Notice Anything? – Wonky Wallpaper

January 9, 2020


When I first looked at this picture in Better Homes & Gardens magazine’s December 2019 issue, I wondered why the installer had not positioned the circle motifs so they landed at the top of the wall.

Then I looked closer, and realized that he probably had – at a starting point in another part of the room. If you look at the crown molding line, you notice that the pattern is moving up the wall from left to right.

Often this is because of unplumb walls and/or unlevel ceiliing lines. But I looked closer and saw that the pattern is also crooked as it runs down the side of the window. Again, this could be because the whole house – walls, ceiling, doors, and windows – has shifted out of plumb (foundation issues – if you live in Houston, you know all about that!).

If the installer hung his paper true to plumb, it will always look crooked in house that is not plumb.

Sometimes, there are tricks you can do to make a pattern look straight, even if the house is wonky. Almost always, they involve pattern mis-matches in corners or at seams.

So it’s a toss-up as to which is the lesser of the two evils – pattern getting chopped off as it travels along the ceiling and moldings, or pattern mis-matches at the seams.

What I probably would have done in this case would be to position a half-circle at the top of the wall. This way, if the pattern starts tracking up or down, you don’t readily notice if the half-circle is a little taller or shorter, as compared to the top of a circle getting sliced off.

Crazy Off-Level Ceiling Line

January 8, 2020


The bubble is supposed to be in the middle of the two black lines. That indicates that the horizontal surface (ceiling, in this photo) you have placed the level against is, indeed, level.

Well, this one ain’t even CLOSE to being level.

That means that it will be impossible to keep a specific wallpaper design motif at the top of the wall all the way around the room. Not a big deal on this particular pattern, because it’s wild enough that no one is going to notice. Whew!

Reattaching Curling Seams on Vinyl

January 7, 2020


I hung this Bankun Raffia woven fabric-backed wallpaper a few years ago. Some of the edges along the tile and over the shower and below the window had begun to curl. This is mainly due to

` Not wanting to adhere to the porous tile grout
` Humidity from the shower
` Moisture inside the wall, or coming through the window frame

The few areas that had an inch of paper that was loose called for wallpaper paste. But for the very edges, my “secrete weapon” of clear silicone caulk was the solution. Caulk is tacky and grabs more quickly than wallpaper paste. And it will hold tighter against the aggressive curl of the vinyl.

That aggressive curl is a bit of a beast. But I have another “secrete weapon” that is up to taming the beast – a heat gun.

Be careful using it, and practice first, so as not to damage the vinyl. But judiciously applied heat will relax the vinyl just enough that it will release its curl and lie back neatly into it’s original position against the wall.

In the picture, the putty knife is for pulling the loose edges away from the wall so I can get paste and caulk behind the paper. The white smoother is for pushing the paper against the wall. The putty knife was also a good option here, because it withstood the heat of the heat gun better than the plastic smoother.

Saving Paper for Tenuous Seam in Previous Post

January 5, 2020


Re my previous post about needing a scrap of paper to fit the 3″ wide gap between the full-height wallpaper (not pictured) and the door frame to the right …

The wallpaper I was working with is 27″ wide. The distance between the
left edge of the strip over the door and the corner to its left was 21″. Because the seam fell within this 21″ wide area, normally it would require the use of two full-height strips of wallpaper. The strip hanging against the door on the right would mostly be wasted, with only a 3″ strip along the side of the door being needed.

I wanted to save paper.

Since the wallpaper was wider than the area that needed to be covered, I plotted that I could cut off the left side of the full-height strip at the point where it hit the corner over the door on the left. This gave me a full-height strip that was about 6″ wide. Perfect for filling in the 3″ gap between the full-height strip and the door frame to its right!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If you are following all this, you grasp that now I have a pattern over the left door corner that was cut off at 21″ width. I need to place a piece over that door and continue the pattern – but I just used up the 6″ wide piece with the matching / continuing pattern.

Never fear…. I have clients order enough paper that I can plan to use a fresh piece when I turn corners like this. A new piece allows me to trim the paper vertically at a point where it matches the pattern precisely. If I had had to use that 6″ wide strip that was cut off (above), then when it was overlapped onto the 1/4″ of paper that wrapped around the corner (not shown), some of the pattern would have been lost.

My method is much more pleasing to the eye.

Tenuous Place for a Wallpaper Seam

January 5, 2020


Sometimes, you can’t plot ahead for where a seam is going to fall.

These rounded corners are not a good place for wallpaper seams, because they are hard for the paper to grip ahold of, and because they are never perfectly straight, so you end up with gaps and overlaps at the seams, as well as warped edges on the strip coming out of the seam, and other reasons, as well.

So, instead of trying to keep a strip straight along the full 6′ long rounded corner, including a wobbly 3″ wide portion along the side of the door frame, I cut the strip only to the height of the door, and made sure that it ended on the left side of the door along a design element (the orange vine trunk).

