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About IOD Decor Paint Inlays by Iron Orchid Designs, Best Practices, and Tips

About IOD Décor Paint Inlays.

What are IOD Décor Paint Inlays?  IOD Paint Inlays are the artisanal answer to décor transfers.

Are there video tutorials available?  Yes!  I recommend watching all 5 videos below prior to attempting your first inlay!  Their easy and fun, but do not a different approach than a transfer! 


Are IOD Décor Paint Inlays just another transfer?  No, IOD Décor Paint Inlays are not a transfer, decal, synthetic film, or decoupage. This is an exciting brand new patent-pending product by Iron Orchid Designs.

How do IOD Décor Paint Inlays differ from a Transfer?  Unlike a transfer that transfers from it's carrier sheet to the surface of your project, when you apply an IOD Paint Inlays to a properly prepared surface, actual artisanal paint from the inlay carrier sheet is embedded into your (wet) painted surface.  When the paper is removed, you are left with an authentic painted design and a buttery, almost leather-like surface on your piece.

IOD Decor Paint Inlay

What type of paint does IOD Décor Paint Inlays use?  IOD Paint Inlays are made from a proprietary artist-quality paint which was formulated specifically for decorative use. They are organic in nature and the transfer of the painted design will be slightly varied and unique for each individual. The results are visually interesting, texturally complex, and often inherently distressed. 

Can I fix a blemish in the design after application?  Yes! The paint formula is "active" until sealed. That means you can manipulated it and apply special techniques or a custom touch before you seal your piece.

Can I get multiple impressions from an IOD Décor Paint Inlays?  You can often get a beautifully-faded second impression, with the residual pigment on your "leftover" Paint Inlay sheets.  Depending on the techniques and colors you are using with your Paint Inlay, sometimes you can even get a third impression!

What kind of paint can I apply this to?  For best results with basic application, IOD recommends using a chalk-type paint that does not contain polymers. Polymer-based paints and topcoats can also be used, but the timing and results will vary, so check out IOD tutorials for that and more special technique videos.  Also, you can visit the IOD Creative Tribe Facebook Group for the latest tips and tricks.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This is a brand new product that was tested mostly with chalk-type paints, and had very limited testing with paints that have a top coat built in, such as Fusion Mineral Paint.  Rest assured, Vonda and Brad at The Painted Heirloom are hard at work perfecting the application into freshly painted Fusion Mineral Paint surfaces.

These instructions will be expanded as the product gets more use with different types of paint.


Step-by-step instructions - read all the way through before starting.  Then, read as you go. :)

  1. Plan the overall layout of your design(s) for your surface.

  2. Using the grids on the back side of the inlay sheet, trip as needed and set aside. If you are using a repeating pattern and lining the pattern up continuously, then trim excess margin on each sheet.

  3. Plan to work in small sections at a time, generally no larger than a 12" x 16" area.

  4. On an appropriately prepare surface, apply a generous and even coat of mineral-based chalk-type paint. for your small section.

    IOD Paint Inlay
  5. While the paint is still wet, lay the IOD Décor Paint Inlay sheet, design side down (grids are printed on the back for easier identification of front and back), into the wet paint, keeping the Paint Inlay sheet taught.

    IOD Paint Inlay
    IOD Paint Inlay
  6. Spritz lightly with an even mist of water.  Using a smooth damp sponge or folded soft cloth, pay down with even light pressure to make sure the Paint Inlay design makes good contact with the painted surface.  Avoid excessive moving or dragging of the Paint Inlay sheet once it is laid down, as this can cause blurring and smearing of the Paint Inlay paint design.

    IOD Paint Inlay
  7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 to complete your design, lining up your sections as appropriate.  The gridlines can help to match pattern edges when needed.

  8. Allow to dry to touch.  Drying times will vary anywhere from a few minutes up to one hour, depending on type of paint used and your environmental conditions.

  9. When ready to remove the Paint Inlay sheet from your surface, again spritz evenly with water, and allow 30 seconds to absorb; this helps the backing to release from your project.  Starting at one corner, gently pull the paper up, keeping it at a low angle.  It should be coming up easily without tearing.  If it does not, spritz a second time, wait a few moments, and then try again.

    IOD Paint Inaly
  10. If desired, at the pointed you can use water to blend out or soften the design since the pigment is still moveable and active.  You can even add additional colors.

    IOD Paint Inlays
  11. Once you are happy with the Paint Inlay design, it is time to seal it.

    There are a few different sealing options:
    • Option A.  Apply a water-based polyurethane-type of sealer directly over your work, being very careful not to overwork. With this method, you may notice a small amount of pigment migration. This will be minimized by avoiding overworking of the sealer into your piece.

    • Option B.  Set your work initially with a spray-on sealer, or artist's fixative.  Allow to dry.  Then, apply finish of your choice.

    • Option C. You can also use wax to seal your piece. Apply wax according to manufacturer's directions and buff to a sheen as normal.