Farrow & Ball Difficult Paper – Taming the Beast

September 13, 2020


Farrow & Ball is not among my favorite wallpaper manufacturers. For starters, they coat their wallpaper with their paint, instead of ink like every other manufacturer in the world uses.

Paint is not a good substitute for ink. It flakes, it doesn’t apply evenly so if you are standing at the right angle, you can see unevenness in the ground (background color). Plus, it burnishes with even the lightest brush stroke across it. Do a Search here to read my previous posts about this.

Look at the first photo, and you will see what we call gaps and overlaps. This happens when the trimmer blades at the factory are wobbly and / or dull, resulting in edges that are not cut straight. Thus, when two strips are butted together, you end up with some areas gapping and some areas overlapping.

Also, the seams like to give argument to staying down tight against the wall. Again, so a Search for previous posts about this.

This “Lotus” install was a little less problematic than my experiences with other patterns. The gaps and overlaps due to poor factory cutting were still present.

But the burnishing was less of an issue, because this pattern has so much printed area that there was not a lot of ground exposed to my smoothing brush.

I also found a way to get the seams to lie down better. For starters, I used a bit more paste (their special brand of powdered cellulose paste), than usual, and that wetted the paper out better, which made it want to hug the wall better.

Next, I found that if, before hanging each strip, I rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall under where the seams would fall, the edges of each strip would grab the wall and lie down more tightly and uniformly.

In the second photo, you can see my laser level marking the vertical line where I will run my roller of paste.

Most British manufacturers are printing on the newish non-woven substrates, which offer many positive features. Farrow & Ball, however, continues to use the traditional British pulp. When coated with their paint (instead of ink), this stuff tends to be pretty thick and stiff. The thickness adds a bit to the visible seams as seen in the top photo.

Also, once the paper becomes wet with the company’s cellulose paste, it becomes quite flexible and delicate. Meaning that it can be difficult to cut, as it often drags along even a brand new razor blade, leaving jagged edges. It tears easily. And, while unbooking, it sure felt like some of the strips were so weak that they wanted to break in two.

All in all, this install went well. But I sure would prefer if F&B would get with the rest of the wallpaper world and print on a better substrate, as well as ditch the paint in favor of good, reliable ink. And outfit their factory with some straight and sharp trimming blades.

Farrow & Ball Lotus in River Oaks Master Bedroom

September 12, 2020


“Lotus” is a very old and very popular pattern by the British paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball.

It comes in several colors, but for all four walls in a large bedroom in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, the homeowner wisely chose this muted light tan-on-white.

It coordinates beautifully with the newly lightened and refinished floors, and the woodwork.

The material has an interesting gesso-like texture, which you can see in the last photo. It kind of makes the walls look like an artist’s painting.

First Wall of Farrow & Ball “Lotus” – Five Hours

September 11, 2020


Re previous recent posts, here is the first wall of this large master bedroom, hung with Farrow & Ball’s historic and popular “Lotus” pattern.

I hate to confide this, but, honestly, between setting up my equipment, cutting the strips, and hanging the six long and five shorter strips, this one wall took FIVE HOURS.

It’s one of those things that is easy to look at, but difficult to accomplish.

Hurdles were:
~ centering the pattern over and around the door
~ starting with a short strip over the door and getting it perfectly centered, as well as keeping both outer edges perfectly plumb
~ working with walls, door frame, and crown molding that were not plumb or level

It doesn’t sound all that hard. But for me, it took a lot of time.

I’m glad that I invested the time, though, because the perfectly balanced pattern falling down both sides of the door is the first thing you see when you enter this room.

Farrow & Ball “Lotus” Wallpaper

September 11, 2020


Getting ready to hang some Farrow & Ball brand “Lotus” pattern wallpaper.

This company is a class outfit (albeit not great quality, IMO, for many reasons).

Look at how slickly they’ve wrapped each bolt of paper, as well as protected the ends from being banged up during shipping. And then placed the whole kit and kaboodle in snazzy custom-fit cardboard boxes.

