Archive for April, 2019

Shrinking Flowers to Get a Good Kill Point

April 5, 2019

As you hang wallpaper around a room, the pattern in the last corner will end in a mis-match, because the motifs on that last strip won’t match with those on the first strip. So you try to hide that kill point in an inconspicuous place, such as behind a door.

But this large dining room didn’t have any hidden corners. So we were likely to have a 6′ long corner of flowers that didn’t match one another.

But over the entry arch was an area only one foot high. Since this was very short compared to the other full-length walls, and since it was an area that was not going to be viewed much, it was a better place to put this kill point.

So I hung paper on the walls on the left side of the arch, then on the right side, and prepared to have strips meet at the center over the arch. When the strips met there was going to be a flower motif that repeated itself before the normal pattern repeat rhythm. In other words, there were going to be two flowers too close to each other, with one of them being chopped off abruptly at about 1/3.

After pondering different solutions, I figured that if each flower were a bit narrower, that 1/3 bit of excess could be eliminated.

I tested two different methods of “shrinking” the flowers. First, I tried cutting through the flowers vertically, then overlapping a little. This made the flower motifs narrower. See third and fourth photos.

In the second method, I cut around the right outside edge of the flower motifs, and again overlapped. This reduced the spacing between flowers. It did crowd the motifs next to the others a bit more than I liked. And the cut, being made in an unprinted area of the wallpaper, was a bit more noticeable than that made in the printed area in the first option.

I decided on the first option. Cutting through the middle of the flowers resulted in a less visible pattern mis-match, left the spacing between motifs as the artist designed it, and left less of a noticeable ridge at the point of the overlap.

In the second photo, you can barely see that some of the flowers are narrower than others. This looks a whole heck of a lot better than having a flower-and-a-half-flower next to each other over the arch.

Double-cutting (splicing) these areas would have resulted in perfectly flat joins. However, I chose to overlap instead, because this area was up so high and was only about 30″ wide, with no side lighting, that no one is going to notice any ridges from the overlapped areas. More important, I don’t like double-cutting because it almost always scores the wall, and once the paper dries and shrinks and pulls taught, that can lead to the paper pulling the layers of wall apart, leaving gaps that cannot be glued back down. Overlapping won’t allow the wall to delaminate, and it results in a much stronger join.

This pattern is called “Indian Flower,” and is by Jasper Wallcoverings.


“Indian Flower” by Jasper Wallcoverings, Hand Trimmed Goods

April 5, 2019

The selvedge edge of this wallpaper had to be trimmed off by hand, using a paperhanger’s straightedge and a razor blade.

Once that was done, the paper could be pasted, booked, and hung, just like any pre-trimmed paper.

The manufacturer is Jasper, and the pattern is called Indian Flower. I hung it in the dining room of a home in the rapidly-developing area off the Grand Parkway and Birnham Woods, in the Spring area of Houston.

Trimming and Trash

April 4, 2019

Hand-trimming the selvedge off untrimmed wallpaper sure makes a lot of trash.

This is paper (not vinyl or non-woven or grasscloth), so these scraps can go in the recycling bin.

Trick in Hopes to Stave Off Popped Seams from a Crumbly Wall

April 3, 2019

The walls in this powder room in the West U neighborhood of Houston had had many treatments over it’s life, including paint, more paint, skim-floating, wallpaper, and more. Sometimes, and particularly if prep is not done properly, these various layers are not compatible, and won’t adhere to one another well.

When the old wallpaper was removed, this was clear at the seams, where the various layers of the wall had pulled apart, leaving ridges along the length of each seam. This happens because the wallpaper dries and pulls taught and creates tension on the wall; if the wall is unstable, the layers can be pulled apart (delaminate). Sorry, no pics of the “before,” but you can do a search here to see pics of other rooms. This condition can happen over time, as the house fills with humidity and the paper absorbs it, then dries and shrinks again.

I dug out the raised ridges and applied tape over them, sealed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that dries hard. Then I skim-floated over all the walls, to create a smooth surface for the wallpaper. Sanded, wiped dust off with a damp sponge (nothing sticks to dust), and primed all walls with Gardz.

