1930’s Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Home Office

April 29, 2016

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This paper is the real deal; not a reproduction. I bought it from HannahsTreasures.com. They have tons of beautiful, authentic papers from the ’20’s through the ’70’s. Much of it is very limited stock, as was with this beauty.

There were only 8 single rolls, and I thought I could only do the top 2/3 of the walls, and then paint the bottom 1/3. But I found that, instead of the standard length of today, 33′ long, most of these bolts were 40′ or longer. That made all the difference, and I was able to squeeze out enough paper to do the entire room, from floor to ceiling.

This paper is very delicate and brittle. I used what they used years ago, powdered wheat paste (available from Bob Kelly at paperhangings.com), mixed with distilled water, and a soft, long-bristled smoothing brush. I used extra care, to avoid tearing or breaking the brittle material.

Back in the day, this paper was hung over a muslin type fabric tacked to the ship lapped walls. The seams were overlapped. The last I hung vintage wallpaper (in my entry), the paper hand-trimmed nicely, and I butted the seams and they looked great. This stuff, though, I’d cut it along the trim lines, but the edges would turn out all jaggedy. I got one decent seam out of it, and the second was good at the top, but overlapped toward the lower section. With so little paper to work with, I decided it was best to go with a sure thing and overlap the seams.

What I did was to trim off most of the selvedge, leaving a 1/8″ raw edge on the left side. On the next strip, I trimmed the right edge right up to the pattern, then left a 1/8″ selvedge on the left. This strip was then overlapped onto the previous strip, with the trimmed edge matching up with the pattern to its right, and overlapping that 1/8″ left edge.

This means that there’s a ridge under each seam from floor to ceiling. It’s more or less visible, depending on the direction of the lighting. But that’s how the paper was meant to be hung, so it’s the authentic look. Once my furniture and artwork gets back in place, and I have the computer screen to look at, no one will pay any attention to it.

I totally love this paper. The colors, the texture, the smell, and most of all the pattern. Most of my furnishings and artwork are vintage, so the room will look very pulled together.

Faux Grasscloth – A Handsome Choice

April 26, 2016
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This young couple had had a faux-finisher do a textured strié pattern on their powder room and master bathroom walls, but they were not pleased with the look. They were considering grasscloth, but I discouraged that idea, because, in a bathroom, and in a home with young children, grasscloth will stain and even bleed if it is splashed with water or touched by little hands. Because it has no pattern that can be matched from strip to strip, you see all the seams. Toss in the color variations, shading, and paneling (do a Search here), and I pretty much discourage homeowners from using grasscloth.

A wonderful option is this faux grasscloth product. It’s made from vinyl and is backed with a woven fabric material (scrim), and is resistant to water, stains, and dings. In fact, it’s practically indestructible – it’s the same sort used in hotels and hospital hallways, where it will be banged into and abused, and still hold up. Furthermore, this product is thick and textured, so it delivers the tactile surface the clients were searching for. And, best of all, the color is uniform, so there are no issues with eye-jarring color differences between strips of wallpaper.

The finished look is tailored, serene, crisp, warm, masculine yet soft, and a good backdrop to just about any room or accessory.

Another big plus for this paper is that it is bonded to a woven fabric backing, and does not have a paper backing. The woven fabric adds even more strength, and allows for some flexibility if the walls move or shift (this is Houston, built on Gumbo Soil, after all). And they should not have any problems with lifting or curling seams in the future, even in humid conditions. Vinyl papers that are bonded to paper backings, on the other hand, do tend to absorb moisture from humidity and then expand, curling backwards, which means that the seams can open up and be impossible to glue back down. See previous post.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Paper-Backed Vinyl Is Not Good In A Bath

April 24, 2016
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Oh, boy. I sure don’t like vinyl papers that are bonded to a paper backing. Here is a very visual reason why – Under humid conditions, they delaminate (surfaces separate) and curl.

