Milk Paint and Architectural Salvage


This post is about using milk paint on architectural salvage so you can give it new life and incorporate it into your decor. This is an easy DIY project that gets great results.  I love milk paint for its authentic character and texture that it imparts upon whatever you are painting.  It has natural properties that allow the paint to chip, crackle and give a time worn appearance when applied to wood.

So, to demonstrate this point, I did a little project for you.  On my ongoing hunt for vintage and antique items, I often times come across architectural salvage pieces.  These range from larger pieces such as corbels and porch columns to mini corbels and spindles.  All of these items can be repurposed and incorporated into your decor.  Old wooden columns can be cut into smaller sections and used for candle holders, risers, and more.

However, finding a nicely painted chippy piece of architectural salvage can be a challenge.  There are plenty of brown, dark green, and even maroon pieces out there.  These just don’t have the charm as natural chippy white pieces.  This is where milk paint can provide a solution.

Step 1 – Find Some Wooden Architectural Pieces

You can find architectural pieces at the following locations:

  • Architectural Salvage Shops
  • Antique Stores
  • Flea Markets
  • Auctions
  • Estate Sales
  • Yard Sales

Look for pieces that have potential. Meaning, they have nicely carved attributes or they can provide a specific function. For example, a pair of corbels can be used to make a shelf or can act as bookends.

Above is a photo of two pieces of architectural salvage that had a less than desirable paint job.  Still, they had potential!  

Step 2 – Prep the Piece

It’s important to sand off any loose paint and to remove any dirt or debris. After sanding, sometimes I use a vacuum to remove any other loose particles. Then I will wipe down the piece thoroughly with a degreaser – like 409 or Krud Kutter.

In this case, I took the smaller of the two, sanded it lightly to remove loose paint and wiped it down.

Step 3 – Paint the Piece

After doing the prep work, I mixed up some milk paint, which comes in a powder form.  I use Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint but there are other brands available too.

Container with milk paint, paint brush and wooden stirer

The paint takes about 20 minutes to set up. It should be the consistency of pancake batter.

I find that pieces generally require at least 2 coats of paint. I let each application of paint dry before applying another coat. You can use a hair dryer to help the paint dry quickly. Without the hair dryer – the paint should dry in 30 minutes to an hour.

Step 4 – Enjoy the results

When I painted the section of porch column pictured above – it’s like magic happened. The architectural piece still retains its character but is now can be used in my home.  Milk paint retains the texture of old paint and allows some of the original paint to peek through.

Here is a photo of this newly painted pillar.

Architectural Salvage pieces with white paint

Here is one more photo showing you a comparison.

More Projects with Milk Paint

If you would like to learn more about how I use this paint check out the blog post links below for each project.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today.  I hope you found some inspiration!

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