One good way to deal prevent this from happening again is to cross-line the walls with a special liner paper. This is a thin paper that is usually run horizontally before the actual decorative paper is hung. The idea is that if the new paper shrinks and applies tension, it will be distributed by the liner paper, and will not pull at the wall. If the liner shrinks and pulls, the tension is off-set by the decorative paper on top of it. So the two layers are working together to distribute any harmful tension on the wall surface.

Unfortunately, using liner adds a day of labor plus the cost of the material. The homeowner’s budget had already been busted by other factors, so she wanted to keep the job to one day. After collaborating with my colleagues in the Wallcovering Installers Association on our Facebook page, I decided to try this method:

From Office Max I got some plain old cash register tape. I plotted where each seam would fall, and used my laser level to guide placement of a floor-to-ceiling strip of the tape. I adhered it with regular wallpaper paste. At first, I worried that it would soak up moisture and bubble, but once it was smoothed into place, it laid down nice and flat.

Then I hung the wallpaper. The seams fell nicely on top of the tape, held tightly, and looked beautiful. There is the possibility of seeing a very slight ridge under the paper because of the thickness of the tape, but it’s very minimal because the tape is quite thin. And it’s much preferable to popped seams or delaminated walls.

The idea is that the tape will bridge the seam, and distribute tension from the drying paper across the width of the tape, keeping tension away from the wall itself. The tape is very thin, and doesn’t appear to have much tensile strength, but my buddies who have tried this method say it works well.

Time will tell, but I have a lot of confidence in this method.

Three-Dimensional Square “Dots” on Pale Neutral Grasscloth

April 2, 2019

Thibaut’s “Union Square” wallpaper pattern is a response to the popular Phillip Jeffries’s “Rivets.” Thibaut’s looser design and pattern placement make it much easier to align with the walls and woodwork – including rooms that are out of square and out of plumb. Which is just about every house in every neighborhood in every state.

The 3-D squares are made of some kind of plastic stuff, and are virtually impossible to cut through with a razor blade or a scissors (such as when trimming at the ceiling door or window moldings). I was able to engineer the room so that I did not have to cut through any of those rivets! Because the PJ pattern is much tighter, this would have been virtually impossible.

Also, I found that my soft short-bristled smoothing brush worked well enough to press the material against the wall while skimming over the 3/8″ high square bumps (sorry, for some reason, the photo did not turn out). But my beloved plastic trapezoidal squeegee smoother was just about useless, because it would not accommodate the 3-D “rivets.” So I had to adjust my install tactics a bit, and figure how to get along without the plastic smoother.

This wallcovering is made of grasscloth, which provides the subtle texture that homeowners are loving these days. But because grasscloth is made of natural fibers, there can be a lot of variations between bolts, and even between strips off the same bolt.

For that reason, Thibaut not only notes the run number of a bolt of wallpaper, but also the sequence in which the material was produced (see photo). The idea is that if you hang strips sequentially, you will see less shading or paneling (difference in color between two strips of wallcovering). Thibaut’s insert also includes a LOT of jargon about the color differences inherent to natural products, and the admonishment to use the bolts and strips sequentially.

I used three double rolls / bolts of grasscloth for this entry. Two of the bolts (the first two in the sequence) were pretty homogenous in color. The room was small and had low ceilings, and so I was able to keep the three strips needed for the longest wall all from the same bolt (#1).

I cut my other full-length strips from the second bolt (#2). That left the third bolt (#3) for the many short pieces needed to go over the four doorways in the room. As you can see from the last two photos, even though it was the same run number and printed at the same time, this third bolt was noticeably different in color from the previous two. The background color is the same, but there is a lot – a LOT – more dark brown fibrous material that got worked into the woven grass material.

Keeping these darker strips over the doors was a good way to minimize this color difference. The strips were only 9″ high. If these strips had been placed side-by-side on an 8′ high wall, the color difference would have been abruptly noticeable.

Color variations are to be expected with grasscloth, or any natural product. But helpful labeling by the manufacturer, and careful plotting by the installer, can minimize these differences.

This ’60’s-era ranch-style home in the Briargrove neighborhood of Houston is very much a “sea of tranquility,” as the whole house is entwined in off-whites, creams, and tans, with various textures like rough wood, sisal, and this grasscloth, used to pull in depth and warmth.

The interior designer on this project is Layne Ogden, of Layne Torsch Interiors.