Painting with General Finishes Milk Paint
Painting furniture doesn’t have to be complicated. Painting with General Finishes Milk Paint is an easy and affordable way to give a tired piece of furniture a whole new look. Not only is the paint itself cost-effective and easy to apply, but it provides a durable finish that doesn’t have brush marks.
Whether you’re updating an old dresser or giving your dining table a fresh new look, working with General Finishes Milk Paint will ensure exceptional results every time.
Learn more about the different types of paint for furniture here.
It started out with this $15 end table from my local thrift store.
It has a slick laminate top, but the rest is all real wood.
Supplies For Painting with General Finishes Milk Paint
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I also may earn from other qualifying purchases with other companies or get free product to review and use. All opinions are my own.
- Thrifted End Table
- Degreasing Cleaner
- Painters Tape and Pre-taped Plastic
- Spray Shellac
- General Finishes Milk Paint in Seagull Gray
- Zibra Round Paint Brush
- Zibra Chiseled Wedge Brush
- Minwax Polycrylic Spray
- New Knobs
Get our list of the 10 Must Have Products When Painting Furniture.
I wanted this makeover to be super simple.
So, even though I love to use a paint sprayer, I opted to use a paintbrush and General Finishes Milk Paint.
This paint is self-leveling so even though I used a paintbrush, I wasn’t left with brush strokes in the finish.
But when it comes to top coating paint, spraying poly is the easiest way.
So I opted for a spray can of it.
And, I even skipped scuff sanding!
Yep, no sanding is needed for this makeover (and the finish feels silky smooth!)
BUT…most of the time you don’t want to skip the scuff sanding like I did in this project! Read here to learn The Importance of Sanding Before Painting Furniture!
Seriously, this is a makeover that I believe that anyone can do!
Cleaning and Removing Hardware
First things first, I scrubbed it clean with a degreasing cleaner and a wet rag.
Click here to learn more about How to Clean Furniture Before Painting.
While I was cleaning, I removed the old hardware as well.
Then, while the end table dried, I taped off the drawer so my paint lines would be crisp and clean.
Read this post to learn more about How to Prevent Overspray When Painting Furniture.
Then I primed the end table with 2 coats of shellac so that the paint would stick without sanding.
Click here to learn more about The Best Primers for Painting Furniture (and How to Choose the Right One).
How to Paint Furniture Without Sanding
(Thanks to this experiment, I’ve learned that shellac is amazing at making paint adhere to any surface.)
But, the shellac does more than just make the paint stick. It blocks stains and tannins from the wood from staining the paint.
You can learn more about why bleed through is a problem when painting furniture here.
I used clear shellac in a spray can so it would be quick and easy to apply.
And no sanding was required before or after I primed.
Painting with General Finishes Milk Paint
For this end table, I chose a stunning light gray from General Finishes Milk Paint, called Seagull Gray.
The biggest reason why I love this paint is because it’s self-leveling, meaning it doesn’t leave as many brush marks behind.
It also sprays beautifully if you are wanting to spray it from a paint sprayer.
(Click here to learn about the best paint sprayers for furniture)
Thinning General Finishes Milk Paint
It’s a water-based acrylic paint that is really thick straight out of the can.
So, before I use it, I like to add some water to it to make it easier to brush on.
I don’t measure an exact amount of water to paint here, but I would say I might add around 10% water to the paint.
Check out this post to learn all the details on thinning paint for a paint sprayer.
After mixing the water and paint together really well, I brushed it onto the end table.
Brushing General Finishes Milk Paint
I brushed it on using a Zibra chiseled wedge brush.
Even though this paint is self-leveling, it can still leave brush marks behind.
So, I still try to brush it on in long brush strokes that go with the grain, so any brush marks that are left behind blend in with the grain.
Click here to learn more tips and tricks on How to Paint Furniture Without Brush Marks.
When I got to the round part of the legs, I switched to my Zibra round paint brush because it’s easier to paint round things with the round brush.
(If I had to pick one paintbrush to use on a project, it would be the round brush, hands down!)
Read more about The Best Paint Brushes for Painting Furniture here!
I let it dry for a couple of hours between each coat, and I wrapped my paintbrush in some plastic to keep it wet.
I ended up needing to paint 4 coats of this light gray color to get full coverage.
Filling Wood Grain
After a couple of coats of paint, I noticed how deep the wood grain was on the side corners.
So I took some time to fill in the wood grain there before I finished everything up.
Topcoat with Spray on Waterbased Polycrylic
After that last coat, I sprayed 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic in a rattle can.
This water-based poly is a protective coat, making the paint more durable and wipeable.
I sprayed it on thicker than a mist, but not too thick to make it run or puddle.
And then I let it dry between coats for only an hour before spraying the next coat.
Keep on reading to see what it looks like now!
Best Brush for General Finishes Milk Paint
General Finishes’ website says that foam brushes are the best because they don’t leave brush marks.
Here’s an awesome foam painting sponge that covers so much more area than a dinky little foam brush.
But, I’ve found that regular Zibra paint brushes (synthetic brushes) leave an almost brush-stroke-free finish.
I wouldn’t use a natural bristle brush if you are wanting a brush stroke-free finish.
Does General Finishes Milk Paint Need a Top Coat?
Yes, if you’re using it on a high-traffic surface (especially the top of furniture), General Finishes milk paint needs a top coat.
Learn more about Topcoats for Painting Furniture here!
No, if you’re using it for things that don’t need to be durable (wall decor for example), General Finishes Milk Paint doesn’t need a top coat.
Best Paint for Furniture Without Sanding
Acrylic paint (General Finishes Milk Paint, Paint Couture Paint and Rustoleum Milk Paint to name a few) is one of the best paints to use when painting furniture without sanding.
It dries really smooth and is self-leveling, so even when you don’t sand it, you’re left with a soft, smooth finish.
Before and After
So, here’s what it looked like before.
And here’s what it looks like now.
I love the light gray color. And my brush mark-free loving heart loves that you can barely see any brush marks in the finish.
I ended up spending $90 on supplies, but most of those can be used for multiple projects, so I would guess that I used around $30 max on supplies for this project.
What do you think of the makeover?
Painting With General Finishes Milk Paint
Painting furniture doesn't have to be complicated. Here's how to get a professional finish while painting with General Finishes Milk Paint.
- Clean the furniture and remove hardware to prep for paint.
- Prime with 2 coats of clear shellac to help the paint stick without sanding.
- Apply 4 coats of paint.
- Seal with a clear topcoat.
- Attach new hardware and enjoy!!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
More Makeovers with General Finishes Milk Paint and Similar Paint:
- DIY Cedar Chest Makeover with General Finishes Milk Paint
- Upcycle a Desk into a Pair of Nightstands (with General Finishes Milk Paint)
- Painting Furniture Grey | Without Sanding or Priming (Yes It Works!!)
- Best Paint for Furniture Without Sanding
- Painting a Cedar Chest with Redesign Decor Mould
Follow us on YouTube to get more tips for painting furniture.
Or share your project with us on our Facebook Group and be part of our community. See you there!
Fantastic!! Have you ever used the General Finishes Milk paint on kitchen or bathroom cabinets?
Best tutorial I’ve watched! Do you have a dedicated space set up for these projects? And if so, what do you recommend for people who may only have a small area in the garage? Thanks
I do have a dedicated space. But I’ve been painting furniture as a job since 2014.
I started painting in my kitchen. Then moved out to the garage and the yard area.
Just lay down plastic and paint with a paint brush.
You can use a paint sprayer if you cover things with plastic in the area you are spraying.
You can do it!!