Archive for December, 2017

Wallpaper and YouTube Don’t Mix

December 31, 2017


This West University mother of young children went to YouTube for some primers on how to hang wallpaper, and then, along with hubby, spent a 3-day weekend tackling the powder room redo project. They didn’t do a horrible job (first three photos), but there were some things that must not have been covered on YouTube.

First, and probably most important, the walls should have been primed with a product designed for wallpaper.

Second, seams should be butted, not overlapped.

Third, wallpaper should not be wrapped around the door moldings, but trimmed at the base.

Fourth, I’m not sure what’s going on with the cuts at the baseboard. I think the room had seen a number of redecorating efforts, and that the baseboards took a bit of a beating in the process, leaving a surface that wasn’t smooth and wasn’t willing to hold on to wallpaper.

I stripped off their wallpaper, patched bad spots, sanded the walls, then primed with Gardz, a penetrating sealing primer that bonds together porous surfaces and that is also a good base to hold wallpaper.

The rest of the photos are of the room after I hung the new paper.

This product is a pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl material. It happens to be one of my least favorite kinds of wallpaper. The homeowner chose it because she has young children and the vinyl is reputed to be more water-resistant and durable than other types of wallpaper. If she had consulted with me before she bought her paper, I would have steered her in another direction.

It’s true that the vinyl surface is resistant to water, and it’s more resistant to stains than a paper-wallpaper. But that doesn’t make the product wonderful.

The main problem is the paper backing. This stuff is not horrible, but it does have a reputation for curling a tad at the seams (do a search on my blog for previous posts). Humidity (such as in a bathroom with showering) can cause increased curling at the seams. Any water that falls on a cut edge of the paper (along backsplashes, seams under hand towels, etc.) can wick into the paper backing and cause it to expand, which will cause the seams to curl.

To reduce the potential for seam curling, I used a special pasting process (rather than following the manufacturer’s instructions). And I ran a bead of caulk along the top of the backsplash (see 4th photo – the caulk will be clear when it’s dry) to prevent splashed water from wicking up under the wallpaper.

My trim cuts along the baseboard looked better than the homeowners’, but I still felt the baseboard was compromised somehow and that wallpaper did not have a good surface to grip ahold of. So I ran a bead of caulk along the top of the baseboards, too.

This wallpaper is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, a British manufacturer. It is a faux grasscloth, and, unlike true grasscloths, it is pretty water- and stain-resistant, and it has a pattern that can be matched. In fact, the close-up photo above shows a seam – and I’ll bet that you can’t find it! The pattern number is FD44143

Next time around, when a mom has concerns about her kids touching or splashing the wallpaper, I would suggest she consider one of the newish non-woven products. Or, better yet, a scrim-backed (woven fabric-backed) solid vinyl product, such as something from the Thibaut brand Texture Resource line, particularly Volume 4. Everything in that book is beautifully textured and realistic, and virtually indestructible. Do a search here to see my previous posts.

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Shields and Soldiers

December 30, 2017

OK, this is a wallpaper pattern and a use that you are going to either love or hate. It’s in a boy’s bedroom (all four walls), is by Brunschwig & Fils, and is featured in the December 2017 issue of Southern Living magazine.

Etched Arcadia Mural On A Bedroom Accent Wall

December 29, 2017


The young couple who lives in this home in the Westbury neighborhood of Houston loves the modern contemporary look – everything in the home is all about straight lines, open spaces, clean, crisp, and sharp.

The bold pattern and Old World theme of this “Etched Arcacia” mural on an accent wall in the master bedroom is a great foil to all that simplicity. Yet the simple black & white color scheme and the straight lines that make up the design (look closely at the photos) coordinate perfectly with the modern design elements in the rest of the home.

This product comes as a pre-pasted, 8-panel mural, 12′ wide by 9′ high (I cut it shorter to fit the 8′ ceiling in this 50-year old ranch style home). In the first photo, you can spot the mural all rolled up in its package, on the left side of the bed. It is made by Sure-Strip, one of my favorite brands (manufactured by York). It was bought on-line from Anthropologie.

Classic Pattern for Home With Traditional Décor

December 28, 2017


The home where I worked today (in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston) has very traditional décor, with carved moldings, elegant furniture, warm colors, and classic styling. This traditional oak leaf wreath design by an established (meaning, old) British manufacturer compliments the owner’s taste beautifully.

The material is a pulp paper, an old-school sort of material that has no protective coating and is rather delicate. The manufacturer is Zoffany. The wallpaper was purchased through an interior designer, and I hung it in a powder room.

Muted Pattern Adds Dimension and Warmth to All White Home Office

December 27, 2017

Protecting the Client’s Floor – Not!

December 26, 2017


The contractor is preparing to do rip out some of the drywall. You can see crumbles of gypsum and trash on the floor. Along with the workmens’ hammers and other tools.

Directly on the homeowners BRAND NEW hardwood floors.

The floors already have been marked by paint, some unnamed gunky material, and scratches.

Geeze, guys, all you need is to put a dropcloth down before you get started!

Noah’s Ark for a Baby Girl’s Nursery

December 24, 2017


Rooms for baby girls don’t have to be all about pink. Here’s a neutral-toned, animal-rich, Noah’s Ark-themed pattern that will grow with the child. This is just one accent wall, a very effective use of pattern, and economical, too.

