How To Fix Unwanted Chipping

What do you do when you are in the middle of working on a project and this starts to happen.

Cherry Drop Leaf-7

Chipping.  Flaking.  Unwanted removal of your Milk Paint.

First, realize that you are NOT alone.  Those of us who have been using Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint have experienced unwanted chipping at one point or another, and we’ve all gone through the frustration and downright disappointment that inevitably follows.  Now I’m not talking about small chips here and there that are adorable and tasteful.  Oh no.  I’m talking about chunks and big patches of paint falling down like tissue paper at the slightest wind that blows.

You know what I mean.

I recently experienced unwanted chipping on this Mustard Seed Yellow dresser and I wanted to share my story with all of you.  Hopefully, after reading through my experience, you’ll feel encouraged and equipped when you encounter unwanted chipping on your next project.

Mustard Seed Dresser-14My dresser looks pretty in this photo, but that definitely wasn’t the case about half-way through the painting process.  Here is what the dresser looked like at first:

Mustard Seed Dresser-2 It was dirty on the inside, but the outside wasn’t particularly oily or smooth.  The piece actually had beautiful gatoring.

Mustard Seed Dresser-3

Gatoring is the texture that forms when old oil finishes get worn out and begin to contract and puddle in small beads over the surface.

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See what I mean?

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I gave my piece a light wipe down with a surface cleaner, but that was about it.  Here is my first tip to avoid chipping paint.  Properly clean the outside of your piece, gently scuffing with sandpaper if necessary.  Looking back, I don’t think I wiped my piece down thoroughly enough.  I had painted a jelly cupboard with a similar texture and age that turned out just fine.  I assumed this dresser would paint up the same way.

Jelly Cupboard-1

After giving the dresser a wipe down I mixed up my Milk Paint with Bonding Agent, which is a product that helps Milk Paint adhere to surfaces.  I painted on two coats and things were looking great!

Mustard Seed Dresser-1

On the final coat, I mixed a batch without the Bonding Agent.  In hindsight, I think that this last coat may have reactivated the underlying coats and loosened the paint.  My second tip is to paint every coat with Bonding Agent.  If you don’t want to run the risk, mix Bonding Agent in every batch and use it on every coat.

As the last coat was drying, I started to hear cracks every now and then.  I walked over to my piece and ran my hand across it.  Then, this happened.

Mustard Seed Dresser-12

There were big patches and small ones.  Once my piece was dry, it was patchy and awful.  I took to the internet and reached out to a few Milk Paint retailers to ask for help.  That’s another tip.  Utilize your local retailer as a source for inspiration and help.  Your local retailer is an expert.  They’ve been trained in the ways of all things Milk Paint related.  They have tips and tricks that will take your painting experience to the next level.  Use them.  Trust them.  They are wise.

The advice that I received is as follows.  Step One – Gently sand the chipping areas so there is no more loose paint.  Step Two –  Paint Bonding Agent directly on the bald patches.


Yes, you read that correctly.  Squeeze Bonding Agent into a small dish, dip your paintbrush in, and apply it directly on your problem areas.  It’s just like putting zit cream on a pimple.  It heals all and makes everything pretty again!

Once your Bonding Agent dries, it’s time for Step Three – Mix up a new batch of Milk Paint with the Bonding Agent, and apply it to cover the patches.

It doesn’t look pretty at first.

Mustard Seed Dresser-17

Trust the product and keep going.

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Don’t turn back!

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After a few coats, things will begin to look normal again, trust me.

Mustard Seed Dresser-28I wound up distressing this piece and I still got some small chipping spots.  I was OK with these though.  I’m familiar with these types of spots.

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These are charming and adorable.  These are not huge ugly bare patches.

Mustard Seed Dresser-25All in all, I’m so happy that I went through this experience with Milk Paint.  Trials bring valuable lessons, and this one was no exception.  I don’t say that flippantly.  I was under a deadline for this piece and running into this kind of a roadblock was the last thing I wanted to happen.  Despite the setback, it gave me the opportunity to call upon the experience of fantastic and supportive Milk Paint retailers and it gave me the chance to help and encourage you!

I’m calling it a win!

Mustard Seed Dresser-14

8 thoughts on “How To Fix Unwanted Chipping

  1. Allyson Geary

    What colors of MMSMP did you use to get that yummy marigold color? Thank you in advance!

  2. Lisa Silfwerbrand

    Oh my. It is not funny but I can’t stop laughing because that exact same thing just happened to me last week on a piece. I even had bonding agent in every coat! It went on find the first coat (and the second for that matter) and then I came back to put on the third and there were literally chunks of paint lying on the floor! I looove chippy paint but when most of the paint is laying around the piece… not so much 😉 I have yet to tackle the fix so will remember your story when I do. Although I am pretty sure I am going to have to take a sander to the entire piece since there was soo much that fell off. I have idea what was on that darn piece of furniture but there was something crazy…

  3. Kristen

    Thank you so much for the info! I have had this happen to me and didn’t know what to do! This is perfect and now I can fix the piece 🙂

  4. Susan

    I was curious as a beginner to milk painting, how much bonding agent did you mix into the milk paint mixture…can you give me a ratio?

  5. Susan

    I was curious as a beginner to milk painting, how much bonding agent did you mix into the milk paint mixture…can you give me a ratio?

  6. Michelle

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I just finished a piece & it began to crack. Now I can fix it, thanks so much!


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