Archive for July, 2018

Badly Curling Edges on Quadrille’s “Sigourney” Wallpaper

July 18, 2018

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This “high end, designer wallpaper” by Quadrille (called Sigourney) has heavy inks that smell like moth balls. As is common with these papers, when wet with paste, the ink absorbs moisture and expands more than the paper backing, which is what causes the curing of the edges and the wrinkles (called “waffling”) which you see in the first photo.

Once the paper is on the wall, those edges can continue to curl backwards, resulting in gapped or open seams, or seams that are tight but just don’t look good. And the interior of the strip will continue to hold a few wrinkles and bubbles.

This paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand with a long straight edge and a razor blade, before the strips of paper could be pasted and hung on the wall. I found that my carefully hand-trimmed edges did not butt together nicely, not did they adhere tightly to the wall, and they left little gaps and curled seams.

My solution was to overlap the subsequent strips of wallpaper and splice them together. This gives pretty much perfect seams.

However, it is time-intensive and somewhat complicated, involving many steps and some special equipment. No photos, but in a nutshell, you trim the selvedge edges of the wallpaper in a way that allows you to match the pattern on one side, and then leaves a little more than that on the opposite side. You first pad the wall under where one seam will go with a thin strip of heavy plastic that is 3″ wide (we WIA members call it a Boggess strip, after the WIA member who invented it), to protect the wall. Then you hang one strip, allowing one edge of it to land on top of that plastic strip.

The next strip is pasted and hung, positioned so that it overlaps the previous strip along the outer edge, while making sure that the pattern matches. Next you take a straightedge (I use a wonderful one (not pictured), invented and manufactured by a WIA member, and a sharp, new razor blade, and cut through the two layers of wallpaper, paying heed to press hard enough to cut through the two layers of paper, but not so hard as to damage the plastics strip, and definitely not hard enough to score the wall. A cut into the wall could result in delamination of the layers of the wall, and irreparable curling at the seams.

Once the cutting has been done, the excess layers of wallpaper need to be pealed away, then the Boggess strip removed, and then the two sides of the wallpaper strips should be eased together and smoothed down tight, with the edges of the strips wiped clean of any residual paste.

Next, the rest of the strip of wallpaper should brushed into place on the wall. This Quadrille paper may look wrinkled and waffled on the wall, but any little wrinkles or bubbles that may remain on the wall will dry and flatten out in very little time – just a few hours.

The whole plot, cut, trim, paste, book, position, place Boggess strip, trim paper at crown molding, trim at chair rail, trim at overlapped seam, smooth seam shut, wipe seam clean of paste residue, scenario resulted in very nice seams, but took a whole lot of time and materials and focus. I probably spent 40 minutes on installation alone (not including measuring or trimming) for each strip.

While this wallpaper’s challenges could be met, and the finished room looked fantastic, I would much prefer to hang a good quality mid-price-range wallpaper, with seams trimmed at the factory, and made with regular ink printed on traditional stock, that performs nicely and with minimal time spent.

Flaw of the Day – Ink Stain

July 18, 2018


Here’s a band of what I suppose is ink, running down the back of this bolt of wallpaper. It is visible from the front. This ruined at least half the bolt, and cut me out of one full strip of paper.

This meant I had no extra paper for making perfect pattern matches in the corners, or to cover a possible mishap. So I was extra careful in measuring and cutting, and did manage to get the room done.

Foresty Flair for a Bare Powder Room

July 18, 2018


Covered with beige paint, this powder room in a new home in the Rice Village / Medical Center area of Houston didn’t have much going for it. And despite it’s large foot print and 12′ high ceilings, it felt close and claustrophobic.

This lively pattern helped a lot, by visually opening the space. All those swirling tree branches add a lot of movement. Yet the paper does not feel busy, because of the monochromatic color scheme.

To reach the high ceiling, I had to bring in my 8′ stepladder. Working with it is always a challenge, especially in tight quarters like a powder room.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Dwell Studios line, and reminds me a lot of “Daintree,” by Thibaut. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/wild-whimsical-wallpaper/

This paper is on a non-woven substrate, and could be hung using the paste-the-wall method, or the paste-the-paper method; I chose to paste the paper.

