Water Based Paints

3 Water Based Paint Video Lessons

5 Water Based Paint FAQs

What is the Best Applicator to use for Milk Paint and Water Based Topcoat?

Either bristle or foam brushes will work well with Milk Paint and Top Coat. The folks at GF might use several types of brushes for a project.

For example:

  • We like to use a bristle brush (which loads up more paint) to get Milk Paint on the surface, and then use a water or Extender dampened foam brush to smooth out the finish.​
  • ​​​​​​Bristle brushes are particularly helpful on vertical and detailed surfaces but they can produce subtle texture.
  • Foam brushes tend to produce a smoother finish which can be particularly helpful on flat horizontal surfaces.
  • Pad Applicators or paint rollers are also helpful on larger horizontal surfaces such as a table top.

For folks who don't want to invest in several brushes, the foam brush is our recommendation.

The very best application method is spraying.

Will Milk Paint Adhere Over a Paper Veneer Finish?

We cannot guarantee that our paints will adhere well to a paper veneer - we have no idea what the actual material is or what adhesives were used to apply the veneer to the surface. The resins and additives in our paints may break down the adhesives used for the veneer.

General Finishes Milk Paints have an excellent adhesion factor and might well be successful.  If you can abrade the surface with sandpaper, you will increase your chance of success. 

For best possible results, follow these steps:


VIDEO: How to Prep Sand Raw Wood
VIDEO: How to Prep Clean an Existing Finish
VIDEO: How to Power Prep Existing High Use Finishes


Test your procedure on a hidden area first and let cure for 7-10 days. Then further test the finish by duplicating normal and tear such as washing, scrubbing, scratching, etc to see if the finish has bonded to the surface.  


If your finish adheres well, you should be ok to continue.  If the finish comes off easily, we recommend trying a sealing binder primer before you apply the paint, such as XIM 400 White Primer Sealer Bonder or whatever is recommended for paper veneer at your local hardware or paint store.  Again, TEST!


Apply product directly over the primer and seal with 2-3 coats of GF Top Coat. We recommend using General Finishes High Performance Topcoat over Milk Paint because it's water-based and dries clear.

Why Are Some Milk Paint Colors Thinner and More Translucent Than Others?

The ability of a paint to "hide" (cover) the existing underlying finish color is dependent on a number of factors. One factor is colorants and the other is filler. Colorants affect the viscosity of durable furniture paints, making some paints thinner than others. GF could add more filler, making Milk Paint similar to wall paint, but that would reduce the durability.

When covering existing medium-dark finishes, at least 2 coats of primer is recommended. Even with the use of a primer, additional coats of paint may be necessary.   

When covering lighter colored finishes, it may take 3+ coats of paint to achieve acceptable hide.

If you want a light color that has better coverage, consider General Finishes Chalk Style Paint.

How Can I Improve Coverage When Using White Paint on Furniture?*

A primer is your best defense under light-colored paint.

Another technique to avoid the slight color change that sometimes occurs when applying topcoat is to add 10-15% of the paint you are using to your topcoat. This technique layers additional coats of color over your piece as well as providing the protection of a topcoat. If you don't like measuring, just add enough paint until you can see a bit of the hue in the topcoat. This method works with a brush or a spray gun.

To maintain the full-strength protection of the topcoat, DO NOT TINT YOUR FINAL COAT of topcoat.

Remember, NEVER EVER paint an existing piece of furniture with a light paint without proper preparation AND a stain blocking primer. Topcoats can activate tannins in the wood, or dyes in the previous finish, causing yellow or pink bleed-through. We recommend General Finishes Stain Blocker, which has been developed specifically for upcycling furniture and has proven to be 100% effective when two coats are applied, or Zinsser BIN.

Here is a sample finishing schedule:

  1. Prep clean and sand
  2. Three coats of paint (or four if needed)
  3. Two coats of topcoat mixed with 10-15% paint
  4. One coat of topcoat

VIDEO: How to update or refinish cabinets and woodwork light paint color using a sprayer.

Why Do Milk Paint and Chalk Style Paint Separate in the Can, Even After Stirring?*

The separation is a condition the paint industry calls "float." This is typical with specific colors, such as grays, because of the large variance in the gravities of the pigments required to create those colors. In gray, for instance, Ti02 (white) is 3.4 and black is 1.62. The lower density will float.

This phenomenon will not occur in colors with less variance in densities. Float is not unique to General Finishes products.

Always stir the paint well just BEFORE and DURING use. If there is any delay, the ingredients will start separating. If it is a large project, we recommend continuing to stir throughout use to keep color properties consistent.