Is Milk Paint or Chalk Paint Better for Kitchen Cabinets?

Is milk paint or chalk paint better for kitchen cabinets?

Is Milk Paint or Chalk Paint Better for Kitchen Cabinets

Your kitchen cabinet deserves the best. Since there are many variations of chalk, chalky, or chalked paint (including some DIY Chalk Paint), what is the best chalk paint? Much more importantly, is milk paint or chalk paint better for your kitchen cabinets? You will get to know the perfect answer as you read on.

You step into your kitchen and take a look at your cabinet, them at first, it seems good to your eyes but when you take a keener look at them, there are dents and smudges on the surfaces or corners probably left there by your playful toddler.

Then it hits you that the existing coating on the cabinet has worn off exposing the wood which might just make it vulnerable to wood pest attack. When this happens, know that it is time for a makeover. Let us talk about what paint would be better and what you should use for the cabinet, shall we? Let’s go!

I am sure that you are aware that paints make surfaces colorful and beautiful, let me also add that paints also serve a protective function to whatever surfaces they are being applied on while also being made from materials that repel dust, moisture, insects and are ecofriendly. Milk paint and chalk paint are quite good in their own way in terms of coverage, durability, attractiveness, ease of use, and affordability, but is one better than the other? Find that out.

Top Picks

Check Price On Amazon

Check Price On Amazon


Painting isn’t difficult and doesn’t need any specialized training, it is a do it yourself a skill that you ought to know and learn. All you need is a little patience, practice, and some trial and error.

When looking for paint for your mastered do it yourself skill and you want to paint your kitchen cabinet, you should consider two options of paint which are chalk paint and milk paint. In most cases, the two paints perform similar functions, and this makes it hard to choose the best between them.

Therefore, to properly use them, you have to understand their properties and performance. For an educated decision between the two options, here’s what to know about chalk paint vs milk paint.

What are the similarities between chalk paint and milk paint?

Milk paint and chalk paint are both decorative finishes for furniture equipment including your kitchen cabinet, doors, and windows and they can seem quite similar. They can have a matte texture when used and are valued because of this.

Unlike other kinds of paints, chalk and milk paint are almost odorless when they are used on the surface, emit low volatile organic compounds and dry very fast.

This is because they are both made from mineral matter such as calcium carbonate (chalk) as the main material, umber, iron oxide with the presence of a milk protein as the main difference between milk paint and chalk paint.

Chalk paint owing to its mineral properties has no smell unlike other oil or latex-based paint that are from hydrocarbon or organic-based materials. Milk paint has a faint smell due to its casein content but it doesn’t last for long on application.


What are the differences between chalk paint and milk paint?

Milk paint

Being one of the oldest kinds of paint on earth, milk paint derives its name from its main ingredient which is milk casein. It also contains calcium carbonate (limestone) as the base constituent and other ingredients as well.  

Milk paint usually comes in an anhydrous or powdered form and you are expected to mix with water before you can use it. In most cases, the final paint mixture is lighter consistently. Considering how it is and how it is prepared, the paint is cheaper than chalk paint. Since it makes a thin coat on the application, you may be required to make several layers if you want a thick finish. The beautiful thing about it is that it works on a wide range of surfaces even for walls and ceilings.

For your kitchen cabinet, you would want something eco-friendly and naturally non-toxic in case you want to store a perishable food item before consumption, milk paint suits just that. It naturally helps you create your own unique set of decorative finishes including color and texture which you can decide with the availability of different pigments.

However, milk paint’s consistency tends to make it lumpy, so it needs to be mixed by a machine or power rather than stirring with your hand if you want a good and even finish. It is always best when milk paint is mixed up fresh. This adds an extra step to the painting process and this is due to the fact that it contains an organic ingredient.

Most milk paints contain additives that extend the shelf life for about 2 weeks though refrigerating can help prolong this. So, milk paint can’t be stored for a long time, however, milk paint is known to give a natural antique look to your farmhouse or kitchen cabinet over time.


  • You can paint different layers to achieve a unique custom finish.
  • It is eco-friendly as the ingredients are non-toxic and odor-free.
  • The finish is always clear after waxing.
  • You can dispose of it anywhere since it is biodegradable and non-toxic
  • You have the ability to create unique colors
  • The matte finish has a native sheen
  • You can create an antique look


  • It needs power mixing over hand mixing because of lumpy consistency
  • It must be mixed when fresh
  • It has a short shelf life and can’t be stored for longer
  • The paint goes bad over time when exposed to moisture and air (biodegradable).
  • The powdered form of the paint cracks over time unless you apply a bonding agent.
  • The brush strokes may show since the coats are thinner.



