How to fix excessive milk paint chipping


Photo: Sky Lark House


Technically, this post is about the “after” version of an “after” version.  To refresh your memory, I started out with this very cute and well-built small chest of drawers. It was a little boring but it had dove tail joints in the drawers.


Photo: Sky Lark House


It was also constructed out of solid wood.  No plywood.  No press board.  Just solid pine. I had to pinch myself.  It’s so difficult to find good furniture.



Photo: Sky Lark House


I wrote an entire blog post about finding this piece HERE.  To give you a short version of the story – I found this piece of furniture on a trip to Maine.  I brought it home and decided to give it some character and a new look by using milk paint.  This is where things get interesting.

I got to work on the piece of furniture.  I sanded the entire piece.  Top, sides, fronts, drawers, knobs, etc.  I wiped it down with a degreaser.  You can read all about this process in a blog post I wrote HERE. After doing all the prep work, I mixed up some milk paint and got to work painting.

Everything was going swimmingly well.  Or so I thought – until the paint dried.


Photo: Sky Lark House


Photo: Sky Lark House


This photo above shows what happened.  Yup.  Everyone said – “Oh, it’s fine.”  They were encouraging.  Very positive.  They said it would sell in the store if I put it out as it was.  Deep down inside, I had doubts.

Keep in mind, that the milk paint had adhered well to the top and sides of the chest of drawers.  It was just the front where milk paint flaked off in giant strips.  The milk paint hated those dresser drawers.  It wanted nothing to do with them.

Perhaps I am taking this too personally . . .

Anyway, despite all the encouragement and positive feedback – it still bothered me. Every time I walked past that darn thing, it’s like it was sticking its tongue out at me and making a face.  I just couldn’t take it any more.  I HAD to fix it.

Which brings me to the title of this post: How do you fix a piece of furniture when you have excessive milk paint chipping? There are several options.  However, I am going to share with you what I decided to do.

FIRST: Disassemble the furniture

I removed all the drawers.  I removed all the hardware.

SECOND: Move all the pieces outside

I took the piece of furniture and all the components (drawers and knobs) outside to the driveway and laid down some newspaper and a tarp.

THIRD: Use sand paper

Then I broke out the 150 grit sand paper and sanded ALL the paint off of the front of the chest of drawers. Yes. You read that correctly. Every remaining flake of paint was sanded off. Where I could, I used a random orbit sander but for the most part, I hand sanded the drawers and corners.  Then I went over everything once again with 220 grit sandpaper. This sanding  may or may not have been fueled with frustration and a tad bit of anger. Fortunately, there were no witnesses. Except the dogs.

The reason I sanded off all the paint is because painting over a bad paint job just makes a bad situation worse. It creates uneven patches and gloppy areas on the furniture. Patches and gloppy areas on furniture are not my favorite looks.

FOURTH: Wipe down and paint

After the sanding was complete, I wiped it down and used Krud Kutter to ensure it was clean.  Then I mixed up a new batch of milk paint. Now, I should mention that I could have added a bonding agent to the paint which would ensure good adhesion. However, it wouldn’t look right if there was minor chipping on the rest of the piece and the front was uniformly painted.

So, I took my chances again with painting it.  Truth be told, it was a bit nerve racking. Would the paint flake off again?  What if it looked horrible? Did I have enough frustration to go back and sand it yet again?  I crossed my fingers.  I tried not think about it. I took the dogs for a walk. A long walk.


Photo: Sky Lark House


So, pictured above is the result. Much better.  It still has some character but the paint isn’t coming off in giant flakes. This piece of furniture and I have reached an understanding. It took awhile to get to this point of understanding.  It also took a lot of sand paper.


Photo: Sky Lark House


Photo: Sky Lark House


Full disclosure – the photos above were taken after the most recent episode of All Things Vintage.  You might recognize a few things from the video set up.  One more disclosure, the last photos was taken in the evening.  I ran out of daylight.  Sometimes this happens to bloggers when they need good photos.

Thanks for riding along on this journey with me.  Hopefully, you can refer to this post on how to fix excessively chippy milk paint if you encounter a similar situation.


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