This particular type of paper is about my absolute most detested, because of it’s propensity to curl. The material is typical of what was hung back in the ’70’s. Other issues factor in, like the type of primer used (or not used😦 ), the paste used, type of paper backing, type of vinyl surface, age of home, ventilation in the room, and just how much steam is generated when the shower is used.

To be fair, this wallpaper had been up and looked good for a long, long time (possibly back to those ’70’s!). So maybe Father Time is just taking its toll.

And maybe Father Time has an ulterior motive … I mean, look at that paper! Isn’t it about time for a little update?!!

Look Maw – No Faucets!

April 23, 2016

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This wall with wall-mounted faucets over a vessel sink was much easier to paper, because the homeowner removed the faucet handles and spout for me.

If the fixtures had been in place, I would have had to make long relief cuts in the paper, to allow me to manipulate the paper around them. And the paper would have been trimmed to butt up against the faucet and spout. The long cuts and the edges against the metal are all places where there is the possibility of water getting behind the paper and causing curling or peeling.

Instead, with the fixtures removed, I was able to make small cuts so the paper fit neatly right up to the plumbing. And, once the faucets and spout are screwed back on, any cut edges of paper will be tucked safely behind them. No rough edges to look bad, no cut edges to curl up.

Because this wallpaper is a textured vinyl product of a commercial grade, there is no need to worry about the plumbing fixtures damaging the paper as they are screwed snugly back into place.

This faux woven grasscloth is water and stain resistant, and very durable. It is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Obtuse Angle Inside Corner

April 22, 2016
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Wallpapering around corners, either inside or outside, can be tricky. But when you toss into the mix a corner that is not the typical 90* angle, it gets a lot more tenuous.

On an inside corner (see photo), you don’t want to wrap the paper around the corner, because corners and framing and Sheetrock and contractors are never 100% plumb or accurate, and thus your strip of wallpaper will come out of the corner off-plumb or wrinkled or otherwise unmanageable, plus you can end up with sections that cling tightly to the corner, and others that pull free, leaving a bubble under the paper in the joint area.

To prevent this, you wrap a teeny bit of the paper around the corner, cut a new trip, and then overlap that new strip into the corner, plumb it up, and then work your way out from there. That looks good in 90* inside corners.

But with obtuse angled corners like this one (Photo #1 (smoothed wall with clear Gardz primer applied), the paper may lie flat and tight to the wall, but that cut and overlapped strip will be fairly visible. Other things can be done to get rid of the overlap by eliminating the need to cut the strip, and to minimize any wrinkling at the outer edges.

To encourage adhesion in the corner, I “Velcro’ed” the area by applying a thin layer of paste, and then letting it dry to a barely tacky, but potent, state.

The material is a scrim (woven fabric) backed, textured solid vinyl wallcovering. It is thick, and only a little bit pliable. Here in picture #2, I worked the paper into the corner, and used my Euni Tool (metal plate) and other tools to really push it hard into the corner. A heat gun softens the plastic just enough to help it remember where the wall is.

Even though the vinyl is clinging tightly to the corner, coming out of the corner and moving to the right, you cannot be sure that the right edge of the strip of wallpaper will be hanging either straight or plumb. So it’s risky to try to butt a new strip of wallpaper to this edge.

A good alternative is to make a double-cut, which is a paperhanger’s term for a splice. That is, you overlap the papers and cut through both layers, so you can splice them together.

This pattern was the perfect candidate, because there was no pattern to keep aligned and matched up. So the design was not a concern… but logistics and surface stability were.

Using a razor blade to slice through two layers of textured vinyl wallpaper takes a lot of pressure, and that can put deep cuts into the wall below. When the wallpaper paste dries, or even just with time and humidity and temperature fluctuations, the paper can shrink, and that puts torque (tension) on the wall, which can cause an unstable surface to pull away from whatever is beneath it. Bottom line, you could end up with wallpaper seams that come open, and pull paint or Sheetrock off, too.

