Posts Tagged ‘adhering’

Preparing To Work With Black Wallpaper

November 12, 2022
Black wallpaper’s gonna go on this wall . Because wallpaper sometimes shrinks a tad as it dries , and because manufacturers can’t always guarantee a perfectly straight cut edge , it’s possible that some of the wall will peek out from behind the seams .
One way to prevent this is to stripe dark paint on the wall under where the seams will fall. This wallpaper is made of non-woven and won’t expand as it gets wet with paste . Each strip is 27″ wide . This makes it easy to measure and plot where each seam will fall.
The center of the pattern is not placed in the middle of the wallpaper strip, but 10″ in from the left edge . I used that information to calculate where the seams would fall .
The paint I use is just craft paint from Michael’s or Texas Art Supply . I thin it with water (in the orange Gatorade cap) and swipe it on the wall with that scrap of sponge . It’s important not to make the paint too thick , because you want the wallpaper to be adhering to the wallpaper primer , and too heavy a coat of craft paint will prevent that primer from doing its job.
After laying out where each seam will fall, I use this laser level to shoot a vertical red line onto the wall, as a guide for where to swipe on the black paint .
Because this wallpaper is printed on a white substrate, it’s possible that that backing will show at the seams. So I use black chalk – again from the art supply store – to run down the edges of the wallpaper .
There’s been an uptick in interest in dark colors in wallpaper these days.
This wallpaper is by Rifle Paper .

Narrower-ing A Strip For Better Seam Placement

October 11, 2022
Here I am moving from right to left across this wall, fixin’ to put wallpaper over, around, and then under this window .
The distance from the existing strip to the corner is 20.” The width of the wallpaper is 18.” This means that my next wallpaper strip is going to fall 2″ short of reaching that wall to the left. So another strip will be needed to cover that last 2.” That’s two full length, 9′ long strips to cover that small bit of wall space. And there will be a seam down the middle.
I’d like to use less paper and have less waste. And I sure would like to avoid having a seam down the middle. Both because installing it is a PITA and also because it would look better and be more stable without the seam.
If I could just make that next strip over the window narrower, it would pull the full-length strip a bit to the right, eliminating the second strip and the seam.
Each 18″ wide strip has two stripes of flowers running down it. There’s a little gap between these stripes, so it’s possible to split the strip in half vertically between the rows of flowers. Then I’ll have a 9″ wide strip filling the gap over the window, instead of an 18″ wide strip.
So here I’m using a straightedge and razor blade to split the strip. (Normally I do this on my table with my 76″ straightedge , but today I’m working on the floor and with different tools .)
Here is the piece viewed from the front. The pink bit of flower on the right side is going to match up with the corresponding flower on the existing strip over the window . I made sure that the left edge of this 9″ wide strip has no flowers or motifs crossing over the left edge. That way there is no pattern to match across the seam, so I can choose any piece I want for the final strip that will go in between the window and the corner.
Here it is in place. Now I have only 11″ of width to cover with wallpaper , and no seam down the middle .
Same procedure for under the window. Except I’m not trimming this piece to 9.” I’m leaving it about 2″ wider. One reason is because that full-height strip coming down between the window and the corner is likely to twist or stretch a bit, and thus won’t line up absolutely perfectly with the strip under the window. Having this strip under the window be wider will allow the strip coming down the side of the window, when it gets down to under the window, it will overlap the strip under the window by about 2.” So I’m going to double cut / splice these two pieces together.
I’m also not adhering this piece to the wall yet, because I don’t want the paste to start drying, as I will need wet paste and paper that is easy to pull off the wall, in order to do the double cut.
OK, so here we are over the window, getting ready to put in our long 11″ wide strip down alongside the window. Actually, I’m cutting this piece 12″ wide, to allow for trimming along that left edge in the corner. This will also accommodate if the paper twists or shifts over that 9′ drop from ceiling to floor.
I chose a flower to put at the top of the wall that is different from what’s on the existing strip, so there won’t be repetitive motifs. But the right edge of this strip of paper has a design part that is meant to match up with the corresponding flower on the left edge of the previous strip.
But we don’t have that corresponding flower, because I cut that strip down from 18″ wide to 9″ and thus lost the left edge of the paper, along with the corresponding flower.
I don’t want this half-motif to be hanging in the middle of nowhere. Even 9′ up above the window, it might catch your eye.
No problem. I took my straightedge and razor blade and trimmed off 1/2″, which got rid of that design element.
Note that I did this before I trimmed this long strip to 12.” If I had trimmed it off before, then this strip would have ended up 11.5″ wide instead of 12″ and might not have fit the space since wallpaper can twist and shift during that 9′ drop.
Sorry, no photo of that strip butting up to the piece over the window and then dropping down the space between the window and the corner.
So that strip is in place now, and here we are under the window, with that 9″ wide gap to fill.
So I take the strip I had set aside for under the window and position it next to the strip on the right. Remember that I cut this middle strip about 2″ wider, so it overlaps the strip on the left. I need this overlap to do the double cut / splice.
When splicing on the wall, it’s important not to let your blade score into the wall. If the wall surface becomes compromised, the torque created when the paste dries and the wallpaper shrinks a bit can tug at the wall and cause layers of paint or etc. to pull away from the wall, resulting in an open seam.
So I’m padding behind where my cut will be made with this strip of flexible Lexion plastic. It’s thin enough to not make much of a bump under the paper, but thick enough that you can’t cut through it with a razor blade.
If you’re interested in this cool stuff, email me and I’ll hook you up with the guy who sells it. wallpaperlady@att.net
There it is on the wall.
Now I put the two layers of paper over it . Note that this is a paste-the-wall wallcovering, so there is no paste on the strip on the right, so nothing to stain the paper below it. If this were a regular paste-the-paper material, you can use thin plastic strips (like painter’s plastic) to cover up that paste.
Trim guide in place, and I’m getting ready to make the cut with a new single edge razor blade. You have to press hard enough to get through both layers of paper in the first try, but not so hard as to cut into the wall.
I’ve plotted where my splice will go, to not cut through any flower motifs, and to be sure to cut off that little bit of flower you can see shadowing through from the wallpaper piece underneath – just to the left of the large flower.
Once the cut is done, I remove the excess paper on the left.
Then reach underneath and remove the excess paper from the bottom strip.
Another shot of pulling out that excess bottom paper. Next I removed the Lexion strip. I set those in a bucket of water to keep the paste wet until I can wash in the sink.
Bringing the two strips to meet up and then smoothing into place. No paste got on the surface, so no need to wipe the seam.
A double cut / splice makes the absolutely most perfect and invisible seam, because both pieces have been cut together and butt perfectly.
Here it is finished. Technically, due to slicing the strips in half vertically, the floral strip on the far left is about 1/2″ further away from the strip on the right than it “should” be. But – eh – who the heck is going to notice that?!
What’s important is that no flower motifs got cut in half, no identical flowers ended up next to each other, here’s no seam down the middle of that space, and only one 9′ high strip of wallpaper was required (instead of two).
Done. Oh my gosh – now I’ve got to do the same thing on the opposite side of the wall!!
The pattern is called Sweet Pea and is by Serena & Lily .
This went in a nursery in a home in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston .

