Archive for August, 2012

Fairly Easy Job Today…

August 30, 2012

This is a 3-day project, involving stripping solid vinyl paper, skim floating the walls to smooth them, and then hanging the paper. So far the first stage has gone well.

Why was it easy to strip the paper?

1. For one thing, paper-backed solid vinyl papers are about the easiest to remove. The thick plastic coating pulls off easily, and the paper backing that remains on the wall is porous and absorbs my water well, which reactivates the paste and lets it either peel off the wall or be easily scraped off.

2. The paper was hung over a painted wall. It would have been better if the original installer had used a wallpaper primer, but something is better than nothing, and the layer of paint protected the Sheetrock and facilitated removal of the paper. However, because it was a latex paint, it absorbed water and some of it came loose from the wall, leaving flakes and patchy areas.

3. The installer hadn’t bothered to remove the walls’ original texture (which the homeowner says was part of their agreement when he was hired), and the bumps left under the paper prevented it from sticking to 100% of the wall – meaning that the paper stuck to the high parts of the bumps, but not the low areas in between. This made my job easier today, but unfortunately it left the homeowners with curling seams and a very unattractive appearance, which they lived with for many years.

After stripping the paper, I skim-floated the walls, and will sand and prime tomorrow. This will leave an absolutely flat smooth surface, with a primer, for the new paper to adhere to. This, in addition to choosing a better quality paper (thin paper, instead of vinyl), will ensure that the new paper holds up for many many years down the road.

In-Home Color Consultations Offered by Sherwin-Williams

August 25, 2012

Most Sherwin-Williams stores have some wallpaper sample books, but only three stores that I know of have a gal on hand to work with shoppers and help them select patterns and coordinate colors.  All are inside the Loop, and have a larger number of books than other stores – one on Durham at Washington, one on Montrose near West Gray, and one on University in the Rice Village.  That last store, I am told, sells more wallpaper than all the other S-W stores in Houston put together.

I was in the Durham store earlier this week, and met Julia Sanders, the “Decorative Product Specialist” in that store.  We chatted about what she does and how she helps clients.  Then she mentioned that she does consultations on Wednesday.  Meaning, she will actually go to the client’s home and help them make color and pattern selections.

This is a wonderful service, all at no extra charge.  (Although it’s expected that you buy your paint and paper from that store.)  To have a trained eye who can look at the rooms in their true lighting, look at the furnishings, determine the homeowners’ taste, gauge the scale of a wallpaper pattern in the setting – all this is a very valuable service offered by Sherwin-Williams.

I don’t know if the other two stores have a consultant who will come to your home, but, if you need help in “pulling it all together,”  it’s worth calling to find out.

Pretty Entry Today

August 24, 2012

Schumacher #5004122. Nice stylized nature pattern in light colors, with white furnishings accented by lime green – this really brightened up the entry in this 1950’s ranch style home.


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Striping the Wall to Hide the Seams

August 21, 2012

I was hanging this paper by Harlequin this past weekend: tp://

Most wallpapers stretch when they get wet with paste, and then shrink just a little when they dry. With most papers, this isn’t a big deal. But with a strongly colored paper, like this all-black one, that can mean hair’s-breadth gaps between the seams, leaving just-noticeable white lines showing from underneath.

One of the tricks we use is to color the edges of the paper, so the white backing won’t show. With this paper, though, the manufacturer had done that – not all do, so it’s nice when they think ahead and build it right into the paper. But I still had to worry about my white primer showing, if the paper shrank.

So I plotted out where the seams would fall, and used water color to paint black stripes on the wall. That way, if the paper shrank even a little, black would show from below, not white.

I mentioned that paper stretches as it absorbs moisture from the paste. That meant that I couldn’t paint the lines spaced the width of the strips of paper as it came off the bolt – 20.5″, but had to factor in how much it would stretch…which, for this type of British pulp paper is about .5″. So my stripes were spaced 21″ apart.

It was an accent wall in a master bedroom, with a silver velvet tufted very modern headboard that went against the wallpaper. Looked super!

Textured Wallpaper on a Dresser

August 18, 2012

“Borrowed” from Pintrest….

Can’t say I love this (and the pattern should have been matched better, so it lines up vertically), but it is clever, and definately would fit into certain home decors.

Why Is This Paper Not Sticking?

August 18, 2012

The guy who hung the diamond pattern just a few years ago had the right idea, but he didn’t go far enough. First of all, he should have removed the original paper, the tan dotted paper you see below the diamond paper. Sometimes, though, it’s impossible to strip off a paper, so, if it’s a “paper” paper and not a “vinyl” paper, you can paper over it – but you have to do certain things.

The guy did float the seams of the original paper. This smoothes over them, ensuring that no vertical lines show under the new paper where the seams of the original paper are.

Then you MUST prime the paper. He omitted this step, and that’s one reason for the curlng seams. Priming with oil based primers, like KILZ, which is what I use, prevents moisture from the new paper from soaking into the bottom paper, which could cause bubbles – which do not dry and disappear.

Primer also ensures an even surface for the new paper to grab on to. In the second photo, you see that there are three types of surfaces …. the original wallpaper, which has a plastic coating that new wallpaper will not stick to, the joint compound that was used to cover the seams, which is porous and sucks up the paste, leaving nothing to hold the new paper in place, and a 3″ wide strip below the ceiling, as well as a narrow strip along the woodwork, where paint got onto the wallpaper. The new wallpaper will stick (or not) to each of these surfaces differently. So a primer will provide a consistant surface for the new paper to adhere to.

