Archive for August, 2017

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry – Fast

August 31, 2017

Digital Image  Many homes here in Houston have textured walls.  The texture will show through wallpaper and look bad, and it also prevents good adherence to the wall (because the paper wants to stick to a smooth, flat surface, not to the tops of bumps on the wall).

 

 

 

So I smooth the wall by troweling on a smoothing compound (drywall joint compound), which is similar to plaster,

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UnBEARably Cute

August 31, 2017

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Here’s something cleverly fun for a little boy who’s coming in a couple of months.  Bear paws and bear faces.  What could be cuter?!  The color coordinates beautifully with the blue paint chosen for the walls and ceiling.

This wallpaper is by Dwell Studios and is in the Sure Strip line, one of my favorite wallpaper brands.  It is pre-pasted and easy to work with, thin and hugs the wall tightly, seams are invisible.  And, when it’s designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to the wall.

I hung this in a baby boy’s nursery in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston.

Light Fixtures With Small Bases Are Difficult To Work Around

August 30, 2017

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On some light fixtures, the base is barely larger than the electrical box or its mounting plate, so it won’t cover any imperfections in the wall, and it’s essential that the wallpaper comes up exactly to the very edges of the mounting plate.  I often remove that mounting plate so the paper can go under it, which gives a neat look.

In this room, the light was changed from one fixture centered over the sink to two wall sconces.  The electrician had a hard time fitting the new boxes into the wall.  (It is much easier on new construction.)

There are a lot of things going on wrong with these sconce settings, but some are not visible and are difficult to explain.  It took me about an hour to figure out what was going on, and how to rectify a box that was cattywhompus in the wall – but that’s a different story.

Here you see a gap because the sconce base is too small to cover the hole for the electrical junction box.  This fixture had a larger (3/4″) gap on the other side that is not pictured.   In the next photo, the box is extra large, and extends out beyond the small sconce base.

I had to cover up those gaps to make a solid base for the wallpaper to hold on to.  In the case of the blue box, I had to smooth over the ridge caused by the thickness of the blue plastic against the wall (to prevent a ring from showing under the wallpaper, all around the fixture).

To bridge the gaps, I used a certain kind of paper, dunked in Gardz, a penetrating wall sealer that dries hard.  That essentially recreated the portion of wall that had been cut away.  Once that dried, I skim-floated over it with joint compound and then sanded smooth, to even everything out.

I used joint compound again to float all around the ridge on the blue box, and got a perfectly smooth wall.

Since I had been able to remove the mounting plate, I was able to get the wallpaper to fit under it, so no gaps showed around the base.  Then I reconnected the wires and rehung the sconces.

As you can see in the finished photo, it turned out great.

 

Flooding in Houston

August 29, 2017

Sitting home, house-bound, rained in, jobs postponed, due to Hurricane Harvey and massive flooding in Houston.  It’s impossible to get anywhere safely.  I and my house are fine.  I hope my customers, past and future, are equally well.  Many people here have lost their homes.

Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Again – Not Lovin’ It This Time

August 27, 2017

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“…Mitchell Black (company) is taking the intimidation out of wallpaper, one bold pattern and easy-hang strip at a time,” says the bi-line.  I’m always glad to see wall décor in public media.  But I see a number of problems with the rest of their information.

First, they print commercial grade (fine for its setting), traditional paper (great – as long as it’s a good substrate), and peel-and-stick (horrible).  P&S paper is like putting a large and unworkable sheet of Contact Paper on your walls.   Even though they call it “removable paper,” it will tear up the wall as you pull it off.   It’s very difficult to get smoothed out and looking good; the article even says that you can expect it to trap air bubbles so “…save it for rooms with lots of furniture and soft light.”  !!

Next, they print on 24″ wide x 18′ long rolls.   Regular wallpaper comes either 20.5″ or 27″ wide.  Why print on an odd sized roll?  And what’s with a measly 18′ long roll?  Most papers come 33′ long or 27′ long, and generally yield three or two strips respectively.  With a roll 18′ long, with 8′ high ceilings, you might get two strips (after allowing for trimming and pattern placement / matching), but with the more common 9′ ceilings, you will get only one strip).  And a whole lot of paper you paid for that is going in the trash can.

