Archive for March, 2018

Narrow Strip Coming Out of a Corner – Keeping It Straight & Plumb

March 31, 2018


OK, this is a little difficult to explain, but hopefully you can follow along. I have hung paper above this door from the right and am heading toward the left, and ended in the corner. The next strip will be 9′ high, and will be narrow, having only 3″ on the wall to the left of the corner, plus 4″ wrapping around to the right of the corner and ending up against the door molding.

The problem is, a narrow strip of paper like this, coming out of an inside corner, and especially in homes with un-plumb and un-straight walls (like this one), the left edge of that narrow strip of paper is likely to not fall straight. This will be a problem when trying to get the next strip of paper to butt up against it. I didn’t want any gaps or overlaps or white wall peeking through the seam.

So I pasted up both the narrow first strip, and also the full width second strip that was to go to the left. I positioned the narrow strip, but didn’t press it firmly against the wall. (This is called keeping it open.) Then I positioned the second strip next to it, matching up the pattern, but also not affixing it to the wall.

I used my laser level to shoot a vertical line along the left edge of that second strip of paper (the red line slightly visible in the photo). This ensured me that both strips were hanging plumb. I had to reposition the second strip a bit, to be sure it aligned with the laser’s plumb line. Then I took my smoothing brush and pressed it against the wall.

Then I went back to that still-open narrow strip to the right, and maneuvered it around until the pattern matched and the two edges butted together nicely. I smoothed the 3 inches into place on the wall to the left of the corner, and then did the same with the 4 inches that fell to the right of the corner and met up with the door molding.

Beautiful!

It was actually a little more intricate than that, because of having to keep the pattern matched to the piece already in place above the door, and due to stretching of the paper as it was pulled away from the wall several times, and the shiny surface being prone to blemishes if it got creased or overworked.

It was worth the trouble, though, because keeping the edges straight meant that the seam butted together perfectly, with no gaps and no overlaps. And keeping the paper plumb meant that the whale motif at the top of the wall stayed where I wanted it. (If paper goes off-plumb, a design motif will start moving up or down the ceiling line.)

This fun swimmy pattern is called Melville and is a non-woven, paste-the-wall product, made by Cole & Son.

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Deer in the Homelights

March 30, 2018


For a high school boy’s bathroom, this wallpaper is a nice backdrop, without being too in-your-face. The small pattern in a two-tone color scheme with a slight pearlescence is muted, but brings a lot of warmth to a once-bland room. You barely notice the deer head motifs, but it is a quirky nod to the homeowners’ love of hunting.

This wallpaper is by Walquest, in their Ecochic line, 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.

Aerosol Products Can Stain Wallpaper

March 28, 2018


See these tiny drops on the wall of this bathroom? I believe these are caused by people using aerosol toiletries, such as hair spray, air freshener, and other such products.

Even if MOST of the material hits its target, SOME of it will remain air-borne, and then will eventually find its way onto the paint or wallpaper.

Most people don’t notice tiny stains like these. But sometimes they’re very visible, and that’s why I recommend that people stay away from air-borne products. For air fresheners, there are solid or wick-type diffusers, and with glass cleaners, it’s preferable to spray the cleaner onto a rag, than to spray it onto the mirror or window.

Store Leftover Wallpaper in the House (Not Garage or Attic)

March 27, 2018


These homeowners had damage from Hurricane Harvey and needed to replace two strips of grasscloth. They brought the box of leftover paper in from the garage – and discovered that paper was ruined. Water had gotten onto the garage floor, soaked the box (which was sitting on the floor) and wicked up into the ends of the paper. Some of it was even mildewed.

Moral: Always store left over paper in the house, under climate-controlled conditions. Never the garage or attic.

Compound in Electrical Outlet Could Cause Fire

March 26, 2018


Somehow, workmen jammed joint compound into this electrical outlet box. This water-based material resting between the connectors on the electrical outlet could serve as a conductor – and could have easily short-circuited the circuit … which could have blow out every light and electrical appliance on that circuit. As well as potentially started an electrical fire.

Stinky Ink = Curling Seams

March 25, 2018


Some higher-end wallpapers are screen-printed with an ink that smells like moth balls. We call this stinky ink. And it’s a stinker to work with – because the edges curl badly. The inked surface of the paper absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the backing, so the backing swells and expands, pushing the inked surface away… resulting in curled edges. The top photo shows the edges curling on the pasted and booked strip, and the second photo shows the edges curling on the wall. I tried a lot of tacts, but could not get the seam to lie down.

This paper has a selvedge edge that is to be trimmed off by the installer(straight edge and razor blade and a steady hand). When I tried this standard technique, the seams curled and would not lie flat.

