Archive for July, 2018

Treating Mildew on Walls Before Wallpapering

July 11, 2018


When the old wallpaper was pulled off, surprises were revealed! Here you see mildew (don’t worry, it’s not mold) that had grown under the paper where a water leak had lead to damp conditions, probably exacerbated by the thick, non-breathing, vinyl wallpaper.

Mildew will bleed through wallpaper, and it can also create a powdery colony that will not provide a stable surface for the wallpaper to grab ahold of.

To kill the mildew, I washed it with full-strength bleach. When that was dry, I went over it with an oil-based stain blocker. I like the product KILZ Original.

Wallpaper in Midwest Living Magazine – Don’t Try This at Home!

July 10, 2018

While I’m happy to see another magazine promoting wallpaper in a decorating feature, I have to say that there is some abruptly alarming misinformation being passed along in the May/June 2017 issue of Midwest Living. In a story about revamping a home office (pg. 46), the homeowner strayed “from convention, saving time and money by painting directly over the grass-cloth wallpaper.”

Folks, this is a horrible thing to do! You might “save time and money” now, but when it comes time to get that mass of hardened painted fiber off the wall, you will have a dickens of a time, and most likely tear the wall to shreds in the process. $$ to get the wall repaired and intact again.

In addition, and more important for the immediate use, painted grasscloth just looks bad. As a solid color, it lacks the variations of shades that give the material its allure and appeal. Painted grasscloth, especially when painted with a flat finish paint, just looks dead.

Logistically, water-based latex paint is likely to cause the natural grasscloth fibers and its paper backing to absorb moisture and swell, creating bubbles in the material. These bubbles will not disappear when the paint dries. Any hairs or loose grass fibers will get caught in the paint, dry, and harden, usually sticking up at unsightly angles.

Phillip Jeffries Rivets Grasscloth

July 10, 2018

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Ink Spots Bleed Through Wallpaper

July 8, 2018


Well, this has been a month of issues with stains on walls! I was smoothing these textured walls with joint compound, and noticed some red splotches on the paint. I studied them, but decided they were paint, which is stable and not a problem. But a little after I had skimmed over the spots, I looked again and noticed that the red color had bled through.

Evidently it was ink, or lipstick, or child’s crayon, or some other such substance. Along with rust, blood, water, oil, mold and mildew, and a few others, these materials will bleed through paint and wallpaper. It might not happen right away, but eventually you will notice stains on the paper.

These stains can be sealed with a stain-blocker. I like oil-based KILZ Original, but the shellac-based BIN primer is good, too. Water-borne sealers may be environmentally-friendly, but I don’t trust them to work as well.

But in this case, I preferred to just get rid of the questionable areas. I took a knife and dug out the part of the wall that had the red spots. Those are the chips I am holding in my hand. Then I skim-floated over the area to smooth it, and proceeded with my wall prep and wallpaper installation.

No more red spots showed their faces. 🙂

A Kaleidoscope of Mid-Century Modern, Frank Lloyd Wright – Wild

July 7, 2018

What a fun pattern from Bradbury & Bradbury, in their newish line of “Atomic Age,” Mid Century Modern, in the theme of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright!

The young couple that bought this mint-condition, Mid-Century home in the Medical Center / Reliant Stadium neighborhood of Houston is way crazy about the modern look, and wanted an accent wall in the kitchen breakfast nook to both play up that theme, as well as bring color into the room.

There are four bright orange molded plastic “mod” chairs that will ring around that round table.

The pattern is called Kaleidoscope. The wallpaper is custom made, but is not outrageously expensive. It comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand. (Do a search here for pics and more info on this process.) The paper is normally hung vertically, but the homeowners liked the design better run horizontally (called railroading in wallpaper terms).

It took a lot of trimming, plotting, planning, and engineering, plus plenty of time with the laser level (see second photo), to get the pattern matched correctly and then laid out on the wall so everything lined up perfectly. I also took steps to keep as much paste off the woodwork and shutters as possible. Yeah, it wipes off relatively easily. But always best to keep it off in the first place.

