Posts Tagged ‘big larry’

Challenges With Moody Jungle Powder Room

February 12, 2023
Yesterday’s install was quite fun, but there were some unusual or challenging features to the room. Here are some of them.
First, in most areas, the chair rail had a sort of gap between it and the wall, probably then filled in with caulk. I used some craft paint from Texas Art Supply to color that in, so there wouldn’t be white showing between the dark green paint and the black wallpaper.
My usual trim guide (not pictured) is thin, designed to allow you to cut very close and tight to the edge. But in this case, I was afraid it might leave some of that gapped area showing between the paper and the wood trim.
So I used this steel plate tool, which is thicker and would allow me to get a fat cut – just enough paper left to wrap a teeny bit onto that gap area. Note that before I trim, I’m going to press that edge into the corner. I couldn’t hold the camera and hold it in proper position at the same time.
Also, you’ll notice the rolled edge at the top of the tool. That’s thicker, and allows for getting an even fatter cut, for instance, when you want just a tad of paper to wrap around a corner . Do a Search to see my previous post about this technique.
Here I’ve made the trim cut and am peeling away the excess that was trimmed off at the bottom.
See how the bottom edge of the wallpaper now wraps a tiny bit and fills the gap neatly?
Next issue – wall height. On this wall, the height is 3′ + 30.5″
But on the opposite wall, the height is 3′ + 29.75″.
This means that you can expect the ceiling to move up or down, which means that a pattern motif – let’s say one of those cute chameleons – could get his head chopped off by the descending ceiling.
Next issue – bowed wall. Here my yardstick is sitting pretty squarely against this wall, in a corner .
But as I move it up the wall a little further – wow! – that wall takes a dip to the left. And it’s quite a dip! The wall has a bow in it.
I can get my next strip of wallpaper to cover that space. But the fallout will be that pattern motifs will hit the wall at different points, which means that the next piece to be placed after that, the pattern will not match perfectly at all points.
All right. So that previous corner had a bow. This one is out of plumb. Here you see my laser level showing that my wallpaper strip is hanging nice and plumb.
But move the laser to the corner and you see that it’s out of plumb .
Here’s a better example. Again, this causes the pattern to not match perfectly in the corners.
Another shot of the bowed wall, which, for various tech reasons, due to Word Press ‘s crappy New Editor , this shot got out of order and I was not able to place it with the others under the topic.
Papering around the electrical outlet , I had to unplug my light source. There was light coming in from the hall. But this paper, as well as the paint, were so dark that I couldn’t see well to work. Enter my Big Larry flashlight .
Small enough to fit in my toolbox , but really bright and dependable for when you need it.
The pattern is called Fantasy Tree and is by Breeze and was purchased through one of the showrooms in one of Houston’s decorative / design center s. It’s a nice non-woven material , easy to hang , easy to remove , durable and stain-resistant .

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

Lights Out, And I’ve Got To Work…Big Larry To The Rescue!

October 12, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image


This week I’m hanging wallpaper in a large living room near Pasadena (Houston). There is no overhead light in the room, nor any air vent or other fixture that I can hang an extension cord and work light from.

I’ve been able to get by with three light bulb sockets I’ve plugged into the wall outlets, along with the sun light coming through two large windows. But as the sun went down this evening, I didn’t have enough light over my table to see what I was pasting.

Big Larry to the rescue! This is a compact yet very bright LED flashlight that will stand on end. It provided just enough light for me to paste the strips of wallpaper.

In addition, Big Larry has a high beam and a low beam, plus a flashing red light. He has a magnet on the base and fits easily in my toolbox. He is about $20 at Southwestern Paint in Houston. He even has a little brother, Little Larry, for about half the price, and half the light.

And, psssst… either one makes a nice gift. 🙂