rays chairs_beforeI love my friend Ray.

He sticks by me no matter what and always makes me laugh. (Always!)

When Ray’s brand-new dining room chairs started randomly breaking as people sat on them, he could have thrown them away … but instead he gave them to meeeeeee!

That’s a true friend!

Now a set of busted chairs may not seem like a great present to everybody, but I love them! They aren’t fit for sitting, but they are perfect to paint a pretty color, turn into a planter, and put out in the yard for summertime.

They are also perfect for testing out the beautiful colors from Real Milk Paint Company, an environmentally-friendly, non-toxic line of milk paint we are now carrying at our shop, All Things New Again in Leesburg, VA.

Milk paint comes in a powder and is mixed with water in a 1:1 ratio. Basically, you add one scoop of paint powder to your container, then fill the same scoop up with water and shake it up. That’s all there is to it. Here’s a new video from Real Milk Paint Company founder Dwayne Siever demonstrating exactly how to mix a batch of Real Milk Paint.

THAT WAS EASY! I mixed up a bright beautiful color called Flag Red and started painting. The chair looked great!

ray red chair

As the paint dried, it started chipping.

Awesome chippiness!

One of the nice features of milk paint is that it will give you an awesome chippy look when applied on the right surface …

… but if you don’t prep your surface properly—and I didn’t—all that wonderful chippy will come completely off and your project will look like this:

Oh no!

How To Prep Furniture So Milk Paint SticksHere’s what I did WRONG

(I’m sharing here so you don’t make the same mistakes as I did. I want your projects to turn out beautiful the first time!)

1. Real Milk Paint sticks nicely to many surfaces. However, it will not stick to an oil-based finish such as stains, varnish, polyurethanes … and the super-shiny, super-slick factory finish on Ray’s chairs.

I knew it would chip when I applied it, but I wanted it to look chippy and old so I thought it would be OK to just start painting. It wasn’t. This chair chipped way too much and the paint ended up just coming off completely with the slightest touch. A shiny, slick surface is not a deal-breaker for using milk paint, but it does need extra preparation in order for the milk paint to adhere to it.

2. I didn’t clean the chair properly.

IMG_1650Wiping off the cobwebs from my garage with a damp cloth does not count as “properly cleaning” a piece of furniture. It needs to be scrubbed. If it has any sort of furniture polish or wax finish, it needs to be scrubbed with a degreaser.

Real Milk Paint recommends cleaning furniture with TSP. That stands for trisodium phospate, which can be found in the paint section at the hardware store. Just mix it with warm water and scrub really well. Be sure to wear rubber gloves because it may irritate your skin, but it will get all the gunk off your piece and help the paint stick better.

3. I didn’t sand the chair.

You don’t need to sand it down to bare wood, but a “scuff sanding” is recommended. You can use a sanding block and a little elbow grease or hit it quickly with a sander.

4. I didn’t add UltraBond to the paint.

Photo courtesy of Real Milk Paint Company

UltraBond is another product from Real Milk Paint Company that we carry at All Things New Again. It is a no-odor, water-based “adhesion promotor.” In other words, it makes your paint stick!

(Bonus: It is non-toxic and contains no harmful VOC’s.)

After mixing your paint, add some UltraBond to it. A 1:3 ratio of UltraBond to paint is recommended. The UltraBond will help the paint adhere better to slick surfaces and prevent the paint from flaking off.

UltraBond is also recommended if you want a smooth finish for your project without any chipping. Again, I was going for a chippy look so I didn’t think the UltraBond was needed, but because these chairs were so shiny and slick, I should have just started with the UltraBond.

I probably made a few other mistakes, but those are the biggies!

So what about my red chair?

I sanded off the flaking sections of paint on my chair, mixed a new batch of Flag Red and added UltraBond to it. I tried to just paint over the bare spots hoping the new paint/UltraBond mixture would stick. It did. Mostly. But I don’t think it looks good. You can see the chunks where the first batch chipped off.

I’m not going to lie to you. It looks way too crappy to sell at the shop.

(Again, I’m sharing here so you understand how these products work and don’t get frustrated with your projects.)

I decided to keep this red chair for my yard because I love the color and it matches my backyard lounge chairs. It isn’t perfect when you see it up close. However, from my kitchen window or the deck, I think it will still look great—especially after I build the seat and add a pretty pot of flowers to it.

I ran out of time to get the whole project finished this week … so stay tuned next week for my finished red chair plus a few other chairs I plan to paint with Real Milk Paint.

I promise to prep them properly so they look great the first time I paint them!

~ Courtney

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