Posts Tagged ‘backing’

Whimsical Arabian Nights Dance in Powder Room

January 13, 2023
You’ve got to look at this close-up, to notice the antelope and flames / foliage .
You gotta make a decision … The light sconces (they are currently removed, but you can see the electrical boxes where they will be placed) were centered on the vanity top, but the faucet was off-center by about an inch. So I chose to center / balance the pattern on the sconces and countertop. The mirror will be hung between the two light fixtures, so we’ll end up with a pleasing, balanced look. The faucet isn’t exactly in the middle of the design motif, but no biggie – there’s going to be a mirror there, anyway.

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Corner going around shower. Note the window looking into the shower.
Although the website specs said this is a pre-trimmed non-woven material , that was incorrect. Turns out it had an unprinted selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand . Here I’m using my straightedge and razor blade to remove this selvedge. This takes precision and a LOT of time .
The manufacturer usually provides trim guides to help you know where to cut. But it’s usually better to trim to the pattern – determine an element in the design motif that will meet up with the corresponding motif on the opposite side of the strip when the strips are hung on the wall, and use that as your guide . Be sure to trim off the trim guide marks, or they will show on the wall.
The pattern is called Arabian Nights and is by Relativity Textiles . I’ve never worked with this brand before. I was not pleased . In addition to the incorrect information about the pre-trimmed paper , the mfgr’s specs said this was printed on a non-woven substrate . It was not. It wasn’t even printed on standard wallpaper stock . Instead, it was a pulp material – This is a sort of old-fashioned wallpaper , and is very brittle and prone to tearing and dragging (your trimming knife or razor blade will get snagged and you’ll end up with a ” chewed ” jagged cut, instead of a crisp cut . It also tears easily. It also has no coating, so it’s not stain-resistant … Not good in a busy household with a 3-year old toddler , or anyone splashing water or soap or air freshener .
It was also difficult to hang . Applying wet paste to the backing causes the substrate to absorb moisture and expand at a different rate from the ink on the surface. So you end up with wrinkles , waffling , and quilting .
Sponging a light bit of water on the front before pasting helps even out the moisture differential and ease installation . I’ve never before encountered a pulp that had this type of ink on the surface. One clue for this bad stuff is when you open the package and it smells like moth balls . Once I figured out how to work with it, , it went OK – although tedious . The seams did look very nice.
BUT … all this effort would have been unnecessary and the finished room would be more durable if the mfgr had printed on a non-woven substrate (as their on-line specs stated) and had used standard inks instead of this weird , smelly , high-end stuff. In fact, the material would have cost the homeowners a whole lot less $ if it had been normal ink on a non-woven backing .
The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .
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Humidity Causes Curling Edges on Vinyl / Non-Woven Wallpaper

November 23, 2022
I hung this wallpaper about 10 years ago. It’s a main bathroom in a 1920’s home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The home has been remodeled including updated HVAC systems , but surely still suffering from issues of humidity and air circulation.
At some point, the very edges of the wallpaper started curling back at the seams. This is more pronounced at the upper portions of the wall than at the chair rail. Meaning, humidity from showering is rising into the air, collecting under the ceiling, and working its way into the seams.
Once humidity gets into the backing of the wallpaper, it can cause the backing to expand. When that happens, the paper has to go somewhere. So it pushes itself away from the wall. Hence the curling that you see here.
What’s odd to me is that this happened with a paper that’s on a non-woven backing. Non-wovens are 20% polyester, so pretty resistant to moisture and humidity. I’m guessing that this company used less than the industry standard of 20% polyester. The material was super thin and flexible, which is unlike most non-wovens I’ve worked with.
I was able to make this look pretty good again. I used a putty knife to gently lift the compromised edges away from the wall, and then I worked some of my regular wallpaper paste back behind there. (no super glue or heavy duty paste or contact cement )
Then I used my heat gun – set on Low – to gently warm up the vinyl surface of the wallpaper . The heat gun served several purposes … It helped speed the drying of the paste , so it got tacky and held more quickly and firmly. The heat gun also ” melted ” the vinyl surface a wee bit, so it would curl back in the opposite direction.
I used a 3″ stiff metal putty knife to push the two edges of wallpaper back down to the wall. The metal knife heated up, too, and helped to get the vinyl to conform.
Using the heat gun and the metal putty knife also helped the two edges from the two strips to meet up together … sort of like two mountain big horn sheep butting their heads together . Butted together this way is better than one lying on top of the other.
I was really pleased with how well this worked. Sorry – no pics!
The brand is Super Fresco Easy .

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 .

