Painting furniture is the cornerstone of sustainable Interior Design.

furniture painting with general finishes milk paint

Painting furniture is the cornerstone of sustainable interior design. It’s also a deeply enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

Over the years I’ve tried just about every product and finish on the market and while chalk paint has its fans, I’m certain that milk paint is THE absolute best;

It’s water based but provides a durable finish.

It dries quickly and has no odour

It allows the grain of wood to show through so the finish doesn’t look thick and lumpy

You can “antique” it in a way that looks subtle and natural

And if an accident happens it can be touched up or repainted with no need for heavy sanding or stripping.


Step by step


1 Find your piece

2 Give it a good clean, warm soapy water should be fine or sugar soap if it’s been waxed or polished. Dry and rub up with a microfibre cloth, or an old T-shirt is good too.


3 Heavy sanding is rarely necessary but if the item your going to paint has a very shiny surface it’s worth roughing it up a bit. I would usually only sand the top of a table, not the legs or any other areas that will get a lot of wear and tear ie the inside back of a dining chair, the top sides of shelves or the top of the mantelpiece if your painting a fireplace.

4 Now you’re ready to paint. Give your paint a really good shake and a stir, pigments can settle to the bottom and you want the best and most even coverage.

5 Start covering the large flat areas with the widest sponge brush which is great for “long distance” painting. Spread the paint as thinly as you can, 3 thin coats are MUCH better and more durable than 2 thicker ones

Use the narrower sponge brushes for edges, legs and carved areas, the chisel shaped end of the smallest brush is perfect for getting into carving, fluted bits and around joints and dovetails.


6 Don’t panic! You first coat will look very streaky. Let the paint dry and apply a second coat. This will start to give you the coverage you want although some patches may look a little thin.

7 When your second coat is completely dry start to cover any areas that still look patchy. Unless you’re painting on a very shiny surface you won’t need to do a full third coat. Check every angle in daylight to be sure.

8 Use your General Finishes High Performance Top Coat (we like the Flat) or your General Finishes Flat Out Flat (which is even flatter than High Performance) to coat any areas you would like to be extra durable. With a coffee table, dressing or bedside table you can coat the table top and edges but not the legs as they get much less wear and tear.

9 When the top coat is really dry (give it 12 -24 hours) give it a light buff with a sanding pad (or super fine sandpaper), wipe off any dust with a microfibre cloth or an old T-shirt and coat again.

10 That’s it! Stand back and admire your new piece and then boast about your skills on social media, you’ll be getting commissions before you know it!