Archive for April, 2015

Twisty, Wrinkly Wallpaper

April 30, 2015

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Wow! What is causing these awful wrinkles in the wallpaper (Photo 1) ?!

The walls in this powder room were not perfectly plumb. This is pretty typical, and with many wallpaper patterns, not really a big deal. With this geometric pattern, however, getting a precise pattern match in the corners was important. But since the corner was crooked, manipulating the right edge of the wallpaper to butt into the corner would match the pattern perfectly, but resulted in the left edge of the wallpaper strip being warped (not straight), and this resulted in wrinkles. It also left an un-straight edge for the next strip of wallpaper to try to butt up against.

This wallpaper was very pliable, and also on a non-woven substrate, which is practicably indestructible, and so I was able to pull, push, twist, brush, squeegee, etc., until finally (15 minutes) the paper laid flat against the wall.

The paper may have been flat against the wall, but the left edge was not straight. And I had to butt another strip of wallpaper against it. If I had been hanging a number of subsequent full-length strips, it probably would not have worked. But my next strip was a sole one (ending in the corner to the left) and was only 10″ or so wide. This 10″ width was narrow enough to make it malleable, and to allow me to manipulate it to butt up with the previous piece to its right. Because it ended in the corner on the left (not pictured), its un-straight left edge didn’t matter.

Interestingly, the next day, I hung paper in another room in the same house, and ran into issues of twisting paper / unplumb corners on at least two walls.

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A Repair Today

April 26, 2015

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I hung this “Snow Leopard” animal print wallpaper almost exactly a year ago, in a great room in a new home in the Galleria area of Houston. Slowly, a pink spot began to develop near the bottom of the wall, and it turned out to be an indicator of mold – caused by moisture inside the wall. The builder came in, peeled back a few feet of paper, cut into the wall, fixed whatever was leaking, and then patched the spot (third photo).

He did a pretty good job, but I wanted the wall to be smoother so no bumps would show under the wallpaper, so I refloated the area (meaning I covered it with a thin coat of plaster-like material), then used my cool tool heat gun to get it to dry quickly. Then I sanded, primed, and used the heat gun again to get the primer to dry quickly.

I could have patched in a new piece of wallpaper about 18″ above the floor, which would have been pretty well hidden by the large TV console. But the homeowner didn’t want a patched-in piece, with the potential for a visible horizontal splice / seam. So, in the first photo, I have removed the entire strip of wallpaper from the middle of the wall. It came off easily and in one piece, with just a few bits of backing still stuck to the wall … this is printed on one of the newer “non-woven” substrates, designed to be breathable and to come off the wall easily. It did!

Usually, I will strip off the damaged strip, and then all the other strips from that point until I reach a corner, and replace all of them. That’s because wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and each strip can expand at a little different rate, so each strip has to be hung sequentially, one after the other.

But these non-woven papers do not (generally) expand. So it is possible to remove just one strip and patch a new one into the same spot, and expect it to fit nicely. That’s what happened here.

I am not 100% thrilled with the way the seam on the left looks, because it is more visible than the other (older) seams on the wall, and even than the seam on the right side of the same strip. And I don’t know why that is. It’s possible that the strip came off a roll of a different run number. We had limited left-over paper to work with.

But the bottom line is, the homeowner was happy, and the wall is much nicer looking, now that that pink blob is gone!

Keeping the Diamond at the Top

April 25, 2015

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You will hardly ever find a room that has absolutely perfectly plumb corners and walls, and level ceilings and floors. And besides, wallpaper stretches when it gets wet with paste, and twists and grows. So it is very common for motifs in wallpaper to appear as if they are moving up or down the wall. In other words, because you cannot count on a ceiling to be level, instead of putting a motif (like the diamond here) at the top of the wall, it’s better to let a little bit of the filler design land at the top. That way, your eye won’t notice if it’s a quarter of an inch from the crown molding, or a half an inch.

In this powder room, despite my best efforts, the diamond eventually worked its way up until it was being cut off by the crown molding. To fool the eye into thinking the ceiling was level, I moved the diamonds down. To do this, I cut the diamonds off of the wallpaper. After the strip of wallpaper was in place on the wall, I replaced the diamonds and pasted them on top of the wallpaper, positioning them so their tips were just below the crown molding.

You can see that the diagonal lines are not lined up perfectly. But this is much less noticeable than if the tops of the diamonds had gotten cut off.

What’s interesting is, I did this for the west end of the room, and part of the south end. But as I made my way around to the final corner of the room, by golly – the crown molding moved back to its original height, and the diamonds moved back down below it, right to where I had plotted for them to be in the first place. 🙂

Splintery Edges

April 24, 2015

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See the little shreds of paper coming off the edges of these rolls of wallpaper? The cutting blades at the factory are dull perhaps, or maybe they just forgot to tidy up their work. Either way, these little splinters can prevent the seams from meeting up nicely, so they should be removed. All it takes is a little brushing with a toothbrush, or running a sanding block along the edges of each strip.

Simple and easy. BUT – time consuming. I could get a couple of strips up on the wall, but instead am dicking around cleaning up these miniscule bits that the manufacturer should have not had in the first place. Harrumph!

