Posts Tagged ‘adhesive’

Updating – Busy to Calm and Quiet

February 7, 2019


The original viny pattern was hung by me 20+ years ago, in the dining room of a home in West U (Houston). (Still in absolutely perfect shape, I might add. 🙂 ) This was a very popular look back then – but the homeowners (who are now empty-nesters) were ready for an update.

They chose this tone-on-tone pattern in a fluid, uplifting design. It reminds me of a movie theater marquee back in the 1930’s Art Deco era.

This wallpaper has a slightly textured surface. It is made by York, and is in their Sure Strip line. It is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the wall, when it’s time to redecorate.

This product is pre-pasted, which means it has adhesive on the back that is activated by water. Since the paper has a textured surface, I didn’t want to run the paper through a water tray, so instead I sprinkled water on the back and then used my paint roller to spread the water to all areas of the back of the paper. I added a bit of clear wallpaper paste, to augment what was already on the back.

Booked and allowed to sit for 3-5 minutes in a plastic bag to prevent drying out, and it went up beautifully. Sure Strip is one of my favorite papers, both to work with and for longevity on your wall.

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Mysterious Spot on Wallpaper – Air Borne Substances

January 3, 2019


If you look closely, you will see tiny tan dots all over this wallpaper. This is a paper wallpaper with a very light acrylic coating, that was installed maybe 30 years ago. The installer did a very good job – although he did not remove the previous layers (2!) of wallpaper backings, and did not use a primer.

I see spots like this almost exclusively in bathrooms – where you have enclosed spaces, toiletries, and humidity.

Since these dots are most prevalent around the upper areas of the room, I think they are stains from air-borne substances. However, an alternate theory is that they could be stains leaching through from the tan backing paper that was left on the wall, or possibly from the clay-based paste that was used for the installation.

Epounding:

My theory of air-borne substances is that if you spray something into the air, such as hair spray, air freshener, deodorant, or even onto a surface, such as glass cleaner, some of the substance becomes air-borne, hangs in the air, and eventually will come to rest on the walls. This results in perfectly round little specks on the walls. (See the Page to the right, “Care and Feeding of Your New Wallpaper.”

The stains could even be coming from cooking oils that splattered into the air, got sucked through the A/C ducts, and expelled into the bathroom.

Since this paper has just a light acrylic coating and no durable protective vinyl coating, most any substance floating around in the air would be able to land on the paper and penetrate into it, leaving these spots.

Don’t get me wrong – I MUCH prefer these thin acrylic-coated papers over thick vinyls and non-wovens. You just need to take appropriate steps to protect them.

Moving on…

Another possibility is because the installer didn’t remove the previous layer(s) of manila-type paper backing left from the original wallpaper installation(s), nor did he use a primer or sealer, it’s possible that chemicals from the old tan paper backing are leaching through onto the new wallpaper.

This is why art framers recommend acid-free mats and framing techniques. The same are available for wallpaper installations – but we’re getting into some pretty high-end topics now…

Getting back to our bathroom in Tanglewood (Houston).

Another very possible cause is the clay-based paste that was used to hang the wallpaper. I have seen many, many times, a “dirty,” tan discoloration coming through from underneath the paper, which I firmly believe is coming from the tan-colored clay-based paste that many installers like to use. I have many instances validating this theory.

The only discrepancy is that stains from the paste working their way through the wallpaper would not manifest as tiny, perfectly round specks, but as more generalized, mottled areas. Unless, the composition of the wallpaper included teensy dots in the paper fibers, intended to allow for porousity. Or humidity in the room forms miniscule droplets which land on the wall and then wick the tan paste up through the wallpaper. Which sounds reasonable to me. In fact, I like this theory a lot. And I really DISlike clay-based paste.

A final idea is that the wallpaper is just old. After 30 years on the wall, materials are bound to break down, humidity will take a toll, and it will be time for a change to a fresh new look.

Bottom line: Remove old wallpaper, properly seal and prime the walls, avoid clay-based pastes and instead use a clear wallpaper adhesive.

Check back tomorrow for more!

Disguising an Exhaust Fan Cover

November 26, 2018


I don’t like covering switch plates or outlet covers with wallpaper, nor things like air conditioner grills. They get dirty when hands touch them, no adhesive wants to stick to them, they just look better the way God created them. So don’t tell anyone that I did this….

This exhaust fan was oddly stuck smack in the line of sight, in the wall next to the toilet. (Most are mounted inconspicuously in the ceiling.) It just kept bugging me. Since the family was out of town and I had plenty of peace and quiet and time, I decided to give ‘er a go … I plopped down on the floor and spent a good 45 minutes with a handful of new razor blades and cut out all these tiny vent slits.

