No Toilet? No Problem!

April 25, 2017

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The night before I arrived to hang wallpaper in this powder room, the handy husband removed the toilet tank. This gave me a whole lot more room to work, and made it a whole lot easier to put the wallpaper on that wall. It also ensured that the paper stuck nice and tight to the wall (which can’t always be done if the installer can’t get his hand back behind a toilet tank).

This geometric Moroccan lantern wallpaper pattern is by Brewster, in the A-Street Prints line, and 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.

For the Love of Dogs

April 23, 2017

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The two large dogs who live in this home in the Woodland Heights (Houston) have their own room (which is also the home’s mudroom). They may have fancy digs, but the décor was bland. See top photo.

A little wallpaper changed all that. This “Trot” pattern by Stroheim is fresh and cute, but not in a cloying way – while it’s fun, it’s actually pretty sophisticated for a rear entry. The Stone color goes amazingly well with the paint on the wainscoting and other trim in the room.

The interior designer is also the homeowner – Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design, here in Houston. She works a lot in the Heights neighborhoods, and works on a lot of whole-house remodels, and new builds.

Grasscloth Wallpaper in a TV Room / Sunroom

April 22, 2017

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I hung a woven grasscloth in this TV room / sunroom in an older home in the Rice Village area of Houston when the homeowners first bought the house – back in 1992 ! The wallpaper was still in great condition – except for where shower pan in the upstairs bathroom had leaked, causing damage to the wallpaper below. The paper had suffered fading from the abundant sunlight in the room, too. Time for a change.

The homeowners considered other types of paper and patterns, but came back to the natural, earthy, textured look of grasscloth. Their new choice is more relaxed than the previous woven one, and has more color – although it’s all in the neutral / brown / tan scope.

I was pleased that there was minimal shading / paneling (color variations between strips) (see 3rd photo). The material has a lovely texture (last photo), and was reasonably easy to trim and position.

There was no brand name on the product label, but it 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.

Grasscloth Wallpaper Fading Over Time

April 21, 2017

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I hung the woven grasscloth on the left about 20 (maybe more) years ago. About two years ago, the home had some water damage, and I used left over grasscloth to repaper the section around the air duct.

This is a sun room, and receives a lot of light. You can see how the color has changed over time, by comparing the paper that has been exposed to bright sunlight to the paper that was in storage for 20 years. Grasscloth is a natural product, and so has little resistance to fading.

Wallpaper Primers

April 20, 2017

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There are lots of “wallpaper hangers” out there who slap paper up on the wall without a thought to prep. To do the job right, and to help ensure that the paper will stay on the wall for years to come, one of the basic steps is to apply a good primer.

There are different primers that will work under wallpaper. Here are a few that I use, depending on what the situation is in the room.

Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 is a white-pigmented wallpaper-specific product, and it is my primer of choice.

But when I have skim-floated walls to smooth them, the new surface needs to be sealed, and Gardz is a wonderful product for that. It also seals and binds torn drywall. And it is also a good primer for wallpaper.

KILZ Original (oil-based) is called in when there are stains (water, rust, smoke, grease, etc.) or other problems that might bleed through the new wallpaper. For decades, KILZ was my go-to primer for wallpaper, too. But in recent years, to keep up with regulations from the EPA, the formula has changed. This primer may be more compatible with the environment, but the chemical make-up has changed, and wallpaper paste no longer wants to stick to it. So it’s used to seal stains, and then another wallpaper primer is applied on top of it.

What’s It Like to Wallpaper Behind a Washing Machine?

April 19, 2017

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Originally, this laundry room had the White Wall Woes – too much of nothing. Once the wallpaper went up, the room took on warmth and a cheery personality. The homeowner, an interior designer, loved the way the pattern made the low ceilings look higher. And the color perfectly melds with the color of the woodwork.

What’s it like to hang wallpaper in a laundry room when the washer & dryer are still in the room? Well, you do a lot of reaching, squeezing, and contorting. Luckily for me, I’m small.

Because my ladder would not fit behind the appliances, I had to stand on the W & D (being careful to distribute my weight to the frame, not the center). This worked out because the ceiling was low enough that I could reach the top of the wall by standing on the W & D.

That took care of the top of the strips of wallpaper. To smooth them into place along the lower portion of the wall, I had to squeeze myself into that narrow space you see in the third photo, and work around all those hoses and wires.

This is a very nicely remodeled bungalow in the Woodland Heights (Houston), with a 2-story addition on the back. This room was in the new section, and it had about the most plumb walls and level floors / ceilings I have worked with – all important when dealing with strong straight lines such as these picture frames.

Nonetheless, I did have to pull a few tricks out of my hat, to keep the pattern looking straight around the whole room and against all the moldings.

