Archive for January, 2016

Grasscloth in a Closet

January 31, 2016
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I hung this grasscloth in the bedroom of a garage apartment in Montrose (Houston) last year, and the homeowner wanted to use the scraps to paper the back wall of the closet. Hmmm …. might be a trend … this is the second closet I have wallpapered recently.

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View of the Day

January 31, 2016

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It’s a gloriously sunny and warm January day, with clear skies and intermittent breezes. I am working in the garage apartment of a large, 1930’s home in Montrose, just a little west of downtown Houston.

You can’t beat my view out the window!

Little Boy’s Room in Muted, Murky Blue Grasscloth

January 30, 2016
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This contemporary new home in Bellaire (Houston) is all about open spaces, earth textures, natural materials, and neutral colors. For the young son’s accent wall behind his built-in bed, this muddied, kinda aqua blue, finely-textured grasscloth works perfectly.

The second photo shows you the texture and color. The third photo shows the seams, which, unlike many grasscloth products, are virtually invisible.

Wallpapering Around a Wall-Mounted Light Fixture

January 29, 2016
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Wallpaper looks much better when it goes behind switch plates, light fixtures, etc. Here is what it looks like after I have removed the fixture. You are looking at the electrical box, and the safely-capped wires inside it. The white holes on either side are where the screws that hold the fixture to the wall go.

The second photo shows you what it looks like with the light put back in place.

This material is a woven grasscloth, and has a texture that homeowners are loving right now.

More of the Textured Woven Grasscloth

January 28, 2016
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The homeowners used the same grasscloth as in the study (previous post) in the 2-room powder room just down the hall. Tomorrow, I will put the same paper in two recessed niches with wall sconces, upstairs in the TV room.

Rustic & Textured & Earthy & Burlapy

January 27, 2016
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This wallpaper takes the texture of grasscloth up a notch. There are knots and lumps and knarled fibers and even bits of nameless debris that got caught up in the webbing. The clients LOVE it!

This rustic, burlap-type material goes wonderfully with their new home in Bellaire (Houston), which is a blend of contemporary (straight lines, smooth surfaces, white walls) and Mexican rustic (rough stone, leather, weathered wood, primitive art).

And I liked it because, with the woven fibers, the seams are virtually invisible.

This product is by Twil.

Gorgeous Gold & Aqua Grasscloth

January 24, 2016
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When I originally met with this young family, for their dining room, they were looking at a very finely textured, pale aqua grasscloth from a company I’m not familiar with. I told them I thought the texture and color were both too diminutive, and from a distance, the walls would not look like much of anything. I also hesitate with unfamiliar companies, worrying if their products will have the unpleasant shading and paneling that plague grasscloth decorating.

The homeowner took my suggestion to visit my favorite place to buy wallpaper (below). The result is this beautiful, beautiful grasscloth. The stronger texture shows up nicely, even from across the room, and it has more of the sparkle the homeowner was seeking.

The paper has more color and impact than their first choice, but does not overwhelm the room, plus it blends perfectly with other aqua accents in other rooms around the home. It’s great with their paint color, too. Now the room looks something like a day at the beach, with the colors of sand and water and sky and a little shimmer, like light dancing on waves.

And I was happy with the quality of the product. There is no shading or paneling (color variations from strip to strip, or within a strip). And even though grasscloth cannot be matched across the seams, the seams are nearly invisible (2nd photo).

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

This job was in Bellaire (Houston), and took two days. The first day I spent smoothing and priming the textured walls. The second day I hung the paper, a little over 10 single rolls.

Stripping Wallpaper – Damage to Sheetrock Due to No Primer

January 24, 2016

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Here I am, stripping wallpaper off the walls in this bathroom. This is the original wallpaper, and has been up and in perfect condition for nearly 20 years.

Unfortunately, the original installer did not prime the walls before hanging the wallpaper. That means that while removing the wallpaper, the Sheetrock can easily be torn, as you see in this photo.

These tears are subject to bubbling when water-based paint, or new wallpaper, are placed over them. They also create a blemish on the wall that will show under the new paper or paint.

So they must be treated with a sealer (I like Gardz), and then skim-floated over and sanded smooth.

It would be far better if the wallpaper hanger had just used a primer before hanging his wallpaper.

Stripping Wallpaper – Unprimed Drywall: The Underlying Surface Makes A Difference

January 23, 2016

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When stripping off old wallpaper, you never know what you will be getting into. Some people say, “It all came off so easily!” And others will spend days on one room, damage their Sheetrock, and endanger their marriage. 🙂

Several factors come into play, some being: the surface below the wallpaper, the type of wallpaper, the technique used by the person attempting to remove the wallpaper – and his patience level. 🙂

And it’s helpful to understand the process of how homes are put together.