Chalk paint

Unlike milk paint, chalk paint is thick and derives its name from its characteristic chalk-like appearance that gives surfaces an old matte antique look. The ingredients of this type of paint include calcium carbonate (limestone), chalk pigments, and talc but you can get a do it yourself recipe with other ingredients as well. It was initially created by Annie Sloan in 1990, but other brands have appeared in the market as well.

Chalk paint comes in a mixed liquid form, it only needs to be hand-stirred prior to use and wouldn’t require power. It can sometimes require a bit of preparation work for the surface it is going to be applied in the form of sanding or cleaning. While it is often thought of as an antiquing finish, it can also be used to create a modern, smooth texture by sanding down multiple layers with a fine-grit sandpaper. Chalk paint due to its inorganic nature is completely odor-free, and most chalk paints will be completely dry to touch within an hour or even less.

If you want to see and feel the underlying texture, the high build of chalk paint can be an issue. If this is the case, thin out the chalk paint. While chalk paint does tend to come in brilliant attractive colors, it is usually not possible to use custom colors. If you wish to make your own custom color, you will need to mix one chalk paint with another rather than mixing dry pigments. This may be expensive.

The paint is known to have a fast-gripping action due to its thickness. When applied, chalk paint looks similar to an acrylic coat. The paint comes ready to use, so you are not expected to do any mixing. For this reason, chalk paint is more expensive than milk paint. There are many brilliant decorative colors of chalk paint and they all dry faster than any other paint.


  • Only requires hand-mixing before use
  • Can create a smooth and modern texture
  • It is odor-free
  • Dries within an hour or less
  • It is easy to apply since it comes mixed and ready to use.
  • Gives a strong adhesion on furniture surfaces.
  • It doesn’t reveal the brush strokes, unlike milk paint.
  • You don’t need a lot of layers since the paint gives you a thick finish.
  • It doesn’t need priming or a primer.
  • The paint has a longer shelf-life as it stands weather elements.
  • You can mix different colors to achieve a customized finish.


  • Higher build leads to an inability to feel the underlying texture
  • It is usually possible to customize colors
  • Some brands are unfriendly to the environment due to some toxic ingredients.
  • Requires a top coat (wax or varnish) to hold up well.
  • It is costlier than milk paint.
  • The paint cracks over time unless you apply a top wax or varnish coat.

Which of the paints should you use for your kitchen cabinets?

As mentioned earlier, the two paints are similar in performance, so most people who do the painting by themselves may confuse their application one for the other. These two paints are fast drying and odor-free which is a shared trait between both of them.  They are well suited for painting your kitchen cabinets if you want. In some cases, you can mix different shades of type of color to produce customized kitchen cabinet colors and textures.

Milk paint produces a thin coat and would require more application to produce a thicker coat compared to chalk paint that can produce a thick coat on application. This is one of the differences between both paints.

So, if you are planning to apply paint on fresh or newly made kitchen cabinets, chalk paint would be the most preferable. You are going to need another top coating of wax or varnish for the paint to hold so it won’t crack over time. You can easily apply chalk paint because it comes mixed and ready for use. Considering that chalk paint has a firm grip on wood surfaces, you don’t need a bonding agent like in the case of milk paint.

However, if you are planning to paint a kitchen cabinet surface that already has a primary coat, you can use milk paint. The paint is lighter, sticks, and is not prone to cracking when mixed with a bonding agent. For a long-lasting finish, when using any of the paints, you should seal the painted surfaces with wax or varnish as soon as the coat dries. This will not only make the surface splash or waterproof, but it will also make the finish to shine and appear glittery and attractive.

The suitability of the two paints generally depends on your taste and needs. So, if you are looking for paint to use on your antique furniture and other wooden surfaces, milk paint will do. The paint is cheaper in price, and you can do the mixing by yourself.

However, if you are looking for paint that can work on any surface, chalk paint is your best choice. Though it cost more than milk paint, the paint will give you a thick coat, and will not reveal the brush strokes or the texture of the painted surface.

Each of these paints comes with a scenario in which one is needed over the other and not in any way better than the other. It is only the situation that dictates what you should use. However, most people would prefer chalk paint because of its application on any surfaces as well as not needing a primer (which is one of the pros that was stated).

It also depends on you and your needs for your kitchen cabinet. You have to read and understand everything here to make your best choice. Whichever one you think is better through this analysis is solely up to you.


You must have learned what the best paint for kitchen cabinets is. You must have also known that chalk paint is easy to use and at the same time aesthetically appealing. It is quite a choice for beginners and it can hide ‘a multitude of sins’. Go get yours now!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.