Featured expert LAURA DISTIN of THE IRONSTONE NEST answers your questions on the topic of PAINTING TECHNIQUES AND HOW-TOS!

  • Topic
  • KiKi #87708

    Hello! I’m excited to introduce LAURA DISTIN of THE IRONSTONE NEST as our expert here on the KI NASSAUER Community! Laura will answer your Qs on the topic of PAINTING TECHNIQUES AND HOW-TOS!

    Here’s how it works:

    Feel free to post your questions for Laura NOW through Friday, April 10th, 2015. Laura will check-in and answer Qs Monday, April 6th through Friday, April 10th. Let the discussion begin! Have fun and happy junking!


    A note from our expert, Laura:

    I’d like to begin by thanking Ki and her incredible staff for inviting me to take part in her community. I’m very excited to be here this week!

    Refinishing furniture and painting have been very prominent in my life for many years. I spent a lot of time and money trying products and techniques that didn’t work. In the midst of my paint journey, I also found a lot of success and happiness in being a “furniture foster.” I enjoy taking a tired, worn piece of furniture and repairing its broken drawers, peeling veneer, re-staining and painting and bringing it back to life!

    My goal is to ease the intimidation factor for you, and assist you every step of the way in your paint-related DIY projects.

    I look forward to answering your who, what, when, where and why questions this week as we dive into all things paint!

    It’s my pleasure,

    Laura Distin
    The Ironstone Nest

    DSC_0070 DSC_0074 DSC_0078 First Lightroom photo 32715 DSC_0047 Chalk Paint The Ironstone Nest 2

    Read about Laura:

    Laura Distin

    Laura Distin is a self-taught furniture painter who started refinishing and painting furniture 18 years ago out of necessity, long before painting furniture was “trendy.” She didn’t have a lot of money so she would bring home pieces from yard sales, or take hand-me-downs from family and transform them into a unique treasure for her home. She describes herself as “an antique lover first and a furniture refinisher second.” If she can repair it and keep it as found, she will.

    Laura started her blog, The Ironstone Nest, in 2010 as an outlet and a way to share her passion for antiques and refurbished furniture with others. After a very successful career in another field, she suddenly found herself at home with a baby and really needed a creative outlet! On her blog, she regularly shares her before and afters, triumphs and failures.

    At her very first vendor sale three years ago, Laura had a buffet that she decided to repaint right then and there. She thought it would be great to invite people to watch her paint, share tips and tricks and tell them which tools she likes best. Through that event, she realized she wanted to share what she knew, so that others could learn and not be intimidated by the process. Two years ago, she opened her first teaching studio and finally had the opportunity to help guide others and share what she’s learned over the years. The Ironstone Nest is now not only a blog, but also a brick and mortar store and online shop. Laura has discovered a passion for teaching her customers as well as other retailers through workshops and her blog!


  • Discussion
  • Ki Ki #87737

    Thanks so much Laura for discussing painting techniques and how-tos here on the KN Community!

    Laura’s work on the Community is done- but don’t be shy! Feel free to continue the discussion with other community members right here. Also, check the sidebar for our upcoming experts!

    Thanks again Laura! Happy junking.


  •  Karla #87723

    Hi Laura,

    Though I don’t paint a lot of furniture (so my skills and knowledge are minimal) I am always mystified about the right tools to use to get that final finish. When picking out a paint brush what should I be looking for? Do you have a favorite brand for a paint brush that you like to use. Should the brush have an angle edge or straight edge, what brush fiber works best. Do I need to use steel wool, what grades should that be and used how and where? Sandpaper, what grits should be used for what and where in painting and finishing an item. Do you like to use some type of wax to give it a smooth final finish ? Do you have a favorite wax brand? Have you ever used a colored wax to stain and finish coat a wood table that has been stripped of paint and stain? Do you have a favorite brand?

    Thanks for your input, Karla

    •  theironstonenest #87731

      Hi Karla,

      Thank you so much for your questions. I’ll answer them one by one:

      The paint brush depends most on what paint you’re using and what surface you’ll be painting. Two of my “go to” brushes in my toolbox are: a synthetic sash brush (great for just about anything), natural bristle brushes in various sizes (great for natural paints & helps reduce brush strokes). I tend to lean toward a natural bristle brush for almost every job. Most of the paints I use are water based so I get excellent control with a natural bristle as opposed to a synthetic bristle brush.

