Chalk Paint, Milk, Mineral or Latex—Which Paint is Best for Your Refinishing Project?

Updated: Sep. 06, 2023

The rise in popularity of chalk-based refinishing paints has made it easier than ever to take on a paint project at home. But with so many choices, how do you know which paint is the best fit for your project?

Which Paint Should You Choose?

Chalk paint, milk paint, mineral fusion paint and latex paint all have different qualities that make them easy to use, but some work better than others, depending on your project. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the different paints using a trim board, sanded and tested for durability and scratch resistance.

We also took into account things like how much prep work was needed, whether or not these paints needed a primer or a topcoat, and what kind of color range is available. No matter what kind of project you’re doing or what you’re looking for, you’ll now be able to make the best choice.

Chalk Paint

chalkTeresa Odland for Family Handyman

  • Occasionally needs light sanding prep for best adhesion
  • Thick, 1-coat coverage
  • Wide range of colors, some can be custom-tinted
  • Versatile for distressing, layering and glazing
  • Porous, needs a finish coat for ultimate durability

Milk Paint

milkTeresa Odland for Family Handyman

  • Powder form, mixed with water
  • Range opacity from solid to stain
  • Must mix thoroughly or lumps and bubbles persist
  • No primer, but needs bonding agent for some surfaces
  • Environmentally friendly, contains no VOCs
  • Chippy, textured look
  • Porous, needs a finish coat for ultimate durability

Mineral Paint

mineralTeresa Odland for Family Handyman

  • No prep needed
  • Built-in topcoat
  • Self-leveling, smooth finish
  • Low VOCs, low odor
  • Must distress before completely dry
  • Acrylic resin as base, non-porous

Latex Paint

latexTeresa Odland for Family Handyman

  • Prep and primer needed
  • Thick, smooth coverage
  • Infinite tintable colors
  • Variety of finishes from matte to high gloss
  • Chips or peels without proper priming
  • Acrylic base, does not need topcoat

Comparison Chart

Fhm PaintchartFamily Handyman

Use this chart when considering your options for mineral paint vs chalk paint. It’s got all the pros and cons laid out and easy to see so that you can make your paint selection easily, no matter what kind of surface you’re painting: trim, furniture, walls, etc.

You’ll be painting like a professional in no time at all!