Natural Paint: Casein Paint

When mixed properly, you find natural casein paint to be durable and attractive.

  • casein paint - design element
    Carved decoration painted with casein.
    Bill Steen
  • casein paint - ingredients
    Ingredients for casein paint.
    Bill Steen
  • casein paint - irregular wall and windows
    A room with irregular walls and windows painted with casein.
    Bill Steen
  • casein paint - wall and pillow
    A textured wall painted with casein paint.
    Photo by Bill Steen

  • casein paint - design element
  • casein paint - ingredients
  • casein paint - irregular wall and windows
  • casein paint - wall and pillow

Casein is the protein component of milk, and it makes great paint. Casein paint lasts indefinitely, is excellent on many surfaces, isn’t prone to fungal growth, and leftover paint can be safely composted. Casein paint is prepared from the curds of nonfat milk (fats inhibit drying time). These are also known as quark, and are available in gourmet grocery stores, but they’re easy to make yourself. Or you can purchase concentrated casein powder from a natural paint supplier. (To use casein powder instead of quark, just follow the label’s instructions.)

Casein paint must be mixed to specific proportions to prevent cracking, peeling and dusting off. It’s important to allow each coat to dry completely, because the paint will become more and more opaque as it dries. Avoid the temptation to apply extra-thick coats!

In order to become an adhesive binder, casein must be combined with an alkali such as lime. (You can use borax instead, but lime-casein paint is much more water resistant.)

Casein Paint with Lime

Yields about 1 quart

1 gallon nonfat milk
2 1/2 ounces “Type S” lime (dry powder available at hardware stores)
2 1/2 cups water
Natural earth pigment (more or less depending on desired color)
6 cups filler (usually whiting)

  1. Leave milk in a warm place for a few days to curdle. Then pour through a colander lined with cheesecloth. You should have about 2 cups of curds. The whey can be composted.
  2. Mix curds and lime powder in a blender. Add a little water if the mixture isn’t blending well. Strain to remove any lumps.
  3. Add water to the binder immediately after it is prepared.
  4. Dampen and crush pigments. Add them to the mixture a little at a time until desired color intensity is achieved.
  5. Stir in filler.

Casein Paint Adjustments

After mixing your paint, test it on a small area of your surface and let it dry completely. If it doesn’t spread easily, add some water. If it dusts, add more binder. If it’s too thin, add more filler. If the color isn’t rich enough, add more crushed pigment.

3/1/2021 2:53:48 AM

Hello, I have used casein paint for small decorative accents on an outdoor wall. Some of the small motifs (using casein) have dripped out and need to be corrected. How can I remove casein paint? Thank you.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters