Archive for June, 2017

Faux Grasscloth on an Accent Wall in a Dining Room

June 30, 2017

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This retired couple near the Montrose neighborhood of Houston wanted to update their 15-year old house by adding a textured wallpaper to one wall in their dining room. Originally, they were considering grasscloth.

Luckily, they listened to my “lecture” about grasscloth – the disappointing visible seams, color variations, shading, paneling – and attractiveness to cats who like to scratch. Instead of grasscloth, they chose this alternative.

This product is surfaced with stringcloth (real vertical string fibers), so it has a tangible texture. But because it has a printed grass-like design, the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, so you never see the seams. In addition, the color is uniform so you don’t have the shading and paneling problems so prevalent with real grasscloth.

And, to top it off, the paper is lovely to work with, and will hold up for many years to come.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their “Grass Effects” book, 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.

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Stupid, Unresearched, and Misleading News Article About Wallpaper

June 29, 2017

A spot with this information (click link below) aired on the local news Monday, and since then it has popped up on news and information sites on the Internet. Like many such “news” stories, it is all sensation and no honest information.

The article purports that “wallpaper can make you sick.” However, what it really should say is that MOLD in the air can make you sick. The article tosses out this scary claim, but makes no explanation of what kind of wallpaper might be involved, what the conditions of the room are, what connection mold has with wallpaper, how common this situation is. I will give them credit for listing a (scant) few other possible causes of mold in a building.

Here are a few true facts that the reporter should have dug up and included in her story. Wallpaper itself does not support the growth of mold. In fact, acrylic-coated papers, pulp papers, non-woven material, and natural fibers (grasscloth) all allow air to pass through them.

Now, it is true that mold can grow behind some solid vinyl wallpapers that are commercial grade (and unlikely to be used in homes), because they don’t breathe. But conditions would have to be right for this to happen – improperly prepped walls, improperly installed wallpaper, humidity or dampness in the building, moisture inside the wall (leak in a pipe or roof), lack of air conditioning / heating, lack of air circulation or ventilation. And usually the mold just sits there. It’s when the wall surface is disturbed (removing old wallpaper) that the mold might be released into the air.

I sure hope that people don’t read the headline or the skimpy story, and fall for its misleading information, and avoid using wallpaper in their homes or offices. The fact is, a good quality wallpaper that is hung properly in a building that is maintained properly will enhance the setting, and give many years of beauty and “clean living.”

Here is the link. http://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Healthy-workplace/Health-in-the-workplace/your-wallpaper-might-be-making-you-sick-20170626

Water Color-y Pink Floral for Little Girl’s Room

June 29, 2017

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Here is a sweet pattern that really charmed up a little girl’s room in the Briar Meadows neighborhood of Houston. I hung it on one accent wall behind the bed’s headboard. In the first three photos (before, during, & after), the vertical shadows on the wall are from the dangling crystals on the chandelier. There is also a little splotchiness because the paper is still wet – the spots will disappear when it dries.

This pre-pasted wallpaper is by Jolie, and was bought on-line. It is a mural, meaning that the paper comes in panels, instead of rolls, and the pattern does not repeat itself nearly as frequently as a regular wallpaper pattern does. It is popular with moms who have little girls, and I have hung it several times. (Do a Search here.)

Just like the other times, I was disappointed in the quality of this paper. (Do a Search here.) Actually, the quality of the paper itself is fine. It is the manufacturer’s inattention to detail that is the stumbling block.

Photo #4 shows a mis-match in the pattern. These were relatively few and relatively minor, though, and really weren’t a big deal.

Other issues, however, were more noticeable and less satisfactory. Photos #5 & #6 show where the trimming blades at the factory got off-kilter, and created curved cuts. This is the exact same shape of bad cuts I have had with my other installs of this product. (Do a Search here.)

When the edges of wallpaper are not cut straight, it’s impossible to butt them together perfectly. So with this material, you are left with “gaps and overlaps,” which you can see see in Photo #7…I know the photo is crummy, but if you enlarge it and look closely, you see three distinct and rather wide gaps, all within about a 6″ length of seam.

Besides gaps, badly cut seams will result in overlaps. Photo #8 shows an overlap of about 1/8″. I hate overlaps more than gaps. I’ll take a gap over an overlap any day. But I’d rather not have either, because both look bad, in my opinion – and a conscientious manufacturer will ensure that his product is not cut like this.

Most people would not have even noticed the gaps or overlaps. But they were bugging me, and I thought I could give these homeowners a little better.

So, on some of the worst overlaps, I took a straightedge and a brand new, very sharp razor blade, and trimmed off the excess, which amounted to 1/8″ of an inch in some areas, and down to about 1/32″ in others. When dealing with these minuscule widths, this procedure is tedious and exacting, and it doesn’t always result in perfect results. Before cutting, you have to pad the wall to protect it, and then work carefully so your razor blade cuts only the two layers of paper, but not into the wall. (Scoring the wall can cause delaminating (the wall coming apart and the wallpaper seams curling) down the road.) There are a lot more factors that complicate the trimming process. But the end result, although imperfect, looked much better and was worth the time and effort.

