Posts Tagged ‘booking’

Dark, Sparkly, Faux Cork in Spring Branch Powder Room

April 1, 2020


No good pictures of this, folks – you had to see it in person to get the full effect.

But the textured vinyl wallpaper had the appearance of a charcoal-colored cork material – with a few silvery sparkles tossed in here and there.

The homeowner wanted a snug, dark powder room. But not cave-like. This paper did the trick beautifully. It is dark, but with the large mirror and the light grey vanity and cararra marble countertop, there were plenty of light colored accents to offset the dark.

This was a new, open floor plan, contemporary styled home in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. The vinyl material will be resistant to water and stains. The non-woven substrate had a lot of fiberglass content – I could see the strands! – so it will be easy to strip off the wall when it’s time to redecorate. In addition, the material does not expand when wet with paste, needs no booking time, and can be hung with the paste-the-wall method. I preferred to paste the paper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, 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.

Schumacher Pyne Hellyhock

March 22, 2020


We don’t call this company “Schitmacher” and “Poomacher” for nothing … With so many quality substrates and inks out there, and so many other companies making top-notch papers, why, oh WHY does Schumacher continue to use outdated materials and methods – especially when they’re crappy?!

The wrinkles here are referred to as “waffling” or “quilting.” This is caused by the wallpaper backing (substrate) absorbing moisture at a different rate from the ink on the front. This moisture causes the substrate to expand more than the ink, which creates wrinkled areas.

I had this problem with the Bibliotheque I blogged about last week. But that was not as severe, mostly because the inked area covered most of the paper.

In this Pyne Hollyhock, most of the ink is concentrated down the center of the strip, leaving large un-inked areas along the outer edges.

I was able to smooth out many of the smaller wrinkles in between the blue flowers. Others may disappear when the paper dries.

But the blank / white areas had wrinkles so big that they would not be smoothed out. See third photo. The other thing is, because this white area was twisting and warping so dramatically, you can bet that the edges of the strip will not butt up properly with the next strip.

Sometimes you can double cut (splice) seams that are not butting up correctly. But since this paper also presented the huge wrinkles, it still is gonna look bad at the minimum, and have large gaps at the worst.

A liner might help (do a Search here), but I doubt it would tame the worst wrinkles, especially at the edges. In addition, it adds more material cost and at least another day’s labor.

I did a couple test strips, employing different approaches with each. Such as dampening the front before pasting to even out the moisture distribution. Booking for extended lengths of time. Booking and then opening and repasting. Different smoothing techniques. I even got out the heat gun to speed up drying to see if the wrinkles would flatten.

But I never got a result that I felt was acceptable. And certainly not what this family deserved, nor worth the price they paid for this so-called high-end brand.

It’s not often that a paper beats my butt, but I did end up throwing in the towel on this one.

Too bad, because the homeowner and interior designer really love the pattern, which is one of Schumacher’s most popular. Right now, it’s undecided if they will see if one of my buddies wants to tackle it, or if they will choose something else.

This was to have gone in the dining room of a newly renovated home in the Woodland Heights of Houston.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt I – Hand Trimming, Overlapping

March 18, 2020

Like many of the higher-end brands, this Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper had to have its selvedge edge trimmed off by hand. Unfortunately, they did not provide trim guide marks. Double unfortunately, I tried using the pattern as a guide, but, for a lot of reasons, this was a big fail – the edges looked like they had been trimmed with a hair curling iron. 😦

How, then, was I going to get good seams?

I was preparing to double cut (splice). But for many reasons, this was not presenting as a good option.

Then I got the idea to overlap. This turned out to be the perfect solution!

The edges of the “bookshelves” were not straight, so, instead of using my straightedge as a trim guide, I grabbed a new razor blade and free-handed my cuts along the design. (see top photo)

Then, after measuring, pasting, and booking my strips, I positioned them on the wall by overlapping one “shelf support” on top of the previous one. The second photo shows one strip being placed thusly.

Overlapping like this does leave a ridge under the wallpaper. But it is not very noticeable, especially since my design motifs were perfectly aligned.

What’s even cooler is that this overlap added a bit of 3-D to the room, which is what you would have if you had real wood and books in there.

Another advantage is that I could tweak the spacing if needed, to plumb up a strip that might have started going crooked.

Cole & Son “Woods” in Pearland Laundry Room

February 6, 2020

North corner walls, originally textured.

North corner walls, smoothed.

North corner walls, papered.

South corner walls, smoothed.

South corner walls, papered.