Wrong Electrical Boxes for These Sconces

August 13, 2022
This is the mounting bracket for a sconce / light fixture . The fixture itself is exactly the same size as the bracket.
So it’s unfortunate that the electrician used an electrical box that is too large . As you can see, the blue box shows on both the left and right sides of the light fixture.
(I will also add that I think this light fixture is narrower than most – I suspect it was made overseas where boxes and codes are different from here.)
In addition, the blue box juts out from the wall and will create a bump under the wallpaper , plus prevent the paper from adhering tightly to the wall . The jaggedly cut drywall will leave impressions under the paper, too.
Here the plastic electrical box is recessed better into the wall. But there are still gaps on the left and right sides of the bracket.
To get the wallpaper around the brackets without gaps showing , I removed the brackets, and then brought the wallpaper in to cover the electrical junction boxes by about 1.” (no photo)
If the electrician needs more space for his wires , he can always trim the wallpaper back a little.
In the instance of the box in the top photo, there will still be wallpaper that can’t sit tight to the drywall , but once the sconce is replaced you really won’t notice.
I also had the option of leaving the mounting brackets in place and then placing the wallpaper over the metal plates. But first of all, I think this is against building Codes. And second, if the sconces are changed out later, or if someone needs to access the electrical connections, removing the mounting plates would most surely tear the wallpaper in the process.
So, best to have the wallpaper behind the plates, rather than pasted on top of them.

Dark and Moody Bedroom Accent Wall

August 4, 2022
The wall has been skim-floated and sanded smooth , primed , and is ready for wallpaper .
The homeowner did a great job coordinating the wall and ceiling paint with the colors in the wallpaper.
This is a room that’s made for sleeping!

At first I thought the pattern scale was too small for the large wall. But once I saw it on the wall, I really like the way it fills the space.
To me, this pattern has a sort of calico look.
Close-up shows the light texture on the paper.
This is a non-woven material, so I’m installing via the paste the wall method . Here I’ve cut and arranged all my strips in the order in which they will be hung . This is a drop match pattern , which some folks think of as A and B strips. Meaning, for instance, an orange flower appears at the top of the wall on Strip A . But the next strip, Strip B, has a yellow flower at the top. When you get to the third strip, we are back to an A and an orange flower. Next comes another B strip – and so on.
I’ve rolled the strips backward , with the top of the strip coming off first. This will prevent the printed face of the wallpaper from bumping into the pasted wall during installation .
Wallpaper often shrinks a tad when the paste dries , and this can result in very minute gaps at the seams . With dark wallpapers , it’s pretty important to take steps to prevent white from showing at these gaps. Here I’ve measured out where each seam will fall, and taken diluted black paint to make a dark stripe under each seam . I don’t make the paint full-strength, because wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to paint. I want the wallpaper adhering to the primer I’ve applied. That’s also the reason why you don’t want to roll paint over the whole wall.
Also, I have only striped some of the seam areas, and will wait until some strips are up on the wall before striping more lines. This is because wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, which can make it difficult to plot the exact width of each strip as you move across the wall.

