Archive for October, 2018

What A Fun Entry To Come Home To!

October 14, 2018


This entry is open to the living, dining, and kitchen areas of a neatly modernized home in the Briar Park neighborhood of Houston. It was originally white. Needless to say, it wasn’t very interesting.

The homeowner chose this “Larkspur” pattern in navy blue by Serena & Lily. Boy, does this ever change things! It adds a cherry welcome when you walk through the door.

But it also sets a fun tone for the whole rest of the home. All the furnishings in the rooms are pretty subdued, so this slightly wacky pattern really jazzes things up! There is a small amount of blue in the living room rug and in a few accessories, so the navy color of the wallpaper pulls all that together.

S & L is nice paper to work with.

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Smoothing Sand-Stippled Walls

October 13, 2018



The texture on these walls in a powder room was an odd combination of “orange peel” and sandy grit – neither of which was suitable for under wallpaper, because the texture would show through under the paper, and because the texture would prevent good adhesion of the paper to the wall.

So I skim-floated the walls to smooth them. Because the texture was so thick, I had to use a space heater, multiple fans, the home’s A/C and house fan systems, and an overnight dry time, to get the smoothing compound to dry. The next morning, I sanded the walls smooth.

In the second photo, you see the finished, smooth wall.

Low End Wallpaper – Not So Bad This Time

October 12, 2018


I’ve said it before – these budget-friendly, pre-pasted, manila paper-baked solid vinyl wallpaper products are generally not good quality, and the Norwall brand is about at the bottom of the list. In fact, I often will decline to hang it. Do a Search here on those terms, or click the Page to the right “Stay Away From … ” for more info.

However, this homeowner, a Meyerland neighborhood (Houston) victim of the Hurricane Harvey flooding, and a client for whom I had worked back in the ’90’s, really loved the pattern, as well as the price-point. And she wanted her entry to look as it had before the flood ravaged her home.

I was pleasantly surprised. The paper went up OK, and the seams looked fine. It’s possible that the company has improved its product. But it’s more likely that my new installation method helped.

Instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions to run the paper through a water tray, which makes the material too wet and promotes bubbling, and instead of pasting the back of the paper, which turns it into a gummy mess, I tried something new. I used a spray bottle to lightly spritz fresh water onto the back; this activated the paste, but was not so much water that it would cause bubbling or seam curling or over-expansion of the material. I booked the paper and put it in a black trash bag to sit a few minutes.

Next I rolled paste onto the wall. I started out using a very faint coat, but found that a tad more worked better. I used a brush to cut the paste into the edges and around the floor and ceiling.

When I took the very slightly dampened paper to the wall and smoothed it against the lightly pasted surface, it adhered very nicely. It was pretty easy to smooth into position, although there was some twisting of some strips, which could have been a problem in a room that required more strips next to one another.

Usually these inexpensive vinyl papers grow bubbles, because, as they dry, there is nowhere for the moisture to go (because it can’t pass through the vinyl surface), so blisters form. But today was very little bubbling.

Best of all, the seams looked good. I didn’t get any of the raised edges that are so unattractive, and that allow moisture / humidity to penetrate and cause the backing to swell and pull away from the wall.

I am not saying that I was happy with this paper. But it was a lot better than I expected. And I hope that it will continue to look good for years to come.

Cracks in Drywall Due to Ground/Foundation Shifting

October 12, 2018


Here are pictures of cracks and wrinkles in the drywall, and also in the wallpaper over the drywall. These are caused by the foundation of the home shifting, which is pretty common in Houston, and particularly in this Meyerland neighborhood.

Rain, and the lack of rain, as well as other factors, cause the ground to swell or shrink, and that causes the home’s foundation to move – and that causes cracks like these to appear. As weather conditions (and the conditions within the ground) change, the cracks can close up again.

I used a Stanley knife to cut out the bulged areas, and then placed mesh drywall tape over the cracks, followed by joint compound, which I sanded smooth and primed, before hanging the wallpaper. The mesh tape is supposed to flex a little, and will hopefully absorb some of the strain the next time the house shifts, so, with a little luck, the cracks will not reappear.

How Wildly Colorful Can You Get? – Here It Is!

October 11, 2018


Just one accent wall (4 strips) in an entry in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston – but boy was it fun! This is one homeowner who is not afraid of color, that’s for sure!

The third photo shows me laying it out on the floor, to determine the pattern match and how I want to plot the design layout on the wall.