The mother-to-be commented that the pattern was soft enough that it could go on all four walls of the room. I agreed. But I think it would look better, perhaps, if wainscoting were added at the bottom 1/3 of the wall, or a wooden chair rail and a slightly darker shade of paint at the bottom, and then have the paper on just the top 2/3 of the wall.

This wallpaper is by Andrew Martin, a British company, and was printed on a pulp stock substrate. It has no protective coating, so mom will have to be sure the little one keeps her hands off the paper. The home is in the Rice Village area of Houston.

Curved Walls, Bull Nosed Edges

December 23, 2017


This is a beautiful entry to a new home in Sugarland. But to a wallpaper hanger, it presents many challenges.

First are the bull-nosed, or rounded, corners. When wallpaper ends on one of these corners, it’s very hard to get straight, neat cuts, because, with the paper hanging over the corner, it’s impossible to see where you are cutting. The walls were far from plumb, so I couldn’t use a level or shoot a line with my laser level. I have a tool that helps as a guide, but it slips and is not 100% accurate. And my pencil line on the dark paper was almost impossible to see.

It’s also hard for the wallpaper to grab and hold tight when it has to turn around a round corner. And double so because, while I smoothed the walls, I was unable to smooth them to the exact vertical line along the rounded corners where the wallpaper would end. That means that the wallpaper was left to adhere to 1/8″ or so of fairly heavily textured wall surface. That leaves less area for the paper to stick to, meaning that there may be some visual gaps, and also the worries that the paper may let go and curl back down the road, as well as some bumps showing under the paper.

The rounded walls made for difficulty, too. It’s fairly easy to make flat walls perfectly flat. But even highly skilled drywallers have a hard time making walls perfectly even all the way around. If you paint the walls, it’s no problem, because paint will go anywhere. But wallpaper wants to fall straight, and won’t conform to walls that have bows or bulges or womps or the like. You can end up with wrinkles or areas that won’t lie flat or edges that warp out of shape.

All this was compounded by the height of the walls – 12′. The greater the wall height, the more chance the walls will be bowed or out of plumb or have other issues.

Regular paper can be stretched a little to accommodate these irregularities, but there’s a chance it will pull apart and gap a tad at the seams when it dries. This particular paper was a non-woven material, which is even less pliable. It was supposed to be a paste-the-wall procedure, but I opted to paste the paper, which wet it more and gave it more flexibility. Sill, I did notice a teeny bit of gapping at the seams as it dried. It will take several days to dry completely, so we will have to wait and see how it holds up.

In case of gapping at the seams, to minimize any of the white wall showing, I striped black paint behind where the seams would fall, as you see in the top photo. That’s a good trick, but it is testy, too, because paint is designed to look pretty, and does not have the type of surface that wallpaper is formulated to grab ahold of. So far, though, my paint is sticking to the wall, and the paper is staying down nice and flat.

Another thing with a circular room is – where is the end point? If there are no corners, where do you end the pattern? I was lucky on this one, because I had about 8′ linear of wall that was only 12″ high. And because the paper was dark and the pattern was pretty small and crazy and hard to see. So on that 12″ high area, I just brought the left side of the paper around the room to meet up with the right side, and overlapped the two last strips and spliced them together. The pattern doesn’t match, but there’s no way anyone could ever see – not from 12′ down on the ground.

This wallpaper is by Eijffinger, and is made to order in the Netherlands and takes several weeks to arrive. It was very nice to work with. I hope that next time I encounter this brand, it will be on a nice, flat, predictable wall. 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.

Wha-Oh….Contractor’s Poor Job at Smoothing Wall

December 22, 2017


We had a “situation” on this job, and the contractor had to rip out some drywall and quickly replace it. The work crew did a good job on the interior areas of the drywall. But where the drywall met the corners and edges of the room, and where it abutted the balusters on the stairway as you see in the photo, they dropped the ball. Some of their joint compound (the plaster-like substance that is used to smooth surfaces and to cover joins in drywall), got onto surrounding areas. See photo.

Joint compound will wipe off easily enough with water and a rag. But in this instance, it’s thick enough that I am not sure it will wipe off. And, if it does, or if it can be chipped off the painted surfaces, it will probably leave a gap or rough surface, neither of which is good for wallpaper to stick to.

When I smooth walls, I have a special technique that I use in corners and along edges, that ensures that the paper will have “a good bed to lie in.” I also remove any smoothing compound that gets onto walls or woodwork.

Just another reason to let the Wallpaper Lady do ALL the prep.

Jungle Book / Beverly Hills Hotel / Tropical Foliage

December 20, 2017

I hung wallpaper in this bathroom about 15 years ago. The girl has grown up and gone off to college – and it’s time for her room to get an update.

This banana leaf design is by Nobilis. Tropical greenery is a popular concept, and there are lots of manufacturers making similar patterns; you can find something beautiful at any price range.

This Nobilis product is printed on a non-woven substrate. It is meant to be a paste-the-wall installation, but I preferred the flexible handle-ability I got by pasting the paper instead. In addition, because the manufacturer printed the dark paper on a white substrate, it was highly likely that the seams would show up by hair-bredth gaps.

I used a black chalk pastel to color the edges (where the dark blue crossed the seams), to prevent the white backing from showing – and they disappeared. I didn’t have a green chalk stick, so left the green leaf areas untreated … so the seams did show a bit more. But visible seams are pretty expected with dark papers, and with thick non-woven materials.