Shot in a corner, under a window, and above a toilet with the cover removed, this photo illustrates the first factor. First of all, the previous installer did not prime the Sheetrock before hanging the paper, and that is a big no-no. A primer will make installation of the new wallpaper easier, help it cling to the wall better, and will protect the wall from damage when the paper is removed later.

But you are not just looking at unprimed drywall.

Above the toilet tank, the grey area is drywall. There are some darker grey areas where the drywall has absorbed water used in the removal process. Wallpaper will stick to bare drywall like its life was staked on it, and, depending on the type of wallpaper and the paste used, can be the Devil to get off. If you are lucky, the wallpaper will release from the drywall easily. But more likely, the wallpaper will stick tight, and will take careful persuasion from a stiff putty knife to scrape it off the wall. It’s very easy and common during this process to tear the top layer of the drywall, and that is very bad, because the inner layer will bubble when new wallpaper or latex paint is put on top of it, and you will also see a visible dent or bump or ridges under the new surface.

To the left of the toilet, in the corner, the white area is joint compound (“mud”). Joint compound is a smoothing agent (like plaster) and has many uses, the main one being to smooth over seams in sheets of drywall. But it is also used to cover nails or screws, patch holes, or to smooth out uneven or textured areas. When it has not been sealed or primed, it is dry and porous and thirsty, and will suck the paste right off the wallpaper. Meaning, that wallpaper will “kind of” adhere to this surface, but will release very easily. Sometimes, all it takes is a little water to reactivate the paste and then the wallpaper will come off easily and cleanly. Other times, the wallpaper will never really stick well at all, and will kind of hover over the mudded areas, and can sometimes even cause a bubble in the wallpaper.

At the top of the photo, under the window molding, you are looking at another white area. This is paint – overspray from when the painters sprayed enamel onto the woodwork. The good thing about paint is that it protects the drywall and will prevent tears when removing the wallpaper. Also, the wallpaper sticks to paint much better than it sticks to joint compound, but not as aggressively as it sticks to bare drywall. So, usually, all you need to do to remove the old wallpaper is soak the backing sufficiently and then use a stiff putty knife to scrape the backing away from the paint. If you are careful, there will be no damage to the drywall. The bad thing about enamel or any gloss-finish paint, is that, contrary to what I just said, wallpaper will not stick to it, because it is glossy and slick – kind of like Colorforms, so it will “kind of” stick, but when stressed by torque or humidity or other factors, can curl at the seams, or even give way entirely.

Bottom line: When hanging wallpaper, always use the proper primer. It will save you a lot of grief down the road.

Stripping Wallpaper

January 22, 2016

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Here is a shot that shows all of the stages of stripping wallpaper.

First you see the striped wallpaper. This particular one is a paper-backed solid vinyl, which I find easier to remove than many others, or at least, ut causes less damage to the wall (usually).

The first step is to peel off this top layer. I use a stiff 3″ putty knife to get under the vinyl (without digging into the paper backing), and then pull off the vinyl. Usually, it will come off in large strips. But sometimes it breaks apart into little pieces, which take much longer to get off. In the photo, you can see both a large(ish) piece coming away from the wall, and jagged areas where I have been fighting spots that want to come off in tiny pieces.

Wallpapers made of different materials might peel off differently, but the concept and process are the same.

Once that top layer is off, you will be looking at the paper backing. In this photo, the backing is a light tan color.

The backing is then soaked with warm water and a sponge. Some people use chemicals or additives or even a steamer, but all I use is clean, hot water. The idea is to reactivate the paste, so it will release from the wall. Once the backing is wet, you can see it turn color, to a dark tan. With other types of paper, the backing might be white, or even difficult to see.

Once the backing is good and wet, the paste will loosen and, if you are lucky, it will pull away from the wall easily, as in the photo. In other instances, you might need to use that stiff 3″ putty knife to scrape it off the wall – gently, to avoid gouging onto the wall.

It’s really important that you not force the paper off the wall, or tear the Sheetrock in the process.

The underlying surface will have a lot to do with your success, too. If the previous installer primed the walls properly, or even if the builder applied a coat of cheap paint, you will have better results than if the paperhanger put the wallpaper directly onto the drywall.

The wall can then be wiped gently with the damp sponge to remove any paste residue.

Realize that this procedure will take a long time. You cannot expect to strip a whole room of wallpaper after dinner. Rushing, and trying to “force” the paper off the wall, along with not understanding the process, are major reasons for damage to the wall. Oh, and patience. You must exercise patience.