Archive for September, 2012

Welcome E-Mail from a Client Today re Searching for Paper On-Line

September 19, 2012

A gal e-mailed and said that she knows everyone is doing everything on-line these days, but that it’s too hard to shop for wallpaper on-line. Meaning, it’s hard to see the actual color, size, scale, quality, etc. from a blurry image on a computer screen.

I had a similar conversation with a gal with whom I visited on Sunday. She had found a lovely pattern by searching on the ‘Net, and showed me her Pintrest account with the selection.

But as soon as she scrolled to more information, I saw red flags. For one thing, while I know everyone wants a bargain, any paper that is selling for $20 or less per single roll is cause for question. The brand was another – one of my least favorite manufacturers.

The site didn’t list much information about the paper…info that I, as an installer, wanted to know, and that homeowners should be aware of…. Is it prepasted or unpasted? Is it pre-trimmed or untrimmed? Is it solid vinyl or vinyl-coated or uncoated? How wide is it? What is the pattern repeat? Is it washable? Scrubbable? Spongeable? How about strippable? Peelable? What kind of stock is it printed on? How thick is it?

I recommended that both these gals get to a brick-and-mortar store, and look at selection books with real wallpaper samples. That way, they could be sure of what they are getting. And ensured of a quality product for a fair price. Maybe not $20 a roll, but definately a good quality wallpaper.

My favorite place? Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet at Wakeforest (713) 528-5614

All It Takes Is a Little Bubble Wrap!

September 18, 2012

This Thibaut paper had to be sent back to the manufacturer, causing a delay for the homeowner, who was counting on having her dining room finished this week, and screwing up my work schedule, since now I have to juggle clients and jobs and try to find a 2-day slot where I can finish this room, once the replacement paper arrives, not to mention my lost revenue for today.


All because the manufacturer / distributor didn’t take the time, trouble, and expense to put 40c worth of bubble wrap in the box, to protect this lady’s THOUSAND DOLLARS’ worth of wallpaper.

Bashed and edges are the result, and yes, it WILL show on the wall. Unfortunately, this is pretty common.

Thibaut, shame on you!


Note:  The replacement paper arrived a couple of week later, with a note on the shipping lable and with bubble wrap carefully placed around the ends of the rolls.

The install went well and the homeowners are thrilled.  I posted photos a week or so ago.

Flaw of the Day – Another Splice!

September 15, 2012

Twice in a week, this time with grasscloth. It’s hard to see in the photo, but a new sheet has been patched in on the left.

Even with the rough texture of grasscloth, the paper used to hold the two sheets together would cause a visible bump the 36″ width of the strip. This meant I lost about two full strips, because of where the patch fell, in the middle of the bolt.

Also, note that the original strip on the right shows where the black ink from the front of the paper came off onto the backing. On the left, you see no ink. This tells me that there is a drastic difference between the paper on the first half of the roll, and the paper that was patched in at the second half of the roll. These are likely to look VERY different on the wall.

Even though people expect “paneling” in grasscloth (visible difference in apperance between strips), no way was I going to use the second half of this roll.

Luckily the client had bought enough paper that I could use fresh, unblemished, unpatched rolls to finish the job.

Sherwin-Williams’ People’s Choice Wallpaper Collections

September 14, 2012

Sherwin-Williams has some nice, 3-fold brochures depicting their new “Colors and Pattern Trends” and the “Come Home to People’s Choice” wallpaper collections.”

Each book is devoted to a particular color, and shows three different wallpaper selections, done up in a room setting, complete with furniure and accessories.  Most of the booklets had three distinct styles – traditional, modern, and textured.

On the back of one page is info about the color and how to use it.  The back page tells about the Come Home to People’s Choice wallpaper collections.

I liked the books a lot, for the variety they displayed, and for the beautiful, realistic room settings, as well as the quality of the bright glossy booklet itself.

Grasscloth – Black Hands!

September 14, 2012

I’m hanging a Thibaut grasscloth in a Heights dining room this week, a beautiful black / silver metalic / with a little brown in the mix.