So I tried another approach. I put the pasted but un-trimmed paper on the wall, and then used the double-cut technique. A double cut is essentially a splice – you position one strip, then position the next strip, overlapping an inch or so of the second strip vertically over the edge of the first strip, all while lining up the pattern.

More clearly, you’re overlapping the left edge of the new strip onto the right edge of the existing strip.

Then, using the custom-made trim guide tool seen in the photo, and with a strip of 3″ wide heavy polystyrene plastic (called a Boggess strip, after the guy who invented and sells it) on the wall to protect it from being scored, I used a new single-edged razor blade to carefully cut through both layers of wallpaper.

In the third-to-last photo, I am removing the excess paper left at the seams after this trimming. In the second-to-last photo, I am smoothing the paper back into place. It’s also important to wipe off all paste residue left on the surface of the paper.

Who knows why, but this technique results in nice, flat, tight seams, with edges that do not curl.

Same paper, same paste, same wall – but no curl. Go figure.

Double-cutting takes more time, patience, material, and equipment. But when it’s called for, it might be the salvation for a contrary paper.

Selvedge Edge Needs To Be Trimmed Off By Hand

March 24, 2018


The wallpaper mentioned in my previous post had an unprinted selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand. I used my heavy brass-bound straight edge (not shown) as a guide. This takes a lot more time and precision than hanging pre-trimmed goods.

Lines in Boxes in a Hall Bathroom

March 23, 2018


The owner of this 1950’s ranch style home in the Highland Village neighborhood of Houston is an interior designer, and headed up the remodel of their hall bathroom. She found a perfect wallpaper to both imbue the room with a fun, crisp, contemporary feel, while coordinating precisely with the color of the glass shower tile.

The interior designer is Layne Torsch, of Layne Torsch Interiors.

Yet More Reasons to NOT Let the Contractor / Painter “Prep for Wallpaper”

March 22, 2018

Pics of some “wallpaper-ready” walls left by the contractor.

In the last photo, note joint compound jammed into the box of an electrical outlet. This water-based material resting between the connectors on the electrical outlet, could serve as a conductor – and could have easily short-circuited the circuit … which could have blow out every light and electrical appliance on that circuit. As well as potentially started an electrical fire.

I chipped the gunk out of the outlet, and then spent about fours smoothing this mess on the walls, and then priming with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

Tomorrow the paper will go up.

Mirror Removed – Ready for Wallpaper? NOT!

March 20, 2018


A mirror had been glued to this wall with mastic adhesive (a tar-like substance). When the mirror was pulled off the wall, the adhesive pulled some of the drywall along with it, and in other places it left some of the tar on the wall. Then someone skimmed over the surface with joint compound.

The wet joint compound caused the torn areas of the drywall to absorb moisture and ripple, and the tar worked its way through the joint compound.

Both torn drywall and tar are problems under wallpaper. The ripples from the torn drywall will show under the new wallpaper. And moisture from the wallpaper paste is likely to make the bubbles larger. The black mastic (tar) will bleed through the wallpaper, creating black spots.

If I had been there when they removed the mirror, I would have taken a utility knife and cut the globs of mastic completely out of the wall. Removing it is preferable to trying to cover it up. Yes, this would have torn the drywall, opening it up to wrinkling when it gets wet with primer or paste.

But the penetrating sealer “Gardz” is designed to fix torn drywall. It dries hard and impermeable, so moisture cannot get through. No worries about bubbles or wrinkles! The cut areas could then be skim-floated over and then sanded smooth.

But since I didn’t get to prep from the beginning, I inherited this wall in the top photo, with torn, wrinkly areas, and with tar bleeding through the joint compound.

To prevent additional bubbling, I coated the wall with Gardz. Once that was dry, wanting to both smooth the wall and create an additional barrier to contain the mastic stains, I skim-floated the entire wall, let dry, sanded smooth, and sealed again with Gardz.

Gardz doesn’t protect against stains, though. So, to keep the mastic from bleeding through, I coated the wall with KILZ Original oil-based stain killer and blocker. This worked better having the joint compound under it, because when I’ve put KILZ directly on mastic adhesive, the two petroleum-based products simply melded into one another, and left us with the very real potential for bleeding through wallpaper (or paint, BTW).

So the KILZ should have effectively blocked any stains from the mastic. But the new problem is that wallpaper paste will not stick to modern, EPA-approved, oil-based products. Plus, I was worried that a little of the black tar might still find a way through.

So I skim-floated the wall again, creating yet another layer that would bury those tar stains. After that was sanded smooth and wiped free of dust, I applied another heavy coat of Gardz.

All this took a long time, but it’s good assurance that bubbles will not be seen under the new wallpaper, and that no black spots will grow on its surface.