Milk paint vs. chalk paint – what’s the difference?

One of the most frequently asked questions that comes my way is, “What’s the difference between Chalk Paint and Milk Paint?” Let me take some time to answer this common question and introduce you to the differences between these fabulous paint products.

milk paint vs chalk paint

a positive review

I this post, I don’t intend to speak negatively about either type of paint, their creators, or their retailers/stockists.  If you’re looking for a post that promotes one over the other, you may want to keep clicking.  I have the highest respect for Marian Parsons, Annie Sloan and their retailers/distributers.  Both paint types offer a unique user experience and it’s important to know what makes one different from the other.  Both paints also work very well together and you can mix and match products to achieve the look you’re going for.

Differences in packaging

Ok, so the biggest difference between MMS Milk Paint and Chalk Paint® is how they are packaged and sold.  MMSMP is sold in packets/pouches and comes in powder form.  It needs to be mixed with water and can be measured out as you need it.

Here’s what a pouch looks like:

Some colors, such as Lucketts Green, are a different color powder than when they are mixed with water.  Lucketts Green is a yellow powder,

but quickly turns green once it’s mixed.

Chalk Paint® comes in small sample pots or in larger quarts in a traditional paint can.  This is a liquid paint that is already mixed.  You can certainly add water if you want to thin it down, or you can leave the lid off for a bit to thicken the paint.  You can add more or less water with MMS Milk Paint to thicken or thin it as well.  In that way, both paints offer you the option to change the consistency of the paint as needed.



Chalk Paint® is much thicker than MMSMP.  It feels similar to latex based paints but it behaves differently.  Chalk Paint® spreads like a dream and can be brushed out quite far.  You only need a little bit on your brush to cover a good sized area.

Mixed MMSMP is thin and watery.  It’s not as thin as skim milk but it’s definitely not as thick as latex or Chalk Paint®.  When mixed properly, it should fall off your brush in ribbons.  Here’s a good video to watch for tips on mixing MMSMP.

While the consistency of MMSMP is much thinner than Chalk Paint®, it still has excellent coverage. One quart of MMSMP can cover an average sized dresser plus a small side table or a few picture frames. This all depends on which color you’re using, how many coats you use, your application technique, and the condition of your surface, but this is a good ballpark.



Both MMSMP and Chalk Paint® can be waxed and each line carries their own type of wax. There is a difference in the odor of Chalk Paint’s® Soft Wax as compared to MMSMP Furniture Wax. Soft Wax contains mineral spirits, which helps its malleability and spreadability. It has a much stronger odor than Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax. It’s also stiffer and a bit tricky to get the hang of right away. 

MMSMP Furniture Wax has a soft “beeswaxey” smell, almost like a natural lotion odor when you open the jar. It’s very soft and spreadable – much easier to use in my opinion!


application & Cure time

Both waxes can be applied with a brush and buffed to a soft sheen however neither will give you a high gloss finish. They are both formatted to be matte, relatively flat, and non-glossy. Each are dry to the touch within 24-48 hours however they both require a 20-30 day cure time. Dry time is how long it takes your piece to be dry to the touch. Cure time is how long it takes your topcoat of choice to fully set and offer the most durability and protection. Most damage to newly painted furniture happens within the first 20-30 days because new owners are a bit too eager to start using it and accidentally bump, smudge, nick, scratch, ding, drip, or otherwise mark the new finish.

bespoke color mixing

Both paints give you the option to combine different colors to achieve “bespoke” or custom shades. There are also formulas that are well-known in each line that will give you unique finishes. For example, if you mix 3 parts MMSMP’s Boxwood with 2 parts Artissimo, you’ll get the Golden Sycamore’s recipe for a gorgeous vintage green chalkboard color. Read more about the process here.

If you mix equal parts Old White with Pure White Chalk Paint®, you’ll get a color called “Original” which is not carried here in the states.  Original is a great option to mix if you don’t want an off white, but you don’t want stark white either.


tinted waxes

Both lines also offer a clear or non-colored wax option in addition to colored waxes including white, brown, black, and zinc.  Waxes can be mixed to created varying shades of gray as well.  I painted this little chest in Graphite Chalk Paint®, then applied a coat of Clear Soft Wax.  Finally, I mixed white and black wax together to make a gray and feathered it on to create a driftwood look.  


inspirational books

Both MMSMP and Chalk Paint® have books that were written by their creators as well as brush lines.

Here’s an Annie Sloan Wax Brush.

And this is a Parsons West Brush.


slick and glossy surfaces

Both paints can be used on a variety of surfaces including metal, glass, plastic, ceramic, wood, veneer, etc.  MMSMP sometimes needs a little bit of extra help to stick to glossy surfaces, but it will stick for sure.  An extra product called Bonding Agent does the trick!

Chalk Paint® lends itself well to sticking to just about any surface and little to no prep work is required for most projects.  It looks lovely when layered and is easy to distress.

MMS Milk Paint is a popular paint choice if you want to achieve a chippy look. 



There is a slight difference in price between the two lines, and retailers of both have the flexibility to adjust their individual pricing within a certain range to maintain profitable paint sales.  On average, a quart of Chalk Paint® will run you between $32 and $40 (USD).  A quart of MMSMP will run you between $22 and $26 (USD).  Again, these are averages and it’s best to check with your local supplier to see what their prices are.  One of the reasons for the difference in price is that MMSMP is sold in powder form, so it’s lighter to ship and doesn’t cost as much to package.  It does need to be mixed by the user, so some folks don’t mind paying the extra money for the convenience of pre-mixed Chalk Paint®.


retailers and stockists

Both paint lines are sold by trained, passionate, and invested retailers/stockists.  ASCP and MMSMP require potential providers to apply and be evaluated before they are approved.  Initial and ongoing training is required for both lines to ensure that customers like you and me are getting solid advice and incredible support.   There are also restrictions that limit how many stockists or retailers can be in one area.  This helps to ensure that there is enough business to go around, which shows you that both paint lines care about the success of their retailers.


additional resources

If you’re looking for more information about each paint line, here are some additional resources that you can check out.  Most places that sell Chalk Paint® also sell MMSMP and vice versa.  There’s a reason for that!  Both paint lines are an excellent option for your next furniture project, they work well together, and they are two of the most popular paint choices in the market today. 

Miss Mustard Seed’s YouTube Channel

Annie Sloan’s YouTube Channel

Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint Blog

Miss Mustard Seed’s Blog


I hope this post helped to highlight the benefits and unique properties of each of these two popular paint choices.  Now for the most important question – are you ready to start transforming a piece of your own?

(This is a coffee table turned bench!)

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I'm Jenn Baker - Milk Paint lover, photographer, blogger, and QVC Guest Host. Click below to learn more about me and my creative business.  LEARN MORE ABOUT JENN

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