Lotus Leaf Wallpaper

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I am grateful to the home ower, for the first two photos. And apologies for my own bad photos – this was very dark paper in a room with poor lighting. In reality, the wallpaper is gorgeous – a very deep and rich teal with a sheen to it. And what’s extra cool is that the texture comes from lotus leaves!

The homeowner loves green, and she wanted a texture for the wall behind the bed in her master bedroom in Montrose (Houston). She was originally considering grasscloth, but after getting my “lecture” warning about shading and paneling (color variations inherent to grasscloth), she searched further, and came up with this unique and dazzling paper. The top photo shows you a bit of the texture, and just a hint of the deep teal color.

The material was difficult to work with. As with most natural materials, I was sure there would be gaps here and there at the seams, so I stripe the wall with paint to match the color of the wallpaper (Photo 2). The lotus leaves on the surface were dyed very dark, but they were attached to a light colored substrate, so Photo 3 shows the deep blue and deep green oil pastel crayons I used to color the edges of the paper, so white would not show at the seams.

As with many dyed wallcoverings, the ink was not stable, so I ended up with hands the color of the paper.

The instructions said this was a paste-the-wall product. I had my doubts, but used that method for my first two strips. Not good. The backing was not non-woven material, but paper, and it soaked up paste like crazy, to the point where there was nothing left on the wall to hold the paper up.

In addition, after I had the first two strips up and looking good, I looked back and saw puckers at the seams. The backing had soaked up paste, absorbed moisture, and expanded, which caused the pouches at the seams.

I ended up taking those two strips off the wall and repasting them, then rehanging. I had to be gentle, because the wet backing could be fragile and delaminate from the surface. Since both strips were already trimmed, I had to carefully line them up at the ceiling and baseboard, while moving the second strip every so slightly to the right, to relieve the stress on the seam and eliminate the pouching.

Because the paper backing appeared to be what is typically used with grasscloth (which is generally pasted on the back), and because of the expansion when wet with paste, it was obvious that this product was not suited for paste-the-wall and dry-hanging. Someone at the factory got his instructions mixed up!

My solution was to roll out each strip and lightly sponge the backing with a damp sponge, then let that sit to absorb moisture and expand a bit, while I rolled paste onto the wall. Because I knew the backing was thirsty, I used more paste than I had with those first two strips.

This proved to be the answer, and the remaining strips stuck to the wall nicely, and there was no more puckering at the seams.

There were, however, a lot of areas at the seams that did not want to lie down. I had to do a lot of repasting and reworking the seams. This is not good, because overworking can cause burnishing, and can even push paste out from under the seam, and which could cause the seam to open up over time.

As noted on the instructions, some of the lotus leaves were fatter than others, so there were areas at the seams that were thick butting up against areas that were thin, which made it look like the seam was popping open, even though it was nice and tight to the wall.

O.K., let’s see what else happened with this stuff … It was thick and stiff, and difficult to press tightly against the ceiling and baseboard, and therefore difficult to get a nice, tight horizontal trim. The vertical trims where the paper met the corners of the wall were even more cantankerous. The material didn’t want to fold into the corner, and it was difficult to cut perpendicular to the grain of the material, even with a brand new razor blade. Manipulating the piece so it I could trim it and so it would fit nicely into the corner resulted in some abrading of the dye from the surface, as well as some minor blemishes on the surface. It’s no wonder that the manufacturer said to not wrap corners, but to cut the material and start each wall with a new strip.

Another problem was that the moisture from the paste, and also from my light sponging with water, could soak through the material and loosen the adhesive holding the lotus leaves to the paper backing. In other words, the leaves could delaminate from the backing. Even though I worked quickly to avoid over soaking, I did have a few areas that bubbled or delaminated. (They could be repasted and re-adhered.)

I hung this on one accent wall with no obstacles. But I would definitely not want to hang it on all the walls in a powder room, for instance, or where I’d have to cut around corners or a pedestal sink or intricate carved moldings, or the like.

Bottom line: I’m glad I got the experience of working with this material. But I’m not 100% happy with the way it turned out. The manufacturer should work out some kinks, and should provide correct installation instructions. The homeowner, though, doesn’t see these little things that I see, and she is quite ticked with her deeply-hued, uniquely-textured, accent wall in her bedroom.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Designer Series, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

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