Gotta Love Those In-Home Elevators!

April 23, 2015

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The house where I’m working this week has an elevator. Boy, is that ever handy, when I’m hauling a 50lb bucket of wallpaper paste – all the way from the first floor to the third floor.

Another Shot of Yesterday’s Trellis in an Entry

April 23, 2015

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Ahhh… A little daylight makes a difference.

You Can’t Go Wrong With a Classic Trellis

April 22, 2015

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People love this classic trellis pattern. And I have to admit, it looks might handsome in the entry of this newly-built home in the Galleria area.

The décor and furnishings in this home are very traditional. But a timeless trellis pattern like this works well in contemporary settings, too. You can Search here and find where I’ve hung the hot pink color way – in girls’ rooms, to be sure. I have hung this a number of times, and have another couple wanting it for an upcoming job.

Tidy Workmen – For a Change

April 22, 2015

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I am wallpapering in a newly-built house that is still having some tweaking going on. Today the doorbell guys came to install new equipment.

I was mighty surprised – happily so – when I saw how this worker carefully protected the client’s hardwood floors before setting down his tools. He also put booties over his shoes, before entering the house.

Keeping Stripes Straight in a Corner

April 19, 2015

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One of the challenges of hanging wallpaper is keeping the pattern straight/plumb/level/all that jazz – especially factoring in Houston’s gumbo soil and shifting foundations. With a striped pattern, even a little variance is noticeable. Often, it’s not so important that the stripes hang true to plumb, but that they hang perpendicular to the corners and moldings in the room.

In the first photo, the corner is a little off-plumb (which is common). If the pattern had ended with the brown field in the corner, all would have been fine. But since the dark line fell in the corner, some of the “balls” in the pattern fell on the right of the corner, and some fell on the left, and that was obvious to the eye.

To disguise this, I cut my next strip and included the entire dark stripe along its left edge. Then I pasted this edge over the stripe in the corner (second photo), tweeking it a little, making sure that the stripes were on the left of the corner and the “balls” were on the right, and nothing was cut off.

Having the stripes absolutely plumb in the corner was not as important as how the stripes fell against the door molding to the right. Here, it had to be straight and parallel (but not necessarily plumb). You can see how I am using a ruler to be sure the length of the stripe is equidistant from the top of the door molding to the bottom.

Whew! Mission accomplished!

But all is not done … We still have the rest of the room to hang. And, as you can see, right above this door molding, the stripe looks like it is going off-plumb. Actually, it is an optical illusion, caused by the un-level-ness of the crown molding. It may be the trim carpenter’s fault, or the framer’s fault, or the Sheetrocker’s, or just blame it on the shifting gumbo soil under Houston. But, still, your eye sees this.

So, instead of butting my next strip of wallpaper against the piece in the photo, which would have committed each strip to being equally off-plumb, I cut the left edge of the strip along the striped design, and then overlapped the stripe of the new strip over the stripe on the existing strip, but, again, tweeking it just a little to make it look perpendicular to the crown molding.

This trick is blessedly easy to do with stripes, not just on headers (the short strips over doors and windows) but also, when necessary, and with a little more finesse, on full-length drops.

To reiterate: Keeping strips parallel with moldings or other key visual elements in a room, is more important than having them hang true to plumb.

It just sometimes takes a little work to reach that goal.

Another Boring Powder Room Springs to Life

April 18, 2015

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This large powder room in the home of a young family in West University Place (Houston) had been painted dark green. Before that, it was papered in a dark red print wallpaper. While I do like dark powder rooms, without any pattern on the walls, the painted room lacked personality and was claustrophobic.

With help from interior designer Sylvia Walker at Studio Bella, the homeowner chose this white-on-silver medallion pattern. It sure changed the room … The lighter color and simple pattern visually expanded the room, while adding personality and an inviting feel.

In the sink photo, I want to point out that the wallpaper pattern is perfectly centered, although the angle of the shot makes it look off a hair. The sink was recessed in an area flanked by obtuse angles, and it was extremely difficult to paper. The obtuse angle corners were neither plumb nor perpendicular, making it impossible to get an accurate measurement, and the “wiggling walls” meant that paper wrapping around the corners would twist off-plumb and also would likely have wrinkles and an uneven edge, meaning that the next strip of wallpaper would meet in some areas but gap in others.

And, to cap it off, pedestal sinks are bugger bears anyway, trying to keep the paper from tearing, while you work it around curved surfaces, and then maneuvering it under the sink and cut around the water lines and drain pipe. To complicate things more, this sink didn’t fit into the unusual corner space, so had been shored up with boards on either side.

I was very pleased, though, as I managed to get the seams to meet nicely – no gaps or overlaps, and, given enough time (like, about an hour), the paper worked nicely around and under the sink. I even put wallpaper on the boards next to the sink, which helped them fade into the background.

This wallpaper is by Thibaut, and was exceptionally nice to work with. It was malleable when I needed it to be, yet held it’s shape and didn’t shrink. Paste wiped off the surface nicely, and the metallic silver color is attractive, and the slightly raised white ink lends just a tad of texture.