the fumes are extremely strong. A good middle option is Zinsser Cover Stain. There are some fumes but they aren’t bad. It doesn’t settle as well as the Bullseye 123 so you might need to sand a little after it drives BUT it does cover a little better! Let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂

  10. What do you recommend i prime and paint a new solid beech oiled wood tabletop with for durability. I want white satin finish.

  11. Do I need to sand between the primer and latex paint? And will I need to sand after the first coat of paint, also? Thanks!!!!!

  12. So, so helpful!!! Thank you! I watched the video and read the post. You may have mentioned this, but I probably missed it. Do I need to put any poly or sealer on furniture after using Sherwin Williams ProClassic? I plan to paint a dresser and dining room table. Thanks!

  13. Hi, love your video’s. They are very helpful. I’m going to paint a tv cabinet my husband made. I like the idea of using latex paint. Would distressing the edges work when using latex?

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment. I haven’t honestly done a lot of distressing but I feel like the Sherwin Williams distresses a lot like chalk paint. You can always paint a piece of wood and try distressing it after it dries. I would use a sandpaper with fine grit. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  14. Hi! Unfortunately SW ProClassic doesn’t offer a deep base, so the dresser I want to paint navy (a SW color, ironically) isn’t available in that paint. Do you have a suggestion for the next best option for deep/dark furniture paint? Thank you!

  15. Love your black dresser makeover. Did you use the Sherwin Williams paint for that and what is the shade of black you used? Also, is it a satin finish? So many black shades to choose from!

    1. Hi Barbara,
      I actually used Behr Marquee for that dresser and I can’t remember exactly which black I used but it was a satin. Thank you so much for stopping by!


  16. Thank you so much for this extremely informative and helpful post.
    I have a couple of questions: Do you ever have any bleed through issues with any of your furniture projects? Also, you really have me thinking about switching to Sherwin Williams Pro classic. I’m wondering if it’s possible to use a glaze over it. I would think so, but I’m interested in what you have to say, since you’ve actually used it. I appreciate your help, thank you..

    1. I haven’t had any bleed-through issues but if you are you can use Zinsser Cover Stain. It’s a little more heavy-duty but does have a little bit of an odor because it is water-based. And yes, you can use a glaze over the ProClassic. Thanks for your great questions Jill!

  17. Karin, I keep coming back and reading this post because it is so full of useful information. I want to try MMS milk paint but so worried that it won’t turn out nice. I think with these detailed instructions that I will give it a try. Your video is well-done and helpful too. Thanks for the valuable information.

  18. You have mentioned several brands of paint on your blog: Valspar and Sherwin Williams from Lowe’s, Behr Premium Plus Ultra from Home Depot, and Sherwin Williams ProClassic. Which one do you think is the best? Can you compare those as far as coverage, leaving brush marks and durability? Thank you, love all the great information and encouragement on your website.

    1. Great question Linda! Behr is a good paint and what I have always used. More recently I have come across Sherwin Williams ProClassic which I probably prefer over the Behr. I feel like I am betraying Behr paint by saying this but I would say the ProClassic does better in terms of coverage and durability. Thanks and let me know if you have any other questions!

      1. Thanks Karin. How does the Sherwin Williams compare to General Finishes Milk Paint? Would love to see that included in your comparison!

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