Archive for February, 2017

Wallpaper Too Old & Brittle to Work With

February 28, 2017
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This kitchen wallpaper was stained by a water leak. There was enough left over paper to replace the damaged section. BUT – the paper had been stored in a hot Houston attic since the ’70’s – that’s 35 years! It was far too brittle and fragile to work with.

I found that lightly wetting the back with a damp sponge allowed it to relax enough that I could unroll it. I tried my usual wallpaper paste, but once the sample piece dried, there were stains caused by the paste. See third photo.

Then I tried powdered wheat paste, which is for more delicate materials. This did not stain the paper, but it did cause it to become too wet, crack, split, tear, and created crevices where staining would be likely to occur. See last photo.

I am glad I tested methods and products before I ripped off the old wallpaper. We ended up leaving the old paper on the wall, and I used craft paint to cover the worst of the stains. See previous post. This turned out to be the best solution.

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Wallpaper Stained by Water Leak – Repair

February 25, 2017
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This wallpaper over kitchen cabinets had been stained by a water leak. Water ran down from the ceiling (see vertical stains in the first photo), and then pooled on the bottom edge, wicking up into the bottom few inches of the wallpaper (see second photo).

The original plan was to replace the whole section, but the left over wallpaper had been stored in the hot Houston attic for 35 years, and was way to brittle and fragile to be worked with. So I got out the artist’s brushes and the craft paints.

These are the little bottles of matt finish acrylic paint that can be bought at Michael’s. I mixed various amount of three different colors together, until I got a mix that matched the background pretty well. This was tricky, because paint looks a lot lighter when it’s wet, and it was had to predict how dark it would be when it dried.

But I got a pretty good match. See the last photo. I didn’t cover just the stain, but the entire area from stalk to stalk, to make the color as even as possible.

I covered the stains at the bottom of the wall, and a few of the horizontal stains near the crown molding. The homeowner said she could live with the vertical stains, and this is good, because painting in larger sections in more prominent areas would have caught the eye much more.

From even a short distance, you can’t even tell that there ever were any stains.

Geometric Wallpaper Patterns – Accommodating UnPlumb Walls and Windows, and UnLevel Ceilings and Floors

February 24, 2017
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When entering this 2-room bathroom suite, the first thing you see is the window on the far wall. Because the window is the focal point, I chose to center the wallpaper’s pattern on it. As you can see in the first two photos, the geometric pattern is perfectly balanced on either side of the window.

But since walls and windows and ceilings and floors and etc., are never perfectly plumb or level, you can plot the pattern to be nice and straight in one place, but then you can plan on it going crooked in other areas of the room.

So it becomes a game of priorities… Do I keep the pattern plumb/level, or do I keep the pattern match intact?

Look at the photo of the wallpaper against the ceiling line, and you will see the pattern dropping down as it moves to the left. That doesn’t look great – but it’s not really all that noticeable or offensive.

Now look at the photo of the corner. The pattern matches perfectly. To get the pattern to match, I had to hang the paper to the left of the corner off-plumb, and that’s what threw the pattern at the ceiling line off-level and caused it to drop down as it moved to the left (mentioned above).

Mis-matched wallpaper patterns are eye-jarring, even in corners. I think it’s better to have the design match in the corners, then to worry about how it is moving along the ceiling line, or how it’s meeting up against other walls in other corners.

This wallpaper is by Waverly, which is made by York, and is in the Sure Strip line, a product that I particularly like. It was bought at below retail 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.

Coordinating Companion Papers

February 23, 2017
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I love the look of coordinating wallpapers in adjoining rooms. This floral and companion small scale damask went in two rooms of a guest bathroom in the Barker’s Landing neighborhood (I-10 & Highway 6) of Houston. The grey and yellow color scheme ties them together, as well as the feel of the design.

They are both from the same book, and are on a non-woven stock, and are by A Street Prints, a British company. They were bought at below retail 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.

Note From The Mailman

February 22, 2017
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“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
I guess that does not include getting out of the truck and walking three feet to the mailbox.