So how do you double cut (splice) two strips of wallpaper to get a perfect seam, without damaging the wall underneath? The answer is to pad / protect the wall. Many people use scrap vinyl wallcovering. But I have some better stuff – Boggess strips. Named after a wallpaperhanging colleague of mine who invented them. You protect the surface of the wallpaper from paste with plastic tape or waxed paper, and then place these clear plastic strips under where you want to make a double cut. Your blade will slice through the two layers of wallpaper, but will not get through the Boggess strip. Voilà! Paper cut and spliced, and the wall in still intact.

You Can’t Hang Wallpaper Over Textured Walls

April 21, 2016
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The homeowners wanted a contemporary, textured look in their powder and master bathrooms, so hired a faux-finish company to create this striated look.

Unfortunately for all, they were not pleased with the look. They decided to go with wallpaper instead; one thing about wallpaper – you get a sample or look in a book and so pretty well know what the finished project will look like.

But, before the new wallpaper can go up, the walls need to be smoothed. This will eliminate ridges from showing under the new wallpaper, and will provide a smooth surface for the new wallpaper to grab onto.

So I “skim-coated,” or “floated” over the previous texture with joint compound (“mud”), let it dry, sanded it smooth, wiped dust off the surface with a damp sponge, and then primed with a clear penetrating sealer called Gardz (by Zinsser and available at Benjamin Moore paint stores). Now we have a good surface for the new wallpaper.

Note: The areas at the bottom of the second photo show some vertical lines – these are remnants of the striated surface below. The spaces between the ridges have been filled in with smoothing compound, and the whole surface is smooth.  The scissors is there to give a reference as to scale.

Rubber Tummy

April 20, 2016

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“Rubber tummy,” the homeowner said. Well, that’s what I HEARD him say.

What he REALLY said was, “Rub her tummy.” And she’ll love you forever.

I couldn’t resist – and she loved it and she almost jumped in the truck to ride home with me.

Wavy Giraffes Jolly-Up A Baby’s Nursery

April 19, 2016
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This pattern, with its varied-height lines of giraffes marching along to the left is just plain fun.

And, as a hand-printed gold metallic option from a boutique manufacturer, was quite expensive.

The mom-to-be maximized the punch factor of this paper by putting it on just one wall – the wall behind the crib. Even though the pattern had a very long repeat (36″), I was able to cover the wall with just one 27′ long double roll bolt of paper. That’s getting a lot of bang for as reasonable price as possible.

As you can see in the last photo, this wallpaper came un-trimmed, and had to have the unprinted selvedge edge trimmed off by hand (meaning, a 6′ straightedge and a hand-held razor blade).

Matching the pattern was a real bugger, because, even though all those giraffes LOOK the same, they are NOT the same, nor is their sequence of appearance in any given line. There was a lot of waste with the 36″ repeat, and some accommodating the un-plumb walls and un-level floor and ceiling of a 1930’s home in West University Place, but the finished wall looked super.

This wallpaper is by Sissy & Marley for Jill Malek, and is available on-line.

Wallpaper That Looks Like Limestone

April 17, 2016
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When I first looked at this job, I had a flash of déjà-vu. I really think I put this paper on this laundry room counter top – many years ago.

Well, today I got to strip it off, and then replace it with something more subtle.

The new wallpaper is a textured non-woven material by Rasch, a German manufacturer. At first, I was not keen on the bland pattern. But once on the counter and wrapped down and around the edge, danged if it doesn’t look exactly and truly like a real stone countertop! Once it dries for a couple of days, a sheet of thick glass will be placed on top, to protect the paper and to provide a good surface for sorting and folding laundry.

The homeowner bought this at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Cool Race Car Wall Decals in a Boy’s Room

April 16, 2016

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If your little man is big into something, how about decorating his room with his passion?

These decals come in assorted sizes and colors, and can be mixed and matched and positioned any way you like.

These are a peel-and-stick product, and came from the on-line company Stephen Edward Graphics http://www.stephenedwardgraphics.com/.


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