Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalked Paint

This post is sponsored by Rust-Oleum, but as always all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

Goooooooood morning guys! Today I am so excited to be doing another one of my fun comparison posts and this time it’s between the brand new Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish and the Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint. EEEK! Ever since I heard that Rust-Oleum was coming out with a milk paint I’ve been dying to try it. I haven’t done much with milk paint in the past, you guys know I’m usually a chalk paint kinda gal, but I’m really excited to see how this milk paint compares/differs from chalk paint. I thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side comparison with these two paints, so for today’s post I’ll be painting a small wooden table–one side will be done with milk paint finish and the other side will be chalked paint. I can’t wait to share how these paints compare (they are actually very different!)and show you how each did on my little table. Grab a snack and let’s get to it!

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Covering the Basics:

Ok, so before we hop into my comparison, let’s start by going over a few basics on each paint in case you’re not familiar with them. Sound good? Here’s the scoop on both paints from the Rust-Oleum website:

Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint:

Chalked paint is an easy to use paint for those DIY projects that dries to a velvety smooth matte finish. It brings new life to tired and worn pieces in timeless colors. Chalked paint can be distressed to achieve a vintage look that will last. It can be used on lots of different surfaces including wood, ceramic, metal, canvas, glass, etc.

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish:

Milk paint finish creates a subtle matte, brushed effect with a light texture. Increased durability and adhesion properties built into the formula means Milk Paint Finish won’t chip. Milk Paint Finish is easily layered in order to achieve the desired coverage.

All righty, let’s do this! Here’s the little table I will be using for this comparison. I’ve done nothing to the table other than clean it. No sanding or primer. I’ll be using the shade Linen White in the chalked paint and Classic White in the milk paint finish. I’ll apply each a regular paint brush.

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Thoughts After the First Coat of Paint

I noticed right away that the milk paint finish was a thinner consistency compared to the chalk paint. After painting the first coat with both paints, I’d say the milk paint is more lightweight while the chalked paint is a heavier paint.

  • Application: The milk paint seemed to soak into the wood almost like a stain would, while the chalked paint seemed like to sit more on top of the wood.
  • Coverage: The milk paint finish offered less coverage and seemed to be less pigmented compared to the chalked paint. You can see in the photo how the chalked paint provides more coverage after the first coat.
  • Finish: The milk paint dried to a very matte finish that felt rough to the touch. The chalked paint was also matte, but it didn’t feel nearly as rough or as textured.

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Thoughts After the Second Coat of Paint

  • Application: The milk paint went on super smooth and very easily. I noticed right away how easy it was to apply the second coat—it was very buildable. Meanwhile the second coat of the chalk paint was a bit more dry because it is a thicker paint.
  • Coverage: The second coat of milk paint finish gave light coverage compared to the chalk paint, which was even more full-coverage with the second coat.
  • Finish: Both dried to a matte finish, but I’d say the milk paint finish was slightly more matte to the touch. After both paints had completely dried, I finished it off with a bit of distressing (with sandpaper) and I didn’t see any huge differences in this step.

Lastly I applied the Rust-Oleum Protective Matte topcoat to both sides of the table. This is the first time I’ve used this and I gotta sayI love this stuff. It was super easy to apply, especially compared to the other wax finishes I’ve used in the past, and it did a great job at sealing the table with a nice clear topcoat.

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

All done!

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Overall Thoughts on the Rust-Oleum Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

Well after completing this little painting project, I have to stay these two paints are actually very different and should be used for different purposes. I really like the Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finishit’s lightweight and I felt like it was super easy and fast to apply. I also liked the convenience of it. Some milk paints involve mixing powder with water or a bonding agent, so it was really convenient that this didn’t involve any guess work on how much to mix. Overall the milk paint finish is great because you can really customize the coverage until you get the look you want—it’s super buildable! It’s also good for decor pieces with a lot of texture because it’s going to accentuate the surface of whatever piece you’re working on. Meanwhile the chalked paint is a heavier paint and it’s awesome if you want more full coverage in a hurry—just one coat of the chalked paint can do that for you. It will also do better to hide any flaws or defects. Overall, they’re both great options depending on what look you’re going for!

Well I hope this helps explain the differences between the Rust-Oleum milk paint finish and chalked paint for your next painting project. Let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to chat!

PS: The Milk Paint Finish is now available on AMAZON!!

Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint. A side by side comparison. #milkpaint #chalkpaint

Welcome!! I’m Sarah-- mama to three kiddos + wife to my high school sweetheart. I'm usually over-caffeinated, browsing Amazon + running on lots of grace. Grab a snack + get comfy!