Close up of paper.

This very popular wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, and is called “Woods.” I have hung it in the black-on-white many times (do a Search here – upper right), but this is the first time to do it in this softer colorway. The décor in this home is all soft and muted greys and taupes, with a lot of natural materials (wood, stone) tossed in, so this pattern and color are a perfect compliment.

The wallpaper material is called non-woven, which has a high fiberglass content. This means it doesn’t expand when wet with paste, so there is no booking time – meaning you can hang each strip as soon as it is pasted. In fact, you can paste the wall and dry-hang the strips, if you choose. Another advantage of non-wovens is that they are dimensionally-stable, and do not expand when wet with paste, like paper wallpapers do. Very handy when measuring and laying out the room.

A disadvantage of non-wovens is that they are prone to staining and blushing. This is where the paper looks like it is wet, but it never dries and disappears. Certain pastes (880, 234) are known to cause staining on these materials, as well as too much pressure while installing, or wetting the paper with water.

This laundry room is in a newish home in Pearland, a suburb in south Houston.

Feathery Stripe in Memorial Area Entry Hall

February 1, 2020


I admit … When the homeowner first emailed her selection to me, I wasn’t crazy about the design. But once it started covering the first walls of the home’s entry – boy did I start to see her vision. It is stunning. And it’s one of those patterns that looks even better in person.

It’s a sort of a wide, scratchy stripe. The homeowner says it reminds her of feathers.

I spent a lot of time with math and engineering, and in the end was able to balance / center this pattern not just on the first wall with the front door (2nd photo), but on two other walls with doors, as well as this widest wall (1st photo). And I eliminated a noticeable kill point (no photo).

This wallpaper is by Cole & Son, and is on a non-woven backing. This means that it does not expand when wet with paste, plus there is no booking time, so you can paste it and hang right away – or you can paste the wall. I’m glad I pasted the material, because walls in this room were pretty wonky, and softening the paper by pasting it made it easier to manipulate it to match up with the crooked walls.

Non-wovens are also designed to strip off the wall easily, cleanly and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

I did encounter a few minor printing defects. But we had enough extra paper to work around them.

Brunschwig & Fils’s Bibliotheque in a Heights Library

July 14, 2019


Another installer hung the paper in the first photo. For some unknown reason, two half-walls were left unpapered. I was called in to finish those two areas.

Brunschwig & Fils is a French manufacturer, with a long history. Like many higher-end brands, this product came with a selvedge edge that I had to trim off by hand (see last photo), using a razor blade and a 6′ long straight edge (not shown).

And, like many higher-end brand papers that are printed with ink that smells like mothballs, once paste is applied to the back of the paper, the inked surface absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the back side. When the top inked layer expands at a different rate from the substrate, you get waffling, or quilting. Sorry, no photo, but you can do a Search here to see previous blogs on this topic. Essentially, it’s a wrinkly mess.

One way to deal with this is to even out the moisture differential by lightly sponging water onto the face (inked side) of the wallpaper. The front can then absorb moisture from the sponging at the same time that the substrate is absorbing moisture from the paste.

As I worked with the paper, I discovered that it wanted to dry out quickly. So it helped a lot to also use a sponge to get a little moisture onto the back side of the wallpaper strip, before pasting.

Other tricks to slow drying out are to 1.) Book the paper (fold pasted side to pasted side and then roll up loosely like a newspaper) and then dunk the ends into a bucket of clean water. 2.) Place the booked strip into a black trash bag, which will prevent evaporation during the time the paper books. 3.) When the wait time is up, gently unbook the paper and lightly spritz the back with clean water from a spray bottle. Alternately, you could sponge the surface once again. The idea is to introduce a little more moisture, to loosen up the paste and to make the paper more malleable.

I had been told that this paper was difficult to work with, and that the seams wanted to curl. I had the opposite experience – I thought it was lovely to work with. The seams laid nice and flat, and the paper was easy to manipulate, and it clung tightly to the wall. Applying moisture to the surface and back got rid of the waffling, and any that did remain (there were small puckers in the white horizontal “shelf board” areas) disappeared as the wallpaper dried.

This home is in the Houston Heights neighborhood, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

Chinese Hand-Painted Silk Mural

June 27, 2019


Here is some delicious stuff! This is silk wallpaper, hand painted in China with these beautiful bird, butterfly, and botanical motifs. Look at the close-up shots to see the gorgeous paint detail.