      Steel wool is a great wool for sanding, actually. I use extra fine steel wool quite a bit for a super soft finish. It’s a great tool to have in your arsenal.

      As far as sandpaper goes, I tend to use 80 grit (medium) sanding sponge for roughing up a piece prior to painting. And then I turn to 220 (very fine) for smoothing a surface once it’s been painted. I also use a 220 grit sanding sponge for distressing edges by hand. I never use a power sander for distressing. Everything I do is by hand unless I am refinishing the top of a piece. In that case, I break out my Dewalt orbital sander and use 60 grit (coarse sanding disks) to remove any previous finish down to the raw wood. I then use various higher grits to get the wood super smooth before I apply a stain. You never want grit marks on the wood prior to staining which is why you switch from a low grit, coarse sandpaper, to a higher grit, smoother sandpaper. You want the wood as smooth as possible!

      I do hand wax all of my painted pieces. My MO is to wax over paint and use polyacrylic or polyurethane on wood. I’ve only used a poly top coat on paint a handful of times, like in the case of a bathroom vanity that I completed for a customer. In a high humidity area like that, I opted for 3 coats of poly.

      I do have a few favorite brands but it really comes down to your preference. Some people prefer paste wax, some people prefer the softer waxes. I tend to lean towards the softer waxes. I prefer their feel and finish. I have also use dark waxes, or pigmented waxes, to stain wood. It actually turned out very nice, but I don’t think the look is as authentic as a stain.

      I hope this helps answer some of your questions, Karla. If you think of anything else, please let me know. I’m always happy to help!


      •  Karla #87732

        Thanks Laura for all the good information! I have printed your answers out so when my next project comes along I will be better informed and ready to tackle that project with little fear.

  • Meadowlark Meadowlark #87722

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for sharing your expertise!
    Do you have a “quick test” you use for determining whether a piece has been previously shellacked, necessitating the need for a more intense prep job before painting? How do you make sure so that you know your paint job will take?

    •  ironstonenest #87729

      Thank you for your question, Meadowlark! I assume you’re worried about “bleed through”? I generally will put a small test patch of the paint I intend to use in an inconspicuous area to see if any tannins show through. This isn’t always fool proof, however, because some times a spot will show through a paint layer in one area, but not in another. I tend to paint an entire first coat on an entire piece, and “cheat”. If there are areas on the paint surface where bleed through is appearing, then I shellac only those areas (not the entire piece) and then continue with my second coat as usual. It saves time and money this way.

      Intense prep work also depends on the paint you’re intending to use. There are a lot of paint lines out there now that require minimal prep work, which is wonderful for novice painters and even us avid furniture re-finishers!

      I hope this answers your questions!

      • Meadowlark Meadowlark #87730

        Thanks, Laura! Wondering about when it is previously applied shellac that is causing the bleed through or cracking. I’ve used a Kilz primer before to solve the problem but wondered if you’ve used anything else that works!

  • Ki Ki #87721

    Thank you for joining the community! I am not an avid painter but love to paint. I have always wondered what the process should be when I find an item that has already been poorly painted. Do I need to sand or strip the paint before I apply my new paint? I sometimes take my fingernail and do a scratch test and the paint comes right off. I assume it was incorrectly applied. Can I paint over or do I have to start over to avoid my paint from coming off with the old coat? Thanks!

    •  ironstonenest #87724

      Hello Ki! And thank YOU for having me! Excellent question to kick this off.

      If a piece is poorly painted, then I would strip the entire piece and start with a brand new, clean slate. But before you do that, I would do a lead test first. If you are ever unsure of the year that the paint was applied, for about $2.98 you can pick up a lead test kit at your local hardware store to ensure it is not lead paint that you’re dealing with. You never want to sand or strip lead paint. It’s even a good idea to bring a lead test with you when you go to flea markets or antique stores before you invest in a piece that you’re considering redoing entirely. It only takes a matter of seconds before you’ll know if it is or not.

      If it is lead paint, seal with a clear top coat and then you can paint over it. But if it tests negative for lead paint, then I would strip it and give yourself a nice, new surface to start!

      Thank you for the question, Ki!

      • Ki Ki #87733

        Thanks for the great tips! Wish everyone that painted was as careful and particular as you. It would make shopping so much more enjoyable! A well done paint finish is hard to find!

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