What’s Eating This Paper?

February 20, 2017

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I hung this 10-15 years ago, and was back for another reason. This is a powder room. Spots like this are along the edges of much of the woodwork.

I think the brand is Scalamandre, a higher-end wallpaper, and it was a hand-trimmed paper with ink that smells like mothballs.

It really doesn’t look like something the maid could have done, even if she got chemicals on the paper. I told the homeowner I think it’s bugs eating the ink or paper, but she says she’s never seen bugs in her house. Well, she did admit that she has seen silverfish.

Just for fun, Google “silverfish wallpaper paste.” Ah-HA!

My suggestion was to get some bottles of 99c craft paint and a small brush and color in the areas.

Wet Stripping and Dry Stripping Old Wallpaper

February 19, 2017
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I hung these papers 15-20 years ago. Still in perfect shape, too, I might add. ๐Ÿ™‚

The homeowners are moving, and are trying to make the house as neutral as possible before it goes on the market. So the child-friendly lime green wallpaper had to go.

In the top photo, I am stripping a paper-backed solid vinyl paper. It is considered a peelable paper. These are pretty easy to get off, if you are patient. You peel off the top plastic printed layer, which usually comes off in large pieces. That leaves the tan paper backing stuck to the wall, which you can see as a “V” in the upper center of the photo. To the left of that area, I have wet the paper with a sponge and hot water, so it has turned darker tan. Once the water reactivates the adhesive, this backing will peel away from the wall easily; or it may need to be gently scraped off with a stiff 3″ putty knife. This process is pretty easy on the wall, and leaves little damage.

The second photo shows a thin paper wallpaper coming off by simply pulling on it. This is what is called a strippable paper. Interestingly enough, this paper was most strippable up high, where humidity from showering would have collected. Even strippable papers don’t always come off in one piece, and when they do, the process can put too much stress on the wall, so you might get pieces of the primer or underlying surfaces pulling off, too. To minimize damage to the wall, these papers can also be removed in the 2-step process outlined above. Since they are thinner, it’s a little harder to get the top inked layer off. But if you wet the surface first, which seems to make it stronger so it comes off in larger pieces, and then use that stiff 3″ putty knife to gently get under the top layer, and proceed as above.

Of course, what is under the paper has to do with it, too. In this case, my wonderful primer oil-based KILZ Original has provided a strong and water-resistant surface that sticks tightly to the underlying wall, and that let go of the wallpaper with no damage to the walls.

Step Back Into The ’70’s!

February 18, 2017
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This 1959 home is in the Meyerland / Westbury area of Houston, and is decidedly Mid Century Modern. The master bathroom had been nicely updated with granite countertops and sleek, honey-colored cabinets. But the dark grey walls studded with pimply home-handyman texture made the room dreary and uninviting. “I hate my bathrooms,” said the homeowner.

Well, we can change that. ๐Ÿ™‚

What a fun pattern! This “mod” design screams Mid Century (can you say Nancy Sinatra and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”?, and the color perfectly compliments the color of the cabinets. Once the paper went up, the whole room sprang to life – and it felt larger, too.

The homeowner totally loved the transformation!

This paper is by Graham & Brown, and has a durable vinyl surface on a thin non-woven substrate. The material is thin and pliable, clings closely to the wall, and was lovely to work with.

The walls themselves, though, were another matter. The extremely heavy texture had to be smoothed, which took two days. And hanging this rhythmic geometric pattern was greatly complicated by the un-plumb walls, un-level ceiling, un-straight outside corner … you get the picture.

Difficult to explain, but after a lot of fretting and experimenting and twisting paper and rehanging a couple of strips, I realized that I could not fight the irregularities of the room’s construction. So I opted for the theory of “keep the pattern motifs intact, even if they go off-kilter at the ceiling or outside corners.”

Fast forward to the finished room … It looks great. Most of the “imperfect” areas I was fretting over are not even noticeable. The homeowner loves it.

Hey – she loves it so much that she said she wants to spend the rest of the night in her new bathroom!

Water Color-y Mural In a Baby Girl’s Nursery – Accent Wall

February 17, 2017
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Here’s a delightful, softly colorful wall treatment for a soon-to-be-born baby girl. I love the way the flowers look fluid, as if they were brush strokes of water color. It is a mural, made up of six panels, rather than a typical wallpaper with a repeating design motif.

I hung this on one accent wall for behind the crib in a nursery ofย a newish home in Pearland. The wallpaper was bought on-line, and it came with no label, no instructions, no nothing. The homeowner told me name of the website, but – dang it! – I forgot the site and the brand name. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I suspect that this may be a knock-off of a very similar pattern. Read on.

I have hung this pattern before, with pleasing results:

https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/water-color-ful-wall-for-a-baby-girl/

and with slightly lesser-than-happy results:

https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/water-color-flowers-for-a-little-girls-room/

Anyway, back to hanging the mural. First I smoothed the new suburban home typically heavyish textured wall, and primed with Gardz. (No photos, but similar to the previous two posts.)

In the 4th photo, I have laid out each strip, to be sure of which way is up, of the sequence to be placed on the wall, and to get exact measurements so I can compare them to the wall.

As for getting the paper onto the wall, I followed the protocol for pre-pasted papers, which is to run each strip through a water tray. I added a light coat of supplemental paste to the wall and at the edges (ceiling, baseboard, corners).

Similar to my last experience with this paper, I had what we call “overlaps and gaps” at the seams. See photos 5 and 6. In the 7th picture, you can clearly see that the paper has not been cut straight. Look closely just below the pink flower petal, and you will see that the seam butts perfectly, then jogs to the left in an overlap, then comes back to the right in a perfect butt.

