Archive for January, 2022

Fixing Drywall Damage From Where Vanity Was Removed

January 20, 2022
The powder room in this 1990’s home in the Houston Heights is being updated, and that means replacing the wall-to-wall vanity. Here the vanity has been ripped out. The areas where the backsplash was adhered to the wall have pulled the top surface of the drywall off. In addition, the plumber had to cut out a section of drywall in order to gain access to the pipes, so he can install the new faucet and handles. You can see the connections roughed in.
You can’t hang wallpaper over this mess. First of all, it way too uneven – all those bumps will show under the new wallpaper. And the outline of the ” trapdoor ” will leave a big square ridge under the paper. Thankfully, the plumber secured the panel with drywall screws – most plumbers just leave you with a chunk of drywall floating in space, or even just an empty hole.
Back to patching issues … in addition, the torn areas of drywall will absorb moisture from the wallpaper primer and / or paste and expand, creating bubbles that will show under the new paper.
I needed to fill in dips and gouges, even out high areas, and prevent bubbling drywall.
Gardz by Zinsser to the rescue! This is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and then dries hard, binding them together and creating a stable surface, as well as resisting moisture from water-based top coatings.
This picture doesn’t look much different, but here the torn drywall is a little darker, indicating that the Gardz has soaked in and dried. The surface is now ready for a skim-coat.
But first, the trap door needs to be addressed. I covered the cut areas with four strips of self-adhesive mesh drywall tape (no photo).
Then I went over everything (wall to wall) with joint compound (commonly referred to as mud ) (no photo).
Because of the thickness of the high and low areas, this had to be a thick coat of smoothing compound, and would take a long time to dry. So I went to the jobsite two days ahead of our install date, to do these initial repairs.
And – no – you can’t use quick set or hot mud or 5 or 20 minute mud to do these repairs. These products are intended for repairs of small areas. Top coatings like primers, paint, and wallpaper paste do not stick well to them. Don’t let a contractor sweet-talk you into letting him use any of these to smooth a large area of wall.
Here is the wall after my first, heavy, coat of smoothing compound. I use Sheetrock brand’s Plus 3.
The bubbles you see just left of center show that Gardz didn’t 100% do its job of sealing out moisture, as a little expansion and blistering has occurred. Not a biggie. These will disappear when the surface is sanded. There is usually not a problem with these re-appearing.
When I got to work two days later, the smoothing compound had dried. I sanded pretty smooth. Then vacuumed up the dust on the floor, and then used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This is important, because no coating will stick to dust.
The wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth, so I did another skim-coat. This was much thinner, so didn’t need a lot of time to dry. I used a fan and my heat gun to speed things along.
Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, vacuumed and then wiped off all dust. Then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have the paint store (Murphy Brothers in central Houston) add a little blue tint, so I can see it when I apply it to the wall.
What a transformation! Now this wall is ready for wallpaper!

Graffiti Garage Doors – Boys’ Room

January 19, 2022
Boys’ accent wall smoothed, primed, and read for wallpaper.
Just – WOW!
Close-up. This really looks like a painted metal industrial door!
Each boy has a bed shaped like a race car. Temporarily tumped on its side while the mural goes up.
Standing on end, until the Wallpaper Lady finishes.

The mural was purchased on-line from one of those middle-man sites that I recommend against. There was scant information, and no installation instructions. But it turned out to be a very nice product and I enjoyed working with it.

Mural’s Too Short – Filling The Gap

January 19, 2022
The homeowner purchased this graffiti mural before consulting with me, and didn’t realize that it was not tall enough to fit the 9′ high walls in her sons’ room. So here you see the 4.5″ gap along the bottom. At first she was just going to leave it, because once the beds got pushed back into place, most of this gap would be hidden.
But I wanted to cover up the gap. The mural was too short for the wall, but it was also too wide. That meant we had a full unused 29″ wide panel to play with. There was a section that had a lot of asphalt area. So I took my straightedge and a razor blade and ruler and trimmed strips that were 5″ high.
Here I am applying the strips over the gap. I’m using clear adhesive latex caulk along the top edge of the strips where they overlap 1/2″ along the bottom of the mural … The surface of the mural is vinyl, and wallpaper paste doesn’t like to stick to a slippery surface like vinyl. The section that matched the asphalt in the mural best I placed in the center of the wall, where there would be a small space between the two beds. The beds look like race cars, BTW.
Here it is finished. From a distance, you would never think that the bottom was pieced in.

