Archive for March, 2015

Corresponding String Cloth in Adjacent Room, on Bookshelves

March 19, 2015

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Wow, I have not hung string cloth in at least a decade! It is a paper-backed product with actual string fibers on the surface. That’s why there is a somewhat fuzzy aspect to the look.

Here you see the bookshelves primed and waiting for paper, and then the finished job. I took care to place the darkest stripe in the center.

There is an interesting story with this job, and a good lesson to me. I had just finished hanging the coordinating wallpaper in the adjoining exercise room. That paper was a paste-the-wall product on a non-woven backing. I started to work with the striped paper, and assumed it was the same material. I had the first bookshelf done, three strips, and noticed bubbles in the wallpaper and puckering at the seams. I could “chase” these out – but they kept coming back.

Puckering and bubbling are usually caused by the paper absorbing moisture from the paste, and does not happen with non-woven materials (not usually, anyway – I have had it happen). So I dug around and found the instructions. Turns out, this pattern, even though it was a companion to the one I had just finished hanging, and was the same color and printed on seemingly the same substrate, this one was specified to have the paper pasted (not paste the wall). And, they recommended a 10-minute booking (relaxing) time, to allow the paper to absorb the paste, expand, and relax.

Hmmm. Lesson to self: Even if you’ve hung 10,000 rolls of paper, including this same brand, ALWAYS read the instructions. 🙂

Because I had a good primer (Gardz) under the paper, I was able to pull off the strips without damage to the wall. And because it was printed on the non-woven substrate, and had not gotten completely dry, the paper came off in one piece, totally intact.

I didn’t have time to haul in and set up my table, so I laid down some drop clothes on the floor, spread the paper out on them, rolled on paste, booked, (no need for relaxing time, since the paper had already had time to absorb moisture and expand), and then hung the paper.

Whew! It as a bit of a mad dash, but it was the right answer. The newly pasted and hung strips went up perfectly, no bubbles, and the seams were nice and flat. The paper did stretch a little bit, though, horizontally, but not vertically, so I had to trim a little off one side, and it did throw off my placement of the center stripe in one of the bookcases, but, in the end, it looked great.

All this took a little time and more work, but I am glad that I noticed the bubbles and went through the steps to get rid of them. Sometimes, they disappear when the paper dries and shrinks. But you can’t plan on that. So I am glad I took the extra effort to make the job look perfect. The homeowners loved it. (They did not know any of the drama involved in getting a smooth, flat, bubble-free surface.)

This wallpaper design is by Carl Robinson, made by Wallquest which is made for Seabrook, and was hung in a family room in a house in Bunker Hill Village.

A Fancy-Dancy Exercise Room

March 18, 2015

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Isn’t this about the fanciest-schmanciest exercise room you’ve ever seen? What a delight to work out in this room! The wallpaper is a damask with a trellis/lattice pattern, by Carl Robinson, for Wallquest, for Seabrook, in blue and silver, with a little sparkle tossed in the mix. It is printed on a non-woven substrate, and was a paste-the-wall product (rather than paste the paper).

The first pic is after I smoothed the textured wall, and primed with a clear primer called Gardz. It’s not as pretty as when I use a white primer, but for floated walls, Gardz is the best primer. The original paper had a printing defect, so I could not hang it that same day, and they had to reorder a different run.

Two weeks later, the paper had arrived and I was able to finish the room. I plotted the layout so the “X” of the lattice design would line up with the center vertical mullion in the window.

The treadmill and the exercycle were heavy, too heavy to move, so it was a little tricky working around them. I could not get my ladder to straddle the treadmill, so had to dig a stool out of my van and set that on the treadmill, so I could reach the top of the wall.

This house is in Bunker Hill Village, and is home to an active family with teenage girls and a real, live cowboy husband!

Oh, and … the wife plans to yank all that exercise equipment out of the room and bring in a pretty desk, a crystal chandelier, and turn it into a nifty home office. Hubby doesn’t know that yet. Not many men read my wallpaper blog, so I’m sure the wife’s secret plot is safe. 🙂

Handyman’s Work Not Quite Up to Snuff

March 17, 2015

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Digital ImageDigital ImageThe homeowner had a guy remove two medicine cabinets from two bathrooms in her house. He patched the hole with a piece of plywood (usually they use drywall, but I guess this is OK, too), and then spread joint compound over the junctions. It didn’t look like he used tape to bridge the joined areas, so there’s a possibility that a crack will develop at the joints. He also neglected to sand everything smooth.

I hate it when workers tell the homeowner that the walls are “ready for wallpaper,” and then leave them with a mess like this, while they run to the bank to cash their check. The average homeowner has no clue that all these bumps and ridges will show under the new paper, or that cracks can develop all around the new patch.

This is the second time in two weeks that I’ve had to refloat another guy’s work. Today, between the two bathrooms, I guess I spent at minimum an hour, refloating, drying, and then sanding the areas smooth. I also had to patch around the area where a light fixture had been removed, and gaping holes were left where the toggle bolts had been yanked out of the Sheetrock, and where the electrical box had been moved.