Last, it says, “Some pros paint first, but it’s not necessary.  Just spackle holes and sand rough spots.”  Wrong, wrong, WRONG!  Proper wall prep counts for 60% or more of a successful job!  Paperhangers don’t “paint” – they prime, with a primer specifically suited for wallpaper.  And merely glossing over imperfections won’t hide them … walls must be as perfectly smooth as possible.  If you paper over a textured wall, the bumps will show through.  If you paper over a glossy wall, the paper won’t stick.

I’m not fond of their patterns, either.  Cute designs, but three of the four photos of room sets with furniture and accessories looked awfully busy.

Just my 2c.

Who Thought A Black Bathroom Was A Good Idea? Here’s Better …

August 27, 2017

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This large powder room in a brand new townhome in between Montrose and the Heights (Houst0n) was originally painted black.  It was just too intense.  The interior designer knew that, while still keeping the dark color scheme the homeowners wanted, a little pattern would make the room less foreboding and more inviting.

I skim-floated the walls to smooth them (2nd photo), primed, then hung the paper.  OK, the 3rd photo is dark (not much light in the room + crummy camera), but if you look closely, you can see the pattern.  The other photos show the design nicely.  It’s large in scale, and that’s good, because the walls are nearly 10′ high, so the pattern fills the space nicely.

The interior designer for the job is Pamela O’Brien assisted by Danna Smith, of Pamela Hope Designs.  Their interiors are lovely, clean-lined, yet still warm and liveable.  The wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers, and was a delight to work with.

Don’t Write in Ink on the Wallpaper – or the Wall!!

August 25, 2017

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The contactor added wall light sconces on either side of the sink, and he also hung the heavy mirror.  For some reason, he roughed in where these objects were to be placed by marking the walls with a Sharpie ink marker, or something similar.

Folks – NEVER write on the wall with ink.  Nor with crayon, ballpoint pen, or the like.  The substances will eventually work their way through the wallpaper (as well as paint, wall texture, or a myriad of other surfaces), and will end up looking like ghost shadows.

Pencil is OK, and so is a light snap from a chalk line.  These materials won’t bleed through the new top layer of wallpaper.

Leaving “Cute” and Heading for “Sophisticated”

August 24, 2017

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The tiny red and blue floral wallpaper pattern looked great in this Tanglewood powder room for a decade or more.  But when the homeowners wanted to freshen up the look of the house, the interior designers moved toward a more sophisticated look, and they chose this muted stripe pattern.

It’s more subdued, and it really goes nicely with the blue paint below the chair rail.

The interior designers for this job are Neal LeBouef and Anthony Stransky of L Design Group, a Houston-based company.

The wallpaper is a pre-pasted product by Sure Strip, and is in the Waverly line.  It goes up easily, and is designed to strip off easily later, when it’s time to redecorate.  I love this particular product.

 

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry – Fast

August 23, 2017

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Many homes here in Houston have textured walls.  The texture will show through wallpaper and look bad, and it also prevents good adherence to the wall (because the paper wants to stick to a smooth, flat surface, not to the tops of bumps on the wall).  So I smooth the wall by troweling on a smoothing compound (drywall joint compound), which is similar to plaster.

Once it’s dry, it can be sanded smooth, then sealed and primed, and then it’s ready for wallpaper.

The trick is getting the compound to dry as quickly as possible.  Here I have three fans blowing full force on the wall.  These really speed things up.

Helpful, too, is having a ceiling fan.  And very important is having the air conditioning cranked down cold, and the house fan set from “Auto” to “On,” meaning that it will be constantly circulating that dry, air-conditioned air through the room.  It’s pulling moisture out of the wall and pulling humidity out of the air, and helping the wall to dry.

Stubborn spots can be hit with the heat gun.

Bad Dog!

August 22, 2017

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Oh, no! The family Weimaraner’s hunting instinct “flushed out” the wallpaper from the hall closet! His “gentle bird mouth” wasn’t so tender that day …

One bolt of paper is pretty much useless – unless you have a room that only needs the right side of the paper. The second bolt is even worse – it’s been gnawed on both sides, and even though there are no actual holes, the dents from lots of tooth action penetrate deep into the roll, ruining many yards of material.