Marker Bleeds Through Wallpaper – Prevention

February 19, 2020


Whoops! Whoever hung the mirror used an ink marker to indicate where the hooks would go. Ink bleeds through wallpaper – and paint and other substances, too.

I had not seen the stains on the painted wall before I started to smooth the walls. But, as you can see, in just a few hours, it worked its way through my rough skim-float, then after this was sanded and primed, the ink bled through again.

KILZ Original oil-based primer / sealer / stain blocker is my solution for this. I don’t trust any latex or water-borne products.

No “after” picture, but I daubed a fingertip full of KILZ on top of each green spot, and am confident that the stain will not come through the new wallpaper.

Grasscloth in Cypress Powder Room

February 18, 2020


The walls and ceiling in this large powder room in a newish home in the Bridgeland Creek neighborhood of Cypress (northwest Houston) were originally a dark gold. I like dark rooms, but this one felt oppressive. It needed to be a little lighter, and to have a bit more interest on the walls.

The walls had a heavy texture, typical of new homes in the suburbs of Houston. I skim-floated the walls, then let dry overnight. The next day, I sanded the walls smooth, wiped off the dust, primed – and then was ready to hang wallpaper.

The pictures don’t adequately show the color of the new grasscloth, but we have natural brown grass color overlaid onto a really deep blue paper backing. The designer had the ceiling painted a dark, sort of murky blue, which coordinates really nicely with the blue in the grasscloth.

Lighting is funny … While I was working in the room, I had two 100 watt light bulbs; one suspended from the ceiling and one attached to where the light fixture belongs. The grasscloth just looked “normal.”

But once the room’s decorative light fixture went back up, it cast light on the textured surface in such a way that the “nubs” and knots really showed up! (see photo) The homeowner loved it!

As a note … With grasscloth, there is no pattern match, and you can also plan on seeing color differences between strips. So it’s important to plot where your seams will fall.

The electrical box, the light fixture, and the faucet were all in different vertical positions on the wall. Because the mirror would take up most of the wall behind the faucet and block the seam, I chose to center the seam on the light fixture, because it would be visible above the mirror. Well – sort of visible … as you can see, light rays from the fixture are so strong that no one can see where the seam is, anyway. 😦

The room had a “floating” sink. One of the photos shows the area under the sink. This area is open to view, and, because there are so many obstacles, it is difficult and time-consuming to wrap the paper underneath and trim around all those pipes and brackets.

The grasscloth wallpaper is by York. I was pretty pleased with the consistency of the material. Although some of the strips did present “paneling” and “shading” – color variances between strips – even strips that came off the same bolt and that were reverse-hung. One strip even had a rather abrupt color change mid-way from top to bottom. (no photo)

But that’s par for the course with grasscloth, and it’s considered to be “the natural beauty of this natural material.”

The interior designer for this project is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group.

What Does A Plumbing Repair Have To Do With Wallpaper?

February 16, 2020


Thursday, I hung grasscloth on three walls of this master bedroom, and left for the night. When I arrived on Friday to finish the last wall, the homeowner hustled me into the adjoining bathroom and showed me where a repair had been done to the toilet’s water intake line the previous night.

By freak accident, some decorative item had fallen off the toilet tank and hit the water intake pipe “just so.” The pipe was of plastic, and had a few weaknesses in it. So when it was struck in just the right (or wrong!) place, it broke – and spewed water everywhere!

Luckily, the homeowner was home and caught this immediately. And, luckily, there is a neighborhood “guy” in the Heights (Inner Loop neighborhood of Houston) who is able and willing to come out at any hour to fix things like this.

Fixing it has to do with accessing the plumbing pipes. And that has to do with cutting into the wall.

Eeeek!

The homeowner was freaking out, that the plumber might have to access the pipe from the other side of the wall – the wall that I had just hung her beautiful new $$ grasscloth wallpaper on!

A cut through the drywall here would have necessitated replacing the entire strip of wallpaper. And because of how grasscloth is trimmed to fit specific dimensions, and because of the color differences between bolts and strips, it would have looked better to have replaced all the strips on the wall.

Major hassle, major work involved, and it would have used up all our “extra” paper.

Luckily, the plumber was able to fix the pipe by cutting through from the bathroom side.

The homeowner still has to get someone to come repair the drywall and paint. But VERY lucky that no other repairs had to be done.

And SO lucky that the homeowner was on-site, and knew to cut off the water to the house. If the leak had run for an hour – not to mention overnight or over a weekend – much more would have been damaged… Not just my new wallpaper, but the hardwood floors, moldings, insulation, possibly drywall and possibly furniture, and more.

Dented Vinyl

February 15, 2020


This embossed, textured heavy vinyl wallpaper got a couple of wrinkles in the middle of the bolt as it was being rolled up at the factory. I thought that as paste soaked into the fabric backing, and then as the strip was adhered to the wall and the paste dried, that the wrinkle would go away.

But I couldn’t count on that, so I rearranged my layout of the wall so that this strip would end up with the wrinkle low on the wall and behind the large headboard of the bed.

I’m glad I did that – because the wrinkles did NOT dry out or shrink or disappear entirely as I had hoped.

I also did some experimenting with the heat gun. The heat gun may help vinyl wrap around corners, but it didn’t do much of anything for the wrinkles.

Keeping the Pattern Match While Coming Around a Bank of Windows

February 14, 2020


Hanging wallpaper around windows is tough, because getting the pattern to match above the windows, and then down the side and then match up with the pattern under the window is really tricky.

ESPECIALLY in a room where the walls are out of plumb, and the ceiling is not level, and also considering that wallpaper naturally stretches and warps when it is wetted with paste, plus various other factors.

