Posts Tagged ‘bathroom’

A Nice Faux Grasscloth for Wet Areas – But A Little Difficult to Work With

February 17, 2019


OK, well my “after” shot didn’t turn out, so all I have for you are these close-ups … which do a fine job of showing the texture of this product. It’s made of vinyl, which allows the texture to be embossed into the surface.

In a bathroom, vinyl is a good alternative to real grasscloth, because water splashing on it will not stain it or cause inks to bleed. I run caulk along where the material meets the countertop / backsplash, so that if water pools up along the surface, it can’t be wicked up into the wallpaper (which could cause curling).

This is a fairly thick vinyl on a non-woven backing, and was somewhat difficult to manipulate into areas where it needed to bend – such as pressing tightly against the ceiling or moldings when I needed to trim off excess paper. It took a lot of strength and pushing in order to get a cut that was nice and close to the corner. I just did an accent wall with few obstacles, but this product would have been difficult to work with in a room that had multiple walls to turn around, and things to cut around – windows, cabinets, etc., or outside corners to get the paper to wrap around – you’d probably need to get out the heat gun and spend a bit of time on each such turn.

I used the chalk to color the edges of the dark wallcovering because it had been backed with white material, and also because the edges themselves were a bit burnished.

The faux grasscloth is by Thibaut, and I believe is in one of their new books highlighting textured materials. The home is in Oak Forest (Houston) and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. https://www.cokinosdesign.com/

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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!

Faux Grasscloth – Vinyl That Is Good In A Bathroom

December 29, 2018


Originally, this powder room in the Galleria / Tanglewood area of Houston had what I call a “ditzy” print on the walls – tiny little figures that repeated themselves all over the wallpaper like a zillion little dots lined up in rows. It was outdated and discolored, and didn’t fill the wall space well.

The new homeowner wanted something modern and serene, that would be durable in an area that’s exposed to water. This Bankun Raffia in a steely medium grey is perfect.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (read the page to the right). Nor do I like solid vinyl wallpapers (see the page to the right “Stay Away From ….). But this is one vinyl paper of which I approve.

The vinyl surface is thick and embossed with texture, so it mimics the feel and look of real grasscloth. But it has none of the color variations and shading / paneling issues or visible seams that make the real stuff so disappointing. In fact, you can hardly find a seam.

The vinyl surface is a lot more resistant to water and stains than most any other type of wallcovering. And the woven fabric backing won’t absorb humidity and curl or delaminate like the lower-end paper backed vinyls will. And that fabric backing makes this product quite durable and strong, and resistant to tears (like you see when a home’s foundation shifts and the corners twist out of alignment).

In fact, this stuff is the same iron-tough material that is used in hotels and hospital corridors, and will withstand dings and bangs and can be cleaned easily.

Being thick and stiff, it is a bit difficult to work with, particularly when turning corners. But the benefits are worth it.

This wallpaper pattern is called Bankun Raffia. It is so popular, now it comes in more than 30 colors! It’s by Thibaut Designs, and 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.

Dejà Vu – Same Pattern, Different Color

December 21, 2018


It’s my second day and second bathroom, in this home in Cypress (northwest Houston). And my second day with the same wallpaper pattern – but for this guest bathroom, the homeowners chose a different colorway – the silver.

It was just as nice to work with as the gold.

This wallpaper pattern is by York in their Modern Metals book. It is a thin, easy-to-handle non-woven substrate with an embossed (textured) vinyl surface, and a metallic sheen. It is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the wall, when it’s time to redecorate.

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.

Serene Serena & Lily Grasscloth in a Hall Bathroom

November 28, 2018


If you’ve read my page about grasscloth (click link on the right), you know that I don’t like it much, and that it is not suited for use in bathrooms, because water can easily stain it.

This homeowner, however, had found a beautiful paper in her perfect colorway on the popular Serena & Lily website.

She bought two double rolls. Now, if I had been called in earlier, before they ordered their paper, I would have told them to order an additional bolt. Most of the time, grasscloth is not figured via the square foot, but by the strip count. Which is not as straight forward as it sounds … there are tricks to measuring for grasscloth (and any paper, really), so please don’ order any wallpaper until the space has been measured by a professional.

Back to the wallpaper – This natural grasscloth product by Serena & Lily was wonderful. It had NO color variations and NO shading. It was thinner than many grasscloth products, and was easy to work with. It turned corners well. It also bridged / disguised minor defects in the wall. I can’t remember the last time I had such a nice grasscloth product to work with.

Loose Wallpaper; Wall Layers Delaminating

November 15, 2018


Look closely between the seam of the wallpaper in the top photo. You can see little crumbly things. In the second photo, the issue is even more pronounced.

This is in the upstairs bathroom of a 1950 house in central Houston. Over time, compounded by humidity, poor air circulation, poor air conditioning / heating, and possible influences from the outdoors, various layers inside the wall have let loose of one another.

What are these layers? Originally the walls were probably painted with oil-based paint. Over the years, layers of latex paint, gloss paint, joint compound, and etc. were piled on, probably without proper prep between coats.

Some of these materials are not compatible with one another, and, over time and with stressers like humidity, they can let go of one another.

If just the wallpaper has come loose, as in the second photo, it can be pasted and readhered. But when the wall itself is coming apart, there is no fix, other than to scrap everything down to the original drywall (huge mess) or go over everything with 1/4″ drywall.

In this case, the homeowner had me repaste the few loose areas of paper, and then chose to live with the other visible cracks, chalking it up to an old house full of character and quirks.