This was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Compensating for Crooked Walls

July 17, 2018

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Today I was to hang this cute bear wallpaper on one accent wall of a baby’s nursery.  The walls were 0ff-plumb, and the ceiling was not level, and the pattern was very plotted and symmetrical.  So let’s just say that the room presented challenges.

One thing that helped was the way the blocks of bears are printed on the wallpaper.  See Photo 1.  Unlike most wallpaper designs, the motifs did not cross the seams, so there were no elements to be matched from strip to strip.  This left me free to place the bears’ heads at the top of the wall with every strip.

Normally, when the ceiling is not level, the wallpaper pattern (the heads of the bears) would start to move up or down the ceiling, and that means that the heads would start to get chopped off horizontally.

But since this pattern did not cross the seams of the wallpaper and I didn’t have to match any parts of bears across the seams, I was able to pull each strip up to the top of the wall, and eating a uniform line (or head-count 🙂 ) at the top of the wall.  It meant that the lines of bears were not perfectly level from strip to strip – but that was not very noticeable, and was a whole lot better than seeing heads get chopped off.

The walls on either side were also not plumb.  As a test, I hung the first strip of paper butted into the corner, so it is parallel with the wall.  The second photo shows my laser level red line against the side of the paper.  If you could see above the top of the photo, that red line is butted against the edge of the paper at the top of the wall.  Yet as you move down the wall, the strip of wallpaper moves away to the left of the red level line.

I could pull the strip of paper into plumb so that it aligned with the red laser line – but that would cause a slew of bears to get their heads sliced off vertically where they hit the adjacent wall.  As well as when they got to the opposite wall.

Also, since the ceiling was not level, the bears’ heads would start marching either up or down the ceiling line, and, again, some bears would get their heads chopped off.

What to do?

I checked for plumb on both outer walls, and found that both walls were off-plumb by a fairly significant amount.  Luckily, both walls were out of plum parallel with one another.  This meant that I could hang the paper off-plumb and butted into the right corner, and it would come out on the left side of the wall nicely parallel to the opposite side (right corner).

So the pattern aligned nicely with both the right and left walls.  But since to do this I had to hang the paper off-plumb, it would also go off-level at the ceiling.  And since the ceiling was already no where near level, it was very likely that the pattern was going to track up or down that ceiling line, with a bunch o’ bears getting their heads cut off.

Here is where the placement of the pattern on the 20.5″ wide wallpaper made a difference… Because I didn’t have to match a bear’s head to a bear’s head horizontally across the seams. I could position each strip so that the tips of the bears’ ears were at the top of the wall.  (Read previous paragraphs.)

But because the ceiling was off-level by such a great degree, some of the pattern did get crooked, and so you see a couple of black feet starting to appear above the brown bear at the top of the wall (See photo 3).

But I’d rather have a few paws showing at the top of the ceiling, than have a bunch ‘o bears get chopped off vertically at the corners.  But still, I didn’t like looking at those paws hanging down from the ceiling.

The fix was easy.  I took some scrap wallpaper and from it I cut some thin strips of white paper that I then pasted over the offending paws.  Voilà!  No visible dangling paws.

AND the pattern looks amazingly equal in each corner,

This is a new townhouse in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston.

Pineapples in a Powder Room, Revisited

July 15, 2018

If this room looks familiar – it should… This week I’m working in a home in the Meyerland area of Houston where I hung paper after the home was repaired following flooding during the Tax Day Flood in April 2015. This home was flooded again during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. The homeowners wanted everything exactly the way it had been before the flood.

This paper went in the powder room. The pineapple is the universal symbol for hospitality, which is fitting for this household, because the homeowners are friendly, down-to-earth, and welcoming.

This pattern melds nicely with the faux grasscloth that went in the entry (see previous post), both in color and appearance. The background of this paper looks like grasscloth, but it is not. It is a printed paper, with a very slightly raised ink texture. It is a wonderful alternative to the real stuff, and has none of the color variation or visible seam issues of real grasscloth – and it will hold up to the occasional water splash, too.

The chair rail will be painted and attached soon. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the workmen don’t mess up the new wallpaper in the process.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Wonder Faux Grasscloth Finishes off a Flood House Rebuild

July 15, 2018

If this room looks familiar – it should… This week I’m working in a home in the Meyerland area of Houston where I hung paper after the home was repaired following flooding during the Tax Day Flood in April 2015. This home was flooded again during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. The homeowners wanted everything exactly the way it had been before the flood.