The designer is Manuel Canovas, and I believe the manufacturer or distributor is the British company Colefax & Fowler. It was a fairly thick non-woven material, and I used the paste-the-wall installation method. It is more durable and washable than most other types of paper.

Interestingly, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts had an exhibit earlier this year of art from India that looks a whole lot like this wallpaper. https://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/peacock-in-desert-royal-arts-jodhpur-india

Mildew on Wall Indicates Moisture Problem – Somewhere

October 9, 2018


I have just stripped off a solid vinyl wallcovering that had been up for at least 10 years, possibly twice that. The entire wall was covered with mildew. The mildew was present just on the exterior wall; not any of the walls that connected to interior areas of the home.

Mildew breeds when there is moisture. This indicates that there may be a leak in the home’s siding, or a leak in a window on an upper floor allowing water to get inside the wall and into the drywall. Another possibility is that plumbing inside the wall could have sprung a leak, and also caused the drywall to become wet.

Because the wallcovering was solid vinyl, it trapped the moisture between the wall and the wallpaper, and that allowed mildew to grow between the two surfaces. I’m rather surprised that the mildew didn’t penetrate through the wallpaper and show on the surface. The drywall didn’t appear to be soggy or rotted or compromised.

Another reason why I don’t like solid vinyl wallpapers.

Minimizing an Eyesore

October 9, 2018


The exhaust fan in this powder room was very obvious, having been placed smack in the center of the rear wall.

Covering the flat surfaces with wallpaper helped disguise it.

Note: Some portions of the vent cover were curved, and did not lend themselves to being covered with wallpaper, especially since this particular product was thick and stiff.

The vent was plastic, and required a special primer that would stick to the plastic, as well as special paste that would adhere to both the paper and the plastic. (VOV – Vinyl Over Vinyl paste is formulated to do just that.)

Today’s Helper

October 7, 2018


He did a good job of holding down my dropcloth.

Mountain Mural for a Mountain Climber

October 6, 2018


This homeowner is a mountain climber, and goes every chance he gets. He wanted to bring a little of his passion into his home, and this rear wall of his closet was the lucky spot.

A lot of the mountains and sky were cut off where the cabinets hit the wall, but you see enough of the photo to feel like you are there!

The mural is by MuralsYourWay.com (who happen to be fellow members of the Wallcovering Installers Association). It was custom-sized to fit the wall (allowing a 2″ “bleed” all around each side). It came on a heavy vinyl material with a canvas backing, and was pretty thick. That made it a little difficult to trim.

There was one seam, and that was double-cut (overlapped 2″ and then spliced). Since the material was so thick, and with the fabric backing having threads that got caught up in the seam, it was somewhat difficult to cut – I used a new single edged razor blade and had to press really hard to get through both layers. I used a thin polystyrene plastic strip to pad and protect the wall under the cut, so the drywall would not be damaged (cut drywall can delaminate and result in a popped seam.

I also used blue plastic tape on the edge of the overlapped piece, to prevent paste from getting on the face of the mural.

The wide strip on the left would have been unwieldy trying to fit around the upper and lower cabinets, and the material was prone to creasing. So, I split the strip in half vertically, so the first half went to just an inch past the cabinets. This was much easier to manipulate, and put less stress (potential damage) on the paper, plus it kept paste off the cabinets. Then I was able to easily position the short piece that went in between the upper and lower cabinets.

This is a new construction home in the Tanglewood area of Houston. I was lucky enough to work all by myself, with no other construction workers in the house. No noise, no distractions = happy.

Acquario Fish Swimming Through a West Houston Powder Room

October 5, 2018

I hung this paper for this client in her previous home in Spring Branch (Houston). Two years later, the family is moving to a new construction home in the Briar Park neighborhood, and she wants the same pattern in her new, larger, powder room.

In a house where practically everything else is all white, it’s an unexpected jolt of fun when you open the door to the powder room and are hit with – not just bold color, but these cheeky fish swimming in both directions across the walls.

This pattern is called “Acquario,” and is by the British company Cole & Son, in their Fornasetti line. I’ve hung it several times, in a couple of different colors. It is printed on a non-woven backing, and is intended to be hung using the paste-the-wall method. I find the paste-the-paper method to be superior.

For one thing, the paper expands when it gets wet with the paste. (Non-wovens are not supposed to do this.) It’s best to let the paper absorb moisture and expand while on your work table (instead of on the wall), as this will help prevent “pouched” seams on the wall.

Also, pasting the paper makes it more soft and pliable, which makes it easier to manipulate into position of the walls.