Shaken or Stirred? Mixing Milk Paint


Seriously – 6 months is how long its been since posting here, 6 months people!  Its a good thing for facebook!  I just find FB so much easier these days to check in and keep everyone updated.  And my how 6 months has flown right on by!  Our Sweet Pickins Milk Paint line is doing amazing and keeping me so busy.  In fact its so busy that ive now had to schedule (and stick with it) days to work on the computer instead of out painting (i would much rather be painting though!) – and part of this new schedule i am making for myself includes getting back to this blog and posting regularly again :)


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Anyways – lets have a chat about mixing up milk paint.  I find that this is one of the things that intimidates people the most about using milk paint.  But the fact that it comes in a powder form shouldn’t scare you!  In fact, having the paint come in a powder that you can control should make it even easier since you get to determine the consistency you want your paint and everyone likes theirs a little different.

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With using the paint everyday, i try new things and like to experiment with it – one of those things lately with being how i mix it.


The 1st, most common way to mix the paint is by adding water to the powder and stirring.   OR i have seen it done by adding powder to water and then stirring (i personally find the 2nd way easier but try both and see what works for you).  Either way – the key here is stirring!   You cant skimp on the stirring!

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– Using hot tap water, add equal parts water (so the same amount you will do for the powder) to the cup.   I find that the hot tap water helps the clumps dissolve the best.

– Measure out the amount of paint that you want to mix up and add that to the water.  I don’t recommend mixing up your entire package of paint at once unless you know that you are going to use it all.  I normally start out with mixing up about 1/4 of the bag.

 – Stir, stir, and stir some more!!!   You can mix it up with a stir stick, spoon, whisk, etc.   I personally like using a stir stick or a whisk as it has a flat bottom and i can scrape the powder from the bottom of the jar.  To really get the paint mixed and a smooth consistency, you should stir for about a minute to a minute and half to get out most of the clumps.  I do find that the whites always tend to be a bit more clumpy and are a little harder to mix smooth than the colors.  But don’t be worried about small clumps in your paint, those normally flatten out when you brush on the paint and when you sand your piece smooth in the final steps.

 – Some people like to add just a small amount of water to begin with and work the paint into a paste and then add more water.  I normally don’t do it like this, but give it a try and you may like it.

-After i have mixed the paint together with a paint stick or whisk, i like to blend it with an immersion blender to make it really smooth!  I just use an inexpensive one from Amazon ($20) and its been great.  Just be sure not to incorporate too much air with the blender by not moving it up and down too much.

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 – The consistency i can best describe that you want your milk paint is that of a half melted milk shake.  You never want your paint to be so thin that you have runs and drips everywhere, and you definitely don’t want it so thick that its hard to paint smoothly with.  If your paint brush is dragging at all, then you have it too thick.  You can control how you want your paint to be, so if you like thinner paint, then by all means make it thinner!  I often go a little thicker on the 1st coat and then thinner on the 2nd.

 – The instructions call for equal parts water to powder and i find this correct in most cases.  But keep in mind, that as your paint sits it does thicken up.  Often i find that i have to add a very small amount of water during painting to get the paint back to the right consistency.   The paint also does tend to start settling to the bottom of the cup and begin clumping as it sits.  Again, i find that this is only with certain colors, especially the lighter ones and it doesn’t always happen.  Just remember, that you must stir the paint throughout using it to keep it smooth.   I normally just keep my stir stick in the paint jar so i remember to stir it.  I do find that when i blend with an immersion blender, the clumping doesnt happen.

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I have tried shaking my paint rather than stirring and really like this method.  I find that i can get the paint smoother faster.

(Of course everything we talked about above such as the consistency, ratios,  stirring throughout painting, etc. all still apply here so i wont go over those again.)

 – For this method you need a container with a lid.  I normally just use mason jars or we save lots of jars from the kitchen so i can use them for mixing paint.

 – Start by adding hot tap water to your jar.  Again, don’t mix up your whole bag of paint, just what you think your going to use.

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 – Next, add your powder to the jar.  If you are a measurer, then you would have measured out your water and then you will add the same amount of powder.   I am not a measurer, i am an eyeballer :)

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 – Put your lid on the jar and shake, shake, shake!!  Again, i find that the whites i have to do more shaking and the colors not as much.  The whites i shake for a good minute, the colors about 30 seconds.

 – The one drawback i have found to shaking rather than stirring is that with some colors the paint gets foamy as you are incorporating a lot of air.  I used to let the paint sit for a bit for the foam to dissolve, but now i just either go ahead and start using it right away or give it a quick stir to incorporate the foam.    You could even strain it to get rid of the foam.

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 – One of the advantages of using the lidded mason jar is that whatever paint you dont use, you can just put the lid on it and store it in the fridge.  Remember though, storing is not recommended as the paint “may” gel up soon after mixing (it depends on temp water used, color and if you used Extra Bond or not).  Only mix what you need and mix more if you have too.


With either method, if you make your paint too thin just add a little powder.  If its too thick, add a little water.  Both methods work great for mixing the milk paint, you just need to experiment and find the way that you like the best.  I tend to like the shaking method best right now, but i always change things up and go back and forth depending on my mood! (As of 8/28/17, im all about the immersion blender method!).  Some people use those small milk frothers for mixing the paint, i tried that and didnt like it at all.  Its made to froth your milk, so as you can guess it also froths your paint and thats just not good!

And remember, one of the advantages of having the paint come in a powder, is that you can make as thin or as thick as you like it or depending on the project that your working on!

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Does this help?  Do you have more questions about the mixing process?  If so, leave them in the comments so i can address them.

 Do you have another way of mixing up milk paint that we can learn from?  Please share if you do!