Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dark, Sparkly, Faux Cork in Spring Branch Powder Room

April 1, 2020


No good pictures of this, folks – you had to see it in person to get the full effect.

But the textured vinyl wallpaper had the appearance of a charcoal-colored cork material – with a few silvery sparkles tossed in here and there.

The homeowner wanted a snug, dark powder room. But not cave-like. This paper did the trick beautifully. It is dark, but with the large mirror and the light grey vanity and cararra marble countertop, there were plenty of light colored accents to offset the dark.

This was a new, open floor plan, contemporary styled home in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. The vinyl material will be resistant to water and stains. The non-woven substrate had a lot of fiberglass content – I could see the strands! – so it will be easy to strip off the wall when it’s time to redecorate. In addition, the material does not expand when wet with paste, needs no booking time, and can be hung with the paste-the-wall method. I preferred to paste the paper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Wallpaper Seams Split – White Showing At Seams

March 31, 2020


I hung this Bradbury & Bradbury digitally-printed wallpaper from their new ’20’s Vintage collection yesterday. When I left, the seams were perfect, and the job looked super.

Yet overnight, the paper dried and shrank, and that left some gaps at the seams. In the top photo, you can see the white primer peeking out from underneath. (Note: I have not had any opened seams when I hung their more traditionally-printed papers, including a dark brown paper in my own master bathroom.)

If the paper is allowing of it, it is possible to use craft paint or chalk pastels to color in the open space between the edges of the two strips of paper.

You have to test before moving forward, because some papers have a porous surface that might absorb the colorant and leave a mar or smudge on the surface. Usually, chalk is the safest way to go.

Deceiving Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

March 30, 2020


Better Homes & Gardens is good about featuring wallpaper in its stories. I’m tickled to see the bedroom dressed in toile, in the photo on the left side of this page.

The paper in the middle, though, the so-called “removable” paper (by Chasing Paper), is an unfortunate choice, IMO. This is one of the new-fangled “peel-and-stick” papers that manufacturers have written a lot of glowing things about – most of which fall short of promises.

The paper is not ‘easy’ to install. It’s so difficult that I and most of my colleagues won’t work with it.

The paper is not ‘easy’ to remove. And it will take much of your wall paint along with it, requiring repairs to get the wall smooth and intact again.

Step 1 – Checking Run Numbers

March 28, 2020


Before you start any wallpaper project, it is important to check the Run Numbers (Batch Numbers / Dye Lot).

This means that all the bolts / rolls have been printed at the same time, and are of the same shade.

Bolts printed at different times (different Run Numbers) will be of a very slightly different shade.

They canNOT be placed next to each other on the same wall, because you will notice a subtle-but-disagreeable difference in color between the strips of paper.

So make sure that all your bolts of paper are from the same Run Number.

Note that many on-line vendors are clueless about run numbers, so this is an important thing to check, if you buy low-priced papers on-line.

Tall Walls and Awkward Spaces

March 28, 2020


This home office in a new, contemporary home in the Sunset Terrace / West University neighborhood of Houston has walls that were nearly 11′ high. In addition, there were bookcases and desks that I had to lean over in order to reach much of the wallspace.

My solution was to bring my 6′ ladder in addition to my usual 5′ ladder. By placing the shorter ladder on top of the desk counter, I was able get close enough and high enough to do the wall behind the desk.

I’m not quite 100lbs, so my weight and its distribution on the counter was not a worry.

To reach the area over the bookcases to the left, I had to do a combination of balancing on the 5′ ladder, and stepping onto the very top of the 6′ ladder, then leaning precariously, and placing a foot onto the shelves – without putting too much weight, because they were not securely attached.

You can be sure that I had to keep mindful of my center of gravity, how close the ladder was to the edge of that counter, how far I had to reach, how much backward torque that placed on the ladder, how stable the ladder was on its surface, and a whole lot more – all while also concentrating on getting the paper straight, trimmed, and smooth on the wall.

Navy & White Schumacher – Finishing Touch to a Harvey Flooded Home

March 27, 2020


Still not completely finished fixing major damage caused by the devastating flood of 2017, this young couple in the Pearland area of Houston has done virtually all the repairs themselves – and done a mighty fine job of it, too…. Way better than most of the work done by “professionals” that I have seen in “Harvey homes.”

With many details still unfinished, the homeowners wanted just one room that would be done. The lady of the house loves this navy and white fauna/botanical print by Schumacher. She envisioned it on just the back wall of the powder room – the room that everyone sees when walking through the first floor.

You get two strips of paper out of one double-roll bolt, and the wall was 2.5″ wider than two strips of paper. Since Schumacher is expensive, the homeowners decided not to buy another bolt of paper to cover those 2.5 inches, but instead to “float” two strips of paper in the middle of the wall, and then use their DIY skills to build a frame around it.

