How to Make White Paint

Angela Brown

Cave paintings dating back 8,000 to 20,000 years were produced with a simple mixture of milk, lime and earth pigments. Today you can make your own milk paint for use on walls, furniture, kitchen cabinets and even fences and decks.

Make organic white paint with milk, hydrated lime and pigment powder.

Milk paint offers a budget-friendly, natural alternative to commercial paints, which usually contain chemicals and often release unpleasant odors for quite some time. Milk paint has a slight milky smell when first applied but becomes odorless after it dries.

Original-Recipe Milk Paint

  1. Combine the hydrated lime and enough milk to create a creamy consistency. Stir well and add the rest of the milk.

  2. Stir in the white lime-proof pigment powder, which is available at most art-supply stores. Test the consistency by dipping your brush into the paint; a thread of paint should run off the brush when you lift it out.

  3. Store in the refrigerator. Use the paint until the milk sours.

Durable, Weather-Resistant Paint

  1. Combine 1 part hydrated lime with enough water to make a paste. Add 5 parts cottage cheese or dry curd cheese. Stir well.

  2. Allow the mixture to sit for a few hours or until the lumps dissolve completely.

  3. Stir in the white lime-proof pigment powder. Again, you've reached the right consistency when the paint comes off the brush in a strand.

  4. Store in the refrigerator. The paint will last until the milk sours.


Add more water if your paint is too thick; add powdered skim milk if it is too thin. Strain the mixture in cheesecloth or a nylon stocking if you want a very smooth paint. You can buy hydrated lime at building centers. Do not use quick lime, which heats up when mixed with water. If you’re painting indoor objects or surfaces, use the original-recipe paint; use the weather-resistant paint for outdoor projects. For best results, stir milk paint throughout use. Apply with a natural-bristle brush. Allow the paint to dry before applying a second coat. Milk paint covers 280 square feet per gallon, but you can add 1 to 2 1/2 pounds of glue, chalk or rice paste as a filler to cover larger areas. With both paints, apply a layer of sealant for extra protection. Experiment with different pigments to create the colors and shades of your choice.