It looks good.

I hope it holds up. Wallpaper adhesive is not formulated to stick to plastic. But it’s all I had with me. I did use sandpaper to scuff up the surface of the plastic vent cover, and also used a bit of adhesive caulk – one of my secrete weapons – in a few areas that were reachable (couldn’t get down into the recessed areas). So hopefully there will be some chance for the paste to grab ahold.

The end result was worth the effort. Now you barely notice the exhaust fan.

Need a Little Reading Material in the Bathroom? ??

November 2, 2018


What fun wallpaper! This is very similar to grasscloth. But, instead of using natural grasses and reeds, this material is made of strips cut from magazine pages, rolled and folded into long narrow strips, and then sewed onto a paper backing. In some of the columns, you can actually read the words!

There is a similar product made from old newspapers – appropriately named “Yesterday’s News.”

I hung this in a powder room in a new, contemporary home in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner, Cristin Wells, is an interior designer http://www.wellsdesignedhome.com/ who recently moved here from Chicago (not far from my hometown of St. Louis!), and brings her sophisticated playfulness here to the Bayou City.

This product is similar to grasscloth in that the seams are very visible. So I engineered the room to have seams fall evenly spaced on each wall, which we call balancing, and which gives a pleasing effect.

In addition, the material can be shaded, or paneled, which means there can be a noticeable color difference between strips, even if they come off the same bolt. In the third photo, you see how I have rolled the paper out on the floor, to check for shading / paneling, so the homeowner will be aware of this issue, and so I can plot how and where to use the various strips.

Indeed, before consulting with me, the homeowner initially purchased two bolts of paper; when I measured the space I told her that she needed five more. The additional bolts arrived in a different run. Run and batch and dye lot numbers are important – all bolts from the same run or batch were printed at the same time with the same batch of ink, and will generally be pretty much the same shade. Papers from a different run will be a slightly different shade, and will be very noticeable if placed next to one another on the same wall. This is true even with this recycled magazine page material – see the third photo – although instead of printing with ink, the ladies who manufacture this stuff (usually in China or somewhere in Asia) are grabbing handfuls of magazine pages. As you can see, color variations are still quite possible / probable.

In addition to the 10′ high ceilings, the room had a few features that made the install tricky. One was a deeper than usual vanity, which was difficult and somewhat dangerous to reach over to access the wall. This was also a “floating” vanity, which hung suspended on the wall with a short space underneath it that wanted to be covered with wallpaper. Contorting myself under a 30″ deep vanity into a 5″ high space to stick a couple of strips of paper to a rear wall that no one would ever see questioned my sense of reason – but I could not imagine leaving the wall unpapered, so I “got ‘er done!” Sorry, no photo.

Being a contemporary styled home, the window was recessed with a 1/2″ return,. This meant that I had to bring the paper to the edge of the window, and then wrap a mere 1/2″ around an outside corner. The paper was thick and didn’t want to make this turn, and, when it did, it didn’t want to stay stuck – it kept trying to lift up. Wetting the paper helped soften it so it was more agreeable to making these turns, and in some areas I also used a razor blade to make light horizontal slits in the material, right on the edge of the corner, to reduce tension and allow it to turn more easily. Sorry, no photo.

Speaking of making cuts … This stuff was thick and hard to cut, so it took a lot of pressure and several swipes to make many of the cuts, even with a brand new razor blade. When I trimmed the material horizontally at the ceiling and floor, the strings that held the folded magazine pages to the backing were cut also, and they came loose. That meant that there was nothing holding the folded magazine pages to the paper.

It turns out that each of those horizontal strips of folded magazine pages contained about 6 layers of paper, each folded accordion-style. Threads were sewn on to hold them to the backing. But once the threads were cut, the accordion-folded papers unfurled, spread apart, and pushed away from the backing. So when you looked at the ceiling or floor lines, you saw a puffy ridge running the width of the strip.

What I ended up doing was to go up to the ceiling and then down to the floor edges, gently pry apart the fanned layers, and use wallpaper paste to adhere them to one another. I had to get sufficient paste behind each of the six layers, for the entire 3′ width of each strip, press them back together, hold them until the adhesive tacked up – all without getting any paste on the paper or on the ceiling.

All of the above added a lot of time to this job, and I didn’t leave until 9:30 p.m. But the room looked great when I was finished. From its initial uninspired dull grey paint job to the colorful and quite unexpected recycled magazine pages covering the walls, this powder room has experienced a major transformation.

The wallpaper is by Seabrook, which has been purchased by York. Both are wonderful brands.