To be fair, though, this was a very politely written note.  And I knew that mail carriers don’t like you blocking the mailbox (and they don’t like to / won’t get out and walk to the mailbox).  I asked the homeowners about it when I first arrived.  They said to go ahead and park there, even if they didn’t get their mail for a day or two (I will be there 4-5 days).

I finished prep today, and all of the tools and supplies I need to hang paper the rest of the week are in the house, so no need for me to park near the home’s walkway.

So the rest of the week I will park away from the mailbox, and when I’m finished and ready to load up, I can move my van back to the walkway.

 

 

What’s Eating This Paper?

February 20, 2017

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I hung this 10-15 years ago, and was back for another reason. This is a powder room. Spots like this are along the edges of much of the woodwork.

I think the brand is Scalamandre, a higher-end wallpaper, and it was a hand-trimmed paper with ink that smells like mothballs.

It really doesn’t look like something the maid could have done, even if she got chemicals on the paper. I told the homeowner I think it’s bugs eating the ink or paper, but she says she’s never seen bugs in her house. Well, she did admit that she has seen silverfish.

Just for fun, Google “silverfish wallpaper paste.” Ah-HA!

My suggestion was to get some bottles of 99c craft paint and a small brush and color in the areas.

Wet Stripping and Dry Stripping Old Wallpaper

February 19, 2017
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I hung these papers 15-20 years ago. Still in perfect shape, too, I might add. 🙂

The homeowners are moving, and are trying to make the house as neutral as possible before it goes on the market. So the child-friendly lime green wallpaper had to go.

In the top photo, I am stripping a paper-backed solid vinyl paper. It is considered a peelable paper. These are pretty easy to get off, if you are patient. You peel off the top plastic printed layer, which usually comes off in large pieces. That leaves the tan paper backing stuck to the wall, which you can see as a “V” in the upper center of the photo. To the left of that area, I have wet the paper with a sponge and hot water, so it has turned darker tan. Once the water reactivates the adhesive, this backing will peel away from the wall easily; or it may need to be gently scraped off with a stiff 3″ putty knife. This process is pretty easy on the wall, and leaves little damage.

The second photo shows a thin paper wallpaper coming off by simply pulling on it. This is what is called a strippable paper. Interestingly enough, this paper was most strippable up high, where humidity from showering would have collected. Even strippable papers don’t always come off in one piece, and when they do, the process can put too much stress on the wall, so you might get pieces of the primer or underlying surfaces pulling off, too. To minimize damage to the wall, these papers can also be removed in the 2-step process outlined above. Since they are thinner, it’s a little harder to get the top inked layer off. But if you wet the surface first, which seems to make it stronger so it comes off in larger pieces, and then use that stiff 3″ putty knife to gently get under the top layer, and proceed as above.

Of course, what is under the paper has to do with it, too. In this case, my wonderful primer oil-based KILZ Original has provided a strong and water-resistant surface that sticks tightly to the underlying wall, and that let go of the wallpaper with no damage to the walls.

Step Back Into The ’70’s!

February 18, 2017
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This 1959 home is in the Meyerland / Westbury area of Houston, and is decidedly Mid Century Modern. The master bathroom had been nicely updated with granite countertops and sleek, honey-colored cabinets. But the dark grey walls studded with pimply home-handyman texture made the room dreary and uninviting. “I hate my bathrooms,” said the homeowner.

Well, we can change that. 🙂

What a fun pattern! This “mod” design screams Mid Century (can you say Nancy Sinatra and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”?, and the color perfectly compliments the color of the cabinets. Once the paper went up, the whole room sprang to life – and it felt larger, too.

The homeowner totally loved the transformation!

This paper is by Graham & Brown, and has a durable vinyl surface on a thin non-woven substrate. The material is thin and pliable, clings closely to the wall, and was lovely to work with.

The walls themselves, though, were another matter. The extremely heavy texture had to be smoothed, which took two days. And hanging this rhythmic geometric pattern was greatly complicated by the un-plumb walls, un-level ceiling, un-straight outside corner … you get the picture.

