Archive for August, 2014

Why Is This Paint Peeling Off The Woodwork?!

August 12, 2014

Digital ImageSee the paint peeling off the woodwork? This happened when the hose from my Shop Vac brushed against the molding, and also when I removed blue painter’s tape that was holding plastic sheeting across the doorway.

A couple of things are going on. First of all, this is latex paint put over old oil based paint, which is not a good combination.

Second, and most important, the painter failed to properly prep the woodwork before painting. This woodwork in this 1950’s home was originally painted with oil-based enamel (wonderful stuff, IMO). But it is glossy and hard, and new paint will not stick to it. So it is essential that the old paint be either sanded (and then wiped clean of dust), or wiped with a chemical deglosser, to remove the sheen, so the new paint has something to grab and hold on to.

Latex paint is also not a good choice, IMO, because it’s not sticky enough, and because it is too rubbery and plasticy. An acrylic paint is preferable, and brushes can still be washed up with soap and water. Of course, I’m something of an old-school gal, and I think that when painting woodwork, oil-based the best way to go. Even then, you still MUST properly prep the surface, meaning sanding and deglossing and wiping off the dust.

It’s a Matter of Taste

August 11, 2014

Digital ImageThe August issue of Southern Living magazine featured their 2014 “Idea House.” I was glad to see wallpaper used in at least one of the rooms. (photo on the right) Here’s how the interior designer made her choice for this powder room: “[The designer] broke from the rest of the home’s muted scheme and papered these walls with an exuberant pattern. “Try to make a small space extra special,” she says.”

Well, I agree with her that you can get away with much bolder ideas, colors, and patterns in a powder room, because you only see it when you are in the room, and since the door is usually closed, you don’t have to worry about coordinating with the rest of the home’s colors and theme.

But I can’t agree that I like this pattern. Not at all.

It’s what I call a “polka-dotty” pattern – big strong image contrasting starkly with a pale background, with lots of space between the motifs. This makes it a very busy pattern. Not good in a small space, IMO.

The pattern is playful, and I don’t think it goes with the grown-up feel of the room. Nor do I think the bright blue and yellow coordinate with the color of the window trim. (I’m not a fan of colored woodwork, anyway.)

The good news is – the wallpapered powder room made it into a national magazine, so more and more people will see what a great idea it is to add wallpaper to their decorating schemes.

Daring to Go Dramatic

August 10, 2014

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Digital ImageThis Grecian urn motif in cream-on-black was a dramatic choice for a hallway. At first I thought, “Why are they papering the hallway? Why not the dining room, or a bathroom, where they spend more time?”

But it turns out this was the perfect choice for this room – and for this homeowner.

Besides leading to the bedrooms in this 1950’s era home near Reliant Stadium, this is the entry hall, with the front door opening into this room. In addition, the family passes through here a lot, and both the living room and the dining room open up to this hallway, so the paper can be seen many times a day, by many people, and from several vantage points.

And, even more important, the homeowner is something of a “big personality” person, so only a wallpaper pattern with an equally big punch would do!

She loved it so much, when I was ready to leave, she gave me a big hug!

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs (#AR00132), and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Too Many Chefs Spoil the Soup

August 9, 2014

Digital ImageThe homeowner thought it would be sensible to get all of her home-improvement projects done on the same day. She scheduled me to hang wallpaper in her kitchen, the (VERY loud) air duct guys, and the in-home upholstery cleaners all for today. NOT a good idea.

I had to kill an hour, waiting for the air duct guy to finish. No way was I going to be up on that extension ladder, trying to do intricate curved cuts, with all that commotion going on.

If You Choose a Thick, Stiff Wallpaper, Expect to See the Seams

August 8, 2014

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Digital ImageThis wallpaper is printed on the newish “non-woven” backing, which many manufacturers are rushing to introduce. Most of these non-woven materials are thicker and stiffer than ordinary wallpaper, and the seams tend to show more.

Note that, when viewed from another angle (2nd photo), the seams are not nearly as visible.

This pattern is by Questex, #IR20007, and I hung it in a powder room in Sugarland.

Wallpapering the Switchplates

August 7, 2014

Digital ImageGenerally speaking, I prefer to leave switchplates unpapered. I like the look of the crisp, white plate against the wall, and it matches the woodwork. And you can bet that use will eventually (or quickly) soil the wallpaper, especially if it’s an un-coated type.

But some clients do like the look, so I accommodate. 🙂

Stripping Wallpaper – A Brief How-To

August 6, 2014

Digital ImageWhoever hung this wallpaper when the house was built back in the ’80’s did a very good job – and I rarely come across that. The most notable thing is that he used a good primer under the paper. That helps facilitate the removal of the paper later – which I am doing today.

Here I am, stripping off the old paper. The first step is to peal away the top layer, in this case, a “solid vinyl” wallpaper with a paper backing.

This leaves the paper backing on the wall, which you can see as the light tan area.

Next, I soak the backing with warm water (no soap or chemicals needed), to reactivate the paste. The wet backing is the darker tan area you see in the photo.

Once the backing is good and wet, and the adhesive has reactivated and become wet again, the paper backing will – if you are lucky – peel away easily. In other cases, you will have to work a little harder, by gently scraping the backing away from the wall with a stiff, 3″ putty knife.

Because a good quality primer was used, I was able to easily-but-patiently strip off all the wallpaper, with virtually no damage to the wall.

All I have to do to be ready to hang the new paper is to apply a new primer (probably not necessary in this case, but, hey, I’m a primer freak!).

A Little Help From Furry Friends

August 5, 2014

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Digital ImageThe homeowner has a number of cats, and this friendly gal wanted to help. You see her holding down my drop cloths, and then contemplating climbing up my ladder.

Flaw of the Day – Ink Splotches

August 3, 2014

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Digital ImageThese big globs of misplaced ink appeared in the middle of a bolt of wallpaper, and, along with some smaller smudges, ruined about 10′ of paper.

The brand is Norwall. Please, when ordering wallpaper, be sure to order a little more than you think you will need, to cover issues like this, and to allow extra for repairs down the road.

Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Paper = Poor Seams

August 3, 2014

Digital ImageAnother of my many reasons to stay away from “pre-pasted, paper-backed solid vinyl” wallpapers. (Read my previous post re peeling and curling.) This seam isn’t bad, but it’s not as nice and flat as a seam on a good quality paper wallpaper.

These goods are made by laminating thick sheet of vinyl (plastic) onto a gritty manila-type paper backing. The materials are quite disparate for a good union, in my opinion, and the end product is too thick to lie tight against a wall.

This particular brand (Norwall), at $12 a single roll, is not just inexpensive – it’s plain outright cheap. Inexpensive might be good, but cheap rarely is.