Removing Milk Paint With Ammonia?

Removing Milk Paint With AmmoniaIf you’ve read my DIY paint remover guide on removing paint, you might have noticed that Milk paint is not listed. That’s because this lime pigment and casein combo that you see on windows sometimes is really almost a glue. Removing milk paint with ammonia is your best option, as this milky substance is resistant to many types of cleaners, even including the mighty and brutal corrosion of lye! With a little ammonia and some elbow grease, however, you can take it right off with a brillo pad.

Today I’ll attempt to cover the subject in a little more depth. We’ll talk about why milk paint is used, how to remove old milk paint, and the relative ease of getting it off of glass and other surfaces.

Let’s take a closer look at milk paint and how you can get rid of it!

Why would you use milk paint?Why would you use milk paint

Milk paint is a decorative option that you might use on furniture. It’s water based and brings out a nice luster when it is applied. So, how does it differ from regular paint?

Well, milk paint applies different for one thing. Rather than ‘coating the top’, like your average acrylic paint, milk paint actually soaks into your wood, creating a film on the surface of the wood that gives the furniture piece a distinguished, somewhat antique look.

Also, unlike paint, you don’t really need a lot of it, and a thinner coat generally produces a much better look than a thick application. While it looks good, milk paint is somewhat of a ‘specialized’ option that you probably won’t use a lot unless you really like that vintage look in the woods that you work with.

This is because it costs a little more than standard paint and when you mix up the packets for use, you’ve got about 24 hours to work with the stuff… it expires quickly so it’s generally a project-specific finish solution.

If you are curious about making casein emulsion, aka milk paint, you can find out how with this 3rd party link here.

How do you remove old milk paint?

How do you remove old milk paintThe easiest way to remove old milk paint from furniture or a window is going to be good old ammonia. While it is a bit of a slow process, with a little elbow grease you can definitely get that milk paint removed and here is how you can do it:

  • Purchase some undiluted ammonia if you don’t already have some in stock.
  • Set up a fan is needed, so that the air is properly circulated (ammonia definitely has a strong smell, so you’ll be happy that you did this)
  • Put on some rubber gloves and goggles and pour ammonia on the surface, or apply liberally with a soaked sponge if the surface is not flat.
  • Let the ammonia sit for around 10 to 15 minutes, so that the milk paint is broken down enough to work with.
  • Using steel wool or a Brillo pad, get to scrubbing. It’s a slow, but sure process, but this will get that milk paint off!

Repeat the vinegar soak as necessary every 30 minutes and you should be able to get the milk paint completely removed. Now, mind you, this is just a household option, and in the next section I’ll give you an alternative that you can use to save time.

Is milk paint easy to remove? What else can I use?Is milk paint easy to remove

While removing it with ammonia is a bit tedious it’s not actually difficult, just a little time-consuming. As an alternative, there are commercial milk paint removal products that you can use if you are crunched for time or really hate the smell of ammonia.

One example is ‘The Real Milk Paint Co. Citrus Solvent’ and this may be used in removing milk paint, as well as in other scenarios when paint thinners or mineral spirit solvents would be a less than desirable fit.

If you decide to go with the milk paint remover, you can simply mix it at a ratio of 1 part water for every 2 parts of citrus solvent, and this will create a paste that you can apply and let sit so that the milk paint will be slowly broken down until it may be easily removed.

Some final words on dealing with milk paint

Today I’ve talked about removing and using milk paint, so let’s close out with a quick recap of what we’ve learned today.

First off, milk paint is a great way to give furniture an antiqued look, so if you haven’t used it before it’s well worth a try. Next, undiluted ammonia and scrubbing is the easiest household way to remove milk paint, or you can use commercial products such as milk paint remover if you’re really crunched for time.

So, if that milk paint is getting on your nerves, just fetch a little ammonia and some rubber gloves and scrub that casein emulsion right off! All it takes is a little time.

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