Working Safely Over a Bathtub

November 30, 2022
This vintage tub is super cool , and period-appropriate to this 1926 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston . But if you need to get wallpaper on the walls around and above it, it’s really tricky . A ladder won’t fit in the tub , nor straddle it, and might damage it as well.
So I keep this handy piece of plywood in my van . It’s a standard 2’x4′ size, and 1/2″ thick. That’s thick enough to distribute and hold my weight, but still light enough that I can carry it into homes and up staircases .
It’s been sanded and then primed with white KILZ , to look a little nicer bringing into my clients’ homes, and also to reduce the chance of it leaving a mark on surfaces .
The board is a perfect size for placing over various types of bathtubs or other items – as long as their top is flat. Note that I have cushioning and non-slip material between the board and the tub.
In this case, I’m also using a one-step Rubbermaid step stool to boost my height.
This might look a little scary, but it’s all actually very safe . I just need to be sure that my weight is distributed over the tub, and not over that unsupported section on the right.
The stool does add a little more interest to the balancing act. But it’s all doable and safe if you just pay attention to your weight and movements. It did help that this family gave me plenty of peace and quiet while I was working .

Ceiling is NOwhere NEAR Level

November 29, 2022
We wallpaper hangers / installers like to have a nice straight ceiling line . Meaning, that the same pattern motif will show up at the same height on the wall on every strip . For instance, the top of the sailboat will touch the bottom of the crown molding all the way around the room.
But in old houses, poorly-built houses, or just plain old wonky houses (which are most homes in Houston! ), you can’t count on ceilings and floors being level , nor on walls being perfectly plumb .
When I used my level to check the ceiling in this 1926 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood , I admit – I laughed out loud!
When a surface is level, the air bubble will be in the middle of the two black lines . It’s common for the bubble to be a little “off.” But this one isn’t even trying to be in the middle. Meaning – the ceiling is nowhere near level. The ceiling line is moving up and / or down as it moves across the room. The discrepancy can be as much as an inch or even more from one end of the room to the other.
Meaning, there is no way that that sailboat is going to be just below the ceiling on every strip.
Luckily, this particular wallpaper pattern was such that you aren’t going to notice much.
The other thing is, most people who live in older homes, or homes with shifting foundations , or even new homes , understand that walls and floors rearrange themselves over time . So they’re understanding if sailboats drift down the ceiling line , or if patterns don’t match absolutely perfectly in the corners.

Wasting a Lot to Get a Little. A Lesson in Pattern Repeat. AKA: Don’t Order Wallpaper Based on Square Feet DRAFT

November 27, 2022
This is the tail end of a roll, and is too short to use on a full-height wall . So I save these pieces for use over doors , under windows , etc. (I never throw scraps away until the job is finished.)
This piece is about 3′ long . I need a piece 8″ high to go over a door . In order to get the right pattern match , I have to cut my 8″ piece from about the center of this 3′ long scrap . As you can see, that leaves us with more than 2′ of length of wallpaper that cannot be used . It’s too short to fit most spaces , plus the pattern repeat is not in the right position.
Let’s see … roughly 2.5′ of length multiplied by the width of the paper (27″ but we’ll call it 2′ for ease of mathematics ) comes out to 5 square feet of wallpaper . That cannot be used anywhere. It just goes on the scrap pile.
This is another example of why you can’t order wallpaper based on square footage . Wallpaper isn’t like paint – you can’t use every square inch. You have to plan for the waste factor . And the waste factor changes, based on the length of pattern repeat juxtaposed against your wall’s height .Most websites that sell wallpaper mention the square footage of a roll / bolt . But they fail to give adequate information on how to factor in for accommodating that waste . Some say to add 1% or even 10%, but that’s not adequate . What to do? Contact the wallpaper hanger / installer before you order your paper!
This cheery pattern is by Rifle Paper , made by York . Rifle is very popular right now. And now wonder – those flowers and visual movement are mighty attractive !

