Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Nice Faux Silk

June 19, 2019


Recently, I’ve had a number of young client families interested in silk wallpaper. For their bath or powder rooms.

Silk is beautiful, and certainly creates a calming mood. But it is also highly stainable. Which makes it a bad choice for rooms where it may be splashed with water, sprayed with toiletries, or touched by peanut butter and jelly-stained hands.

There are faux product that make good alternatives, though. The lower-end paper-backed vinyls are not a good option, due to issues with seams (do a Search here).

Today I at Dorota’s store and she showed me this new product, from Thibaut, in their Texture Resource Volume 6 collection. It’s vinyl, so it’s extremely resistant to water and stains, and the backing is a synthetic non-woven material, which will not absorb moisture and curl at the seams like the lower-end vinyls do.

Dorota works in a Benjamin Moore store near the Rice Village. By appointment: (713) 520-6262.

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DDT Wallpaper for Children’s Rooms??

June 18, 2019


Vintage ad.

Fudging The Pattern To Make It Look Like It Matches

June 15, 2019


Top photo – this wallpaper has a subtle stripe pattern formed by vertical blocks of squares. As I mentioned in the previous post (below), I centered the white stripe pattern on each wall. And that meant that as the wallpaper moved its way across the wall and up over the doorways, the squares making up the pattern would be out of sequence as they met in the center over the doors, resulting in a pattern mis-match.

To further complicate things, I felt the room would look better with the white stripe also centered over each doorway and window.

My challenges were to:

~ Keep the squares positioned so the horizontal lines of the pieces over the doors aligned with the horizontal lines on the full-height strips to either side. That was harder than it sounds, because on two of the doorways, the center point where I started was 6′ away from the target I was trying to line up with. In some cases, I trimmed the edge of a doorway header strip every so slightly at a diagonal, so as to move that top line of the square up or down, so it would match up with the target line.

~ Keep the pattern inside the squares looking like they were following the original sequence. In other words, I didn’t want a tan square to land abruptly next to a white square. All those squares had to ease into one another. The pattern was a bit forgiving, because the squares were of varying widths, so the eye wouldn’t notice if some were wider or narrower than originally printed. So I used a straightedge and razor blade to cut some of the header strips apart vertically, eliminating tan or white squares as needed. I could also cut some additional squares and insert them in between strips.

If this were a thin paper-paper, I could have simply trimmed along a vertical line and then overlapped the two pieces. But this non-woven material is thick, and an overlap would show, probably even from 9′ up and over the door moldings. So I used a double-cut (splice) technique.

In the photo, you see the opening I am trying to bridge. In the next photo, I have positioned a piece of paper so that it lines up with the horizontal lines on both the left and right. This piece overlaps an inch or two onto the strip to the right. You can just barely see a bit of the blue plastic tape I am using to keep paste off the piece that it is overlapping.

Now it’s time to make the double-cut. I have placed a strip of polystyrene plastic on the wall under where my splice will take place. This will prevent my razor blade from scoring into the wall surface below. This is important, because an un-intact wall surface may give way when the tension from drying / shrinking wallpaper tugs on it, causing a popped seam.

I found a spot among the vertical lines where I could have the spacing between lines and squares look similar to the natural rhythm of the design. Using a straightedge and new razor blade, I cut vertically through both layers of wallpaper. In the photo, you see the excess paper of the top piece, along with its protective blue plastic, falling away.

Not shown is removal of the excess piece from the strip of paper on the bottom, and also removal of the polystyrene padding strip. The blue tape was also pulled away.

The last shot shows the area over the door after the spliced pieces were smoothed back into place. Perfect!

Nobody would guess that the pattern is a tad out of sequence.

And, yes, all this takes engineering, concentration, and time. There were five sections over the doors and windows, each only 13″ high. I spent more than six hours on just these five sections.

Painter’s Tape Can Pull Off Paint

June 14, 2019


Painter’s tape is definitely useful. But you’ve got to be careful when you remove it. We already know that it can / will pull the inked layer off of wallpaper. (Do a search here.)

But, as this photo shows, it can also pull paint off the wall.

Possibly, if the painter had pulled gently, the tape would not have pulled the paint off the wall.

But it’s also possible that the wall surface beneath the paint was unstable (dusty, or some other factor), and that caused the paint to give way and come apart from the wall.

Getting Smoothing Compound To Dry

June 13, 2019


The walls in this powder room were textured. (see top photo) To ensure that the new wallpaper looks good, and that it has a solid surface to cling to, the walls need to be smoothed. This is called floating, or skim coating, and I do a lot of it here in Houston. To do that, I trowel on a plaster-like substance, let it dry, then sand it, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then prime.

What takes the most time is waiting for the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound, which we also call “mud”) to dry. If the texture is heavy, often it has to dry overnight. The downside of this is that it adds an extra day of labor and expense. But when the texture is lighter, the drying can be speeded along.

In the second photo, you see some of the ways I get mud to dry more quickly. On the counter* you see two box fans, and on the floor is a much stronger fan. On the counter is also a space heater. Hot air in the room absorbs moisture, sucking it out of the wet smoothing compound. I let the room heat up, and then I have to open the door and let the moist air out – over and over again.

