Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bathroom Goes from Young Girl to Teen

April 22, 2021

The original classic trellis pattern by Thibaut was pumped up by the hot pink color. I hung it about six years ago for a young girl’s bathroom. It held up beautifully, even without stains from toiletries that you might expect in a child’s bath.

But now the gal is a teen, and she wanted something calmer. Enter “Priano” by Serena & Lily, one of my favorite patterns and also one of my favorite wallpaper manufacturers.

It’s a soft, easy-to-live-with pattern with fluid movement.

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

Whoops! Someone Painted Over Old Wallpaper

April 21, 2021

Just looking at the walls, I had not noticed . But when I removed the light switch cover, it was clear that someone didn’t bother to remove the old wallpaper, and just painted over it.

Actually, they probably did do some prep, because you could not see seams under the paint. They must have taken steps to cover the seams.

And there was no flashing … difference in texture between paint over wallpaper, for instance, and paint over smoothing compound that was used to disguise those seams.

And there were no bubbles (caused by latex paint on top of wallpaper that absorbs moisture from the paint and swells) and only a few tiny loose areas.

Still, it would have been better if the previous guy had put some effort into removing the wallpaper, and then washing the paste off the wall and then sealing with a stain blocker, to prevent paste residue from causing the new paint to crackle and flake off the wall. Then the room would be adequately ready for paint.

Magazine Features Wallpaper

April 20, 2021
Schumacher’s popular “Acanthus Stripe”
The very popular Cole & Sons “Woods”

The Acanthus Stripe is a grasscloth, and, being by Schumacher, is very expensive. Adding the wainscoting 3′ up reduces the amount of paper needed, and also makes the pattern less “stripe-y” in a small room like this bathroom. An additional bonus is that the tile helps keep splashed water off the wallpaper, which can be stained easily by water, toiletries, or cleaning agents.

I’ve hung Cole & Son’s Woods many times, but have never seen this colorway. I am thinking this is a special color they are making available only through Anthropologie. I think the strong diagonal bent of the design works better in this softer color than in the black-on-white version.

In the April or May 2021 Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Shading, Irregular Strings, Bubbles – Disappointments in Walquest Faux Grasscloth

April 18, 2021
Look dead-center – the strip on the right is slightly darker than the strip on the left (Effect shows up better in person than in photos). We call this shading, or paneling. Even though the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, which eliminates the eye-jarring break in the design at every seam which you get with real grasscloth, I am disappointed that Walquest allows this color difference. I’ve noticed it on each of their colorways. It is less noticeable on this light version, but is readily apparent in their darker colorways.
At the right edge of a strip of faux grasscloth wallpaper (center in the photo), a string either didn’t get put in place, or was pushed too far to the side. Either way, when this strip on the left is butted up against the next strip to the right , this “missing string” creates a very obvious void area, which runs vertically for about 4.’

I have long loved this Walquest alternative to grasscloth, because it has the texture that clients are seeking these days. But it sidesteps many of the problems with real grasscloth. Because it has a pattern that can be matched from seam-to-seam, so you don’t get the visible breaks in the reeds at every seam as with real grasscloth. And because it’s man-made, so the color is more uniform, reducing the color differences between strips that is prevalent with real grasscloth. (Do a Search here (upper right corner) to learn more.)

Unfortunately, I am becoming disenchanted with this product. The last several times I’ve worked with it, there have been color differences (shading / paneling) between strips. And a couple of times, I’ve had issues with strings not being uniformly placed across the strips.

From Drab to Spa-Like

April 17, 2021
Before: Semi-gloss paint on bad texture job.
Virtually the same color, but texture and pattern add a warm and calm feel.
Before: Khaki paint
After: Serene, even Zen-like.
Close-up shows pattern that can be matched so seams are disguised, as well as string fibers that add texture and dimension.

Nearly a full 100 years old, this cottage in the Norhill neighborhood of the Houston Heights has seen many updates and treatments. The master bath suffered from various dubious renovation attempts, as well as the aftermath of acts of nature, such as shifting foundation, leaky windows, humidity. The whole room just had a sort of “last chance” look about it.

Most of the room’s ails could be solved by ripping everything out down to the studs and then starting anew. But on most budgets – that ain’t agonna happen!

So I skim-floated the walls and sanded smooth. Just having smooth walls free of the drab khaki paint color helped left the pervasive glum feeling.

