A Tale of Two Chairs: How I Learned The Hard Way How To Make Real Milk Paint Look Wonderful

 

ray red chairRemember my chair from last week?

The one my friend Ray gave me to paint, but I didn’t follow instructions and the paint flaked off completely?

Sometimes your failures—in painting and in life—can be useful learning experiences. I did learn a lot about Real Milk Paint, the line of non-toxic, eco-friendly milk paint we are now carrying at our shop, All Things New Again in Leesburg, VA.

IMG_1581I can’t wait to show you the new chair I painted this week—the one where I followed the instructions and it looks beautiful! But first, I wanted to show you how my dad helped me fix this red chair by turning it into a pretty planter for my yard. That was the original plan anyway and I do love how it turned out in the end—flaws and all.

ray red chair_final1

This chair looks great from my deck! Just don’t get too close or you will see where I patched over the paint that flaked off.

Now here’s the chair I painted this week. I am IN LOVE with this color called Aqua from Real Milk Paint Co.

ray blue chair_final1From this distance, both chairs look about the same. It’s the close-up shot that shows the difference.

ray blue chair_closeup

Smoooooooooooth as silk without a single flake to be found!

Big difference from the close-up of the red chair above, isn’t it?

Here’s what I did differently this time.

First, I recognized that the chair had a super-slick, factory finish that was more than likely oil-based plus it probably had furniture polish on it to keep the wood looking shiny. This is a BIG CLUE that milk paint will flake. I understood this last week. In fact, I WANTED the paint to chip to give me that great vintage, chippy look. What I didn’t understand was HOW BADLY it would chip and that, in the end, it wouldn’t look vintage. It would just flake off completely and look ugly.

An oil-based finish isn’t a deal-breaker, but it does require better preparation than I did on the red chair (which was basically no preparation!) For the blue chair, I cleaned it really well with TSP and then I sanded it. You don’t have to get it down to bare wood, but you do need to scuff it up a bit to help the paint stick better. I used my little mouse sander, which is one of my favorite tools. It is light-weight enough to hold in one hand and has a tip shaped like an iron to help you get into tight spots.

Ultra_Bond-All_large

Photo courtesy of Real Milk Paint Co.

Finally, I used Real Milk Paint Company’s Ultra-Bond, an adhesion promoter you add to the paint to help it stick better. No flakes!

Ultra-Bond is recommended for any non-porous surface such as polyurethane, varnish and shellac as well as surfaces previously painted with either milk paint or latex paint. It is also recommended if you are painting glass, metal or some plastics. It is non-toxic and releases no harmful VOC’s. I mixed it into the paint right there at my kitchen sink.

I thought it would be a pain to do all of this extra work to prepare my piece for painting. Uh…no! The cleaning and sanding took about 20  minutes. Adding Ultra-Bond took about two seconds. Time well spent for an excellent end result!

aqua chair_closeup1That’s not chipping, silly! After the paint dried, I came back and distressed the chair for a vintage look. Did I mention how nicely Real Milk Paint distresses? Also, I think the lighting in this photo shows the Aqua blue color truest to how it looks in real life. I do love this color!

ray blue chair_unicorn spit closeupThe reason Ray gave me the chairs was because they randomly started breaking when people sat on them. I didn’t want to leave the upholstered seats on because I didn’t want anybody sitting down and getting hurt. The shape of the chairs made them too pretty to throw away. That’s why I made them into garden chairs to add a fun pop of color to the yard for summertime.

Take a closer look at the seats to both chairs.

ray red chair_unicorn spit closeup We have been having SO MUCH FUN testing out a brand-new product called Unicorn Spit, a non-toxic, water-based, vibrantly-colored gel stain.

unicorn spit logoThere are SO MANY really creative, beautiful things you can do with Unicorn Spit. Unlike stains loaded with harmful chemicals, Unicorn Spit is safe to use indoors. You can even dip your fingers right into it and fingerpaint like a little kid. (I haven’t done that in years, but boy, was it fun!)

We love Unicorn Spit so much that we are now carrying it at All Things New Again. We are always on the look-out for amazing new products to bring to the shop and we are excited to be one of the first stores in the country to be selling it. We have been practicing different techniques and creating wonderful looks. Our practice boards were so pretty, we didn’t want to throw them away so we used them for the garden chair seats. We will have a lot more photos and information about Unicorn Spit in next week’s All Things New Again Blog.

We can’t wait to share it with you!

~ Courtney

 

 

 

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