3 Ways to Seal Milk Paint

If you’re looking for an authentic old looking painted finish, milk paint is where it’s at! But to get the most milk paint durability, it has to be top coated. Sealing milk paint doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. Here are the top 3 ways to seal milk paint!

Learn more painting furniture tips and ideas here.

how to seal milk paint on furniture

Milk paint is a super porous paint, meaning that it will soak up anything and everything in its path. It also means that it isn’t easy to wipe off the surface, and it collects dust like crazy.

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But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Simply add a top coat to give your milk painted furniture the best durability, and so you can wipe any spills away!

How to Seal Milk Paint

Here are the top 3 ways professionals seal milk paint. I promise that this last step of painting furniture can be super painless! So let’s dig into sealing milk paint!

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Water-Based Polyurethane

Let’s start out with my very favorite topcoat. Why not? If you’ve been around my stuff for a hot minute, you know that I LOVE this water based poly. I use it on basically everything.

Out of these 3 ways, it’s the most durable option. AND, in my opinion, it’s the very fastest option!

Especially if you have a paint sprayer (even a cheap hobby paint sprayer like this one that I used for over 3 years).

Sealing milk paint by spraying polyurethane

It sprays on like a dream, dries quickly and creates a beautiful and durable sheen. You can even choose from any sheen from matte to gloss (though my favorite is a mix of matte and satin).

Learn ALL of my tips and tricks on how to spray polyurethane here!

You can also brush it on, or an even better option than the paintbrush is to use one of these super handy painting sponges to brush the poly on. I love to get the sponge a little damp before using it.

If I didn’t have my paint sprayer, I would choose to use the painting sponges the most! They help to reduce brush strokes, and they help create a seamless finish.

Pros of Water-Based Polyurethane

  • Super easy to spray on with a paint sprayer!
  • The most durable finish
  • Available in multiple different sheens
  • Dries the quickest

Cons of Water-Based Polyurethane

  • If you’re brushing it on, you can get foggy areas or see brush marks in the finish.

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is my next favorite product to use when sealing milk paint.

Hemp oil is a natural oil that looks so good on milk painted furniture. It soaks into the porous paint and down into the wood, and then cures hard.

But, it takes at least 30 days to cure, and the process is a bit longer than using the water based poly. You can brush it or wipe it on with a lint free rag.

And then you let it sit for a few hours to really soak into the paint and the wood. Then you wipe off the excess oil with a few more lint free rags, and wait for the hemp oil to completely dry.

It works the very best with raw wood and porous paint because it has to soak in to become durable.

brushing hemp oil onto furniture to seal milk paint

But, the beautiful matte sheen looks so good once dry! If you’re using a dark milk paint color and you only have a paint brush to apply poly, this would be the best looking option!

Poly can be hard to get just right with a brush, and dark colors make it even more difficult. So in certain situations, hemp oil is the product I reach for.

Pros of Hemp Oil

  • Easy to apply
  • It dries to the perfect even sheen without brush strokes and haziness

Cons of Hemp Oil

  • Hemp oil takes a long time to dry and you might have to keep going back to wipe off excess oil
  • It’s not as durable as poly


Last but not least, is furniture wax. I swear every single paint company has its own line of wax, and honestly, some waxes are definitely better than others!

Furniture wax is usually my last resort option. It doesn’t cure as hard as poly does, and it’s way more time consuming to apply (wax on, wax off).

Plus, if you’re working with a dark paint color, it is just as hard to get right as poly is!

A wax brush makes it so much easier to apply wax (but seriously, once I got a wax brush I didn’t hate waxing quite as much!)

But you can wipe the wax on with a lint free rag too. Then you wipe it off with another lint free rag until it’s nice and smooth.

If you’re going to wax, get ready for a nice arm workout, and get ready to spend some time doing it. No matter what, the most important thing to know about wax, is that wax is always last.

Do not try to put poly over wax, or paint over fresh wax. The wax will repel whatever you try to put over it, and it will create a mess.

Pros of Wax

  • Wax can create a really pretty sheen
  • You can tint wax with paint colors to create a colored wax

Cons of Wax

  • Not as durable as poly
  • Takes a long time to apply and buff out
  • Wax has to be last, so you can’t paint over wax without removing it
  • Over dark colors, you can see every single mark of the wax

I hope that helps you with your milk painting adventures!! Head on over to our milk painted furniture ideas to get inspired for you next painting project.

Don’t know the right wood sealer for your project here’s what to use to seal wood before painting!

Learn more about sealing painted furniture here for all your future projects.

Get all the milk paint tips and tricks! Including how to mix milk paint, spray milk paint, how to mix milk paint colors, the secret to getting a chippy painted finish every time, and how to use milk paint!

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painted dresser and 3 ways the pros seal milk paint

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