MC Escher-ish Wallpaper Pattern in a Mid Century Modern Home

July 7, 2018


This couple scored a cool, mint-condition authentic Mid-Century Modern home in the Reliant Stadium / Medical Center area of Houston. They have some wonderful authentic period furnishings, and wanted to add a little “pop” as an accent, but not so much as to overwhelm the home. Well, you’ve gotta admit – this pattern really delivers!

This design is in the feel of the artist MC Escher, who bent minds back in in the Art Deco and Modern periods (’20’s-’50’s) with his “never ending stairways” type drawings. It’s by York, and is a non-woven material, and can be installed by either paste-the-wall or paste-the-paper (I prefer the paste-the-paper method). It is dimensionally-stable (doesn’t expand when it gets wet with paste), and is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

It 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.

The ceiling in this entryway was way off-level, so I knew that the motif I placed at the top of the wall would start going off-track as it moved across the wall. So I started in the middle of the wall, so that any pattern distortion would be visually lessened by being split across the width of the wall evenly from the center. In the second photo, I’m using my laser level to get a plumb starting point for my first strip.

The blue you see at the top of the second photo is plastic tape I use to keep paste off the ceiling.  It can be used around woodwork and other surfaces, too.   You can also see how the bottom section of the strip of paper is “booked” (folded back on itself).  This shortens the strip of paper, thus making it easier to handle, and also keeps the pasted side from bumping against the wall, which could cause paste stains and also make the paper stick to the wall where I don’t want it to.

And, most important, with standard papers that need to absorb moisture from the paste, then expand and relax before hanging, booking helps keep the paper from drying out.  Note:  This is a non-woven material, so no waiting period is required, but I still booked the paper to make it easier to handle.)

If You Want Smooth Walls, You’ve Gotta Put Up With a Little Dust

July 7, 2018


The walls in this house had a pretty heavy texture, which I wanted to smooth before hanging their wallpaper. This involves skim floating the walls with joint compound (commonly referred to as mud). Do a search on those terms here to learn more about this process.

Once the mud is dry, I sand it smooth. This makes a dust – and the thicker the wall texture, the more the dust. Here you see what has accumulated on the floor after sanding.

Don’t worry – I bring in my Shop Vac and clean all the dust up.

Humidity from Shower & Bathtub Loosening Paper

July 5, 2018

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The homeowner said I put this paper up about 20 years ago. It is what we call a British pulp paper – paper, not vinyl and not vinyl coated. In a few areas near the ceiling, the paper has started to pull away from the wall. It was only over the shower and tub areas. What does that tell you? Yes, humidity is the great enemy of wallpaper. Especially when you have teenagers taking steamy, hour-long showers.

This was pretty easily fixed, by repasting the wall behind the loose areas, and then smoothing the paper back into place.

Rebecca Atwell “Dashes” Finished and Fixed Up

July 5, 2018

Here are some finished shots of the playroom I did a month ago. We ran short of paper* and had to have more custom-made.

*To be honest, I think the company shorted us … both the designer and I measured meticulously (it’s crazy expensive paper), and we both came out to the same yardage … I can’t see how we could have both been wrong.

The design is called “Dashes” and it’s by Rebecca Atwood. The interior designer for this room is Layne Torsche, of Layne Torsche Interiors in Houston.

Ran Short of Paper – Notes to Move Ahead

July 5, 2018


As I mentioned in a previous post, we ran short of paper on this job, and had to have more custom-made. It is very expensive paper, and the homeowner wanted to buy as much as needed, but not have excessive waste. I did a lot of measuring and calculating to see how much wall I could cover with what we had left (including pieces that could be split and / or spliced), and how much would be needed to be ordered.

Since a month would go be before the new paper could be printed, and I would be working on many other jobs, it was also going to be difficult to remember what I had plotted to use where.

So I wrote careful notes on the back of the remaining paper. That’s what you see in the photo. It sure was a big help when I went back to finish the room today. I did roll everything out and measure and plot again, before cutting anything, just to be sure.

We ended up getting that final wall done, with about 24″ of paper to spare. 🙂