Milk Paint

26 04 2010

Anyone ever heard of such a thing?!  Well, it happens to be an organic material that gives surfaces a distinctive color-washed finish.  As I am sure you have guessed, milk is the primary ingredient in the paint, acting as a binder for the pigments (same as latex or oil when you think of “standard” paint).  Having been used by the ancient Egyptians, it is mostly found in association with colonial-era furniture and by eco-friendly users today since it doesn’t give off any noxious vapors, also known as VOC’s.  It is used widely in furniture finishing because it has great saturated colors but easily finishes off with a translucent finish, which gives wooden furniture that beautiful antiqued look.  This technique is great for furniture but, don’t try to simply mix the milk with a color pigment and spread it out on the wall or you may be disappointed.

Here are the steps to get you started with mixing a batch (this would make enough to cover a bureau or other large furnishing):

1. Mix the juice of a lemon with 1 quart skim milk in a large bowl.  Leave the mixture overnight at room temperature to induce curdling.

2. Pour it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to separate the solid curds from the liquid whey.  Add 4 tablespoons of dry color pigment (available at art-supply stores) to the curd; be sure to wear a mask, and stir until the pigment is evenly dispersed.  (Artists’ acrylic paint can also be used in place of powdered pigment.)

3. Add it one drop at a time, and stir constantly until you achieve the desired hue.  Whether pigment or acrylic based, milk paint will spoil quickly, so it should be applied withing a few hours of mixing.  Rest assured, its sour smell will disappear once the paint dries.  If you prefer, you can purchase milk paint rather than making your own.  Once source is Old Fashioned Milk Paint.

Here’s a great shot of some colors you can easily achieve if you try it.

I think this is a fantastic way to save a buck, a trip to the store and help the earth at the same time when you have a little project you are working on.  Anyone ever mixed their own paint?  I’d love to hear about it and even better, I’d LOVE to see your work!


The oww & aww of Fresh Paint

12 04 2010

Who doesn’t love fresh paint?!  I get such a thrill from the aroma of a newly painted anything-enough so to make me giddy–although it might just be the fumes.  In all seriousness, nothing says brand spankin’ new more than a fresh coat of paint.  In my opinion you can salvage anything with just a bit of primer, a little filler, some paint.

Good as new was what we were hoping when it came to our house.  When we bought the little fixer upper, it was in horrible condition.  Years of neglect and abuse showed through the ceilings, floors and everything in between.  Step one after tearing everything out was to put a fresh coat of paint on anything that would stand still.  So we called in reinforcements–Doug, a friend and John’s mom, Georgia, came to help for day one of painting, and since John’s parents own quite a few rental properties they know their way around a can of paint!  Poor Georgia, she flew in for a week from Omaha to help us out with the renovation and ended up extending her trip by a few days so she could help us move after she spent the entire trip painting!  A gigantic THANK YOU for her help!!

Now before we could get started we chose to wash down the walls with a bleech and water mix (we used the suggested value on the back of the bleach for ratio of water to bleach) since the previous owners had been smokers.  After we washed the walls we needed to patch all the tiny holes that were left from a ton of picture frames that had previously graced the walls.  So once the patching was complete we were ready to start.  We thought that since we didn’t have anything left to ruin we would initially try to spray the paint on with a paint gun.  However, we didn’t have much luck.  We probably should have rented a professional version of a spray gun but decided to purchase a inexpensive alternative.  This was money not well spent as we couldn’t get it to spray evenly and after about an hour of messing around with it we decided to go back to the traditional route of rollers and brushes.  Here is a look at our  paint gun try:

Since we were on a pretty tight timeline we had to move forward.  I am sure that we eventually would have gotten the hang of it but with John’s dad flighting in the next day to help lay the wood flooring, we had to have the lower level completely painted on day 1 so it just wasn’t the right time to work with new tools. Once we moved to the upper floor (a LOT more walls to cover) it was just Georgia and I left working on the painting.

So most of you have painted a couple of walls in your day and know the ins and outs.  But I thought I would try and recall some of our more successful tools and a few suggestions that we wish we had never tried.  We first started by taping everything but quickly realized that a steady hand and a shield tended to work better than waiting for the ceiling to dry before we could paint the walls.  In the picture below you can see me cutting in with my shield while John painted the dark wall beyond with a roller.