But like many grasscloths these days, it is not color fast. Look at my hands, just from handling the dry paper. And it didn’t wash off completely, either – I went home with black hands!

Any moisture on the surface of the paper caused the black color to lift off, so I had to be extraordinarily careful not to have damp hands (we paper hangers are continually rinsing our hands and rags), or to touch the paper when I used my washrag to remove paste from the woodwork.

Note how the black ink rubbed off onto the back of the paper, and got into the paste. It’s really important to keep the bucket of paste clean, so I wasn’t too happy at all with the black gunk getting onto my brush – which then got dipped into the bucket of paste.

You can also see how the black dye got transfered onto the woodwork, where the paper overlapped the crown molding and the chair rail. Normally, the paste wipes off easily, but with this black color, I had to remove it very quickly, or it would dry and not want to come off. I followed by wiping with a dry paper towel, to keep the woodwork free of stain or residue.

Grasscloth doesn’t expand as much as other papers when it is pasted, and this particular one didn’t expand at all. This is good, because I could measure and cut my pieces to the exact width I needed, which eliminated excess paper at the woodwork, which would have left smeary black paste that would have had to be wiped off. It’s rare that I get to do that little trick, so I’m enjoying the different measuring and trimming technique with this job.

Flaw of the Day – a Splice!

September 12, 2012

About 3′ from the begining of this double roll of paper came this surprise – a splice! What happens is, the manufacturer runs out of paper before rolling on the full yardage of paper. So, to ensure the customer gets a full double roll, the manufacturer splices on some more paper. They try to do this as un-noticeably as possible.

But, as you can see, with this very thick paper on a non-woven stock (more of the industry’s attempts at making “green” merchandise), the pieced in section is VERY noticeable, and would make a definately visible 20 1/2″ wide bump under the paper.

In addition, even though the manufacturer includes extra yardage to make up for the messed up piece, it doesn’t mean you get the full amount you would have if the piece hadn’t been spliced in. Particularly when there is a long repeat, such as with this paper.

What I mean is, for this job, I needed ten 9′ strips. From each double roll, I usually get three such strips. But if the first 3 feet are unuseable due to this patch, then I have to unroll a lot more paper to get my first 9′ strip. Then I cut off more to match the pattern in preperation for the second 9′ strip. Once that is cut off, there is a mighty good chance that there will not be enough remaining on the roll for my third 9′ strip.

So you can easily see that simply throwing a few extra feet of wallpaper doesn’t really make up for the manufacturer’s failure to print enough paper in the first place.

Incidentally, this was the same paper that had to be returned a month or so ago, causing a long delay for the homeowners before the new paper came, because of a printing flaw that mismatched the pattern. Additionally, the homeowner was unhappy with the fact that the extraordinarily thick, spongy paper resulted in somewhat visible seams – not to mention the few places where edges were bashed during shipping…such edges don’t always lie down flat.

Note: Once I removed my 100 watt work light bulb and replaced the lower-wattage light fixture, and turned the fixture so it pointed down instead of up (where it illuminated the most offensive seam), the overall effect was much more pleasing.

Here is the pattern: Kenneth James for Paper Pro, #FD58477

It was purchased through Dorota at Southwestern Paint (713 520-6262, who also helped with the batch that had to be returned.

Thibaut Geometric Trellis

September 9, 2012

Here is a Thibaut wallpaper I hung this week, in a young couple’s dining room. It turned out very nicely, and was nice and straight across the top, sides, and around the windows and bull-nosed edges of the door frames.

I used a cool trick to get the paper nice and straight along the bull-nosed edges, without having to hand trim on the wall (which is extremely difficult to do, because you can’t see where you’re cutting and you can’t feel where the edge of the door frame is).

You couldn’t do it with every pattern, but this geometric lattice pattern allowed me to pre-cut the edges, and then splice the strips in at the top of the wall. It was trickier than it sounds, because I had to allow for the paper to wrap a little around the bull-nosed edge, and also estimate how much the paper was going to expand once it was wet with paste.

