Which Furniture Paint Should You Use??

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2 Hours

When it comes to picking the right kind of paint for your project, it can be a little overwhelming. There are so many brands and types of paint out there boasting they are the best paint for the job, but how do you really know?

Let’s take a minute and look at the different types of paint, what they are best used for and look at some pros and cons of each type. We’ve compiled all of this info in a free paint comparison cheat sheet for you as well, you can download it right here.

which furniture paint should you use

Chalk Paint -

Chalk paint is so popular right now! It’s a great option when you want a really flat, chalk like finish. Because it is so flat and porous, it does need to be sealed with either a top coat or a wax. It’s a thicker paint that provides great coverage (sometimes in just one coat!) but because of this it also show brushstrokes and a bit more texture than other paints - this may be a look that is desired (or not)!

It’s a very easy paint to distress, and there are many options to make it a very decorative finish, it’s good for use on wood, furniture and even fabric.

There are so many brands of chalk paint, it’s hard to list them all - some you may have heard of would be Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, Dixie Belle, Heirloom Traditions, DIY paint, and more!

which furniture paint should you use

Milk Paint -

Another type of paint to consider is Milk Paint. There are a few different kinds of milk paint, but the first kind we are going to discuss is the powdered form of milk paint. This is a very old type of paint that is still made with milk proteins today.

Because it comes in powdered form, you mix it with water to activate it, it’s a bit more work to get the paint ready, but it does give you control over how thick or thin you’d like your paint to be. 

Milk Paint often gives a chippy finish (depending on what kind of surface is being painted) which can look authentically old and weathered. If you are painting raw wood it acts as a stain, penetrating the wood and becoming a very long lasting finish. The chippy finish can be a bit hard to control when and how much it will chip, so sometimes that can be a bit frustrating. It is a porous paint, so it too must be sealed with an oil, wax or topcoat.

Popular brands you may have heard of are Miss Mustard Seed, Old Fashioned Milk Paint. 

which furniture paint should you use

Acrylic Paint -

A bit of a mis-nomer is General Finishes Milk Paint, it’s actually an acrylic paint. It’s called “milk paint” because it’s meant to give an “old world finish” like milk paint, while being a bit more durable. General Finishes Milk Paint comes pre-mixed in a can so there’s no mixing with water required. It goes on very smooth, showing very few brush strokes and dries to an eggshell finish.

Because it’s an acrylic paint, it doesn’t need to be sealed with a topcoat, it’s very durable on its own - it’s even rated as an interior/exterior paint (it holds up beautifully outside, I’ve tried it!). 

It’s good for use on wood and metal, durable but still easy to distress when desired. There is a bit of prep work (much like the other paints) with some scuff sanding and cleaning. It’s a great option for furniture projects, making even a beginner look like a professional!

which furniture paint should you use

Latex Paint -

Because furniture paints have some so far in the last few years, I no longer consider latex paint to be the best option for furniture, but it will work so let’s discuss the pros and cons a bit. 

It’s very easy to find and very inexpensive, most hardware stores carry it and there are many variations on sheen and countless color options to choose from. 

It goes on smooth and usually has very nice coverage, it dries quickly to the touch however keeps the “tacky” feel for a long time (sometimes forever) not giving it that nice hard durable finish. Depending on the type you use it can show brush strokes, and not be as good at self leveling as some of the other paints.

No topcoat would be required unless desired for additional durability. Fantastic for wall paint for the home, I like to stick with the more specialized paints for furniture.

I hope this helps you decide what kind of paint to choose for your next project. Don’t forget, we’ve compiled a handy download for you of all of this information (plus a little more) right here, so you can have it handy the next time you need to decide what kind of paint to purchase!

Happy painting!


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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Jacqueline
    on Apr 23, 2019

    What about fusion mineral paint.

  • Elaine
    on May 18, 2019

    I have cupboards which look like oak but are a very good imitation contact paper. What finish would work the best to paint over this?

Join the conversation

3 of 8 comments
  • Deborah Melson
    on Apr 23, 2019

    What is a good furniture paint for a glossy finish?

  • Sharm01
    on May 16, 2019

    Sea paint is the very best paint to use, to prep you simply clean the item, dry time is 90 seconds, no smell, clean up any spills or mishaps with a baby wipe, and an array of beautiful colours. You’ll never paint with anything else, once you try it.

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