Wanderlust? City Maps Wallpaper in Hall Bathroom

November 26, 2022
Original tile in this 1926 home goes beautifully with the colors in this globe-trotting wallpaper . I positioned the pattern to try to get the most names and maps within the area between the tile and ceiling .
The paper turned out to have a complicated multiple drop pattern match . Basically, in a nutshell, most of the time, with a straight match , a particular pattern motif (the word ” Bangkok ” for instance) will appear at the same height , such as the top of the wall , on every strip . Or, with a drop match , it’s at the top of the wall every other strip . These are the two typical pattern match types. But with a multiple drop match , the pattern will fall down and down across the wall further and further , and finally appear back at the top of the wall on the fourth , or, sometimes, more, strip. That’s why in this shot, you see the bottom half of the city names cut off by the tile, instead of the full name.
And the pattern match is different if you’re moving from left to right, or from right to left .
It’s a real head-scratcher to figure out – and you had better notice it before you start cutting strips, or you could end up running short of paper . It also eats up a lot of paper. I always measure to have a little extra , but in this case, we ended up with just barely enough to finish the 2-room bathroom .
City Maps is by Rifle Paper , which is made by York , generally a good company – although starting to have lots of printing defects – which we did experience on this installation. Also, usually, Rifle Paper is an easy non-woven / paste-the-wall material . This time, second time in a month, it was printed on traditional paper. Another surprise that added time to this job , since after pasting , each piece had to be booked and then set in a plastic bag for a few minutes to absorb the paste , expand , and relax . Best to have this occur in the bag, rather than put it immediately on the wall – which would result in wrinkles and bubbles. But it does slow the process down.
This home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .

Soft and Sweet Pattern for Accent Wall in Baby Girl’s Nursery

November 24, 2022
The crib will go on this wall. Originally it was textured grey paint , as you see on either side .
Here is the wall after I’ve skim-floated / skim-coated it, sanded smooth , and primed with a wallpaper primer called Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime . I have them put a little blue tint in it, so I can see where I’ve rolled it on.
This wallpaper comes in one continuous roll ordered by the yard , as you see on my table , as opposed to double roll bolts as most brands are packaged.
This cute pattern is called Thatcher . It looks like a simple repetitive pattern , but it was actually fairly complicated . Not all those starburst motifs , and especially not the fan shaped lines around them, are the same.
Looks hand painted with a paintbrush .
The paper has a clay coated surface , which give it a beautiful matt finish.
It’s lovely stuff to work with – seams melt away like butter , and trim lines are spot-on. (Many companies’ are not.)
This brand’s papers come with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand.
You use a straightedge and single edge razor blade , and follow the manufacturer’s trim guide lines , to remove the selvedge. Today trimming this one bolt to do one wall took a full hour.
The brand is Pepper Home .
The home is in the Woodland Heights area of Houston .
installer

Humidity Causes Curling Edges on Vinyl / Non-Woven Wallpaper

November 23, 2022
I hung this wallpaper about 10 years ago. It’s a main bathroom in a 1920’s home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The home has been remodeled including updated HVAC systems , but surely still suffering from issues of humidity and air circulation.
At some point, the very edges of the wallpaper started curling back at the seams. This is more pronounced at the upper portions of the wall than at the chair rail. Meaning, humidity from showering is rising into the air, collecting under the ceiling, and working its way into the seams.
Once humidity gets into the backing of the wallpaper, it can cause the backing to expand. When that happens, the paper has to go somewhere. So it pushes itself away from the wall. Hence the curling that you see here.
What’s odd to me is that this happened with a paper that’s on a non-woven backing. Non-wovens are 20% polyester, so pretty resistant to moisture and humidity. I’m guessing that this company used less than the industry standard of 20% polyester. The material was super thin and flexible, which is unlike most non-wovens I’ve worked with.
I was able to make this look pretty good again. I used a putty knife to gently lift the compromised edges away from the wall, and then I worked some of my regular wallpaper paste back behind there. (no super glue or heavy duty paste or contact cement )
Then I used my heat gun – set on Low – to gently warm up the vinyl surface of the wallpaper . The heat gun served several purposes … It helped speed the drying of the paste , so it got tacky and held more quickly and firmly. The heat gun also ” melted ” the vinyl surface a wee bit, so it would curl back in the opposite direction.
I used a 3″ stiff metal putty knife to push the two edges of wallpaper back down to the wall. The metal knife heated up, too, and helped to get the vinyl to conform.
Using the heat gun and the metal putty knife also helped the two edges from the two strips to meet up together … sort of like two mountain big horn sheep butting their heads together . Butted together this way is better than one lying on top of the other.
I was really pleased with how well this worked. Sorry – no pics!
The brand is Super Fresco Easy .