And, from a distance, and with the furniture back in place and the shade down and my 100 watt light bulb out of the room, the wall looks fantastically feminine is perfectly suited to this young daughter.

Cool Idea for Stairs

June 28, 2017

Pouched Seams in Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

June 27, 2017

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I hung this paper in a master bathroom back in 2001, and it has held up very nicely. But if you look closely, you can see that the seams are “pouched” up just a little.

This is a type of paper called paper-backed solid vinyl, and often comes pre-pasted, and is usually toward the lower end of the price point. I don’t like these papers because they have a habit of doing just this – curling every so slightly at the seams.

The reason, I believe, is that humidity gets into the seams and then into the paper backing. The paper swells, and the vinyl surface has nowhere to go, so it curls backwards on itself.

Better alternatives are acrylic-coated papers, or the newer non-woven wallcoverings.

Empty Wall Box Covered / Disguised With Wallpaper

June 25, 2017

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Here I have stripped off the top vinyl layer of a wallpaper I hung 16 years ago. The tan colored paper backing is still left on the wall.

See the shadow of a rectangular hole in the wall, to the left of the electrical outlet? That is where a box was put in the wall but was not used – and old telephone line, perhaps, or cable or the like.

Rather than cut the wallpaper around the opening and then slap a dummy cover on it, I elected to put the wallpaper right over the hole. It looks much neater. And if anyone ever wants to access the box, it’s there, and can be opened easily.

More Outdated Wallpaper I Stripped Off Yesterday

June 24, 2017

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Here’s a tiny sliver of one of the papers I stripped off a hall bathroom yesterday. It’s awfully pretty, but it’s a little outdated, and may not be to the taste of shoppers for this home. So it was stripped off, and the walls will be painted, to make the home as neutral as possible, and hopefully do better on the market.

Yesterday’s Room With Wallpaper Removed

June 24, 2017

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Can’t Sell the House With Outdated Wallpaper

June 23, 2017

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The homeowners have put this Bellaire (Houston) house on the market, but it has not been attracting much attention, and the realtor says it’s partially due to the outdated wallpaper. My camera ate pics of three of the rooms, so you have only this mossy green stripe combined with a coordinating faux finish accent wall – topped with a topiary themed border. Gee – NO ONE is doing borders these days. The paper has to go!

So, today I am stripping off paper that I hung in 2001. I am proud to say that every wallpaper in every room I did 16 years ago is still in absolutely perfect condition, even in the humid bathrooms.

This job went especially well, since I used a good paste and because I had primed the wall with an excellent primer, oil-based KILZ Original. I was able to remove the paper in three bathrooms in just a few hours, with virtually no damage to the walls, because the KILZ protected them.  Because KILZ Original is oil-based, it will not re-wet when wallpaper paste is put on top of it, or when water is used to remove old wallpaper.

NOTE: The formula for KILZ has changed in recent years, due to environmental regulations. Wallpaper paste won’t adhere to it, so it is no longer a good primer for wallpaper projects.

In the second photo, I am stripping off top vinyl layer of the green striped wallpaper. The tan colored paper backing is left on the wall. In the third photo, you see the tan backing. I have soaked some of it, and the wet areas are a darker tan color. Once it gets good and wet, the paste reactivates, and the paper can be gently scraped from the wall, or, if you’re really lucky, gently pulled from the wall in large pieces. In the third photo, the white area in the center is where the paper backing has been removed, revealing the KILZ primer underneath. It was fun to also find my measurements and notes written on the wall back in 2001.

See the next post for a pic of the room with the paper off.  The realtor walked in and was very happy.  Next the painter will prime with a stain-blocking primer (like oil-based KILZ Original or Zinsser’s BIN) to prevent residual wallpaper paste from causing the new paint to crackle and flake off, and then paint the walls.

Fun Rainbow Fan Pattern in a Hall Bathroom

June 22, 2017

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Another all-white bathroom goes from dull to lively and fun, thanks to wallpaper!

This pattern is called Chou Chou, and is by Sister Parish Design. The substrate was paper, and it was a hand-trim product. It was positively lovely to work with.

The pattern, however, was NOT. Those rainbows look alike, but they are not. It was the Devil trying to tell one blue dot from another. Add to that extremely off-plumb walls, bowed walls, and an unlevel ceiling, plus the selvedge edge obscuring the pattern motif at the edges of the paper. I spent more time trying to match up dots than I did hanging paper.

The room had some tricky elements to it, too, so this install took way longer than I had anticipated or planned for. Let’s just say, the homeowners gave me a key, told me how to let myself out and lock up, and went to bed.

So it was a loooong work day (night). Still, it turned out looking fantastic.

This home is in the Galleria area of Houston. The interior designer for the job is Layne Ogden.