Oh, yeah – and wasn’t he supposed to remove the wallpaper, before “fixing” the Sheetrock??

The last pic is how it looked after I finished floating, sanding, and priming. There will be no bumps under MY wallpaper!

Pattern Printed Crooked

March 15, 2015

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Digital ImageIn the first photo, you are looking at the top of the roll of grasscloth, where the manufacturer started printing. Look at where my razor blades are pointing – you can see that the design motif gets chopped off as it moves from left to right. This is because the printing press was a little off-kilter. Since it was off at the top of the roll, it was also off along the sides of the roll, for the entire length of the roll. In addition, there were some other printing errors that resulted in pattern mis-matches.

If this were a paper with a precise design, I would not hang it. But since it’s grasscloth with a rough texture and a somewhat craggily design, and since grasscloth is known for it’s lack of uniformity in color or texture, I went ahead and put it up. None of these flaws showed very much.

In the second photo, you see a bit of the finished room, including a seam with pattern match and color variation. The third photo is a close-up to show the texture of this material.

This wallpaper is by Thibaut, and went in the powder room of a young family in West University Place.

I Got NO Help At All Today

March 13, 2015

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My “assistant” wasn’t too interested in helping. She was very sweet, nonetheless. 🙂

Patching the Other Guy’s Patch

March 11, 2015

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In this Rice University area powder room, the original towel bars were not going to be replaced. So someone (I suspect the homeowner) removed them, and then attempted to fill in the holes left from the hardware. What people don’t realize, though, is that, even though the holes have been filled in, there are still dents, and also ridges from the gummy material used, that will all show under the new wallpaper.

So I “floated” joint compound (kind of like plaster) over the area, let dry, and then sanded until smooth. The second photo shows after this work has been done – a nice, smooth surface that will be invisible under the new wallpaper.

The walls were originally a lilac color. I primed with a thin white wallpaper primer, which you can see in the second photo. Then I applied my patching compound. The material I use to patch works better with a different primer, which is clear, so that’s why you see a little color difference, and a little of the lilac paint still showing. Don’t worry – none of this showed through the new wallpaper.

1934 Zuber Mural on the Azalea Trail in Houston

March 10, 2015

I attended the Azalea Trail home tour in ritzy River Oaks this Sunday. I particularly love the older homes. One house dated to 1934, and had been carefully restored. In the dining room was the original mural, a gorgeous thing depicting scenes of Americana from the mid 1800’s. The mural had been refurbished by experts, and glowed as if it were brand new.

These murals by Zuber and the like can cost over a thousand dollars per panel, and there are a good number of panels to go around the room….Meaning, the material itself (not the labor or installation materials) can cost $10,000-$30,000 !!

It was a real treat to see this mural. I’m probably the only tour-goer who spent her time scrutinizing the wall treatments and wallpaper in the homes. 🙂

Getting a Snug Fit Behind Light Fixtures

March 8, 2015

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I always take the light fixture down, so the wallpaper can go behind it, leaving a seamless look, and no chance of any wallpaper peeling up.

But, with certain types of fixtures, I will usually take it one step further, and remove the mounting bracket, too. This way, I can be sure the wallpaper goes well behind the bracket and the fixture, and no wall or gaps will show.

This is important, because some light fixtures (like this one) fit really tightly around the mounting bracket, and you want to see wallpaper around the fixture, not wall or gaps.

You’ve Just Gotta Smile When You Open the Door to This Powder Room

March 7, 2015

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First photo, “before” – nice try with the youthful lilac paint color, but the room just lacks personality.

Add a little fun wallpaper, and well, don’t you feel happy, just looking at this cheery pattern?! I hung this in the under-the-stairs powder room of a young family in the Rice University area.

The mom had considered putting the paper on the sloped ceiling (the part that is under the stairs), but I advised her not to – and she was glad we didn’t. Putting the busy pattern overhead would have crunched the ceiling down, and made the room claustrophobic – even manic.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Petal Pusher” from their Oh Joy! collection, and is a popular choice – I have hung it at least three times, in three different colors. It is by Hygge & West, and can be bought on-line.

You Can’t Work in the Dark

March 5, 2015

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See that black hole? It leads to a bathroom with no windows – and no lights. The homeowner was told by the utility company that the power would be shut off for four hours, “sometime between now and the next six days.” So we decided to take the chance. Well, what do you know?… The lights went off 10 minutes before I arrived.

The previous installer did a good job, and the wallpaper was “strippable,” so I was able to remove all the old paper, and also could see well enough to do a few minor patches. But without power, there is no way to dry my patches. And there is no way I’m going to roll on runny Gardz primer, without being able to see well.

This is disappointing, because it leaves the homeowner’s bathroom almost unusable because she had removed all her toiletries. And it makes it hard for me to schedule … try to find another day when I can fit her in. I’m back home at the moment, hoping that I can call another client and get to that home with enough time left in the day to get some paper up.