Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Coffee table makeover, Part I – The epic fail

*DISCLAIMER* I know that milk paint is super-popular. Everybody loves it. It’s so easy to use. There are hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of pictures of furniture painted with milk paint on Pinterest  So I’m not saying that milk paint sucks. I’m saying that milk paint sucks for me.

It started out as an easy enough project – give this pale yellow coffee table a paint makeover.


I’d never used milk paint, so decided that I would give it a try on this table. I even went to an info session on how to use milk paint and bought all the supplies I’d need to create a lovely two-tone blue effect.

I was excited to get started. I cleaned the table to remove any dirt or residue. I gave the table a light sanding. I mixed the milk paint with the bonding agent to be sure that the paint would adhere. Three steps to ensure the perfect finish.

The first coat went on great.


And then it was all downhill from there. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this sucked. But I’ll try anyway, because I don’t have pictures to tell the story. Because I was so annoyed and fed up and disappointed in how the table looked, I couldn’t even be bothered to take pictures of it. It was truly ugly.

After the first dark blue coat, I painted a lighter blue coat. With some sanding and wax application, this was going to give me a beautiful two-toned blue finish. Instead, what it gave me was chipping and peeling and cracking paint. This wasn’t supposed to happen! I decided to try hemp oil instead of wax, thinking that maybe that would somehow make the paint stick. It didn’t. There’s literally not a single picture of this part of the process. That’s how bad the table looked.

At this point, I decided to move on to plan B. I used a hand sander to sand the entire table. Then I cleaned the whole table again and mixed up a batch of my own custom light blue milk paint and added the bonding agent and painted two coats onto the table. There were a few spots that needed touching up after the two coats. I had to add a bit of water to the paint to thin it down, which changed the colour of the paint. ARGH! So instead of doing touch ups, I had to paint a third coat. Then I waxed the whole table. And… the damn paint chipped and peeled and cracked again! I mean really, how crappy does this look?

chipped foot

chipped edges

I lived with it like this for a few weeks because quite frankly, I was tired of painting. Then one evening while I was watching TV, I started to pick at some of the peeling paint. It flaked right off. I got out a screwdriver, and paint chips literally flew everywhere as I ran the screwdriver along the peeling paint. Then I sanded the whole table with a hand sander AGAIN.

sanded down


At this point, I was really wishing I’d never painted this stupid table in the first place! But, I’m stubborn. And the table isn’t actually mine (it came with the rental house), so I couldn’t leave it looking like this. What was supposed to be a quick & simple paint job was now a total of two cleanings, one quick sanding, two in-depth hand sander sandings, one coat of hemp oil, one coat of wax, and five coats of paint. And I was back to square one. Actually, I had passed right by square one and was in the negative square zone. Because at this point, the table looked even worse than it did when I’d started.

And that’s why milk paint sucks for me.

Does milk paint suck for anyone else? Or has everyone who’s used it had better luck than me?

Luckily, I was able to save this table from being a complete disaster. Tune in tomorrow to see the final result – which still isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better!

kb logo 1a

Linking up to…

Inspire-Me-Monday-Link-Party   MM


  1. Wow! it looks like you had product failure or some other chemical reaction. Could it be something you cleaned the table with? I make my own chalk paint (much less expensive) and it goes on smooth as butter and is virtually bullet-proof. All with no sanding! I wouldn't give up on it just yet, you just need to find out what affected the paint. Good luck :)

    1. Teresa, it's possible that the first cleaner wasn't the right cleaner to use. It's an all-natural cleaner and has some oils in it. So that may have been the problem with the first couple of coats. But then I sanded down the entire piece and cleaned it with TSP Eco, so there's no reason why the paint on the second attempt peeled and cracked. I'm going back to using either chalk paint or paint designed for cabinets for any future furniture painting projects - I'm done with milk paint for good!


  2. Yep, that's what milk paint does. You either love it or you hate it (and I'm in the 2nd camp on this one!) Not a fan at all...

    1. Anne, as you can see, I'm in the hate it camp too! I've seen pieces of furniture painted with milk paint that had a great finish, not chippy at all. I'm still at a loss as to why my milk paint project was such a disaster.


  3. I've always been nervous to try milk paint. The results can be beautiful but it seems like a lot of extra work.