Cozy, Slightly Rustic, Textured Paperweave for Houston Heights Breakfast Nook

October 30, 2022
Breakfast nook “before” is bright and airy – but washed out and uninspiring. The vertical tan lines are paint I’ve striped under where the seams will fall, to prevent the light colored primer from peeking through.
“After” has warmth, life, and a cheery feel. With a little color contrast, now you can see the detailed woodwork and window molding. The paper has a bit of a tropical, thatched roof, Ernest Hemmingway, sort of feel.
Note I’ve balanced / centered the pattern so it falls evenly and equally on either side of the window . Note how perfectly the motifs fill the space above the windows, as well as below the windows. It’s a minor thing that you don’t consciously notice, but it gives the room a grounded , balanced feeling .
Another angle . The chandelier is a major feature in the room. I love the way the chunky beads repeat the color and theme of the white pattern in the wallpaper.
Unlike most wallpapers that come in rolls of standard sizes , this material comes in continuous yardage on one huge (and HEAVY ) bolt .
The height of the motifs perfectly fits the space between the window and the crown molding . No flower tops got chopped off in this room !
There are five windows. This is the area between two of them, including an obtuse angle . It took a LONG time to get the paper around all five windows, keeping the pattern intact .
Close-up showing the texture . This is a paperweave , which is similar to a grasscloth , as both are natural fibers and materials . Because this paper weave is woven, instead of having stiff, straight strands of grass crossing the wallpaper , it was a lot more flexible and workable than regular grasscloth .
The space over the door molding was just 4 1/16″ high. The flower motif fit in here perfectly .
You can see along the seam in the center of the photo , that some of the fibers may try to come off the backing , especially at seams and areas where you’ve cut into the material , such as trimming around window moldings and other obstacles . This is pretty minor .
Overall, the seams are virtually invisible .
One other thing I didn’t like about this paper is that, after the wallpaper was made, the color was applied to the front, like paint . This made the color subject to abrading or flaking off under even light rubbing . It would have been better IMO to have dyed the fibers and then sewn / glued them on to the paper backing . Then the color would go all the way through. Not a biggie – you just have to work slowly and carefully and gently.
Oh, and you can’t get paste or water or fingerprints on the surface, either – because they can’t be washed off and can stain .
The pattern is called Papavero and is by Casa Branca .
The material has an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand, using a straightedge and razor blade . Takes a lot of extra time , and even more so because you have to press harder to get through the thick fibers than with a traditional wallpaper .
A picture of my straightedge and razor blade . I’m trimming something else here (that will be blogged about later), but you get the idea .
A really bad photo of a really perfect chandelier . It’s chunky , white , and the shape of the ‘beads’ repeat the flower motifs in the wallpaper. The windows will have Roman shades made of a somewhat coarse white linen type fabric , which will coordinate beautifully with the texture of the wallpaper .
The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston .

Shimmery Trees

October 20, 2022
Before … Heavy stipple / sand texture on drab sage green semi-gloss paint.
I skim-floated the walls , sanded smooth , primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer and …
Here’s the finished sink area of this hall bathroom .
Before shot of tub and window wall .
So much brighter and livelier!
Close up . It’s hard to see from these photos, but the colors are pewter, silver, and metallic silver.
The paper also has a lightly textured surface .
The pattern is called Hedgerow and the brand name is Super Fresco.
Every other SF I’ve hung has been on a non-woven / paste-the-wall substrate , so I was surprised to discover that this one was a paste-the-paper material , and that the backing is a paper / pulp material , with textured vinyl laminated to the surface.
My issue with this is that, historically, these paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers don’t hold up well in humid areas , such as bathrooms.
Humidity in the air can actually be wicked up through the seams and then settle on the paper backing , which is absorbent and thirsty. Once that paper absorbs moisture, it’s going to expand . Since there is nowhere for it to go, it will push back against the wall , and that can cause the seam to curl up and pull away from the wall.
Oftentimes, the paper backing actually delaminates (comes apart) from the vinyl surface. This is not a “loose seam” and cannot be repaired.
You pretty much have to replace the whole strip. Or, more likely, to replace the entire wall, from one corner to the next.
Proper wall prep , including a primer made for use under wallpaper , goes a long way toward avoiding these sorts of occurrences.
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Heavily-Inked Papers Need Extra Moisture

August 13, 2022
Something smells like moth balls ! Some high-end hand screened wallpapers are printed with what we call stinky inks . These inks often fight with the substrate they’re printed on. The backing of the wallpaper will absorb moisture from the paste and expand , but the ink on the surface won’t, so you end up with what we call waffling or quilting . Wrinkles in the wallpaper in between the printed inked areas. Do a Search here to see photos and read more about this.
You can reduce or eliminate this by evening out the moisture between front and back. It’s as simple as taking a very lightly damp sponge and wiping the front printed surface of the wallpaper. Then paste the back as normal , book (fold pasted side to pasted side), roll up, place in black trash bag for a few minutes.
Now the wallpaper should be relaxed , and the wrinkles should be evened out . Now you’re ready to hang wallpaper !
This pattern is called Les Touches and is by Brunschwig & Fils , a higher-end designer type brand .