This paper went on one wall in the entry.

I LOVE this product! I HATE real grasscloth (read my page to the right, and do a search here to learn more), so when people even breathe the word, I steer them to this instead. This is a printed paper product, so it has a pattern that that can be matched, so you will not have the abrupt visible seams that come with real grasscloth. The color is uniform, so no worries about the disagreeable shading and paneling (color variations) that are rife with the natural grasscloth products.

And the manufacturer has attached vertical strings, which add a natural element and a textured effect that people are craving these days. It’s reasonably priced, too.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Raising Homes to Lower Risk of Flooding

July 15, 2018


The Meyerland neighborhood in Houston has flooded severely three times in five years, with 2017’s Harvey being the worst. Here is what people who want to stay in their neighborhood and their home are doing, to be safe from future floods. These are ’50’s & ’60’s era ranch-style homes.

They will add skirting around the bottom. All new construction, which tend to be larger 2-story homes, must be built up high. It’s major expensive to lift a house, so many of the ’60’s era homes have been patched up, but left on the ground. I’d say that at least 50% of the homes are still unoccupied, a year after the flood. Some have been raised, and some have been razed.

Contractors and Painters Should NOT Prep Walls for Wallpaper

July 14, 2018


This home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, and has been redone, and is now ready for final touches, like decorating, i.e. – wallpaper!

The first three photos show how the contractor left the walls. It’s hard to conceive how anyone could think these walls are “ready for wallpaper.”

What you are looking at is where the contractor ripped off the top, inked layer of the original wallpaper. Most of them don’t realize that there is a backing layer of paper that is left on the wall, that should be removed, too. Simply soaking this with a wet sponge will reactivate the paste and allow the paper to be removed easily, and with no damage to the wall (esp. if there is a good primer underneath the paper). Read my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper” to see how this should be done.

Instead, this contractor left the paper backing on the wall. Some of this porous backing is exposed. Other areas have been covered with the paint that was used on the woodwork. This solvent-based paint “raises the grain” of the surface it’s applied to – see all the hairy fibers from the wallpaper backing that have gotten stuck in the paint and raised up? Some of them are more than 1/4″ high. They create a gritty feeling on the surface, like really coarse sandpaper.

The surface is uneven, and the bumps will show under the new paper. The unevenness also means that areas of the paper will not be able to contact the wall, so there will be gaps and air bubbles and poor adhesion. The backing of the original wallpaper has been exposed, and when new, wet, pasted wallpaper gets placed on top of that thirsty paper backing, it will absorb moisture, expand, and bubble.

I had three missions. 1.) Seal the surface 2.) Smooth the surface 3.) Prime with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

I rolled on a coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz to seal the surface, so that my following treatments would not cause the paper backing to bubble. When that was dry, I skim-floated the wall with a coat of joint compound. In the areas where the hairs were 1/4″ high, the skim coat was pretty thick, and took a good while to dry. Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, then vacuumed the dust of off the floor, used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the walls, and then followed up with another coat of Gardz. It will soak into the joint compound and dry hard, forming a stable surface for the new paper to adhere to.

The last photo shows the wall once I finished.

Covering an Air Vent

July 13, 2018

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I really don’t want to make this post, because I don’t want people thinking that I can / will cover air vents. Because I don’t like doing them. But sometimes the homeowner wants it, and sometimes it really is the best look for the room.

For one thing, they are simply difficult to do – cutting around tiny spaces and narrow louvers set at weird angles.

But other factors come into play, too – Finding the right adhesive to adhere to plastic or metal vents. Finding an adhesive that will weather humidity and temperature changes, as well as on-again / off-again air flow. Is the wallpaper thin enough and pliable enough to meld to the multiple angles of the vent?

This vent took the better part of an hour to cover.

A Cat Sat on the Grass

July 12, 2018


This cat hated and hissed at me for the first two days I worked in his home. But by the end of the third day, he was my buddy – my curious buddy. Here he is, laying claim to my work table – and making himself quite comfy on his owners’ new grasscloth wallcovering.

Let’s hope that his interest stays on flat surfaces, and that he (and his claws) do not discover the nice, textured, brand new, grasscloth walls in the adjoining living room.