I was lucky that this was a non-woven material, which is “dimensionally stable” – meaning it (supposedly) won’t expand, nor twist or warp when it absorbs paste. So, theoretically, after papering over and then under the window, the final full-height strip along the right side should butt up with the strip above the window, and then the strip below the window. That, actually, did work out perfectly.

But I still had to deal with the potential for the pattern to track off kilter, due to all those un-plumb and un-level factors. If it got off a little, I could tweak it a bit by pulling the last strip either higher or lower – the pattern is forgiving, and you would not notice a small pattern mis-match – especially 11′ up and behind drapes.

But I wanted to minimize a potential pattern mis-match as much as possible.

I figured that if the pattern stayed straight across the top of the windows, and also stayed straight across the area below the windows, it would have to match up with the final 11′ strip to the right of the windows.

To keep the pattern straight and at the right height on the wall, I used a level and pencil to draw a horizontal line that corresponded to the top of a leaf motif in the pattern. I did this both above and below the window.

Then, while hanging the paper, I made sure to keep that particular leaf at the same height of the line I had drawn on the wall.

It was a bit trickier than that, because it was a drop match, which means that that leaf only showed up on every other strip. But it all worked out.

One trick is to keep the strip “open,” which means that you put it into position, but don’t trim at top or bottom until you get the following strip into place. That way, you have the option of moving the previous strip either up or down to match the pattern, or, in the event that it won’t match perfectly, you can split the difference and spread the pattern mis-match between the two strips.

But I didn’t have to do much splittin’. By keeping the leaf at the height of my pencil line, by the time that last strip fell into place, the design matched up perfectly both above and below the window.

Tall Trees in a Tall Dining Room

February 13, 2020


The ceilings in this dining room in the West University neighborhood of Houston are more than 11′ high – and this vertical tree pattern visually swoops them even higher!

I love the hand-painted look of this paper. Actually, it’s machine-printed on a non-woven material, and can be hung via the paste-the-wall method – but I find the paste-the-paper process to be more effective.

The wallpaper is called “Raphael” and is by Sandberg, which is affiliated with Scalamandre.

Geometric Bedroom Revisited

February 11, 2020


I hung this silver-on-grey geometric print on an accent wall in a master bedroom in a newish contemporary styled home 4-5 years ago, and was back yesterday to look at some more projects that this young couple wants done in their home. They were gracious enough to let me take a few photos.

The home is in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston.

Smoothing a Heavily Textured Wall

February 9, 2020


The first photo shows the typical heavy texture that is put on many tract homes in the suburbs around Houston. You can’t hang wallpaper on these walls – it will look bad, and it will not adhere well.

The second photo shows how I have used a trowel to apply smoothing compound (drywall joint compound – I use the lightweight version, because it sands more easily).

Because the texture was so very thick, this had to dry overnight.

In the third photo, I have sanded the walls smooth, and applied a penetrating primer called Gardz.

Gardz works nicely as a wallpaper primer, too, so, once it is dry, I will be ready to hang wallpaper.

A Really Nice Vinyl Faux Grasscloth

February 8, 2020


Originally, this downstairs bathroom in a newish home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston was painted a mocha brown. It looked OK, but lacked luster and life. The homeowner envisioned more texture and color, plus a tiny bit of dazzle. She was considering grasscloth.

During our initial Sunday afternoon consultation, luckily she heeded my warnings about the problems with grasscloth – visible seams, color shading differences between strips, staining from water splashes or little ones’ hands, etc.

She chose this textured vinyl faux grass pattern by York instead. What a winner this turned out to be! Because there is no pattern that can be matched, you still see the seams. But, because the color is so homogeneous, there are no jarring shade differences. In the sink photo, note that you are seeing a shadow, not a shading of color.

The color variations within the grass-like design are more pronounced than in other brands (for instance, the Thibaut versions), and so it looks more like real grasscloth, and you can see the various colors even from a distance.

There is a pleasing texture that can be seen and felt. And, because the material is a heavy vinyl, it’s quite durable and water- and stain-resistant. What’s more, because there was no pattern to match (that’s called a random match), there was very little waste – in a room with a tad less than 9′ ceilings, I got three strips out of a 27′ long double roll bolt (usually you only get two strips).

I did follow typical grasscloth-installation techniques for this product.

Because the lack of a pattern match meant that the seams were visible, I took precise measurements and “balanced” the width of the strips in the various areas in which they were hung.

Because there was still a bit of a color difference between the right side and the left side of each strip, I also reversed the top and bottom of every other strip – a little trick that minimizes visible color differences by placing the right side, for instance, of each bolt of paper next to itself on subsequent strips. That sounds confusing, but it’s valuable trick of the trade.

The navy blue brings a welcome shot of color into the room. The gold metallic touches add sparkle, and coordinate smartly with the light fixture (not shown). The homeowner will soon trade the chrome faucet for one of brushed gold.

All the Same Run, Please

February 7, 2020


This homeowner measured her walls and ordered paper before I came by for a consultation. As often happens, she ordered too little paper.

When the additional bolts arrived, unfortunately, they were a different run.

Run number refers to all the bolts that were printed from the same batch or dye lot of ink. The next time the manufacturer prints a run of this wallpaper pattern, the inks will be ever so sightly a different shade.

You cannot place strips of wallpaper from different runs next to one another on the same wall, because you will see the color differences for the entire length of each strip.

You can, however, use different runs on different walls, because your eye won’t notice if the run is “broken” in a corner. This method does require the use of additional paper, though, in order to match the pattern.

In this case, we had enough extra paper. I was able to keep one run on the west and south walls, and then use the other run on the north and east walls.