The yellow objet on the floor is a heat gun. A heat gun acts like a hair dryer on steroids, and can get small stubborn areas to dry pretty quickly.

A few other things help speed drying … Walls coated with flat paint will dry more quickly than with glossy paint. And having the air conditioning and / or heat cranking away will help, because, while regulating the temperature, these climate-control systems also pull humidity out of the air. I also like to turn the HVAC system’s fan from “Auto” to “On,” so that air is circulating continuously, which also pulls humidity out of the air and helps the walls to dry.

*I normally keep a dropcloth on the vanity counter. But the vibrating fans can cause the dropcloths to slip, and you don’t want anything crashing down on the homeowner’s countertop. I do have lengths of self-grip shelf liner that help keep the fans from moving around too much.

Water and Hands Stain Walls and Wallpaper

June 12, 2019


See the stains from water drips, finger prints, and smudges? They’re faint, but they’re visible.

These photos were taken in a powder room, right next to the light switches – you know, the spot where everyone touches as soon as he enters the room. And the next two photos are from under the hand towel – you know, right where everyone is shaking water off his hands as he reaches for a towel.

This is pretty normal use in a home where you have children. And even minus the kids, water is likely to get splashed on walls around a sink or when reaching for a towel. And hands fumbling for a light switch will leave stains on the walls (even clean hands contain oils that will stain surfaces).

The point is, learn to live gently in your home, especially when you add wallpaper. Wallpaper is not as cleanable as paint, and can be stained by everyday wear and tear.

For this particular home, the designer has ordered grasscloth. Grasscloth and other natural materials are even more easily stained than plain wallpaper. This home has young children, so, once the new grasscloth goes up, you can bet they will be receiving the Wallpaper Lady’s lecture about not splashing or touching the new paper.

Light-Hued Geometric Updates a Hollywood Bath in West U

June 8, 2019



The kids are grown and gone, so it’s time for an update to this bathroom. The original black & white floral wasn’t bad, but perhaps a bit outdated. And most of the seams had succumbed the curling and pouching that happens when you use the lower-end pre-pasted paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers in humid rooms – like two teenaged girls showering. 🙂 Besides all that, Mom wanted a fresh new look for her empty nest.

I stripped the paper and prepped the walls – both of which took a lot more work than expected, and way more detail than you want to read here. The install also took a long time … Let’s just say it was way after dark when I finished and went home.

The room had its share of complicated elements. But also working with a geometric print requires a lot of extra steps, to keep the design elements plumb and aligned with the ceiling and woodwork (which are not necessarily plumb), and to keep the pattern matched up as it turns corners – most of which are wonky.

Also, it took a certain amount of plotting and measuring to have the pattern look uninterrupted as it played out above and then below the chair rail.

This paper is in the SureStrip line by York, and is one of my favorites to work with. It is a thin non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the walls when it’s time to redecorate. It’s pre-pasted, which means that there is a thin layer of dry adhesive on the back, that is activated by water – you can use several methods to do this. SureStrip is always a nice, cooperative paper to hang, and on the wall, it performs well over time.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Lower-End Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

June 7, 2019

People often think that vinyl wallpaper will be good in a bathroom, because water will roll off it. but in reality, very little water gets splashed on the walls – but a lot of moisture can get wicked into the seams.

These photos (you may want to scroll to enlarge them) show how the lower-end, paper-backed, solid-vinyl wallpapers tend to perform poorly in humid rooms like bathrooms. The problem is that moisture gets in between the seams and into the paper backing. That backing absorbs moisture and expands, curling away from the wall. The backing can actually go a step further and delaminate from the top vinyl layer.

This type of paper often performs like this when you’ve got people taking steamy showers, forgetting to turn on the vent fan, forgetting to keep the door open for air circulation, etc. Neither of these situations can be fixed. You will be stuck with these slightly curled seams.

The thing is, there are plenty of nice, paper or non-woven wallpapers out there, that will hold up a lot better in bathrooms.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Metal Light Fixtures

June 7, 2019


This is the same bathroom that showed the curling / delaminating wallpaper seams, probably caused by humidity.

This photo is of the base of an over-the-mirror light fixture. See the little dots? I believe these are specs of rust starting to work their way out through the finish. Most likely also caused by humidity.

Keep heat and A/C systems running, limit steamy showers, keep the exhaust fans on, and keep doors open!

Tammy’s Tot’s Thibaut’s Dots

June 7, 2019


Mamma-to-be (name has been changed slightly, for privacy of my clients) wants a scheme of black and white with pink accents for the nursery. She looked at a LOT of options, and finally settled on this one.

I like it a lot. Unlike most “dot” patterns, these look a bit like little paw prints. They also are a charcoal color rather than stark black, with some touches of brown and tan, plus the background is ever so slightly off-white, which makes the whole look easy on the eye.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, one of my favorite brands, and, as are most of their papers, it was nice to work with. It 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.