Leopards Prowl Inspired Powder Room

August 5, 2022
Vanity wall was originally textured and painted with a semi-gloss . Here it’s been skim-floated , sanded , and primed – ready for wallpaper.
Finished. There’s a cool light-up mirror that will hang on the brackets under the light fixture .
Opposite corner before.
Finished. This room wouldn’t have half the impact without the black moldings and ceiling. The homeowner said she envisioned a jewel box – all tufted and lined with velvet . Well, I’d say she nailed the look!
As the dark and mysterious wallpaper moved from left to right, the room began to take on a mood . I love the juxtaposition between a clad wall and a bare wall.
Close-up.
Detail.
The husband is handy, and I really appreciate that he removed the vanity and sink . This made it a lot faster and easier for me, and ensured better adhesion of the wallpaper around the plumbing pipes . And also eliminated stress and creases on the paper that can happen when bending and folding to work it around obstacles.
Here is the modern looking vanity that will go into the powder room .
To keep white primer from showing at the seams , I striped black paint on the wall under where each seam would fall. Do a Search here to read previous posts about this technique.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store , a scrap of sponge , and a bottle cap full of water . Do a Search here to read previous posts about the process and materials .
I also run chalk along the edges of the wallpaper, to cover up the white substrate , to ensure there will be no white peeking out at the seams . Again, do a Search on key words to learn more about this technique .
Dang it! I forgot to take a picture of the label! But this wallpaper is by York and is called On The Prowl .
It’s vinyl on a non-woven backing . The instructions said you could paste the wall for installation . But I pasted the paper, and I think with this product it’s better, because it did seem to want to expand a bit. If you paste the wall and then the paper stretches, you’ll end up with buckles at the seams or bubbles within the strips .
The material was fairly flexible , which was nice because it allowed me to “mush” the paper to conform to some pretty un-plumb walls.
Although York is one of my favorite brands , I wasn’t real crazy about this particular wallpaper. Still, it seamed up nicely, didn’t shrink, has a vinyl surface that will resist splashes and fingerprints , and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate .
This is a townhome in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

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 .

From 20 Years of Red to Sweet Light Floral

February 5, 2022
Red is a classic dining room color, and painted walls served well since the late ’90’s. This homeowner has classic taste – note the elegant moldings below the chair rail and around the windows.
The update is lighter and brighter and opens up the room, making it feel larger.
Note the wallpaper around the corner on the right.
This is the paper in the adjoining hallway, which has been in place for decades. The new pattern coordinates beautifully in theme and color!
Close-up. Roses and script.
Norwall is a very economical brand (something like $25 per double roll on sale). Not my favorite quality, because the gritty paper backing can absorb humidity and separate from the thick vinyl surface, plus the seams tend to “pouch” a bit and don’t look great. But I’ve discovered that rolling a bit of wallpaper paste onto the wall under the seam areas will help to “suck down” the edges, creating better seams. I also do believe that the manufacturer has improved the substrate.
I was pleased with the way the seams looked on this install. You’re looking at a very close-up picture. Once the paper is dried and from two feet away, these seams will be invisible. In fact, the homeowner kept walking around the room remarking how she couldn’t even find a seam. Note the slightly textured surface.

The home is in the far west area of Houston.

Stripping Wallpaper

February 3, 2022
Wallpaper is comprised of two layers – the top, decorative layer, and the bottom substrate layer. The first step in stripping the paper is to remove the top layer. In this case, the material is a solid vinyl. These solid vinyls usually separate easily from their backing and come off in one large strip.
The next step is to soak the backing with water. I use a bucket of warm water and a sponge. You will need to wet and re-wet the backing several times. This water will reactivate the paste. Once it’s wet enough, the paste will let go, and, if you’re lucky, the backing will pull away from the wall easily and in large pieces.
Sometimes you have to work a little harder, and use a stiff putty knife to gently scrape the paper off the wall. A good primer underneath will facilitate this process, as well as protect the wall. I hung this original paper 30+ years ago, and once it was all off, the walls were in perfect condition, and I was able to hang the new paper with no additional prep. This is the sink room.
In the tub room, the paper was the same brand, but the backing was different. This is a gritty, thicker, manilla type paper backing. This stuff usually absorbs the water nicely and lets go from the wall easily. Not so in this case. First, the top vinyl layer wouldn’t pull off, but had I had to get under it with the putty knife, and then it came off in small pieces, maybe 5″ square.
The backing also didn’t let go easily. Even when very saturated with water, it held tight, and I had to use the putty knife to gently scrape it off the wall – mostly in small chunks. Talk about eating up time!
All you need to remove wallpaper is a bucket of plain water, a sponge, and a stiff, 3″ putty knife. I know some folks are fond of their additives. But I don’t think they speed the process at all. Plus, I don’t want any residual chemicals left on the wall.
Oh, and don’t forget the dropcloths!