COVID Supply Chain and Wallpaper Hanging

January 18, 2022

This sign was posted on the door at eye level when I visited Sherwin-Williams today.

The COVID-induced shipping container jam-up, driver shortages, fires and freezes at chemical plants – all these contribute to the lack of supplies in stores.

Luckily for me, as a wallpaper installer, few of the items I use have been affected.

To be honest, I don’t mind paying a bit more for materials. I’m mostly concerned about being able to obtain what I need to get my clients’ paper up on their walls!

Mostly I use primer, paste, and smoothing compound, plus razor blades. Luckily, all of these remain available in my Houston area. Sherwin-Williams is doing a great job of keeping me supplied!

Just in case, though, I’ve got a (small) stockpile in my garage. Just enough to get through a month or so, if needed. I don’t want to hoard and prevent someone else from taking care of his own clients.

This Week’s Delaminating Walls – Finished Project

January 16, 2022
Re my two previous posts, once the wall was repaired and a liner hung, the next step was to hang the wallpaper. It went up beautifully, and the seams are invisible. No way the seams can open up again!
This pattern is called Brooklyn Toile, and is by Flavor Paper, and is in their EZ Vapes line, which is a pre-pasted paper that goes up easily and also will strip off the wall easily when you redecorate. I liked it a lot.
And many thanks to Flavor Paper, who helped make the replacement paper a little more affordable for this new family and their precious baby boy.

All told, it took me three days to strip the wallpaper, repair the surface, and replace the paper on just one wall plus a few short strips over two doors. There are, of course, charges for materials and labor to factor in. Much better to anticipate this potential problem ahead of time and take steps to prevent it. Liner, seam tape, overlapped seams are all good options.

More Work on Yesterday’s Delaminating Wall

January 15, 2022
Re yesterday’s post … after I got the wall stabilized, I skim-floated the surface to smooth it. That dried overnight, and today I sanded it smooth, vacuumed up the dust and then wiped residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then primed with good old Gardz. I feel pretty confident that that wall is secure enough to withstand the tension of drying wallpaper. But, just to be sure, I applied a liner. A liner is a special paper that goes on the wall under the decorative wallpaper. In this case, the purpose is to distribute tension so that no stress is placed directly on the wall. So it’s important that the seams of the liner and the decorative wallpaper do not line up or fall on top of each other. This way any tension is dispersed and distributed, and any inner surface that wants to delaminate will be held in place by the layers of paper over it. In this photo, the section to the left has the new white liner, and I am moving toward the right to finish this wall.
t’s important that the liner be flat and that the seams lie down tightly, so no bumps or ridges show under the new wallpaper. I was really pleased with how these seams just melted away.
There are all kinds of liner papers out there. This one is a stiff, somewhat thin non-woven option made in Germany.
Using a liner does add to the cost of the installation, for both material and labor to hang it.