Another suggestion that I would have done differently would be that we have 2 different colors of trim in our place.  One color is used upstairs and one downstairs.  Since we had ordered the wood flooring for our lower level I went ahead and picked paint for the lower level.  Once we had selected our carpet for the upstairs the same paint scheme didn’t work as well so I picked another scheme.  I couldn’t find a trim that would look good with both color schemes so decided to pick upstairs trim and a downstairs trim as two separate colors.  This has made things confusing later in the process.  The paint cans have to be labeled accurately and even so the wrong color has been used a time or two and has had to be redone.  We also have run into how to finish the banister since it would be running between two paint colors.  I would have worked harder in the front end to have one trim color run throughout the project had I known it would have made things so complicated.

Also make sure that when picking a paint roller you always pick the right nap.  This can save you hours of work on a project.  Here is a guide to better help you with this selection:

  • 1/8 — 1/4 inch, are for ultra smooth surfaces. Use with enamels, varnish, oil and water base paints.
  • 3/8 — 1/2 inch, are for semi- smooth and medium textured surfaces. These can be used with all paints.
  • 3/4 inch is a multi purpose roller nap length that is useful for semi-rough surfaces. This size of roller nap is a good choice for most interior and exterior surfaces; such as siding, walls and smooth concrete block.
  • 1 — 1-1/2 inch thick piles are for the roughest of surfaces, such as rough stucco and split face concrete block.

On a side note, all the ceilings were finished with a flat paint and all the walls were finished off with a satin finish.  Flat tends to be less expensive and since it’s cleanability on the ceiling is not as important you can save quite a bit of money going this route.  However, for the walls either an eggshell or a satin finish is the way to go since it has to stand up to a lot more wear and tear over the years.  Finally, all of our trim is finished in high gloss since it is on wood and would create a nice contrast between the walls and again has a cleanability factor that you can’t mess with.

So hopefully these suggestions help you with your next painting project.  Do you have any suggestions to add that really helped you during your last painting project?  We’d love to hear them!!

Martha Stewart Living is taking over Home Depot

22 03 2010

Honestly, I have never been the biggest fan of Martha Stewart.  I KNOW!  I really don’t know why that is.  She hasn’t done anything offensive to me so I just can’t put my finger on it.  It has always just been this feeling.  In all actuality her post prison persona hasn’t bothered me nearly as much as her persona before.  When she came out of the slammer it was like she could finally be who she really was and not what she thought everyone else expected her to be.  We are not talking Julia Child let loose and drop egg on the floor and say her infamous voice, “Never apologize-you can always put it together.”  But, she could finally relax and think ‘if these people followed me though that ordeal then I can certainly let loose a little.’

Anyhow, enough Martha bashing because I actually came here to praise her work.  When I heard that Home Depot was ending their long run with Ralph Lauren I was very disappointed.  Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t get his paint there anymore (they should still have all the mix instructions in their database if you have the color you need) it just means if you run into the store looking for a paint sample there won’t be one.  You can imagine that I was “thrilled” to learn that Martha was moving in to take over the vacant slot that RL left.  So when I stopped at the store a couple of weeks ago I swung past the paint department to check out the new spread.  I must say, I liked it.  I picked up the brochure that has small chips of all the colors and I can see all sorts of potential.  A few of my immediate favorites are: Bergamot (a pink, orange and red color mixed perfectly), Vermilion (a deep red shade), Toasted Marshmallow (a beautiful tan color), Sultana (green with a subtle yellow background), Purple Elderberry (very deep dark plum), Molasses and Burl (these are 2 very nice brown options), and finally Zinc and Seal (are 2 warm gray options that add nice balance to the palette.)  There are 280 colors in all and they can be mixed for either indoor or outdoor use.

I really like the names that she has for each color.  They are names that when I look at them I can actually see how they came up with that name.  Her paint names are things like Picket Fence, Spud (perfect color of the outside of a new potato) and Ballet Slipper Pink.  I have always thought picking paint color names sounded like the best job in the world, but I digress.  Anyway, they will have available sample jugs (8 oz) as a test to make certain you love the color before you bite the bullet and get the gallon.

Martha Stewart didn’t just stop at paint when it came to her Home Depot deal making.  She also included a line of environmentally friendly cleaning products, new home decor (both interior and exterior) and closet organization options.  She certainly says it right when she says, “It’s a good thing.”