Archive for March, 2017

Using 20-Minute “Mud” to Repair Sheetrock Damage

March 31, 2017

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When the homeowners had their powder room vanity top replaced, the shorter new backsplash left a 1″ area of torn drywall around the top of the new backsplash. There was a height difference between the drywall and the wall (which was covered with at least two layers of old wallpaper). This needed to be evened out before the new wallpaper could go up.

Because torn drywall will bubble when it gets wet, I used a penetrating sealer called Gardz to prevent this by sealing the raw area. Once that was dry, I used 20-minute joint compound to “float” over the damaged areas.

The bag says “5” (see photo), but that is misleading. What they mean is that you have five minutes to mix the powdered material with water, stir smooth, and then work with the stuff, before it gets stiff and hard. The actual drying time is more like 10-20 minutes, and sometimes longer.

Once it’s dry, it can be sanded smooth. Wipe off the dust with damp sponge, let dry again. Then it can be sealed with a primer, and I like the penetrating sealer Gardz, once again, to seal this porous joint compound material.

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A Horrible Place for a Wallpaper Seam

March 29, 2017

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Often you can “fudge” wallpaper patterns, to avoid awkward or unstable placement of seams – but just as often, you cannot.

Here I could not avoid having the seam fall ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH away from the outside corner on this wall.

So why all the consternation?

First, being just 1/4″ from the corner, there is little wall space for the paper to grab onto, which raises the worry about the paper not adhering, and curling away from the wall, or, at minimal, gapping in areas.

This brand is particularly challenging, because it is known for curling at the seams, which further hinders a good, tight, flat seam.

Second, since walls are never straight or plumb, it’s hard to keep the wallpaper design evenly spaced and correctly positioned down this length of wall.

The un-plumb walls also make it near impossible for wallpaper to wrap around the outside corner without warping, which makes it difficult for the subsequent strip, which is straight, to butt up nicely against the un-straight edge.

Un-plumb corners also throw the wrapped wallpaper off-plumb. That can result in the pattern’s design “going off-plumb.” This means that the horizontal pattern won’t line up perfectly along vertical walls (like in corners).

Another thing that will happen is that the pattern motifs can start creeping either up or down from the ceiling line (un-level ceiling lines factor in here, too.)

And, lastly, because wallpaper absorbs moisture from the paste and then expands and / or warps, it’s hard to keep everything straight and plumb as it turns a corner. Which makes it hard for the next strip to butt perfectly up against it.

This wallpaper is by Hygge & West, and can be bought from their on-line website.

Rusted Drywall Corner Bead – Bad News for Wallpaper

March 28, 2017

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I have just stripped wallpaper off this wall. The outside corner of the drywall shows a lot of rust along the metal corner bead. This is fairly common in humid bathrooms, but in this case, the room is a kitchen.

This is a big problem, because rust will bleed through wallpaper (and paint, too), creating a stain on the surface of the new finish. Other materials can cause staining, too, such as grease, ink, smoke, water, wood sap (knot holes), crayon, lipstick, etc.

But it’s easy to fix. A good sealer / stain blocker will seal off the rust (or other staining agent) so it will not leach through the new decorating material.

I like oil-based KILZ Original (not latex). But it’s noxious stuff, and will make you high if you breath the fumes. I wear a chemical respirator when I apply it, and ventilate the room well.

There are other water-born products that are made to block stains that are not as likely to kill brain cells. 🙂 If you are interested in trying one of these, ask your paint store professional (meaning, a true paint store with knowledgeable staff, NOT a box store with rotating employees) for recommendations.

Cute Wallpaper – But It’s Time To GO!

March 24, 2017

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This striped wallpaper design with coordinating topiary border was very cute, yet sophisticated – back in the ’90’s.

The homeowner is a realtor, and is up-to-date on decorating trends. She is ready for something more modern in her kitchen and breakfast room.

I stripped off this wallpaper today, and, most likely, the homeowners will prime and then paint the walls, rather than rewallpaper.

The home is in Tanglewood (Houston).

Teen Daughter Gets a Personalized and Hip Bedroom

March 23, 2017


What teen girl wouldn’t LOVE this room?!

This geometric design is softer than most, because of the rounded lines. Nonetheless, the strong black-on-white color scheme ensure that the look is pumped up and vibrant.

The interior designer of this house in West University Place in Houston is Neal LeBouef of L Design Group. His rooms tend to be crisp, open, and warmly modern. The wallpaper went on one wall in the bedroom, and is a paste-the-wall product.

“Scrim” Backing on Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

March 22, 2017

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This thick vinyl wallpaper has a deeply-embossed surface. To support that, the material has been fused to a “scrim” backing – a loosely-woven fabric that is sort of like fine, strong cheesecloth.