When the manufacturer provides crooked seams, it’s impossible to make them butt together perfectly.

In addition, every seam had pattern mis-matches. In fact, none of the pattern matched perfectly across the 9′ height of the mural. The photo with the dark green leaf shows an example of this. You might think, “Just pull one strip up a little.” But then other elements of the design at other points along the seam would not match up. (Not pictured.)

The paper is simply poorly trimmed and poorly printed.

From a distance, you don’t notice any of this at all, and even close up, most homeowners don’t see it. But this mother-to-be was envisioning a perfect room for her first baby, and she paid a lot of money for the mural and installation – and she spotted the irregularities immediately.

With some of the overlapped seams, I was able to carefully trim off the lower layer, so they butted together better. And as the paper dried, I was able to push some of the seams together, as well as pull apart some of the overlaps. And I used my trusty No. 2 graphite pencil to fill in some of the mis-matched design at the seams.

In the end, the homeowner was happy with the room.

The crib and other baby’s furniture are white, and will look sweet and peaceful against this accent wall.

Why do I have no photos of the finished room? All this furniture is in the garage, still in boxes, waiting to be assembled.

Hmmm… Guess how this young couple is going to spend the weekend? ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting the Walls Smooth, Cont’d.

February 16, 2017
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Yesterday’s post showed you the extremely heavy texture on the walls that needed to be smoothed before wallpaper can go up. In the first photo above, you see the walls after I applied the first coat of smoothing compound.

Once that had dried overnight, I sanded it. Since it started out so thick and uneven, it was impossible to sand it completely smooth, as you see in the second photo. Some paperhangers would hang on this, but I want the walls to be a perfectly smooth as possible, so no bumps show under the paper.

So floated the walls again, this time with a very light skim coat. It dried relatively quickly, and I sanded the walls a final time. The third photo shows how smooth they turned out.

A lot of work, some sore muscles, and SIX BOXES of joint compound!

Prepping Heavily Textured Walls for Wallpaper

February 15, 2017
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Wow. Some DIY remodeler / house flipper loved this textured wall finish, and sprayed it on EVERY WALL AND CEILING in this otherwise-beautifully-updated home near Gessner & Kempwood. The young couple who bought the home want wallpaper in their two daughters’ rooms and in a front room study, plus they want chalkboard paint on one wall in the kitchen.

Wallpaper looks best and sticks best to smooth walls, and the chalkboard wall needs to be perfectly smooth, so I am spending two days smoothing these surfaces. The wallpaper will go up later.

Today I skim-floated the walls with joint compound. (It’s kind of like plaster, and is applied with a trowel.) I went through nearly FIVE boxes of the stuff (see photo). Each box is 44 lbs. Need I say that my arms and shoulders are tired and sore? ๐Ÿ™‚

Applying it thickly enough to cover the 1/4″ – 1/2″ bumps means that it will take a looong time to dry, so I have turned on the heat in the house (to help draw moisture out of the smoothing compound) as well as the house fan (to circulate air), set several fans up blowing against the walls, and left it to dry overnight. Tomorrow, I will sand the walls.

Because the skim coat was so thick, even when it is sanded, the surface will not be perfectly smooth, and will also have many holes caused by air bubbles. So I will trowel on a second, much lighter coat, to cover these irregularities. With the heat cranking, and the fans blowing, this second skim coat should dry fairly quickly.

Then I will sand one final time, vacuum up the dust, wipe the walls free of dust with a damp sponge, and finally roll on a sealing primer called Gardz.

The painters can then apply the chalkboard paint to the kitchen wall. And when I come back to hang wallpaper in a month or so, the messy part of the job will be over and done with, so no more dust or mess or smells in the clients’ home – just new, pretty wallpaper for the little girls’s rooms and for Mom’s study.

Hanging Paper Plumb

February 14, 2017
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Here is my laser level, shooting a line onto the wall, so I can hang my first strip of wallpaper perfectly straight and plumb in the middle of this accent wall.

First Stab Wound of 2017

February 12, 2017
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Dang that razor knife!

Subtle Shimmer in a Home Office

February 12, 2017
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It’s easier to find beautiful shimmery Chinoiserie murals on HOUZZ – than it is to swallow the price tag … Some of those you see pictured are very high-end, meaning, $1000-$10,000 per panel.

I suggested this homeowner go visit Dorota (read below) and she was able to find a very similar design and color that she loves, for a very reasonable price. It has just enough of the Asian look, and the flowers look like they are hand painted on. It compliments her mirrored desk and side tables, and it offers a bit of upscale shimmer, but does not overpower the room.

The soft colors blend nicely with the rest of the house. The homeowner will probably pick up some of the soft peach color from the flowers as an accent color in other areas of the room. I’m hoping she will paint the other three walls this color.

I hung this on one accent wall of a second floor home office, in a new home in the Houston Heights. It’s by Wallquest, in their Jaima Brown Home line. This wallpaper was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Jungle View With Vaulted Ceilings

February 11, 2017
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The ceiling of this home office on the third floor of a newish home in the Rice University / Museum District of Houston has some interesting angles and spaces. But there is no window in the room. The homeowner thought the space was stark and claustrophobic. So she came up with the idea to open up the space with a verdant foliage pattern.

The palm leaf paper went on the two large angled spaces over where the desk / computer will sit. Then a companion paper was chosen for the two smaller angled areas flanking the desk area.

I love using two coordinating papers in one space. And the green leaves really do open up the space, and bring a bit of the outdoors in.

Angled spaces like this eat up a lot of paper, so plan for a lot of waste.

Both these wallpaper patterns are by Designer Wallpapers, and were bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.