Updating a ’60’s Dining Room – But Staying True to Mid Century Modern

November 1, 2018

I love all things vintage, and have a keen fondness for old wallpaper in particular. So it really hurt to strip off this beautiful (albeit kitschy) mural – the original installed on one wall of a dining room in this 1960 home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston.

The new homeowners, a young couple, had a more modern vision for the look of their home. This very whimsical “Franz” design feels both modern and mid-century at the same time. And, it perfectly mirrors the thin linear gold lines of the chandelier.

The wallpaper is by a company I had not heard of before – Half Full. It is based in California, and their products are reasonably priced. Unlike many “boutique” manufactures, the company was able to provide sensible product information over the phone, and I was pleased with the quality of their wallpaper.

The surface was printed with a clay-coated ink, and the substrate felt like a pulp material. Installation instructions called for a typical vinyl adhesive, and standard booking times. The material – particularly the edges – did tend to dry out a little too quickly, but a little additional pasting helped with that. There was no detectable shrinkage. I do wish they had printed this black design on a dark substrate, because, even though I used chalk to color the edges of the paper, the white paper backing did show through at the seams just a smidgeon.

From Humid Houston to the Sunny Shores of the Mediterranean

August 22, 2018


If you’re stuck in the city but long for the warm shores of an exotic land, what do you do? How about using a scenic wallpaper mural to fool the eye into believing you’re in Paradise?

I hung this on a wall in a garage in inside-the-Loop Houston near Montrose and downtown. It will be surrounded by automobiles, bicycles, lawn equipment, and all manner of “garage stuff” – but, boy – what a view! The homeowners plan to have a big party later this year, and will use the decorated garage as an extended dining area.

This is the typical, old-school, 8-panel photo mural that has been popular for decades. After the “palm trees swaying over a tropical white sand beach” scene, Mediterranean themes like this are the most popular. But these days, you can get just about anything, even custom made from your own photos, and sized to fit your wall.

Most of these murals are 12′ wide by 9′ high, but this one was 13′ 8″ wide by 8′ 3″ high. It was smaller than the wall all-around, so I placed it more or less in the center, and also balanced on the stairs to the left (not pictured).

The mural comes in eight panels, and is hung with four panels across the top, and four across the bottom. Unlike regular wallpaper, where the seams are butted, these seams are overlapped by about 1/4″. The top photo shows just four of the panels (two top and two bottom), rolled up and laid out on the floor. It’s essential to plot and double-check like this, before you grab pieces and paste them and go to stick them to the wall.

These murals are printed on a somewhat flimsy, plain paper type material. They come with special powdered cellulose paste. I’ve always used the provided paste with these murals. But since this was going in a garage and would be exposed to heat and humidity, I wanted something a bit stronger. The instructions mentioned that, alternately, a traditional pre-mixed wallpaper adhesive could be used. So I used my go-to, Sure Stick Dynamite 780 paste.

The 780 is not as liquid as the cellulose, so it wetted-out the material differently from what I was accustomed to. It is also more aggressive, so it was a bit harder to unfold the booked sheets; too much tugging could cause the delicate paper to tear.

The cellulose paste always causes bubbling. (These disappear as the mural dries. But, still, they are unsettling.) I was happy that the pre-mixed paste did not produce any bubbles, and also allowed the paper to be more stable, with fewer wrinkles and waves. The paper did expand once it got wet with the paste, as much as a full inch per panel, so even with the 1/4″ overlap at seams, it ended up being nearly 14′ wide.

This is a paper mural, and not very durable. The homeowners plan to use a sealant, or perhaps will cover it with huge sheets of Plexiglas, to protect it. How it holds up in the humidity and heat of Houston remains to be seen. They had a similar mural (different scene) up for close to 10 years. I didn’t hang it originally, but I did some touch up and repaste a few years ago. Eventually, though, it succumbed to the elements and had to be removed. This time around, I’m hoping that my use of a wallpaper primer, along with a stronger paste, will help keep the mural nice and tight to the wall for many years to come.

Covering an Air Vent

July 13, 2018

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I really don’t want to make this post, because I don’t want people thinking that I can / will cover air vents. Because I don’t like doing them. But sometimes the homeowner wants it, and sometimes it really is the best look for the room.

For one thing, they are simply difficult to do – cutting around tiny spaces and narrow louvers set at weird angles.

But other factors come into play, too – Finding the right adhesive to adhere to plastic or metal vents. Finding an adhesive that will weather humidity and temperature changes, as well as on-again / off-again air flow. Is the wallpaper thin enough and pliable enough to meld to the multiple angles of the vent?

This vent took the better part of an hour to cover.

Mirror Removed – Ready for Wallpaper? NOT!

