Archive for July, 2017

Oh Joy – The Pedestal Sink is OUT of the Room!

July 26, 2017

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This homeowner had the pedestal sink (as well as the toilet) taken out of the room before I started work. This makes it a WHOLE LOT easier for me to get the paper behind these fixtures, and it means that there will be an intact sheet of paper against the wall, without relief cuts or an open edge along the top of the sink (which could absorb splashed water and curl up).

Also, as you can see, removing the sink can tear up the wall, including any wallpaper, so if you’re going to replace the sink or vanity, as this homeowner is, it’s always best to pull it out before the wallpaper goes up.

The dark brown areas in the photo are where the removal of the sink tore the drywall. This damage should be repaired before paint or wallpaper goes back up.

I stripped off the surrounding wallpaper, then sealed the torn drywall with Gardz, a penetrating sealer made for this type of repair. It soaks in, binds loose edges together, and dries hard and impenetrable to water. This prevents bubbling when something like joint compound, paint, or wallpaper paste are applied over it.

Then I skim-floated the area with “mud” (joint compound), let dry, sanded it smooth, wiped off dust with a damp sponge, and sealed it a second time with Gardz. Gardz is also a good primer for use under wallpaper, so I primed the entire room with this same product.

Wallpaper Coming Loose – Bad News for the Homeowner

July 25, 2017

I was called to do some repairs today, where the wallpaper I had put up two or three years ago was coming loose at the seams. There was one seam a few feet away from the corner involved, and then also the edge of the wallpaper that fell in that corner.

I reglued the loose seam, and then moved to the corner strip. Before fixing something, I like to understand what went wrong to cause the problem. If you know the underlying cause, you have a better chance of fixing it, and you also have the knowledge to prevent it from happening in the future.

But I could not figure out why this paper was not sticking to the wall. After a little investigating, I discovered … that there was a layer of black powdery mold behind the wallpaper.

After more investigating (which involved pulling the entire strip off the wall), we discovered that there was some kind of water leak, probably from the roof or the exterior wall, that was allowing moisture into the wall. Moisture is going to cause mold / mildew, but with the vinyl wallpaper on top of the wall, which won’t allow air to pass through, the situation is exasperated.

Needless to say, I ceased with the regluing. And needless to say, the poor homeowners have a larger situation on their hands, to find the source of the leak and get it sealed up, and the wall repaired.

No Primer Under Wallpaper = Torn Drywall

July 24, 2017

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Today I stripped wallpaper off a kitchen where the previous installer had not bothered to prime the walls first, but hung his paper right on top of new Sheetrock.

This is very bad for many reasons.

` The walls will not have stick, so the new wallpaper will not have a proper surface to cling to – and this can cause curling seams, loose areas, and other problems.

` The walls will not have slip, which will make it much harder to install the new paper.

` With nothing separating the new wallpaper from the drywall, the paper will bond to the drywall, making it darned near impossible to get it off later.

This is what happened today. After I removed the top inked layer, and after I soaked the remaining paper backing for a while, the old wallpaper came away from the sections of the wall that were coated with joint compound or paint or wood stain.

But in areas of the wall that were just uncovered Sheetrock, the wallpaper grabbed tightly and could not be pulled off or scraped off. In stripping the wallpaper off these areas, some of the drywall came away, too, leaving areas that were torn and damaged.

These uneven, torn areas are problematic, because they leave bumps and ridges showing under the new wallpaper, and because, since they have no protective coating, they absorb moisture – from water, wallpaper paste, wallpaper primer, or other, and then they expand and then they bubble. Ridges and bubbles look like Hell under wallpaper.

The first photo is a wall to the right of the kitchen counter, where differing layers of drywall have been pulled off the wall. The dark brown area is the deepest.

The third photo is a newish product that is wonderful for sealing and “repairing” torn drywall. Gardz (by Zinsser) is a penetrating primer / sealer that soaks into the surface, binding things together. It dries quickly. When it is dry, it is impervious to moisture – which means that you can apply a water-borne primer over it, or you can skim-float it with joint compound, and not worry about bubbles appearing.

I applied Gardz to these areas of torn Sheetrock, let it dry, then skim-floated over it with joint compound, and then sanded it all smooth. Then I applied a second coat of Gardz.

In addition to making the surface very stable, Gardz serves as a good primer for wallpaper, because it’s molecular structure on its dry surface is such that the molecules of paste, attached to the new wallpaper, will grab on and hold tight.

In this case, because I like a white pigmented primer, and because I like hanging on it, I went over the walls with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. The last photo shows the wall after all that work. Finally ready for wallpaper!

A Blast from the Past

July 23, 2017

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I’ll bet that no one under 30 knows what this is.

It’s a phone jack for a land-line telephone.

As you might guess, it’s in a home that was built in the ’70’s.

These days, when I’m about to wallpaper a wall and I come across a jack for a land line, I ask the homeowner if she will be using it. Since so many people are eliminating land-lines in favor of cell phones, many people don’t want the jack or it’s wall plate messing up their new wallpaper.

In that case, it’s easy enough for me to undo the wires, remove the jack, and just let the wallpaper cover the small rectangular hole left in the wall. The wallpaper hides the hole nicely, and it’s usually not very noticeable.

That way, if the homeowners ever want to access the wires or reinstall the jack, they can easily cut the wallpaper and open up the box.

Untextured Faux Grasscloth in a Kitchen

July 22, 2017

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The kitchen and breakfast area of this ’70’s era kitchen are quite typical of the ranch style homes that were popular at that time. I have papered about a million of them. 🙂

The first photo shows the breakfast area stripped of three previous layers of wallpaper, primed, and ready for its new look. The second photo shows the same corner with the new wallpaper up on the walls.