Hmmm… a full 27″ wide strip expanded 5/8″… If the piece I’m working with is 12″ wide, how much will it expand, and how wide should I cut the piece…12 1/4″?…. 12 3/8″? … 12 1/8″?… 11 3/4″? … 11 5/8″??

And you thought you were never going to use that high school math and geometry!

Curling Edges

September 9, 2012

It’s not uncommon for wallpaper to curl when it gets wet with paste. The reason is that the paper backing absorbs moisture and expands, but the printed / inked surface does not absorb or expand, so the edges of the swelling paper curl toward the back.

Here is a photo of this happening. (I did not take photos of the paper on my table – it REALLY curled!) Interestingly, the curling happens where there is white ink, but not at the tan background. This happened even though there was plenty of tacky paste on th edge.

Once it dried, these areas pulled tighter to the wall.

This was one of Thibaut’s newer “green” papers, meaning no vinyl coating. It was somewhat difficult to work with, because, with no coating, it dried out pretty fast, so I had to experiment with different pasting techniques, booking times, smoothing, etc.

Flaw of the Day – Hungry Critters

September 6, 2012

I hung some grasscloth yesterday, that had been stored in the client’s home for many years. Guess that gave the bugs time to find it, because as I unrolled some of the bolts, I discovered these nibble holes!

There were also a few discolored spots, presumedly from body chemicals or poop. These worried me a little, because, after becoming wet with paste, a spot like has the potential to bleed through to the surface, causing a stain. In this case, I don’t think that’s a big concern.

Grasscloth is a natural fiber product, so it’s logical that insects or even rodents might find it edible, plus the loose texture provides a cozy hiding place.

This isn’t very common, though, so don’t fret about this if you choose grasscloth for your home. And be assured that modern pastes and primers contain fungicides and insecticides, as opposed to the old days, when paste was made from basically flour and water.

Skimpy Info on On-Line Wallpaper Retailers

September 5, 2012

A gal contacted me today for a quote on labor, and said she already had a source for her wallpaper – one of the on-line so-called discount retailers. I used the site’s Search feature to check the patterns she had selected.

I was pretty surprised to see that there is virtually no info about the paper… I mean, to the layman, it would look like there is adequate info, but if you don’t understand the terms, it doesn’t mean much.

First, there is only a very small bit of the pattern to view, even when you click-for-larger-image, so you don’t really know what the whole pattern looks like, nor the scale.

Here are some statistics provided by the website:

Product Information
Book Name: Black and White 2
pattern #: BW287XX
pattern name:
page #: 21
Product Details
Prepasted: yes
Scrubbable: yes
Peelable: yes
Washable: no
Strippable: no
Match Type:Straight Match
Material:Solid Vinyl
Repeat Length:21 0″
Pattern Length:16 1/2 inches
Pattern Width:20 1/2 inches

You will note that there is no brand name. That is so you can’t go find and buy the paper somewhere else.

The “book name” is not the name of the manufacturer’s book – it is the category under which this on-line seller arranges patterns, in this case by color, which makes it easy for shoppers to find something in their color scheme.

Now let’s see…The paper is scrubbable, but it’s not washable. How is that?? And it’s peelable but not strippable. I know what those terms mean, but I bet the average homeowner has no clue.

And the repeat is 21″, but the pattern length is 16.5″. That doesn’t make sense even to me! The pattern length and repeat should be the same. And is a “straight match” good or bad? Does it mean you need to order extra paper?

What does “solid vinyl” mean? Sounds nice and strong, doesn’t it? But to me, “solid vinyl” generally means CRAP – especially when it’s only $11.23 a roll. To the shopper, this price probably sounds fantastic. But I have hung these types of papers before, and I can tell you, it’s likely to be a very difficult install of some very low-quality paper.

Much better to select paper from a book you can see and touch, and from someone who knows paper, as well as knows the vendors and can help you if there should be a problem. Yes, you will pay more, but it’s worth it for quality, durability, and service.