How to get the “Chippy Paint” Look

Here it is …


After all these months I am finally doing a post about how to get the chippy paint look on your furniture painting project.

Now, not all paints are created equal and a lot of people’s go-to paint for furniture is Chalk paint. I wish I could say that I’ve tried chalk paint… but… I haven’t. Just from looking at other people’s end products when they use chalk paint I’ve learned I’m not a huge fan of the finished result. It is not so bad if you are looking for full coverage but you want a more authentic “aged” look for less hassle I would suggest Milk Paint.

The Milk Paint brand that I use and love is Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, or for typing purposes, MMSMP. Marian (the owner) has an amazing blog that I found not long after I started my business. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t her amazing advice in painting, business, design and life. But that’s another post for another time.

So MMSMP is a powder paint product, made of 5, non-toxic, all natural ingredients, that I use and what you see on all my chippy dressers and other furniture post on Instagram and Facebook. Including the Ode to Miss Mustard Seed Dresser and The Blueberry Leaf Dresser (the pieces that got people asking for a tutorial post).

I mainly purchase my paint off of (You can find all the colors on my site here) and if you are a prime member you can get it even quicker. It comes in a powder form and sold in 1 quart bags (normal size bag), 2 quart bags (for bigger projects), or 30 gram bags (sample size).

I know what you’re thinking.

“Wait, wait, wait. What did she say? it comes in powder form?”

Yep, powder form. I was intimidated at first too. But there is something about mixing the paint myself and even formulating my own colors that makes the end product so much more special, and even harder to let go when the piece finds the perfect buyer.

Alright, lets starts this puppy.


Find a project piece.

It can be a table, a dresser, a chair, book shelf. WHATEVER YOUR CREATIVE HEART WANTS. I chose this small washstand. I do suggest that you choose something that is solid and made of real wood. Not a Walmart special. A solid piece that is gonna last you a heck of a lot longer and can be stripped and painted again much easier than a crappy piece of fakeness. For your first project, don’t get too much of a fixer upper. Don’t overwhelm yourself on the first go around.



Take out all the drawers and remove all the knobs.



This step is relative. With Milk Paint, the less rough (slick) the surface of the piece is, the more the paint will chip away. The more rough the surface is, or sanded, the more the paint will adhere. For this particular piece I gave it a very, VERY light sanding because I wanted a decent bit chipping. You then want to make sure to wipe away any dust or dirt. Looking for a clean surface here people!



Mixing your Milk Paint.

Mixing your paint is gonna take a little practice. And there is no perfect formula for your milk paint/water equation.

The best place to start is equal parts Milk Paint and Water. From there you can determine if you to add more paint or more water depending on how thick or thin your mixture is.

(pro tip: Before adding water, stir the powder to break up any soft clumps).

I would suggest stirring with a small whisk. After a good mixing, let it sit for 5-10 mins than stir again. A good goal is to have it drip off the whisk with the consistency of melted ice cream. If its dripping off quickly like water, add a tiny bit more powder.


Okay, your piece is prepped and paint is mixed, time for the first coat of paint.

Spread evenly and brush away drips. Let dry. You might see some pre-chipping happening. That’s totally fine.

Important Note: Its gonna go through an ugly duckling phase after the first coat paint. DO NOT GET DISCOURAGE. It happens on every piece. Remember this is not normal store bought paint and it’s not going to have a super opaque finish after the first coat. BUT…… Just wait.



Apply a second coat paint.

You want to do it the same way you did the first and let dry. Depending on how light the color is you’re using and what look you want, you may want to apply a third. For this particular piece I only did two coats.


Let the paint do it’s thing.

This is where how “rough” the surface of your piece comes into play. If you had a super slick finish on your piece before you painted it, be prepare for a CHIP-APA-LOOZA. For me, this particular project chipped and flaked a lot in some places and less in others.

Milk paint gonna do what milk paint wanna do. Make sure it is fully dry before starting the next step.


Distressing and bring out the chippy.

With a fine grit sand paper (120 is good) lightly rub all over the surface of the painted piece. If all goes according to plan, you’ll start seeing flakes of paint fall off your piece and began showing the wood underneath.



After you have it sanded and chipped to your hearts content wipe down your piece again.


“DESIGNERS… Make it wurrrkk.”



Protecting your baby.

To prevent further chipping you’re gonna want to seal in all that goodness. My go-to is MINWAX Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in Clear Matte (very, very little gloss). You will also want to use a different brush for this part. Cover your piece in an even coat and make sure to brush up any drips.

The protective coat will dry FAST. I usually do 2 coats on the tops of dressers. HOWEVER, it won’t fully cure for 15-30 days, so I would avoid putting anything too heavy on the top of it. But don’t let that deter you from using the piece right away. Books, pictures, smaller items will be fine sitting on it.


(Pro Tip: I HIGHLY suggest you invest in one of these wire cleaning brushes for cleaning your brushes, especially for the brush that you used for the protective coat… it makes a difference and will save you money on buy brushes. TRUST ME. My husband bought it for me when I really started getting serious about this stuff and I use it almost every day.)


Re-attach your knobs.



Step back and adore your work!




I hope this post was helpful. And as I said before the amazing woman who created this product has full blog dedicated to Milk Paint projects and living a creative life in general.

For a better visual guide. Marian (Miss Mustard Seed) has several Youtube Tutorials on the mixing of milk paint and other videos that are probably even more helpful.

What furniture projects are you working on or want to start?

Go forth in confidence!

 – Amanda