It’s a subtle, quiet, restful look, with a bit of rustic tossed in.

The “rustic” comes from the grasscloth-look to this wallpaper. But it’s paper, not real grass, and it’s not the new three-dimensional stringcloth that I have been loving lately. That stringcloth faux grass product was too pricy for this homeowner’s remodel budget.

So she chose this instead. This is a wonderful alternative to real grass products. It is uniform in color so you don’t have the horrible shading and paneling and color variations that are inherent with real grasscloth. Even better, it has pattern that can be matched, so you can’t see the seams.

It does have a bit of texture from its “raised ink” printed surface, which is pleasing, but very minimal.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Sure Strip line (I love the stuff!), and is a non-woven material that is meant to easily strip off the wall years later when it’s time to redecorate. It’s thin and hugs the wall nicely, and dries nice and flat and tight against the wall.

The paper 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.

Out of the ’70’s and Into a Bright Splash of Color and Fun!

July 21, 2017

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The top photo shows the entry of this ’70’s ranch style home in far west Houston in it’s ’90’s era shiny, striped, vinyl wallpaper. Once I stripped that off, below it was revealed the original wild orange and gold ’70’s era paper, which you see in the second photo.

That orange paper would not come off without damaging the Sheetrock (because the previous installer had not primed the walls), so I prepped the seams, sealed the paper, primed it, and then hung the new paper over it. The third photo shows the new paper going up. I love the picture, because it shows the dramatic transformation.

What a wild punch of color, and a cherry, fun pattern – and a little wildlife, too!

The new wallpaper is by York, in their Sure Strip line, which is a pre-pasted, non-woven material that is designed to strip off the wall easily and with no damage to the wall, when it’s time to redecorate. I love their products. This pattern is in their Williamsburg collection. 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.

Stripping Off The ’90’s To Reveal – The ’70’s

July 20, 2017

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Today I stripped paper off the walls of a typical entry in a typical ’60’s / ’70’s-era home.

The paper I removed was a pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl in a striped design. This is a typical pattern, and a typical type of material, for that time.

Under it was the original paper from when the home was built in the ’70’s. If you remember, that was back in the days of Harvest Gold, Avacado Green, orange, and Flower Power. This vintage paper has three out of the four!

After all these years, and despite having been covered up by the vinyl wallcovering, the orange paper was in perfect shape – tight to the wall, and brilliantly colored. The vinyl paper, on the other hand, was curling at the edges and was discolored.

This is partly due to age, but mostly due to having been improperly installed… previous installer did not remove the old wallpaper, and did not prime the walls, plus these pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyls are just not good papers.

This home is in the Kirkwood / Briar Forest area of Houston.

Sunny Starburst Entry

July 19, 2017

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The walls in this 60’s era Meyerland-era entry may have been white, but they did nothing to lighten the small room. The homeowner’s vision of a gold-on-white sunburst medallion motif brightened things immediately. The feel is crisp and playful.

The homeowners plan to change the light fixture in the room, and I am trying to convince them to go with a gold one that is spherical and spoke-like, and resembles the sunburst design.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, printed on a non-woven substrate, and was intended to be a paste-the-wall installation. However, the paper behaved better and the seams looked better when I pasted the back of the paper, instead of the wall.

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.

Prepping Walls When Existing Wallpaper Won’t Come Off

July 18, 2017

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Almost always, when homeowners are switching from an outdated wallpaper to a new pattern, I am able to get the old paper off the wall. But twice this week I have run into papers that would not come off the wall – at least, not without causing significant damage to the Sheetrock or creating other problems. Sometimes it’s because they were installed improperly in the first place. And other times it’s just the nature of the beast.

Either way, it is possible to hang wallpaper over old existing wallpaper – IF the walls are prepared correctly.

In these two rooms, I used joint compound (“mud”) to skim float over the seams in the original wallpaper, to ensure that they would not telegraph through and show up as vertical lines under the new wallpaper. These are the white stripes and patches you see in the photos.

Then I sanded the mud smooth, making sure that the edges were feathered out, so the joint compound patch would not be detectable under the new wallpaper. I used a damp sponge to wipe dust off the sanded areas.

The next step was to seal the walls with a penetrating sealer called Gardz (by Zinsser). Gardz is a thin liquid sealer that soaks into the surface and binds it together. It dries hard, and prevents moisture from passing through.

In other words, you can hang wallpaper that is wet with paste on top of this primer, and not worry about moisture passing through and causing the original paste to loosen, or the original paper to swell and bubble away from the wall.

In addition, Gardz dries with a crystalized molecular surface that is ideal for wallpaper and its paste to “bite into” and “get a hold of.”

Bottom line – Gardz is a super fixer of problem walls, it’s a wonderful sealer, and it is a great primer for using under wallpaper.

Wallpaper Change – What to Keep, What to Cover Up

July 16, 2017

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It’s not uncommon for me to work in a house where no one is home. In these cases, I’ll ask the homeowners to clarify for me which fixtures they intend to reuse, and which they want to get rid of.

Here you see where the homeowner has left me Sticky Notes to let me know that they want to reuse the toilet paper holder, light sconces, and hanger for the mirror, but they do not want to keep certain other fixtures.

This tells me which attachment brackets I can remove from the wall and then fill in the holes, and cover with the new wallpaper, with nary a trace of the old bracket to be seen.

The other fixtures I will remove – and that usually includes removing the attachment brackets, too – and then, once the new wallpaper is in place, I will replace the mounting hardware and then reinstall the fixtures (towel bars, toilet paper holder, artwork, light fixtures, etc.).

It’s easy – just let me know which fixtures you plan to reuse, and which you want to trash.