“Building Blocks” – Part 2 – Painting the Blocks

“Building Blocks” – Part 2 – Painting the Blocks

After you’re done cutting and sanding the All Natural "Building" Blocks, it’s time to paint. Although you can paint your blocks with any non toxic paint, I adore milk paint for several reasons. First, I love the colors. They are soft and muted, and have an old world quality to them. Next, they come in a powdered form that you mix yourself. The dry powder can last indefinitely if kept in an airtight container. No worry about your paints drying out. (Once you mix the paint with water it should be used at once but can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.) Another wonderful characteristic is the ease of controlling how opaque the paint is by how much water you add. On the blocks I like the look of a "white wash" so I keep my paint rather thin. Another great feature of milk paint is how quickly it dries…basically in minutes! Finally, milk paint is all natural and non toxic! What could be better?

I bought a sampler pack of milk paint from Gallagher’s Milk Paint. I was able to pick out 10 different 1 oz. samples. To make enough paint to cover 4 or 5 blocks I mixed 1/2 teaspoon of the powder with 3/4 teaspoon water. Read directions for exact prep technique. When you apply milk paint, use a sponge brush and small amounts of paint. Work the paint into the wood with a back and forth motion following the grain of the wood. I wanted a "white washed" look so you can see the grain, but if you prefer a solid cover, use a little less water in your mix.

1] Mix paint as directed. Paint the base, and 4 sides of the building. Let the paint overlap slightly onto the roof. You’ll be painting the roof black and it will cover any other paint color. By overlapping you’ll guarantee that all the raw wood is covered.

2] Using black paint, paint the two sides of the roof. Allow to dry completely before adding the finish.

If you would like more detail, like windows and doors, add those now. Tomorrow we will complete the building blocks by sealing them with a non toxic finish you can make at home.



  1. i ordered from the same place you recommended. i could not be happier. a little of this stuff goes a long way. its absolutely wonderful!

  2. I just received my order of the milk paint sampler. I have a whole village to be painted, along with ducks, frogs and trees. You inspired me to plug in the scroll saw I inherited and had in my garage for over a year! Thank you for all this info!!!

    1. I adore milk paints. And a little goes so far. I like to start with a watered down solution… I like the "washed" look on many of my projects. You can always add more pigment if you want it darker. Have a blast 🙂

      1. Finally getting around to painting my wooden toys. Why is it that it’s torture to wait for something to arrive in your mailbox, but then it’s a month before you actually use it? Possibly the effect of having three small kids and another on the way?
        I was wondering if your wood grain was raised at all after painting with milk paint? Do you lightly sand before sealing? The blocks feel a little rough with the paint on compared to how smooth they were before painting.
        Any advice would be appreciated!

        Thanks, Erin

        1. I was actually going to ask the same question, milk paint makes my wood very rough. If you sand, does the paint smudge as you do that or stays put? I just tried sanding watercolor painted scrap of wood and I have paint all over it now, which is not something that I would want on a finished thing. And milk paint rubbed off significantly when I was buffing it with cloth after beeswax-oil application, do you have that problem?
          My husband, who is a woodworker, says to seal wood with shellac before painting but I am just not sure if I want to use it. I know they cover food with it but this does not convince me in its safety as they also put Red 40, hydrogenated oil and aspartame in food 🙂 Any thoughts on that subject would be greatly appreciated!

        2. I just finished a reply that took me an hour long to write, and when I hit save, my computer had logged me out and I lost all!!! (I even copied my work before I hit save, and in the glitch, it ate my copied version as well!) I must admit I was rather vocal! After I bribed my 3 dogs out from under the beds with cookies, and calmed down, I couldn't bring myself to sit and write my reply again. Then, it occurred to me, that there are probably many other readers that have the same problem. So, I will answer you again… but I'm going to do it as a blog, instead. So, sorry the answer isn't immediate, but I'll get to it sometime during the week.

          1. Oh, the horror! I hate it when it happens to me! Don’t worry, we are not going anywhere 🙂 And thank you!

          2. Link ? I am about to start painting my project 🙂

          3. Kimara

            Seems I never followed through with a milk paint post, but in general, I used milk paint all the time and it does take a while to get comfortable with it. First, I use milk paint when I want a bit of an old-fashioned, washed out look. If you want real vibrant colors I suggest a child-safe acrylic paint or soy paint.

            If your paint is raising the wood a lot, chances are you are using too much water. But, yes, because the paint is water based, it does react with the wood fibers and can raise the grain. If you do sand the pieces, you will loose some of the paint. Again, that is part of the beauty of milk paint. You actually want a bit of that. To off set it, repaint the surface again. Link any painting/sanding project, the more coats you put on and sand, the smoother the surface.

            Finally, yes, some of the color will come off when applying the finish. Not a biggy. The wood will be stained and the color will remain in the wood. After you get all the extra paint off, it will not continue to bleed. The beeswax finish does a wonderful job of sealing the wood.

            Again, if you want a hard, intense color, consider another paint. Also, if you want them really smooth, after sanding use a food grade acrylic finish. Personally, I love the old world look of the milk paint, but there are many other totally acceptable alternative finishes. Good luck!


          4. Thank you for your answer.
            I am about to start the forest/tree project (pines and oaks) and I do love the old world style as well.
            I made my jojoba/beeswax mix yesterday to protect some bendies I am doing too…(so far, so good)

            I saw you said in the comment you put a light wash initially on the trees (= quite diluted) did you ever had the issue yourself on your tree project ?

            On a side note, your site is a real candy for the eyes and mind…I absolutely love it.

  3. Kimara

    First off, thanks. We love what we do and it is always lovely when we hear from our readers. The answer is yes… whenever you use a water based paint on wood you will likely raise the grain. Again, if an ultra smooth finish is what you are looking for, use an acrylic, soy, o oil based paint… just make sure they are non-toxic, food safe.

    If there are any raised ridges, if you don’t sand them down, when children begin playing with the toys they will eventually become smooth from rubbing together. I love that worn look, so for me, if isn’t a problem. Make sure you share some of your finished projects on our Facebook page. Would love to see them 🙂 ~Kimara~

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