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  1. 3.21.18

    I always thought Milk Paint was suppose to give that great chippy look. Bummer they made this formula so that it wouldn’t get all yummy and chippy. 😥

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      Some of them do more of a chippy look! But this one doesn’t do that from what I can tell.

    • 4.14.20
      Tiffany Tredway said:

      Just curious if anyone has used chalk paint for the base and milk paint over top and would it give you more of the Paint chipped look?

  2. 3.21.18
    Betty in (snowy) Arlington said:

    Wow! I kinda figured that milk paint was lighter, but it really gives a totally different hue to the piece painted. So, if you use milk paint once and want to match pieces, you need to be consistent throughout for the furniture to match. Thanks for the test. I am doing tuch ups on my pickled kitchen cabinets and will use SHerwin Wms paint. Will let you know how it does.

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      You’re right Betty! The milk paint finish does seem to change in color/hue depending on what you’re painting because it is a lighter paint. Good luck in snowy Arlington!

  3. 3.21.18
    mary said:

    could you use milk paint to for a red brick fireplace? or is it not heat resistant?

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      That’s a great question. I don’t think the milk paint finish would give you the kind of coverage you’d want on a fireplace, unless you want a white wash look. I believe it is heat resistant.

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      Correction Mary: it is NOT heat resistant but it can be used on brick.

    • 11.4.19
      Raeleen said:

      I just bought a China hutch and I want to paint it light blue. It’s a solid wood piece and very dark right now. Should I prime it first. Not sure if I want to distress it. But I do like the dark wax. Any suggestions on milk vs chalk

  4. 3.21.18
    Donna Malone said:

    Thank you for doing this comparison. I am about to inherit a chest of drawers that is over 100 years old and it needs to be refinished. I was trying to decide what technique to use ( I have never refinished with paint before) to give it the white wash, distressed finish. Your information made it easier for me to decide. I am definitely going to use milk paint so I can build the look I want with layers. BTW, I love you blog! I recently moved into a new house and you have asisted me in my design choices in many ways.

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      I think the milk paint finish would look great on your chest of drawers! And thanks for the kind words Donna. I am so happy you found my blog! xo

    • 6.5.24
      Gena said:

      If the 100 year old piece has never been painted before , really do some homework on if you’d actually want to even paint it?! You can always condition the wood to give life back to the pieces, just food for thought!

  5. 3.21.18
    judy gaaskjolen said:

    I always thought milk paint was to be used over unfinished wood. It looks like your table has a finish. so whatever finish that is on the piece to begin with, will show through, unless you apply multiple coats of milk paint.

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      It can be used on either unfinished wood or pieces like this. But you’re right, the milk paint finish does change in color/tone slightly based on what you are painting.

  6. 3.21.18
    Stephanie said:

    I have inherited a green painted dresser that I want to re-paint white. Would you recommend sanding or stripping the old paint before painting over it? I’m so glad you did this comparison because I always thought I really liked milk paint but I think for this project I will want chalk paint. Maybe I will find the prefect project for milk paint too. Thanks again for sharing.

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      You can definitely sand it down to remove any glossy varnish or topcoat. That will definitely help the paint adhere better, but it’s not required!

  7. 3.21.18
    Fannie said:

    Thank you for your input on rust oleum products! I want to paint my dark faux-wood melamine kitchen cabinets. Could I use one of these paints? I’ve never used chalk paint before, but the more I read about it, the more I want to try it!!!

  8. 3.21.18
    Dina said:

    Sarah I have spindle wood dining chairs like you have. Before I paint them which would you think works best. I’ve never used either one & anxious to get started. Thank you for any advice

  9. 3.21.18
    Beth said:

    Thank you for this post!! I was wondering what the difference was and I love how you showed them side by side. The only place in my area I could find this paint was at Home Depot. Do you know of any other chain-type store?

  10. 3.21.18
    Sandee said:

    Great comparison. I’m getting ready to try Plaster paint. I’ve used Chalk paint with great results. I found this Plaster paint and it’s said to be even easier than chalk. I’m always up for Easier!!! LOL
    I’ll let you know what I think.

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      I haven’t tried plaster paint, but I need to try that some time! You might want to give this milk paint finish a try, it’s super buildable! I could have easily done a third coat if needed. And I feel like it was a bit easier/faster to use compared to chalk paint because it isn’t as thick.

  11. 3.21.18
    Faith said:

    I am planning to use chalky spray paint on my dining chairs….due to the design of the turned legs…have you used spray chalk paint before, anyone welcome to tell me their experience if so. Also, Sarah, have you lime washed any furniture? It has a more grayed wash appearance from pictures I found, but wondered if you tried that technique and how hard it was. Will you now chalk paint over the milk paint, and is that ok to do? I was told you can cover any chalk paint with any paint prior to waxing. Is that true? Thanks for the wisdom regarding these products!

