Milk Paint and Tung Oil Benches

3 Materials
4 Hours

Hi! I'm Liz from the DIY and decorating blog Simple Decorating Tips. All the products I used for this project are available at Frame and Frills.

I previously showed you why I love milk paint for creating a realistic distressed look on furniture. The milk paint and tung oil benches in today’s post are going to reveal another mind-blowing attribute of milk paint!

Wait for it…

I had a spot on outside on our back patio walkway that needed 3 benches along the wall. I decided to get unfinished cedar benches so that I could put on my own color and more reliable finish on them!

We are in NW Wisconsin. For 6 months of the year we have snow on the ground…

and on anything else outside it can pile on.

That means on the deck, railings, furniture… and it’s kind of destructive. The snow as it melts on and off and will soak into the wood, deck, ledges and start to pop the painted or varnished surface off. Trying to keep a horizontal wood railing from peeling paint in a year or two is nearly impossible.


Unless you put on a magical finish that won’t pop off.

That’s the mind-blowing quality of milk paint on raw wood or concrete!!

It actually soaks into the wood and bonds with the wood fibers so it would be impossible for it to cause that hideous peeling effect latex paint can have on exterior horizontal surfaces.

As soon as my unfinished cedar benches were delivered, I went down to my Frame and Frills shop and mixed up some Coastal Blue color Milk Paint by Fusion. It’s a nice soft blue/grey color that will look good against our white house. We have a bit of a nautical look on the back of our house, so this will be perfect.

Equal parts dry milk paint powder and water. Stir well, let it rest 10 minutes and stir again… and stir frequently as you use it.

I like to mix it up in a jar or cup that my paintbrush can easily fit in, but not a large top opening to let a lot of paint exposed to air, like a paint tray would… milk paint dries quickly.

First, I started with a small workshop brush that I didn’t feel bad about ruining by jamming it in the cracks between the slats of the benches.

To paint the rest of the bench parts I used my Staalmeester pointed sash brush.

This brush is a mix of synthetic and natural bristles so it has the qualities to lay out a smooth finish but yet hold a good amount of paint in it, (less reloading)!

Fits great in the jar of milk paint. Milk paint isn’t smooth like acrylic or latex paint. It’s definitely a different texture. However, it doesn’t show brush marks.

After the benches were dry, as is common with raw wood finished with a water based product like milk paint, the grain was lifted and the benches didn’t feel smooth.

To alleviate the roughness I simply wet-sanded them.

Wet-sanding is done after the paint is totally dry. The ‘wet’ part is the water, (or other liquid) you use for the wet-sanding technique.

That’s a simple and quick process of spraying on a mist of water, (or getting your sanding pad wet).

Then lightly sanding the misted area with fine sand paper. I’m using my sanding sponge for this.

Wet-sanding also eliminates airborne dust that can be created with dry sanding.

A wipe down with a rag to remove the dust from sanding and the benches were ready for the next step.

The milk paint cupboard I did last week, I finished with hemp oil. That’s great for inside, but for outside, hemp oil doesn’t last a super long time. Instead for these benches I chose to finish them with tung oil.

The Fusion Tung Oil, available HERE at Frame and Frills, is 100% tung oil. It’s all natural and food safe in that 100% natural form.

Here’s a tip: To be sure the tung oil was penetrating into the wood, I started with a mix of half tung oil and half Fusion Odorless Solvent.

By cutting the tung oil in half with odorless solvent, though no longer food safe, it thins the tung oil to soak into the wood, and it will dry more rapidly than the pure 100% tung oil.

Same process as the milk paint, for the slat spaces I used a cheap small workshop brush, and for the rest I used my Staalmeester pointed sash brush.

In between each coat of tung oil I allowed at least 1 day to dry. With each subsequent layer of tung oil, the tung oil became more pure tung oil, and less solvent to thin it, thus the drying time greatly increased.

The second coat of tung oil had a greater percentage of tung oil than odorless solvent… about a 2:1 ratio.

The final coat of tung oil was pure tung oil. It took 3 or 4 days for it to dry… well mostly dry. Dry enough to move them outside and finish drying in the hot sun.

The cedar benches have been on the patio now for a few days and the tung oil is completely dry.

I’ll recheck them in the spring and see if they need another coat of tung oil. I would say raw wood would need at least 3 coats of tung oil, but you can go many, many more coats if you wanted… The more tung oil, the shinier the finish will be.

On a complete side note, I absolutely love the odor of 100% tung oil. It has a subtle yet somehow rich aroma of natural woodsy almost herbal smell. Reminds me of my grandpa, he was a carpenter and must have used tung oil.

These benches will be in a very sunny location!

Fortunately, Fusion milk paint is made with highest grade ground up minerals for the colorant, (same as Fusion Mineral Paint) which is so great for this sunny spot because it won’t fade!

  • Cedar Benches
  • Coastal Blue Milk Paint
  • Staalmeester Pointed Sash Brush
  • Sanding Sponge
  • Tung Oil
  • Odorless Solvent

Thanks so much for stopping by! Be sure to pop over to the Frame and Frills to shop for Milk Paint, tung oil and many other high quality DIY products!

Suggested materials:

  • Milk paint by fusion   (
  • Tung oil by fusion   (
  • Unfinished cedar benches

Liz at Simple Decorating Tips
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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  1 question
  • William William on Jun 28, 2021

    Tung oil is made to soak into the wood. With the milk paint or any paint wouldn't it prevent the tung oil to soak into the wood and stay on the surface?! Hence the long drying time!


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