A More Grown-Up Room – But Still Way Fun

October 25, 2018


I put this paper up back in the ’90’s. It’ still in perfect shape!

The two girls who shared this bathroom have grown up and moved away. Mom thought it was time to get rid of the girlhood décor and move to something more suited for a guest bathroom.

The original paper was a pre-pasted solid vinyl. The vinyl layer stripped off easily, and left the paper backing clinging to the wall. A good soak with plain water softened and reactivated the paste, and the backing came away from the wall easily and with minimal scraping (the putty knife is there more to show perspective). The primer I used back then, oil based KILZ Original, helped protect the walls, and prevented moisture from the removal process from soaking through. KILZ was a superb primer, and I wish I could still use it. But the EPA required changes to many products, to be more environment-friendly, and wallpaper paste will not stick to the new formulas. 😦

Back to the wallpaper … This pattern is from Anthropologie. It is made by York, and is in their SureStrip line – one of my favorite papers to work with. It is pre-pasted and water-activated. The non-woven substrate is thin and pliable (unlike most other brands), conforms nicely to the walls, and exhibits no shrinkage / gaps at the seams when it dries.

The material is designed to strip off the walls easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. (Although I pretty much doubt that claim – and I would prefer that it not … There is much less chance of damage to the wall if the top layer of wallpaper strips off, leaving the backing on the wall, and then the backing is soaked with a wet sponge, the paste reactivated, and then the backing will come off easily, with minimal or no damage to the walls.)

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

From Bold and Dashing to Soft and Pretty

October 2, 2018


The homeowner loved the “Longwood” pattern originally in her powder room (see a snippet of it in the second photo), but, after going through the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, she worried that putting the same paper in her renovated bathroom would remind her of the horrible storm. So she decided to tame things down a little, and went with this “Augustine” pattern by the same company.

She chose this muted colorway (it’s a tad brighter in person than in my photos) partly because the greens in the paper melded nicely with her marble countertop, and also because the blues looked great with her blue ceiling (which was chosen to go with the original Longwood design).

The contractors did a reasonably good job prepping the walls. However, they painted over the old wallpaper, which is not a good idea. They also didn’t bother to remove the mirror or light sconces when they applied their smoothing compound, and you can see remnants of white gunk under the oval where the mirror hung and by peeking behind the light fixture. These were small things, but it took me two hours to smooth over these areas, get to dry, sand, and then prime.

The new Augustine humming bird pattern is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a very old, historic design. I love the design, and the paper is wonderful to work with. It is pre-pasted, so goes up more quickly than papers that have to be pasted by hand. It is easy to manipulate around turns, it doesn’t tear easily, it is thin and hugs the wall tightly, it dries quickly, and it has a lovely “raised ink” texture.

This paper is by Thibaut, and 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.

The home is in the Memorial-Dairy Ashford / Energy Corridor area of Houston.

Beautiful Bradbury Birds

June 29, 2018


Bradbury & Bradbury is a well-established company based in California that produces wallpaper patterns in the style of by-gone eras – Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Oriental and more. I have their Raspberry Bramble, from the Victorian collection, in my own master bathroom. Do a Search here to see pics.

Bradbury has unveiled some new genres recently, including the ’50’s Atomic Age and the ’20’s Vintage. These new products are digitally-printed, which is a little different from their other papers, most of which are screen-printed.

Today I hung half of a master bedroom with their 2D-103. Those numbers are not very interesting, but the pattern is – see it in the photos above. It’s a lovely, cheery, and easy-to-live-with birds, branches, and flowers, on a soft yellow background.

Bradbury wallpapers come with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand, using a razor blade and straight edge (not shown). This takes precision and a lot of sharp new razor blades – I spent two hours trimming paper for these two walls (with more to come tomorrow for the remaining two walls).

Once all that tedious trimming was over, the paper was a delight to work with. The seams melted together and were next to invisible. The paper hugged the wall nicely with no curling at the edges. Other companies with cantankerous papers could take a lesson from Bradbury.

This home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston, and was partially destroyed in the flooding after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The homeowners love the vintage vibe of their older home, and when the house was rebuilt after the flood, they took great care to recreate the look of the original home … woodwork, flooring, kitchen cabinets, kitchen appliances… all are true to the home’s original look.

Blue Birds Brighten a Bathroom – But Not A Good Quality Paper

June 27, 2018


The original wallpaper had fallen victim to curled seams. This happens most often with lower-end pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallcoverings, particularly in humid rooms, like this bathroom. Adding to the list of no-no’s were an improperly smoothed wall and the lack of a primer.

The seams on these papers are never great to begin with. When there is humidity, it will find its way into the seams and onto the paper backing of the wallpaper. When this backing gets wet by humidity, it expands. When it expands, it has nowhere to go but out – pushing away from the wall. This results in a curled seam. This is not “loose” wallpaper, and the seams cannot be glued back down. In many cases, the paper backing layer of the wallpaper actually delaminates (separates from) the top vinyl layer.

The homeowner loved the pattern, particularly the blue birds, and bought the same exact paper to replace the other. I stripped off the old paper, took various steps to stabilize the unsound wall surface, then skim-coated the wall to smooth it, primed, and hung the new paper.

The look is cheery and bright, and looks fabulous with the pale yellow bead-board wainscoting. The seams looked good when I left, and will pull down tighter as the paper dries.

Still, these economical pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpapers are not my choice for use in any room. And this particular brand (Norwall) just about tops my list for brands to NOT purchase.