Choosing the right finish for a project is just as important as any of the joinery and molding details. And for furniture that’s done in a rustic or antique style, I’ll often use milk paint. It has a dull, flat sheen that looks great on traditional styles of furniture.

One of the more interesting techniques that can be done with milk paint is to create a worn, distressed look with multiple layers and colors of paint. Essentially, you’re trying to simulate the wear and tear that a piece of furniture might receive from being used and repainted over the years.

The technique consists of layering two or more different colors of milk paint and sanding through some in a few areas.

For the base coat, apply a thin coat of the first color and allow it to dry fully.

Next, sand some surfaces and the edges down to bare wood and apply the second color.

Finally, sand again after the second coat has dried to get the aged look you desire. Finish up with a dark gel stain used as a glaze to add a dark layer.

Although milk paint adheres very well, water or other liquids will leave stains on the dried paint. So it’s a good idea to apply a clear finish over the paint, such as lacquer, polyurethane, or shellac.

While the process is pretty straightfoward, it requires a little practice to achieve the right look.

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