You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd …

And you can’t hang wallpaper when the house isn’t ready!

The poor homeowners of this completely renovated bungalow in the Houston Heights have had delays of up to nearly a year. Some COVID and supply-chain related. But lots more due to … well, due to tasks just not getting done. The mom pressed the contractor hard to be sure the space would be ready for wallpaper today. But as soon as I pulled up, I knew it wasn’t gonna happen.

No A/C and no heat = humidity = not good for wallpaper

Workmen in the area (my specs specify no one else on-site)

Workmen’s ladders blocking my access to rooms I am supposed to paper

Workmen’s power tools blasting noise = disrupts concentration

No running water in the house (I need to keep paper and woodwork clean)

Floors need to be sanded = dust getting onto the walls / wallpaper

High probability that someone will get handprints, paint, or other on the new paper

Yard is a mudpit = not good carrying my 50lb bucket of paste or 7′ long table back and forth

House not secure and likelihood of tools and equipment “walking off” esp. overnight

No one but me wearing a COVID-conscious mask

So, no wallpaper went up today. At first I thought I could at least get the primer up. But various factors made that not viable.

A day of work lost for me. For the rest of the week, I will have to try to find other clients who can be ready on 1-day’s notice. And reschedule these folks for later down the road.

This is a big disappointment for the homeowners, who are very much wanting the work to be finished and to move into their lovely new home.

Oh, and song lyrics compliments of Roger Miller, 1965.

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2 Responses to “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd …”

  1. Rachel Sandstrom Says:

    Hi Julie,
    I’m a paper hanger in Australia. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. I thought it was time to get in touch and let you know how amazing you are!
    I’ve only been hanging for seven years and I’ve been taught (and still learning everyday) by an old-school hanger (they are a dying breed). It regularly amazes me the kind of shoddy work that is getting around in the trade. A lot of the proper techniques that I’ve learnt have been lost to the past and the current painting & decorating schools spend about a day on teaching how to hang wallpaper.
    It’s my belief that the two trades should be seperated. I don’t have any formal qualifications, so I’m not a painter. Everything I’ve learnt in regards to painting, priming and plastering has been directly related to what is necessary for paper to be hung over the top.
    Which is good because I dislike painting 😉
    I wanted to ask you about your scheduling… specifically how do you keep on top of clients calls, bookings and emails when you are on another job and busy working?
    Thank you so much for your awesome blog and for explaining your fantastic techniques! Please don’t stop. Ever.
    Warm regards,
    Rachel S

    • thewallpaperlady Says:

      Hi Rachel, thank you so much for reading my blog and for contacting me, AND for the kind words. I’m so glad that other craftsmen can learn something from my experiences. 🙂

      Yes, we do seem to be a dying breed, as most of us seem to be nearing the retirement age, and so few people coming in. I was lucky way at the beginning to have met and frequently worked with an excellent contractor, who did things “the right way.” He was a big influence on me. Back then, I didn’t even realize that other people didn’t work that way, or treat clients well.

      Here in the U.S., most paperhangers and painters are separate trades … some do both, but most “stick with what we’re good at,” as I like to say.

      I would encourage you to join the Wallcovering Installers Association. You’ll have access to lots of information, including our Facebook page, and the annual convention, plus pandemic-era on-line seminars, and the ability to network with hundreds of other installers world-wide.

      Alternately, I suggest you join the Facebook page of the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers (previous name of the same group). NGPP. Just about all the same installers frequent this page, but it’s open to anyone, not just paid WIA members. I can’t tell you how much I have learned by reading posts by other installers, and getting my own questions answered by hundreds of paperhangers across the U.S. and the world. You have to request to join, say you know me, it takes a day or two – and you’re on!

      BTW, I have a friend, Gary Stanley, also a WIA member, who is in Australia. He does commercial work and runs a crew, and is a pretty big outfit. Sydney, I think.

      Re your questions about juggling scheduling and clients and paperwork – that is a biggie for me. Please send me an email and we can discuss in private.

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