The frame will be painted a very dark blue. I hate to fall back on the overused term “pop,” but that is exactly what the blue frame will do … It will make the wallpaper pop against the white walls, and also stand out from other design features in the home.

Scroll back a few days and you will see my encounters with a very difficult navy and white paper, also by Schumacher. This one was totally different.

The bird design I worked with today was printed with good quality inks on a non-woven substrate. N-W’s have a degree of fiberglass in their content, and thus are “dimensionally stable.” Among other positive features, they do not expand, and thus you have no wrinkling or waffling or puckers.

This paper went up very nicely.

Although, in two of the photos, true to reputation, you can see printing defects. Just par for the course, if you buy a Schumacher product

When the homeowner saw the finished job, she almost broke down into tears – one room finally complete and pretty and all reminders of the flood gone.

It was an honor to help this couple get to this one small milestone.

Precautions During CoronaVirus – Sherwin-Williams

March 26, 2020


These notes were on the window of my local S-W store. They had us sit in our vehicles in the parking lot, phone in our orders, pay via credit card by phone, and then they would bring the merchandise out to us.

Minimum exposure, maximum distance, I applaud their approach to keeping us safe while keeping us working!

Girl’s Nursery – Last Job Before CoronaVirus Shut Down

March 25, 2020


Most work in the Houston area shutters at midnight. I was delighted that I was able to squeeze in this one accent wall, for a baby girl who is to arrive soon.

Top pic shows the room in its original all gray state. The walls were textured, so I troweled on a layer of skim-coat to smooth them. In the second picture you see my three fans (plus the ceiling fan and the home’s A/C system cranking away), working to dry the smoothing compound.

I killed a whole Texas Highways magazine while it was drying. Once dry, I sanded the wall smooth, vacuumed up dust, wiped dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and primed.

This wallpaper was a non-woven material, and could be hung via the paste-the-wall method. I usually prefer to past the paper, for many reasons, but in the case of a simple accent wall like this (and because it was easier than lugging my 7′ long work table and trestles up the curved staircase), pasting the wall was a better option.

Once the strips are cut, I roll them up backwards and secure with an elastic hairband. See photo. This helps get rid of the “memory” of the paper, so it does not want to stay tightly curled up. It also keeps the front of the paper away from the paste on the wall, which helps keep everything clean during installation.

The walls in this room (in the whole house, the husband tells me) are pretty darned off-plumb. I used a few tricks and kept the pattern straight along the ceiling line. But, since I started by hanging my strips true to plumb, by the time the paper reached the corners and the adjoining un-plumb walls, there was no way to avoid the pattern being uneven from ceiling to floor. Kinda hard to see in the photo, but there is about 3/4″ difference in width from top to bottom.

Luckily, once you stand back, that crookedness is not all that noticeable.

Although the paper is mildly pink, the muted color and more sophisticated geometric design don’t scream “baby’s room.” This is a look that will grow with the little girl into her teen years.

This wallpaper pattern is by Engblad & Co., a Scandinavian company, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

The home is in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Weird Cracks

March 24, 2020


I have just finished stripping off wallpaper that I hung 12 years ago. The walls beneath are in perfect condition.

Except that, along just about the full height of just about every seam, I discovered these hairline cracks.

What is very odd is that the cracks have not made the wall unstable, and no material has pulled away from the wall (as often happens when you have layers of incompatible materials that will not adhere to each other – do a Search here on “delaminating”).

I believe that my original prep 12 years ago was to skim-float the walls and sand smooth. Then I wiped off the dust with a damp sponge, then followed with my favorite primer at the time, KILZ Original oil-based primer.

My thought is that the KILZ, or possibly the underlying joint compound, has separated due to tension put on it by the wallpaper seams, possibly shrinking and expanding over the years due to minute fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

Why that happened I don’t know.

This past year, I’ve had opportunity to remove wallpaper from several jobs that I hung as far back as 20+ years ago. All were over the very same original prep conditions. But none showed these little hairline cracks.

I always like to understand why something happens. That way, you have the potential to prevent it from happening in the future.

Not that I’m particularly concerned in this case. The tiny cracks have not created any problems, and the wall is not unstable.

I felt perfectly comfortable hanging the new paper right on these walls – however, I made very sure that no seams of the new paper landed exactly on top of those cracks. That would eliminate the chance of any stress put on the cracks by the new seams potentially causing them to weaken and pull away from the wall.

Flaw of the Day – Smudges on Serena & Lily “Feather”

March 23, 2020


I usually love Serena & Lily papers, but was disappointed today to find an entire double-roll bolt with this printing defect. (enlarge the photo if you need to)

At first, I thought it would look OK on the wall. But different areas of the bolt had more visible smudges, so I had to discard the whole thing.

Luckily, because of the pattern match and the height of the wall, I was able to get an extra strip out of the remaining good bolts, so I had enough to finish the project (barely).