Specialist Painting and Decorating... Read More


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June blog

Hi !

Well during the past month there has definately been a wood theme going on ! I was commissioned to restore a staircase in a period property, the hand rails and the tops of the newel posts had been painted in a dark brown coating and the intention was to remove this to expose the wood below. The newel posts, balusters, stair treads and wall string, along with the outer string and spandrel panels were to be painted using an eggshell finish. So the first course of action after sheeting up was to carry out some tests to ascertain how best to remove the dark coating. With much elbow grease it could be removed using a medium grade wire wool, however this would be very time consuming. Nitromors was tried on a small area and the result was 'interesting' !! The coating softened and became very sticky and stringy and consequently very difficult to remove ! White spirit was tried but had no impact on the coating either. So with no record of what this coating was but with the knowledge that it was probably put on in the 1950s, I wondered whether it was a shellac based product, commonly used in the early and mid C20th. I therefore tried rubbing methylated spirits into the surface on a small area - the coating very quickly softened and could be wiped off. To say I was pleased would be an understatement ! So armed with a large bottle of meths I set to work ; working in small sections the meths was rubbed into the surface, allowed to soak in for a few seconds and the wiped off with wire wool. The process was repeated and then the area wiped clean with a soft cloth dipped in meths. The rails and tops of the newel posts were then washed with water and dried with a soft cloth. Once completely dry, a wax was applied to give some protection to the wood. The transformation was dramatic; the stairwell was given a much lighter feel and it was good to see the wood grain exposed. The remaining woodwork was painted using a Sanderson water based eggshell which was a delight to use.

I was later that month painting some internal frame and brace doors using an oil based eggshell in Little Greene's 'light Grey'. The doors had previously been stained and varnished fairly recently and were consequently a very dark brown. The best course of action was to use Zinsser B-I-N as the primer. This product also acts as a sealer and stain blocker. I've used this product many times before and am very pleased with it; it adheres to all dense, smooth and slick surfaces and as it dries very quickly, recoating is possible in 45 minutes. Any oil or latex paint can be applied over it. This is a shellac based paint so again the methylated spirits was in demand !

As a personal project, in my spare time ( whats that ? !! ) when I can find some and to keep me sane, I've been painting up a little table I found in a second hand shop. After giving it a good clean, I upcycled it using Autentico's 'French Grey' as a base coat followed by two coats of Annie Sloan's 'Old White'. Once dry, I distressed the edges and legs a little before giving it a coat of clear wax. It now resides in my summer house looking rather splendid even if I do say so myself !


Bye for now !

Categories: Donna Smith Decorating Blog