I had never heard of Milk Paint Powder until I started looking for products to sell in our shop, Chalk & Cheese Paint and Décor in Strand, South Africa. There are plenty of local brands of chalk paint to choose from and, as a product, it is fairly widely used. The reason why few people know about Milk Paint soon became clear- no one was making it in South Africa anymore and therefore there was no marketing of the product. Milk Paint Powder is widely used overseas but our deteriorating exchange rate made those overseas products very expensive to import to RSA.
The reason why Milk Paint Powder dropped off our local radar is interesting. Prior to 2005 Milk Paint Powder was manufactured in South Africa. It was even exported to the USA by The Original Milk Paint Company. Then two significant events happened. 911 in 2001 resulted in long delays of consignments of powdered products into the USA which ended up terminating that export market. Then there was a local shortage of the key ingredient, namely skimmed milk powder. This resulted in the decision to close down the local production facility.
Fast forward to 2016. Enquiries led to our purchasing the recipes and equipment from the original local owners who had since branched off into furniture design and manufacturing. New branding and new factory space birthed Milk Paint Powder by Chalk & Cheese. It was not all plain sailing though. It soon became clear that the years of not being sold in South Africa had taken its toll on public awareness of what wonderful uses this painting medium has.
If it were invented today it would be hailed as a zero VOC eco-friendly, non-toxic miracle paint. The real miracle is that Milk Paint has been around for centuries! That’s how the Egyptians painted their temples and tombs. That’s how the American settlers painted their homesteads and furniture. The combination of casein from milk and natural pigments and elements combine to form a “Paint” that doesn’t peel or flake and that is colourfast. When painted on a porous surface it literally leaves a coating that stains instead of just a film that other paints have.
Fast forward again to modern times. Why use a product that has seemingly become overtaken by modern acrylic and voc paint products such as PVA’s, enamels and to some extent chalk paints?
11 good reasons to use milk paint:
- Long shelf life – powder form lasts indefinitely if stored properly.
- Environmentally friendly. Unlike other water-based products, what is washed down the sink is totally organic and safe.
- Long lasting – it will not fade or flake or peel.
- Easy to use – just mix the quantity you need with warm water, let it stand for a while and then start painting. Unused mixed paint can be stored for a day or so and then for a few more days in the fridge.
- Good looking finish – on new timber you can choose whether to enhance the grain by diluting the Powder with water or hide the grain.
- Hard finish – once cured the finish is iron hard.
- Surfaces can be sealed to create water and heat resistance using natural products such as oils or waxes or coated with other proprietary sealers.
- Can be used on any porous surface such as wood, lightly sanded prepainted wood, primed surfaces, newly plastered walls, concrete surfaces, drywalling ( no need for primer).
- Bonding liquid can be added to create a paint that will bond to smoother surfaces and still result in the unique chalk like appearance of milk paint.
- Coverage – you have complete control. Anything from 9m2 a litre depending on the surface and what effect you want.
- Cost – very economical. Especially when you consider that you won’t be throwing away tins or bottles of stale paint.