I also think the guy did not use any additional paste. He hung a pre-pasted wallpaper, which comes with adhesive already on the back – just wet and hang. However, I find it more effective augment that by smearing a light coat of paste on the wall, particularly under the seams. This is especially important in a bathroom, which tends to get humid. And humidity, of course, is the Great Enemy of Wallpaper.

The third photo is the room after I finished it. I appologize for the crummy shot – it’s hard to get far enough away from the wall in a tiny powder room. It’s Thibaut T6937, one of my favorite patterns, and a very fine paper both to work with and in how it holds up over time. In fact, I got a call to remove this pattern from a powder room I did for the previous owner back in 1996. It’s still in perfect shape.

When the homeowner saw her room, with this lovely and bright hummingbird pattern, instead of the drab brown diamond design, she was delighted. And one of the first things she said was, “And all the seams are flat! There no seams popping open and nothing coming loose.”

I know she will enjoy this bathroom for many years.

Dry Hanging a Photo Mural

August 16, 2012

Re that photo mural by Photo Wall that I put up earlier this week, it was printed on what the manufacturer calls a “non woven” backing, which is quite a bit thicker and spongier than most traditional murals.

The instructions suggested pasting the wall instead of the back of the paper. I usually ignore these instructions and paste the paper, as with a standard paper. (Some day I’ll blog about my thoughts on “paste the wall” … not fond of it, for many reasons.)

Anyway, because this photo mural had a glossy surface, and because there was little pattern to hide flaws, I worried that pasting and then booking (folding pasted side to pasted side) might cause creases on the front of the mural.

So I went ahead and did the paste-the-wall technique, something I’ve only done a time or two previously.

It went well, surprisingly well. Since it was a simple accent wall, there were no toilets to paste behind and no cabinets or decorative molding to paste around, so pasting was fairly easy – although it meant extra trips up and down the ladder.

The mural panels unrolled nicely without creasing, and they adhered to the paste quite well, while still being able to slide around when I needed to reposition them. The seams butted together perfectly, and not too much paste got onto the edges, which was a concern of mine. The pattern match was spot-on, and the material absorbed the paste nicely without bubbling or swelling.

My only complaint is that the clay paste dried faster than I wanted it to. With the paste-the-wall technique, you paste a section the length and width of each strip, extending just a little beyond the width, to be sure there is paste at the edges of each strip. It was this extra 1/2″ or so that tended to dry befor I could finish hanging the first strip and get the next one to the wall.

It ended up looking great, and the homeowners are delighted.

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I Almost Screwed Up Yesterday

August 16, 2012

I was hanging a photo mural by Photo Walls, a Swedish company.  It was a glossy surfaced photo printed on a “non-woven backing,” which is somewhat thicker and spongier than most murals.  We’re seeing more and more of these non-wovens, due, IMO, to manufacturers trying to go “green.”

The instructions called for a “low moisture” or “20% solids” paste….meaning, clay-based paste.  Clay is a paste I don’t like, but it does have its uses.  So on the way to work, I stopped at Sherwin-Williams and picked up a bucket of paste ($50 for something I will probably never use again), and then hit Home Depot for primer and other supplies.

While I was skim floating the textured wall to smooth it, I was mentally going through what other steps I would have to install this mural.  My mind went to priming.  Then it hit me – I can’t use my old standby primer with this installation – clay paste won’t stick to my oil based primer!  It will delaminate and simply fall right off the wall.

Aren’t I the one who blogged about it for a week when I ran into just this situation, back last November?  Good thing I remembered this before I started the hang.

While the mud was drying, I ran off to find a Sherwin-Williams in the neighborhood.  Their store brand wallpaper primer ($35 – I hope readers are getting a feel for the investment that a workman has in each job…and we ain’t even mentioning gas, advertising, tools, etc.) was water-based, and just what the paste manufacturer suggested.  It was very similar to something I used to buy occasionally from Wallpapers to Go.  It went on smoothly, no odor, no drips, and  dried quickly.

When it came time to hang, the primer worked great with the mural’s stock, allowing me to slide the panels around as needed, and holding the paper tight.  I did have a slight issue with lifting (the primer pulling away from the wall when I needed to repostion a sheet of paper), but it was one small area and didn’t cause any problems.

The finished job was super, and the clients loved it.

Room Useage Trends in Young Families

August 15, 2012

I blogged some months ago about how many young families are spending their time in the great room of the house, leaving the formal dining and living rooms unused. Many of these families have turned one of those rooms into a play room for the kids.

Where I worked today, the family had done the same thing. But they took it one step further… Directly across the hall from the living room-turned-play room was the dining room – which they had converted into a play room of sorts for the dad.

The room was dominated by a pool table, including a rectangular flourescent light fixture, shelves around the walls for the guy’s collectibles, and, on the largest wall, a huge mural of his favorite movie heros.

If you’re not going to be sitting in your front room sipping tea and thumbing through the latest hot novel, why not turn it into a room you can really use? I think this is a great idea!

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The Well-Traveled Paperhanger

August 14, 2012

I do my wallpaper bids on Sunday afternoons. This works out well for me, because I’m not up on my ladder hanging paper. And it works out well for my clients, because, while Saturday is generally Errand and Chore Day, most people are around the house on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s how my day went yesterday:

Heights, Sping Branch, Memorial & Dairy Ashford, Katy, Sugarland, Pearland, Clear Lake. Whew!

I put 171 miles on my van (at 13 mpg), and was on the road from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm.

It sure felt good to get back home and put my feet up – watched the movie “Cool Running,” about the Jamacian Bob Sled Team in the Olympics. Good flick.