Renovation Uncovers Vintage Wallpaper

November 22, 2022
I love all things vintage , particularly the early 1900’s – 1940’s . So it was a thrill and an honor to help decorate this 1926 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .
The homeowners revere their new abode , too, and carefully maintained the character of the home during the renovation, while still adding updates that facilitate life in a modern world .
They also preserved many of the original features , and created a sort of ” shrine ” near the back door.
This framed wallpaper sample is one of those.
I love these old papers, and have a growing collection of my own.
Back in the day, the ship-lapped walls were covered with cheesecloth – like fabric , which was tacked to the wood . The wallpaper was pasted and then applied over that.
You can see some of that fabric peeking out at at the top of this sample .
Just about every room had a border running around the top, below the ceiling , as seen in this example.
This was stylish through many decades , so it’s difficult to tell what era this particular paper is from. To me, this looks like the 1950’s – but it could be as early as the 1920’s .
Borders were still popular into the 1990’s , but wider. I’ve hung bunches of them!
This ” history wall ” also included keys , mailbox parts , invoices written in fountain pen , hinges , and other cool old memorabilia .

But ,,, But ,,, I See A Butt !

November 21, 2022
Although it’s free and loose, this is essentially a symmetrical pattern . After studying the pattern on-line , I determined that this dark berry motif with the red bird was the dominant element in the design .
I measured and plotted carefully , to plant that motif right in the center above the window molding .
This would ensure that the dark berry motif would fall evenly on both sides of the window as it moves down the wall .
What I didn’t anticipate is how the individual design elements would also play out , being divided equally on both sides of the window . Take a look …
On the left side of the window molding is the rear end of a bird . See his tail ?
And on the right side of the window , at the same height , is the front end of the bird !
The flowers and other motifs were affected the same way .
The pattern is called Apothecary’s Garden and is by C.F.A. Voysey , a designer from the turn of the last century, in the Arts & Crafts period .
This is by Lord Twig Wallpaper , out of Canada . I’ve heard all positive results in dealing with this company.
Please see previous post for more information re the wallpaper itself.

Apothecary’s Garden in Powder Room – Fairy Tale Floral

November 21, 2022
Deep green wainscoting at the bottom, and on the right is a 100 year old ” dry sink ” with coordinating colored tile backsplash turned into a vanity, with period-appropriate faucet .
Fresh and lively . But can you believe the design dates back about 100 years ? – same as the house!
Close up. Looks like watercolor paint . Birds , butterflies , plants , flowers , and grasshoppers !
C.F.A. Voysey is a male designer who worked around the turn of the last century, late 1800’s through about the 1920’s , and was part of the Arts & Crafts decorating movement . Most of his patterns are somewhat symmetrical , as well as whimsical and fanciful , with heavy emphasis on nature .
This is a non-woven material , can be hung via the paste the wall method , although I prefer the paste the paper installation . It has a 20% polyester content and is thus more resistant to stains and humidity than traditional papers . And it’s designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to your walls when you redecorate .
The brand name is Lord Twig and it comes from Finest Wallpaper , which is in Canada.
This went in the rear powder room of a beautifully renovated 1926 4-plex apartment that has been artfully converted into a single family home , in the Woodland Heights area of Houston .

Contractor Prepped Walls – But Left Dust

November 20, 2022
I usually insist on prepping the walls for wallpaper. But we had a time crunch here, and the homeowner asked her paint contractor to strip the old wallpaper and smooth the walls.
He did a good enough job of skim-floating and sanding the walls smooth.
Unfortunately, he neglected to wipe residual dust off the walls.
The problem is that nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. Over time, stress, humidity, and other factors can cause the wallpaper to expand and contract, which puts tension on the seams. This tension tugs at the seams , and if the wall surface underneath is unstable ( dusty ), the layers can pull apart ( delaminate ), and you end up with failing seams.
So I wiped down every square inch of wall, using a sponge and bucket of water. I rinsed the sponge frequently, to prevent build up of dust on the sponge.
Here’s drywall dust wiped off in just a few swipes. In the background, you can see tracks of my damp sponge along the wall. These damp areas will need to dry thoroughly before I can apply my wallpaper primer. A heat gun helps speed that process along.
One fear that I have is because, as you see in the photo, the contractor spray painted the woodwork, and in so doing, got a lot of overspray onto the wall. This can be painted over without much problem.
But, as mentioned above, putting wallpaper over this can open a can of worms.
Even with a good wallpaper primer underneath, the drying / shrinking wallpaper can put stress on the seams. If the wall underneath is dusty, the layers may let loose of one another and result in a popped seam .