Archive for March, 2018

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.

Grasscloth Repair

March 18, 2018

These homeowners in the Rice Village area of Houston suffered a window leak during Hurricane Harvey. Water stained the seam between two strips of grasscloth. Both strips had to be removed and replaced.

The strip to the left worked it’s way around the window and over the top. To replace this entire strip would have used an 8′ length of paper, and required removing the window valance. I wanted to use shorter scraps left from the original install, and also sure didn’t want to mess with taking down the curtains.

The grass portion pulled off easily, leaving the paper backing on the wall. I used a sponge and bucket of water to wet this backing, which reactivated the paste, and the backing came off easily, with no damage to the wall. (2nd photo)

I cut the grasscloth horizontally just to the left of the window sill. That way, I only had to replace the bottom portion. I pulled off a few of the strands of grass, leaving the black paper backing on the wall. (3rd photo)

Then I cut a new strip and placed it on the wall, and trimmed along the top of one strand of grass, so that it laid over the black paper backing on the wall, and met up with the other grass strands on the upper portion of the wall. (4th photo)

Except for a teeny extra thickness due to the black paper underneath, the join is invisible. (5th photo) At the factory, the grass fibers are held to the backing by sewing them in place with thread. There are a few loose threads where the material was cut, but that’s just going to happen, and it’s barely noticeable.

Swirly, Cheery, Leafy, and Fun!

March 17, 2018

With drab murky blue paint and not much more, this powder room near the backdoor of a ’70’s era ranch style home in Candlelight Plaza (Houston) was serving its purpose. But the homeowner knew it could live much larger.

I skim-floated the moderately textured walls to smooth them, and then primed with a penetrating sealer called Gardz, which is also a good primer for wallpaper (see first photo).

The wallpaper pattern is called “Priano,” and is by Serena & Lily, and can be bought on-line. The design has a fun circular movement, and an organic leafy motif.

Innovative Solution for Drywall Cracks

March 16, 2018

I had noted that the walls in this powder room had one horizontal crack in the drywall. I picked up a roll of mesh tape, so I could fix the crack.

But when I got to work, the HO had already applied this. It was recommended by the Sherwin-Williams guy. It’s peel-and-stick, and comes in several widths. It feels like vinyl, and if there is any movement within the crack, it is supposed to expand and contract without opening up another crack.

The instructions say the feathered edges allow you to paint over it invisibly. The wallpaper was thin-ish, and I worried that the patch would show under the paper, so I chose to skim over it, which smoothed away any rides.

I don’t have any history or info on this product, so time will tell how it performs in this application.

Brilliantly Bold

March 16, 2018

Dark powder rooms are a good look. But dark paint by itself can feel uninteresting and even closed-in.

A bit of glowing aqua and green palm leaves on this black background really punch up the drama in this Montrose (Houston) area powder room! The stacked leaves add a distinct upward movement (and fun!) to this tall, narrow space.

The homeowner searched for a long time to find a pattern she liked, in a colorway that would compliment the ice-aqua color of the glass sink. (Sorry, my poor photo doesn’t do justice to the beautiful color of this unique sink.) (The wall to the right of the wallpaper and above the sink is covered with tiny squares of tile, and the lighted mirror.)

The original blue paint just blended in with the medium-toned brown bamboo free-standing console vanity sink base. But against the black wallpaper, the stained bamboo really stood out.

This tropical wallpaper pattern is called Kalani, and is in the “Fine D├ęcor Collection” by Brewster. It is a non-woven material (which means it should strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate), and is designed for a paste-the-wall installation (but I opted to paste the paper, instead.).

The material was thin, which I like, but I wasn’t fond of the plastic-y feel to the surface, plus it creased really easily. Because the paper was black and was printed on a white substrate, I used chalk to color the edges of the paper, which prevented white from showing at the seams. Once this was done, the seams were practically invisible.

Visible Seams on Metallic Mylar Wallpaper

March 15, 2018

Today was disappointing. Yesterday I had done all the prep, so today I was supposed to hang wallpaper in the dining room of a cute bungalow in the Houston Heights. But my first seam looked bad – it was way more visible than it should have been. (The seams are more visible in real life than in the photos.)

The paper is by A-Street Prints (by Brewster), and is a thin non-woven with metallic dots forming a Moroccan trellis. I think the dots are actually Mylar, a shiny plastic that was popular in the ’60’s & ’70’s. This material appears to be sandwiched between the non-woven backing and the taupe top layer of the paper.

The problem is that that inner sandwich layer shows at the seams. If you study the photos, you can see the shimmer of the plastic, as well as the gold color of the dots, at the seams.

With wallpaper, you’re always going to have seams. Some seams are more visible than others. But I felt these were to obvious. I didn’t want the homeowners to have these shiny vertical stripes every 20.5″ across their dining room walls.

I called the client and she came home from work, took a look, and agreed. It’s a disappointment, and it will mean hassling with returning the paper, reselecting something new, and then rescheduling for the install.

But, with the money and time invested, they deserve to have a room that looks as close to perfect as possible. I’m eager to see what new pattern they pick out!

(Luckily, these folks purchased from Dorota (see “Where to Buy Wallpaper” page to the right), and she will take care of the return and dealing with the vendor.)

A Small Repair Today – Plumbing Issue

March 15, 2018

This couple had water damage from Hurricane Harvey, and I repapered their powder room a month or two ago. Well, recently a pipe burst, and, long story short, they had to replumb the whole house. To run the new pipes, the plumbers had to cut holes in the drywall.

The top photo shows where the plumber patched a hole with a scrap of drywall. He left some irregular areas and rough edges that would show under the wallpaper. So I skim-floated over these areas and then sanded smooth, as you see in the second photo.

There was precious little paper left, so a patch was called for (rather than replacing the whole wall). From leftover paper that matched the pattern around the drywall patch, I cut along the pattern design (third photo). This would be less visible than if I cut a square patch with straight edges.

Once I put the patch into place, lining it up with the pattern on the wall, the repair was invisible. (The gap at the bottom will be caulked.)

Another Reason to Buy (and Keep) Extra Wallpaper – Repair Water Leak

March 14, 2018

Having extra wallpaper is a good thing. Keep it wrapped up with its label, and stored in a climate-controlled closet. You never know when you will need to pull it out to make repairs.

This home was damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Repairs were made, and I hung beautiful new wallpaper in the powder room just a month or two ago. Well, the poor homeowners suffered another water issue – a leaky pipe. Yes, this would be one of the new pipes in their new powder room.

Fixing the leak required cutting a two holes out of the drywall. The plumber did a decent job of patching the holes. The next step is covering that drywall with some wallpaper.

It’s such a good thing that the homeowners have scraps left from the install.