Wallpaper Coming Off – Delaminating Wall

January 14, 2022

An Unfortunate Situation

This Brooklyn Toile wallpaper by Flavor Paper on an accent wall in a nursery went up beautifully. The contractor had added new Sheetrock to one wall, and painted the other, old/original wall. I skim-floated both walls and sanded smooth, primed, and hung the wallpaper. Perfect! (Search here to see my original post.) But within less than a month, the homeowner contacted me and said that the wallpaper was ” coming off the wall .” It was a 1920’s bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. And therein lies the brunt of the problem.
The wallpaper itself is not ” coming off the wall .” What’s happening is that the wall surface itself is coming apart – or, delaminating . This is because multiple layers of paint and other substances on the wall may not be compatible. A probably scenario: In 1920 oil-based paint was used. Later someone rolled on a coat of latex paint. Then the homeowners redecorated and used gloss paint. Then some ” flippers ” who had watched too much HGTV slapped on more paint without bothering to de-gloss or prime first. And somewhere in the mix you’ve got cheap paint and dust and other incompatible materials.
Over time, and especially when stress is put on the wall surface, such as when wet wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks, this stress can tug at the wall and actually pull these layers apart. There are other contributing factors, too, such as humidity, temperature, and location. I find it interesting that the worst parts of the affected seams were toward the top of the wall. This speaks of heat, humidity, and forced air (either hot or cold) coming out of the air vent just to the right of this wall. This photo is of the area over a door, very close to the air vent.
See how thick that is? It’s not just the wallpaper. There are several layers of wall coming apart. Some layers are clinging to the back of the wallpaper, and some are staying stuck to the wall.
Multiple layers, many years of coatings on this wall.
Easy to see the many layers. The paper itself, my blue primer, my layer of smoothing compound, paint, more paint coming off the wall. Then multiple layers of paint and texture still clinging to the wall. This shot is just below the ceiling.
Same thing happening at the baseboard at the floor.
Layers of paint separating from the wall in chunks. Some pulled off easily, and some I had to chop off with my 3″ putty knife.
Most of the paint and unstable surface material clung to the back of the wallpaper. This pile is just three strips – only half the wall. But it’s thick and stiff and heavy because of the paint stuck to the back of the wallpaper. There was so much and it was so heavy and bulky that I had to carry it out to my van in two trips. When I got home, it totally filled my trash bin.
Here’s the wall once all the other layers came off. Brushing my hand over it revealed a layer of dust. No wonder the paint and other coatings wouldn’t stick. Nothing sticks to dust. It’s like flouring a cake pan… The paint or wallpaper will kinda stick – but won’t really stick. Paint on top may be fine. But add a little stress from drying / shrinking wallpaper, and you may end up with layers that pull apart.
Wiping the walls with a damp sponge removed a lot more dust. But the wall still felt chalky. Whatever type of paint this was, it was not holding together.
I had to stabilize this chalky surface. Enter Gardz, a wonderful product – Gardz is a thin, penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and binds substances together. It dries hard and creates an intact surface. The darker area in the picture is where I’ve rolled on a test area. Gardz is thin like water, and it runs and drips and splatters. It’s imperative that you cover floors, countertops, and baseboards, and roll carefully, and roll upward rather than downward, to minimize runs and drips. A microfiber roller holds the liquid well, and reduces drips.
Gardz is made by Zinsser.
No photo of the finished wall, but I was very pleased with the stability of the surface. No more chalk or dust. Now, there still could be unstable or incompatible layers deeper inside the wall. (Latex paint over oil without proper prep.) But for now I feel pretty confident that this wall is solid and will hold up to the next process in preparation for getting the new wallpaper up.

Shimmering Foliage in Heights Powder Room

January 13, 2022
Primed and ready for wallpaper.
Vanity wall done. I placed the trees so they would frame the mirror and light fixture evenly.
The slope is the underside of the stairs. At first the homeowners said not to paper this sloped area, as it is considered part of the ceiling.
After the first wall was papered, we decided that the slope would blend in better if it were covered with paper.
I’ve hung this Shimmering Foliage pattern before, but this is the first time in this gorgeous colorway. It really sets off the pretty moldings and white vanity in the room.
In this close up, you see the embossed (raised) texture in the vinyl surface. The gold is not metallic, but it sure shines!
Made by York, in the Candice Olson line. Just about everything she touches is glittery and elegant.
This is a non-woven material, and can be hung using the paste-the-wall method, although I pasted the paper instead, which makes it more pliable and also ensures that paste will get to all areas, including around intricate moldings and behind the toilet.
Non-woven papers will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.
Houston wallpaper installer.

Protecting the Ends of Wallpaper Rolls

January 12, 2022
Cardboard end caps are a nice touch to try to prevent the edges of the wallpaper from being damaged during shipping.

I Have the Greatest Customers!

January 11, 2022

I was doing wallpaper consultations yesterday as I normally do on Sundays, and came upon this at the front door of one of my clients. How sweet and thoughtful is this?!