March 20, 2018


A mirror had been glued to this wall with mastic adhesive (a tar-like substance). When the mirror was pulled off the wall, the adhesive pulled some of the drywall along with it, and in other places it left some of the tar on the wall. Then someone skimmed over the surface with joint compound.

The wet joint compound caused the torn areas of the drywall to absorb moisture and ripple, and the tar worked its way through the joint compound.

Both torn drywall and tar are problems under wallpaper. The ripples from the torn drywall will show under the new wallpaper. And moisture from the wallpaper paste is likely to make the bubbles larger. The black mastic (tar) will bleed through the wallpaper, creating black spots.

If I had been there when they removed the mirror, I would have taken a utility knife and cut the globs of mastic completely out of the wall. Removing it is preferable to trying to cover it up. Yes, this would have torn the drywall, opening it up to wrinkling when it gets wet with primer or paste.

But the penetrating sealer “Gardz” is designed to fix torn drywall. It dries hard and impermeable, so moisture cannot get through. No worries about bubbles or wrinkles! The cut areas could then be skim-floated over and then sanded smooth.

But since I didn’t get to prep from the beginning, I inherited this wall in the top photo, with torn, wrinkly areas, and with tar bleeding through the joint compound.

To prevent additional bubbling, I coated the wall with Gardz. Once that was dry, wanting to both smooth the wall and create an additional barrier to contain the mastic stains, I skim-floated the entire wall, let dry, sanded smooth, and sealed again with Gardz.

Gardz doesn’t protect against stains, though. So, to keep the mastic from bleeding through, I coated the wall with KILZ Original oil-based stain killer and blocker. This worked better having the joint compound under it, because when I’ve put KILZ directly on mastic adhesive, the two petroleum-based products simply melded into one another, and left us with the very real potential for bleeding through wallpaper (or paint, BTW).

So the KILZ should have effectively blocked any stains from the mastic. But the new problem is that wallpaper paste will not stick to modern, EPA-approved, oil-based products. Plus, I was worried that a little of the black tar might still find a way through.

So I skim-floated the wall again, creating yet another layer that would bury those tar stains. After that was sanded smooth and wiped free of dust, I applied another heavy coat of Gardz.

All this took a long time, but it’s good assurance that bubbles will not be seen under the new wallpaper, and that no black spots will grow on its surface.

Good Reasons NOT To Let The Handyman Hang Your Wallpaper

October 30, 2017

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Wallpaper - Paper Peeling, Heights House

“He was good at everything else he did,” said the homeowner. “Painting, drywall, and everything else. He just had never encountered un-prepasted wallpaper before.”

Pre-pasted or hand-pasted material has little to do with it … this poor fellow’s skillset didn’t cover basics like matching the pattern, wrapping corners, butting seams, trimming neatly along the edges, patching over a mistake, removing the old wallpaper, properly prepping the walls, or using an appropriate adhesive (he made a mad dash to a local box store… Sherwin-Williams or Southwestern Paint would have been better).

He also failed to remove the existing wallpaper. I am sure that that paper could have been stripped off, with proper knowledge and a little time. Then the walls should have been primed – another step he skipped.

In addition, there is a gummy residue that feels something like rubber cement left along the top of the tile. This will be pretty difficult to remove, and any product that can dissolve it will probably stain the wallpaper.

And this rubbery-feeling gunk makes me fear that this wallpaper will be very difficult to get off the wall. There are some versions of “wallpaper primer” that result in a tacky surface that is great for grabbing ahold of wallpaper – but NOT for letting it go when it’s time to change décor.

The bottom line for these homeowners…. They paid this guy to put up their wallpaper, and will now have to pay me to fight to get it off the wall, fix any damage to the wall surface, subjugate the problematic adhesive residue, re-prep and reprime the wall, and then rehang the new paper.

The last photo is from a different house, but shares some of the same problems, most particularly improper wall prep.

Dollar Store Hairbands to the Rescue!

September 4, 2016

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You never know what crazy item will fill a need. I already use hair bands from the dollar store for, well, for keeping my hair out of my face. But I also use them to rig a way to hang a light bulb on an extension cord from the ceiling; for instance, from an air vent or exhaust fan.

Here is another use: Most thick non-woven wallpapers are stiff and like to keep curled up like they were on the roll. If you take these strips to the wall that has been covered with adhesive, you run the risk of the paper bumping into the paste and getting messy, or even ruined.

So I roll the paper backwards, so the printed side will not come in contact with the wall. But the paper fight that back-rolling, so I use hairbands to hold the re-rolled paper as I want it.

When I am ready to hang the strip, I simply climb my ladder, remove the hairband, and let the strip of paper unroll, with its backside against the pasted wall. Then I can easily position it and smooth it against the wall.