The homeowner chose this faux grasscloth, which is a stringcloth product made by Walquest, in their EcoChic line. I like this because, being a man-made material, the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, so you do not notice the seams like you do with a natural fiber material like real grasscloth. Also, the vertical strings on the wallpaper give texture and dimension, which is a look that many homeowners are craving these days.

The label insert tells you straight off that this material is not washable (they say you can gently vacuum it occasionally). Yet it is still more resistant to stains than true grasscloth.

This wallpaper was purchased from Ted at the Shade & Drape Shop on Kirby at Richmond. (They have another location on Voss near San Felipe.)

Trees Brighten and Lighten a West U Powder Room

April 16, 2021
Plain paint in a khaki color is just drab.
A white background and “movement” from the tree forms brightens and energizes the space.
Almost looks hand-painted.

Most wallpapers by Exclusive Wallcoverings are traditional un-pasted paper, so I was surprised to find that this one was a paper-backed vinyl, and pre-pasted, too.

I am usually not a fan of the lower-priced pre-pasted, paper-backed solid vinyl (read my page to the right). But this brand has figured out how to make a quality product, and I was pleased with it.

Best of all is how the white background lightens up the space, and the intertwined branches bring a lively feel to the room.

The home is in the West University Place neighborhood of Houston.

Cole & Son “Summer Lily” in Heights Powder Room

April 15, 2021
Flower nicely centered over the sink and light fixture.
Close-up shows “etched” effect.

I have long wanted to hang this classic “Summer Lily” design by Cole & Son. C&S may be a British company, but to me, this pattern evokes deep in the Louisiana bayou.

The pattern has a strong vertical lift, and a lot of visual “movement.” In this powder room with 10′ ceilings, it makes a dramatic impact!

It’s printed on a non-woven substrate, and can be hung with the paste-the-wall method. But I opted to paste the paper, because that makes the material more malleable. And, also, in rooms like a bathroom – how can you “paste the wall” when there is a toilet in front of it? ! 🙂 🙂

The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. It’s a busy young family with three school-aged kids and a number of furry pets. And – yes – the three girls helped pick out this paper!

Grasscloth Repair Today

April 14, 2021
Whoops! Somebody dropped a bottle of nail polish and look what happened!
Damaged area removed.
First approach – trimming replacement piece along horizontal grass reeds.
A better approach – splicing in the replacement piece. Blue plastic tape keeps paste off the paper on the wall.
Splice has been made, excess grasscloth and its paper backing below the splice have been removed, and I begin smoothing the patch into place.

The spliced area is undetectable.
Bottom is trimmed at the baseboard, push pins removed – done!

Good thing this family kept their scraps left over from the original install. They had a roll that had about two 8′ strips on it, plus a shorter piece that was maybe 4′ long.

Often, a repair means that you replace the whole wall, from corner to corner. For one thing, it eliminates the worries of color differences due to the existing paper fading from exposure to light over time. And the potential of buggering up one strip while removing the damaged strip next to it. And other issues like variables in the rate of expansion of wallpaper when it gets wet with paste, between what’s on the wall compared to the new replacement piece. Lots of factors.

Replacing the whole wall also would have eaten up all of the left over paper. I wanted then to keep that paper, in case something else happens down the road.

So I figured a way to use just 18″ or so of the shorter scrap they had left over.

First I took a razor blade and trimmed along a horizontal grass fiber, from the seam on the right, moving to the left and around the corner to where the paper meets the vanity. Then I peeled off the top layer, which was the grasscloth. That left the paper backing remaining on the wall.

I used a sponge to apply water to this backing, being very careful to touch only the paper and not the grasscloth that was to be left on the wall – water will stain grasscloth. After a while, the water reactivated the paste, and I was able to use my “dull” stiff 3″ putty knife to gently scrape the paper backing off the wall, making sure to get every bit that butted up to the grasscloth left on the wall, to be sure the replacement paper would sit flat against the wall and not on top of bumps of paper residue. All the while making sure to not damage the existing paper.

I cut a piece of replacement paper off the 4′ roll, cutting it a little longer than I might need, because I wasn’t sure if my first technique would work, and I wanted to avoid having to cut a whole new strip from that precious 4′ roll.

My first approach was to trim the replacement piece horizontally along the top reeds of grass. I hoped that this would butt up against the bottom of the strip on the wall. It did not. This is because the reeds of grass are uneven, and there were undulations between the top and bottom pieces that left gaps and overlaps between the two strips. (sorry, no photo)

I have used this technique successfully in the past. But that was with grasscloth that was coarser and had more distance between the reeds, so the eye would see the gaps as “normal.” Didn’t work with this finer textured grasscloth.