While I don’t like solid vinyl wallpapers with a paper backing (because the seams tend to curl up in humid environments), those made with this woven scrim backing are a whole ‘nother ball game … They are tough and durable, resistant to water, resistant to humidity, can be washed, can be banged into, etc., all without worries of damage.

The manufacturer is York Wallcoverings, and the paper was bought through Dorota 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.

Wallpaper in Chiffon & Champagne

March 22, 2017

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The homeowners of this brand-new home in the Memorial City area of Houston envisioned a textured surface for their powder room. With this paper, they got both texture and movement!

I admit, I wasn’t crazy about this wallpaper when I started. But as it began to work its way around the room, and as light began to hit the folds of the textured “waves,” it all began to look very elegant. Young and vibrant, yet still elegant.

The pattern is called “Chiffon,” and the color is like champagne. It is by York Wallcoverings, and 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.

Water Stains on Wallpaper

March 21, 2017

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This wallpaper has been up for 10, and possibly as long as 20 years.

It is an uncoated paper wallpaper, probably the type that we call a British pulp. It is in a bathroom, and, over time, water splashing onto the backsplash (or possibly the housekeeper’s cleaning solution) has been wicked up by the paper, and caused the water stains you see here.

A paper with a thin vinyl coating, like most American papers have, might have held up a little better. Also, a thin bead of clear caulk along the top of the backsplash might have prevented water from getting into the cut edge of the paper and discoloring it.

There are good things to be seen here, too. Thin papers like this one (as opposed to paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers), stay nice and tight to the wall, even in humid rooms like bathrooms, and even when water is splashed on them. Over all the years this wallpaper has been up, all of the seams are perfectly intact. And even though there is staining where water has gotten into the paper, the paper has stayed nice and tight against the wall and the backsplash. A paper-backed solid vinyl would have curled away from the wall, and would have looked much worse, and been impossible to repair.

Another reason to buy paper, and stay away from paper-backed solid vinyl.

Wild & Whimsical Wallpaper

March 19, 2017

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Today was fun! Just look at that wallpaper! I had another client considering this pattern a few months ago, but she chickened out. It is a bold and dramatic design, so it takes the right person to bring it into her living space.

In this case, that was a master bedroom, in a decades-old brick 4-plex that was recently remodeled into a single-family home. The style is light Industrial Modern, with plenty of Mid Century Modern touches tossed in. The home is in the First Ward, just down the street from the Summer Street art studios, so the artsy-feel all fits together.

This is a playful and busy pattern, but the colors are muted, so it feels subdued and restful in this bedroom. Still, it is the kind of design you would want on just an accent wall, as here, because it could be overwhelming if it were on all four walls of the room.

This wallpaper pattern is called Daintree, and is by Thibaut Designs. It was lovely to work with. The homeowner is also the interior designer – Laura Michaelides of Four Square Design Studio. Their office just happens to be directly across the street from the home. 🙂

This home won a Good Brick award from Preservation Houston, and was on their home tour April 29 & 30, 2017.

Anaglypta Textured Wallpaper – Tough Day at Work Today

March 18, 2017

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This homeowner wanted to brighten up a drab bathroom (previous paper was a dark tan, with no pattern). She loves texture, and was thrilled to find this herringbone “man’s suit” pattern by Anaglypta.

This is an embossed paper, and the herringbone pattern is quite deep and tactile.

So all that was quite nice for the homeowner. What was not so nice for me was that the material was positively horrible to work with.

It was so thick and stiff that it was honestly impossible to unroll it, let alone lay it out flat so it could be pasted.

Even gentle handling could cause it to crease. Laying my straight edge against it could cause it to crease.

It was impossible to paste, book, and then table-trim, as one would do with a “normal” wallpaper.

I finally started sponging the back with clean water, which relaxed it enough to open it up, so I could paste it.

Once I got a pasted strip to the wall, it was not easy to press the hard stuff against moldings or ceiling, so it was difficult to get tight cuts in those areas.

Cutting around curved crown molding was a challenge – I couldn’t see around it or feel through it, so it was tedious going.

The seams showed a little, depending on what angle you are looking from, because the puffy texture of the herringbone on one strip didn’t necessarily line up with the puffy texture on the next strip.

The last pic is a shot of just this. The photo doesn’t look all that bad . … It looks worse in real life.

It took me probably twice the originally planned time to hang this bathroom. Let’s just say that I was there ’til way after dark.

The end result, though, is that it looks great. The homeowner loves it, and said that she is “beyond pleased.”

Still, I’d like to point out that there are companies that make textured, embossed, paintable wallpapers that are not such bugger-bears to work with. Most of these other brands are softer and more pliable, and will allow themselves to be worked around turns and moldings and etc. My wallpaper source (below) can help you find one.

I hung this in a guest bathroom in a newish home in Montrose (Houston). The wallpaper is by Anaglypta, a company that dates back to the 1800’s. The paper can be left as-is, or it can be painted.

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.