Difficult to explain, but after a lot of fretting and experimenting and twisting paper and rehanging a couple of strips, I realized that I could not fight the irregularities of the room’s construction. So I opted for the theory of “keep the pattern motifs intact, even if they go off-kilter at the ceiling or outside corners.”

Fast forward to the finished room … It looks great. Most of the “imperfect” areas I was fretting over are not even noticeable. The homeowner loves it.

Hey – she loves it so much that she said she wants to spend the rest of the night in her new bathroom!

Water Color-y Mural In a Baby Girl’s Nursery – Accent Wall

February 17, 2017
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Here’s a delightful, softly colorful wall treatment for a soon-to-be-born baby girl. I love the way the flowers look fluid, as if they were brush strokes of water color. It is a mural, made up of six panels, rather than a typical wallpaper with a repeating design motif.

I hung this on one accent wall for behind the crib in a nursery of a newish home in Pearland. The wallpaper was bought on-line, and it came with no label, no instructions, no nothing. The homeowner told me name of the website, but – dang it! – I forgot the site and the brand name. 😦 I suspect that this may be a knock-off of a very similar pattern. Read on.

I have hung this pattern before, with pleasing results:

https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/water-color-ful-wall-for-a-baby-girl/

and with slightly lesser-than-happy results:

https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/water-color-flowers-for-a-little-girls-room/

Anyway, back to hanging the mural. First I smoothed the new suburban home typically heavyish textured wall, and primed with Gardz. (No photos, but similar to the previous two posts.)

In the 4th photo, I have laid out each strip, to be sure of which way is up, of the sequence to be placed on the wall, and to get exact measurements so I can compare them to the wall.

As for getting the paper onto the wall, I followed the protocol for pre-pasted papers, which is to run each strip through a water tray. I added a light coat of supplemental paste to the wall and at the edges (ceiling, baseboard, corners).

Similar to my last experience with this paper, I had what we call “overlaps and gaps” at the seams. See photos 5 and 6. In the 7th picture, you can clearly see that the paper has not been cut straight. Look closely just below the pink flower petal, and you will see that the seam butts perfectly, then jogs to the left in an overlap, then comes back to the right in a perfect butt.

When the manufacturer provides crooked seams, it’s impossible to make them butt together perfectly.

In addition, every seam had pattern mis-matches. In fact, none of the pattern matched perfectly across the 9′ height of the mural. The photo with the dark green leaf shows an example of this. You might think, “Just pull one strip up a little.” But then other elements of the design at other points along the seam would not match up. (Not pictured.)

The paper is simply poorly trimmed and poorly printed.

From a distance, you don’t notice any of this at all, and even close up, most homeowners don’t see it. But this mother-to-be was envisioning a perfect room for her first baby, and she paid a lot of money for the mural and installation – and she spotted the irregularities immediately.

With some of the overlapped seams, I was able to carefully trim off the lower layer, so they butted together better. And as the paper dried, I was able to push some of the seams together, as well as pull apart some of the overlaps. And I used my trusty No. 2 graphite pencil to fill in some of the mis-matched design at the seams.

In the end, the homeowner was happy with the room.

The crib and other baby’s furniture are white, and will look sweet and peaceful against this accent wall.

Why do I have no photos of the finished room? All this furniture is in the garage, still in boxes, waiting to be assembled.

Hmmm… Guess how this young couple is going to spend the weekend? 🙂

Getting the Walls Smooth, Cont’d.

February 16, 2017
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Yesterday’s post showed you the extremely heavy texture on the walls that needed to be smoothed before wallpaper can go up. In the first photo above, you see the walls after I applied the first coat of smoothing compound.

Once that had dried overnight, I sanded it. Since it started out so thick and uneven, it was impossible to sand it completely smooth, as you see in the second photo. Some paperhangers would hang on this, but I want the walls to be a perfectly smooth as possible, so no bumps show under the paper.

So floated the walls again, this time with a very light skim coat. It dried relatively quickly, and I sanded the walls a final time. The third photo shows how smooth they turned out.

A lot of work, some sore muscles, and SIX BOXES of joint compound!