They provide you with instructions, along with different scale pictures of the design.

Printing Defect

September 10, 2020

Normally, a smudge of ink this small, I would let it pass.

But this one fell on the wall at exactly eye level.

We had enough paper, so I yanked this strip off the wall and replaced it.

You’ve Gotta Get Dust Off The Walls

September 9, 2020


If you look closely at the right side of the corner, you will notice dust on the textured wall.

Before anything can go on the wall – primer, wallpaper, smoothing compound – all the dust needs to be removed.

This is because nothing sticks to dust. Any sort of stress on the wall, such as new wallpaper drying and shrinking and putting torque / tension on the walls, or wallpaper expanding and contracting with temperature and humidity changes, can cause the material to let go from the wall, most usually at the seams.

My example is that it’s like when you flour a cake pan – the paper will kinda stick, but it won’t really stick.

So before I started to apply my smoothing compound to the walls, I went around the entire master bedroom with a damp sponge and wiped the dust off. A little dust fills up a sponge quickly, so I had to keep rinsing it clean frequently.

Serena & Lily’s “Fallbrook Cut Leaf” Wallpaper in West Houston Powder Room

September 8, 2020


Sego palm fronds is what this pattern reminds me of. Serena & Lily call it “Fallbrook” or “Cut Leaf,” depending on where you’re looking. No mind – it’s a fresh, crisp look with a lot of movement and fun.

I hung this in the powder room near the rear entrance and breakfast area of the home of a young family in the Energy Corridor area of west Houston.

Usually Serena & Lily prints on paper, and I am a great fan of that product. But this is the first time I’ve encountered a non-woven material from that company. I can’t say that I loved this stuff. It was quite stiff, and very translucent.

Lots of manufacturers are starting to print on non-woven. There are many benefits of that material – but it has to be a good non-woven. If S&L is moving in this direction, I hope they will do some research and networking and come up with a better substrate to print on.

Serena & Lily Wallpaper Too Translucent

September 8, 2020


I guess that Serena & Lily is starting to print on non-woven substrates. I am not a fan (see yesterday’s post).

Besides being very stiff and uncooperative, this material is very translucent. As you see in the photo, the leaves of the second layer of wallpaper are clearly visible through the top layer.

This means that it’s likely that color imperfections on the wall will show through. New Sheetrock, for example, with its grey drywall interspersed with bands of white joint compound. Or hanging this product on a dark painted wall will result in a “dirty” cast underneath the paper, and will not yield the bright, crisp white look that S&L is known for.

As a primer, I like Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, which is a white-pigmented primer, and an ideal choice under thin, see-through material like this. But it is not a heavily-pigmented primer, so there is still the worry that the finished walls will not look as bright as they should.

I do hope that S&L will improve this product. There are tons of nice non-wovens available, so let’s hope they do some research and come up with a better substrate.

Shades of Blue and Aqua Brighten Northwest Houston Powder Room

September 6, 2020


What a bright, cheery look this light-hearted floral pattern brought to this powder room in a new home in the Cypress (Bridgland) area of Houston!

Look at how great it looks with the blue glass vessel sink!

The wallpaper is by Brewster, and is a very flexible non-woven material with what feels like a vinyl surface. It was pre-pasted, which I had not seen before in a non-woven (other than SureStrip, which is a completely different product).

I thought the material was too “fluid” to run through a water tray, plus I wanted to avoid over-saturating the backing. So I pasted the back instead. This turned out to be a good path, because it went up beautifully, and the seams were virtually invisible.

Serena & Lily “Pineapple” in West Houston Breakfast Room

September 4, 2020


Serena & Lily’s wallpaper designs are bright and cheery – just the thing to wake up the breakfast nook for this family with young toddlers in the Energy Corridor area of Houston.

S&L’s papers are nice to work with – among my favorites. You order directly from them, on-line.