I use acrylic craft paint from the hobby store, applied with a bit of sponge. I keep a small dish of water to dip the sponge into, which dilutes the paint a bit.
You also see a stick of chalk pastel . See next photo.
Besides the wall peeking out from behind the wallpaper seams , it’s also possible / probable that the white edges of the wallpaper backing / substrate will show at the seams. I take a stick of chalk and run it along the edges, making sure to apply from the backside, to avoid getting chalk onto the surface of the wallpaper.
Be sure to use chalk pastels and not oil pastels – oil will bleed and stain wallpaper. Some installers use liquid paint or markers – again, be sure to use water-based or acrylic , and never oil based or permanent markers .
BN Walls is the brand. Altogether, this was a pretty nice product to work with. It was thin and very soft and flexible (many non-wovens are not).
I wasn’t happy with all the seams, though. I believe the paper was cut with dull or wobbly wheels at the factory, because the edges seemed to not be perfectly straight . So I ended up with gaps and overlaps in some areas. Here you can see the wallpaper edges pouching up a bit due to excess paper.
But, as I mentioned, this material was quite flexible, so it was pretty easy to spread these edges apart an use a tool to push them apart and then down to prevent them from pouching up again. Once the paste started to dry, these areas held nice and tight and flat.
This is a townhome in the Rice Military neighborhood of central Houston .

Smoothing Over A Mess

August 3, 2022
This kind homeowner had the sink / vanity in this powder room removed. This makes it a LOT easier and faster for me to to get the wallpaper up, and with less stress on the paper and fewer relief cuts .
Removing a sink that’s attached to the wall often damages the surface. Here you can see how the workman used spackle compound to cover the torn drywall and other damage.

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Close-up. This isn’t a very smooth surface, and the wallpaper will have a hard time grabbing ahold and adhering. It’s also way too porous and crumbly to support wallpaper.
In the top photo, you see where I have applied smoothing compound on the upper portion of the wall. I’m working my way down.
Once it’s dry, I will sand and prime it, and it will be nice and smooth.
Here’s a shot of the fresh smoothing compound, before sanding.
Some people use a drywall taping knife or a broad knife to apply the plaster-like substance. I prefer the trowel you see in the photo, because it gives me more control and precision.
The 2″ flexible putty knife is for getting into smaller areas. The 3″ stiff ” Hyde ” putty knife is for knocking off high points or bumps on the wall before applying the smoothing compound.
This process is called skim-floating or skim-coating .
I like to use the Plus 3 lightweight joint compound made by Sheetrock . We just refer to it as mud . Find it in the drywall aisle.
The Plus 3 spreads on easily enough, sands easily , and the dust falls to the floor where it can be vacuumed up easily – as opposed to getting air-borne and drifting all over the place.
This box, which is approximately one cubic foot , weights 32 pounds . Ugh. Try carrying that across a parking lot and then up to the third floor of a townhome!
I like to transfer the material to a 5-gallon bucket. This is what it looks like in the bottom of the bucket.
Easy to scoop out. When I’m finished, I use a wet hand to smooth down the surface, wipe residue off the sides of the bucket, then place a thick sheet of plastic over the surface to keep air from drying it out. Then, of course, I put the lid onto the bucket.

Danger Signs of an Unstable Wall Surface

October 13, 2021
These nails were holding picture hooks to the wall. The hooks had an adhesive backing. When they were removed from the wall, chunks of latex paint stuck to them and pulled away from the wall, revealing a crumbly sub-surface. This is bad news for wallpaper that might be hung on top of this.
Other spots. What happens is, this is a 90 year old house. Over the years, many coats of paint and other surface treatments have been applied to the walls of this dining room. These coatings are not necessarily compatible with each other. Plus they may have been applied without the proper surface preparation. Oil based paint, then latex, then someone rolls on a gloss paint, the next guy follows with latex but neglects to de-gloss the previous layer so the new layer doesn’t really stick well.
Somewhere along the line, something got chalky. Here you see I have wiped crumbly chalky substance from inside the wall. This is why the latex paint is not adhering well and pulled away so easily. Nothing sticks to dust or grit or chalk.
Gardz is cool stuff. It’s a penetrating sealer that soaks in and actually binds crumbly materials together, drying into a hard, solid mass. The problem here is, it won’t penetrate the paint that is on top of the unstable layer, so we’re still dealing with a wall that has potential to come apart (delaminate).
Gardz applied. You can see how it has soaked into the porous areas, but is sitting on top of the latex paint.

The problem with an unstable wall and wallpaper, is that, as wallpaper sits on a wall and the paste dries, the paper shrinks just a tad, and this shrinking puts tension / torque on the wall beneath it. Sometimes this is actually powerful enough to pull the layers inside the wall apart, resulting in seams that split open.

These are not “loose seams,” but the paper actually taking layers of paint and dust along with it. Really can’t be repaired.

So best to find a way to prevent it from happening in the first place. More on that later.