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      Hi Faith! I actually have a post about that chalky spray paint comparing it to normal chalk paint. And I painted dining chairs with it! You can see it here: I liked it for convenience sake but wasn’t thrilled with the coverage. And I haven’t lime washed any furniture, but I need to try that one day!

      • 5.14.18
        Kathy said:

        I, too, am planning on painting my dining room chairs and also the table legs. I bought both a can of rustoleum chalk paint and a spray can of Rustoleum chalk paint. Looks like I’m going to concentrate on using a brush. My question: have you used a Rustoleum glaze with these products? I am going to use a gray paint but I don’t know whether to go with the “aged glaze” or the “smoky glaze”. I can’t find an example to compare the two.

  12. 3.21.18
    Heather said:

    Love this post, Sarah! I really enjoy experimenting with different types of paints and techniques on furniture. I completely agree with you that it all depends on what type of look you are going for before deciding on which paint to use. I’ve always used milk paints that come in powder form, but I’m anxious to try this one by Rustoleum. Thanks so much for sharing this side-by-side comparison!

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      Thanks Heather! I’d actually like to try one of the milk paints that you mix with powder. I’ve just always just been afraid I’d mess up the mixing part!

  13. 3.21.18
    Jenifer Scherlin said:

    Sarah, I love the DIYs that you show us! Your taste in decor is fabulous!
    I wish that you had done the exact same color in both types of paint, though.
    Kind of apples to oranges. The chalk paint is still my favorite!!

    • 3.21.18
      Sarah said:

      Hi Jennifer, there actually isn’t a Linen White in the chalk paint finish. This classic white was the closest option, so that’s why I chose it!

  14. 3.21.18
    Angel Taraila said:

    I have wanted to try milk paint for awhile and like you said I didn’t want to do the guess work on mixing. Not sure if I have a true value but will keep an eye on Amazon. Thanks for the comparison it really helped.

  15. 3.23.18
    Natalia said:

    Hi Sarah! Thank you for great comparison! I like how milk paint looks, but texture issue bothering me. Did waxing procedure change it for more smooth?

  16. 7.11.18
    Angela said:

    Hi, have you ever mixed chalk & milk paint together? Wanting to paint cabinets and was told to add some milk paint in the chalk paint to achieve the results I’m wanting.

    • 7.11.18
      Sarah said:

      No but that would be a fun post to do!!

  17. 12.2.18
    Karen said:

    I used the Milk Paint as well, in Navy blue. Although I allowed it to dry for 2 weeks.. because I was busy, when I put on the Rust-Oleum protective matte top coat, it left a white milke area in several spots. I followed the directions and used a new clean paint brush. I’m stumped. Any ideas?

  18. 6.21.19
    Ilene said:

    Which paint would you recommend for kitchen cabinets?

    • 6.21.19
      Sarah said:

      I honestly wouldn’t suggest a chalk paint for kitchen cabinets. I just don’t think it would hold up very long. I’d used something more heavy duty like an oil based paint!

  19. 8.30.19
    Tracy Jones said:

    Which one for bathroom vanity? Has a inlay I want to add dark wax to.

  20. 9.4.19
    Jani said:

    Since, the Milk paint doesn’t come in a variety of colors, can you take the white and have it tinted?

    • 9.5.19
      Sarah said:

      Yes I do believe you can!

  21. 7.6.20
    Rebecca M Hornsby said:

    please help 🙁 just painted kitchen cabinets with milk paint only prepping with krud kutters de gloss. I can scrap with my finger nail :(((( Can I just start over with chalk paint instead of sanding and using bonding agent with the milk?

  22. 7.12.20
    Donna said:

    I like the look of the milk paint much better!

  23. 7.22.20
    Jen said:

    Awesome informative blog comparison. I actually have both of these paints and was deciding what one to use on my barn door. Thanks so much

  24. 9.28.20
    Mary Green said:

    Thank you! This was exactly what I needed to know!! I loved the step by step comparison and the info on the protective topcoat!

  25. 1.16.21
    Rhenda Bruns said:

    I just painted a piece of furniture today with RO Milk Paint Finish! This was my first time to use Milk Paint. I have used chalk and plaster paint in the past, but I really liked how the Milk Paint went on. It does seem to have a rougher finish, but I haven’t sealed it yet. Do you think the sealer will help smooth the finish?

  26. 1.30.21
    Cherylann Morgan said:

    I am trying to build up the courage to paint my parents dark cherry Ethan Allen dining room. I would like a smooth finish without brush marks. Chalk or milk paint?

    • 2.1.21
      Sarah said:

      Hmm, between those two options, I’d say chalk paint!