Then, when I hung the strip to the left (not shown), it was easy to butt it up against the 3′ long strip over the door. Then I let the right edge of this new strip fall as it wanted to, along the rounded edge of the wall.

Then it was simply a matter of taking a narrow strip of paper from the scrap pile and fitting it in (not shown). Because this strip was narrow, it was easy to twist and bend it as needed, to butt up with the right edge of the preceding piece.

Fun, Adventurous, Wild Color in a Rear Bathroom

January 4, 2020


Here is a larger-than-usual rear / pool bathroom that went from typical suburban hum-drum to wildly fun and colorful, all due to the addition of a little wallpaper.

Located in the Humble / northeast area of Houston, this house is home to a family with young children. The homeowner’s taste in the formal “public” areas of the home leans toward the classic, rather than trendy. Click here to see a room I did a year ago. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2018/09/08/brunschwig-fils-bird-and-thistle-in-a-north-east-houston-powder-room/

But for this bathroom, which is located off the family’s greatroom, and is adjacent to both the swimming pool and the wife’s work-out room, the homeowner wanted something fun and bright and spirited.

This wallpaper pattern is called Janta Bazaar, by Thibaut Designs. The inks on this paper are delicate, and can be stained easily. So it’s fortuitous that the homeowner had beaded board paneling installed, that reaches up to nearly 6′ – way past any splashes from the sink or toilet.

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.

Really High Walls

January 3, 2020


The walls in this bathroom are over 12′ high. I could not reach the ceiling – especially where I had to lean over the vanity and the linen cabinet – with my 5′ or 6′ ladders. So I had to bring in my 8′ ladder.

Even with the super-high ladder, it is still tricky and potentially dangerous to hang wallpaper here – especially reaching to the corners over the vanity and cabinet.

In addition, the bottom feet spread almost 5′ x 3′, which makes it difficult to maneuver in a small room like a bathroom. Not to mention that it’s heavy.

So while working so high up and on a tenuous structure, it’s crucial to pay attention to your reach, weight, weight distribution, torque / backward tension, pressure you’re putting on the wall while hanging the wallpaper, etc., as well as to have a very quiet and interruption-free setting, where you can concentrate on getting the wallpaper up and staying safe.

Unpainted Baseboards – Not Ready for Wallpaper

January 2, 2020


This room is supposedly ‘ready for wallpaper.’ Yet the baseboards have not been painted.

If the painters come to paint the baseboards, I already anticipate what will happen.

I have skim-floated the walls, and will sand them when I come to finish the job later. So some of my smoothing compound has slopped onto the baseboard. No big deal. When I put up the paper and trim at the bottom I will need to wipe paste off the woodwork – and at that time, I will wipe off any residual smoothing compound.

But if the painters come and slap paint on now, I know they will not inspect the baseboards before they paint, and will put their paint right on top of the globs of smoothing compound. Thereverafter, there will be small but unsightly blobs and bumps embedded in the paint.

They will also let their brush run beyond the molding, and onto my smoothing compound. This will make it impossible for me to sand the compound. It will also create a glossy surface that the wallpaper paste will not stick to.

If they use painter’s tape to ‘protect’ the wallpaper, when they remove the tape, they will either take the inked layer along with it, or they will pull the paper itself completely away from the wall.

Again I rant: Have ALL the other work done before the wallpaper goes up.

Questionable Electrical Connection

December 30, 2019


Usually, according to code, a metal electrical junction box should be in or on the wall before a light fixture can go up. All wire connections should be enclosed inside this box.

In the photo, some light sconces were added to an existing wall. Maybe because of stud placement inside the wall, or maybe laziness, or maybe ingenuity, the electrician fished a wire through the wall and out a hole, and then hooked up the sconces. All without benefit of a junction box.

I do believe this is perfectly safe. The wire connections are all tight and secured with wire nuts, and enclosed inside the housing of the light sconce.

However, while I don’t know electrical codes, I doubt that this is up to code. From what I understand, most such connections should be made inside a metal junction box.

I do have to say, I have seen this sort of thing many times – including in cities like Bellaire, Texas (Houston), where the building code inspectors are really tough.

Hiding an Unused Opening in the Wall

December 29, 2019


Beneath this light switch is an equal-sized hole cut in the wall, with cable wires running behind it, intended probably for a sound or alarm system. The homeowners were not using it, and it had a blank wall plate over it.

Instead of having a white plate of plastic that was not serving any purpose visually clog up the wall, I removed the plate and just let the wallpaper cover the opening.

Right now, you can see a little warped area where the paper is spanning the void. But as the paper dries, it should pull taught and disguise the opening nicely. The mottley color of the wallpaper will further help to obscure the area.