This wallpaper is by Sanderson, a British company, and is called “Picture Gallery.” It is on a non-woven substrate and is intended to be a paste-the-wall product, but in this room with complicated cuts and narrow spaces, it was preferable to paste the material.

The interior designer (and home owner) is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. All of the jobs I have done for her have been remodels or new builds in the greater Heights area of Houston.

Interestingly enough, I’ve had a number of queries and jobs about wallpaper in laundry rooms. It must be a new trend. I think this newish non-woven material will work well in a humid room, whereas the paper-backed solid vinyls that were popular for decades are a poor choice, due to moisture getting into the seams and causing curling.

And you just have to love the idea of doing mundane housework in a cherry, pretty setting!

Fixing a “Hot Mess”

April 18, 2017

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The homeowners of this house in Fleetwood (west Houston) tried to remove the wallpaper from their powder room on their own. They did a reasonably good job at the start, but soon realized that they were in over their heads.

In the top photo, they have removed the top layer of wallpaper from the wall on the left. The problem came when trying to take off the white backing layer. Their efforts resulted in torn drywall (second photo). Torn drywall is very bad, because it will leave uneven areas under the new wallpaper / paint. Worse, it will bubble when the moisture from the wallpaper paste or latex paint touches it, and that will leave bubbles under the new wallpaper / paint.

These homeowners were smart enough to stop before more damage was done, and called in the pros (me).

I finished stripping off the old wallpaper, using methods that caused less damage to the drywall. There was one patch of original wallpaper, a foil-type that dated back to the build date of 1976, that would not come off without a lot of damage to the wall. I left that section on the wall.

Once all the paper was off that would come off, I sealed the torn drywall and other unstable surface areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer. Once that was dry, I skim-floated the entire room with “mud,” (joint compound). When that was dry, I sanded the surface smooth. Then I vacuumed up the dust, then wiped any residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge.

Lastly, I rolled on another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. It will dry hard and tight, preventing the torn drywall from bubbling, and holding all the loose or unstable areas together. It is also a good primer for wallpaper, so tomorrow the walls will be prepped and ready for their new décor! See last photo.

How the “Hot Mess” Turned Out

April 18, 2017

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After I spent a day getting these walls into good shape (see previous post), came the fun part – hanging the paper.

This was a Moroccan lantern style geometric pattern, in yellow on grey. The homeowner loves geometric designs, and she searched hard to find something in this style that would compliment the granite countertop in that came with the powder room in her family’s new home.

This pattern does all that very nicely.

The home is in Fleetwood, in west Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by Brewster, in their A-Street Prints line. It is a non-woven material and is intended to be a paste-the-wall installation, but I find that pasting the material is a better method, for many reasons.

The paper 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.

Stripping Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 17, 2017

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This powder room in a newish townhome in the Galleria area of Houston was originally papered with a deep red, nubby-textured grasscloth wallpaper. It didn’t suit the taste of the new homeowners, so they had me strip it off and replace it with something lighter.

Often, grasscloth can be really hard to get off, because the grass fibers and the netting used to sew them to the backing separate from the backing and come off in tiny handfuls of fiberous messiness.

I was luckier today, because the top layer with the grass fibers and red ink came off the wall fairly easily, and in almost-intact 9′ strips. The paper backing was left on the wall (see 2nd photo). In some areas (see 3rd photo), bits of the red inked layer remained.

The next step was to remove the paper backing. All that’s needed is to use a sponge to soak the backing with warm water. Soak one section, move on and soak the next, then go back and resoak the first section, etc.

Water has a harder time penetrating the patches where the red inked layer was not removed. Soak it a little more, or use a putty knife to get under that layer and pull off the inked material.

Eventually, the moisture from the warm water will reactivate the paste. If you are lucky, you will be able to simply pull the paper backing away from the wall. But if not, all it takes is a little elbow grease and a stiff 3″ putty knife, to gently scrape the paper from the wall.

I was doubly lucky today, because whoever hung the original grasscloth did a good job, including the use of a good primer to seal the walls before he hung any wallpaper. His primer protected the walls, and all my water and tension as I soaked and pulled paper off the walls caused no damage to the subsurface.

All I had to do to prepare the walls for new wallpaper was to wash off old paste residue, and apply a primer, in this case Gardz by Zinsser.

Finding Spacemen in Wallpaper

April 16, 2017

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The danger of pointing this out to a homeowner is that, once your eye learns to pick it out, from now on to forevermore, you will be seeing …

Spacemen in the wallpaper.

Look above the center diamond. There is a spaceman jumping upwards into the stratosphere. Next look to either side of the diamond. There are twin spacemen, with their helmets pointing right and left, away from the diamond.

Elsewhere on the paper, there is a distinct cat’s head.

And you thought it was just an ink blot!

This design is by Candice Olson for York Wallcoverings.