So my next option was to do a splice. What we in the trade call a double cut. A double cut will give you a perfectly fitted seam. But I try to avoid them, because there is the potential to score into the wall, which can cause an un-intact area that may delaminate over time, resulting in a “popped” seam.

(When hanging new wallpaper (not doing a repair to paper already adhered to the wall), it is possible to use polystyrene strips under the seam area to protect the wall when you make your cut. You can do a Search here to learn more about that.)

So a double cut was my best option. I had cut the replacement piece long enough that, after the failed attempt at butting the strips, I still had enough length to do the splice. I pasted the strip, let it book a few minutes to relax, and then unfolded it and ran a strip of blue plastic tape along the top edge. This tape will keep paste off the existing wallpaper. (Remember – grasscloth stains easily, and it’s difficult to wash, so it’s important to keep paste and other substances off of it.)

(The blue tape, and also the polystyrene strips and a lot of other cool tools, are available from fellow paperhanger Steve Boggess in Virginia. http://boggesspaperhangingtools.com/index.php )

Then I put the replacement strip in place, butting it up against the existing strip to the right, and overlapping the strip above it by about 3/4.” I used push pins to keep the strip from sliding. See 4th photo.

Next I took a single-edged razor blade and cut horizontally through both strips. Grasscloth is much thicker and harder than regular wallpaper, so I had to press hard to get through both layers – while still trying to not cut into the wall itself underneath.

Normally I would use a straightedge as a guide, but because the grass reeds are not straight themselves, I chose to free-hand the cut, following the horizontal line of one of the fibers of grass.

Once the cut was made, I removed the sections of paper that had been cut off. On the original piece that was already adhered to the wall, I had to pull off the grass, and then, once again, use my sponge and water to wet the remaining paper backing, reactivate the paste, and then carefully scrape that backing off the wall.

Once all that was done, as you see in the 5th photo, I peeled away the blue tape, and smoothed the two pieces together. They butted together perfectly!

The homeowner is going to paint over the little dabs of nail polish on the baseboard. (I told her I’d read her the riot act if she used remover or solvent and got any on that delicate grasscloth! 🙂 )

Worrisome Stains on Wall

April 13, 2021
Drip stains on wall to left of countertop, from splashes and from spray cleaners.
Stain drips show up under my primer.
Dot-shaped stains show up under my wallpaper primer.
These stains were not visible until my primer went onto the wall.
My favorite stain blocker.

Some stains, like the top photo, I saw immediately. Others, like the next three photos, didn’t show up until I had applied my wallpaper primer. The primer adheres to the wall paint differently from how it adheres to the splashed substances.

I’m always worried when I see stains on a wall, because certain substances will bleed through wallpaper (and paint, too). Things like tar, tobacco, water, oil, ink, wax (crayon, candles), smoke, rust, food splatters.

In this bathroom, the splatters and runs are probably from toiletries and cleaning agents. But still, I worry that they may work their way through the new paper. It may not happen immediately, but eventually you may see marks, or maybe just ghostly shadows.

There are water-based stain blockers, but I prefer the old-fashioned shellac-based (BIN by Zinsser) or, my all-time favorite, oil-based KILZ Original.

Wallpaper won’t stick to modern oil-based products. So I had to apply the KILZ, let it dry, and then roll on my wallpaper primer (I like Romans Pro 977 Ultra Prime) and let that dry, before the paper could go up.

Now no worries about mysterious shapes and shadows showing up under the new wallpaper.

Bright and Warm at the Same Time

April 12, 2021
Before
Finished
Close-up

Cheery but not overwhelmingly bright, this “Parada” wallpaper pattern lightens this breakfast room while still keeping the feel warm and inviting.

I think the motifs look like those gummy “orange slices” candy with the sugar crystal sprinkles. 🙂

The manufacturer is Thibaut. While I usually love their products, this one was difficult to work with. It is a screen print, and is printed on a thick, stiff backing that sucked up all the paste before I could get strips to the wall. I experimented with several pasting techniques, and found that lightly sponging the back with water before pasting, and then booking the paper (folding pasted side to pasted side) and then placing in a plastic trash bag for few minutes, helped to both soften the material and prevent the paste from drying out.

I also rolled on a light coat of paste under where the seams would fall. This held the seams tighter to the wall. The material was still stiff and somewhat difficult to work into corners or trim around the detailed moldings.

The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.