There are some historic companies who make these murals, like Zuber, Gracie, Fromental, and de Gournay, and they can run $500-$1200 per panel. (This wall took seven panels.) But my client found another manufacturer who was way more reasonable. http://www.worldsilkroad.com/

The mural was custom-sized to the homeowners’ wall. The studio added 2″ to the top and bottom, and a little more to each side, for trimming, and to accommodate walls that are not perfectly plumb and ceilings that are not perfectly level. (Never order a mural to the exact dimensions of the wall, and always best to have the paperhanger measure before ordering.)

There are a lot of things that make an install like this much more complicated than a traditional wallpaper. For starters, the silk can easily be stained by just about anything … wallpaper paste, water, hands. So it’s important to work absolutely clean. You will NOT be able to wipe off any errant bit of paste. The paper also had a half inch “bleed” of excess paper along the edges that had to be trimmed off by hand (no photo).

The material was thicker than expected, wanted to stay curled up as it had been in its shipping tube, and the backing was very absorbent, which meant that it sucked up paste and was almost dry by the time it was finished booking and got to the wall… So it required extra paste on the edges to get them to stick tight, while, once again, taking care to not get any paste on the surface of the paper.

The company provided precious little information. Well, actually there was information, but it came in Chinesnglish, and, bless their hearts, was virtually indecipherable. The company was very responsive, but, unfortunately, was unable to provide adequate information about paste recommendations, booking time, was a liner spec’ed, if the substrate was paper or non-woven, if the silk had a protective coating, and even whether or not the goods had to be hand-trimmed or came pre-trimmed. There was a lot of other mysterious content on their instruction sheet that ended up best being disregarded.

So I used common sense and traditional installation methods, and it turned out great.

In one photo, I am rolling out the panels, to be sure they are in the correct sequence. Even though the manufacturer had told me the panels were pre-trimmed and ready to butt on the wall, while rolling them out, I discovered that if I did that, the pattern match would be off. This is when I discovered that 1/2″ had to be trimmed off one side of every strip.

This also meant that each strip would be 36″ wide, rather than 36.5″, so my measurements and layout calculations had to be revised. This was particularly important because that first area to the left of the window was barely more than 36″ wide – and I didn’t want to end up having to piece in a 3/8″ wide strip of this delicate material.

Two other pictures show some crinkles in the material. I believe these happened at the factory or during shipping, because the same defects appear in two consecutive panels, at the same position. They were both up high, and, once the material got wet with paste, expanded a little, and then applied to the wall, these flaws were not detectable.

The last photo shows what you should expect from hand-painted products. They probably had one guy working on Panel 6, and another working on Panel 7, and each probably had a different size paint brush, and possibly their stencil (or whatever they use) was a bit off. Either way, this mis-match is not considered a defect, and is part of the beauty of a hand-crafted mural. There were really only two areas that matched this poorly, and they were both low toward the floor. In the upper areas where branches crossed the seams, the pattern matched very nicely. Really, it’s quite incredible that their precision can be as good as it is.

I’ve never worked with this brand before, but overall, I was pleased with the quality and the installation. You can find the manufacturer by Googling World Silk Road. It comes from England, but is made in China. (Gee…. why can’t they have one of those British guys translate the installation instructions?!)

This mural went on one accent wall in a master bedroom of a home in Idylwood, a small, idyllic, and very desirable neighborhood of 1930’s and 1940’s homes on Houston’s east side. The homeowners love vintage as much as I do, and are keeping most of their home true to its original state.

How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…

April 10, 2019


This wallpaper is by Anderson Prints. It was more than a little difficult to work with. I hung it in two different colorways, and both were equally cantankerous.

~ Top photo – see the streak of darker color at the tip of my scissors? This defect ruined a 9′ strip of paper.

~ Second photo – look at the left edge of the toilet, from that corner up to the ceiling … see the darker color? Every strip showed a little darker color at the edges. Close up, you don’t notice it, but from a distance, there is a vertical line that catches your eye. This is on every seam, in both colorways. So, from a distance, you see this faint but noticeable vertical line every 27″, all across the room.

~ The substrate sucks up paste, enough so that after pasting and booking for a few minutes, by the time I got it to the wall, there was virtually no paste left to hold it up, and absolutely no paste on the edges. I tried several tricks – rolling paste under the seams, spritzing the edges with water, dipping the edges of the booked strips into water to keep them hydrated, unbooking and repasting, unbooking and spraying the back lightly with water to reactivate the paste, and finally, the best option was to paste the back as normal, but use a squirt bottle to add a bit of water, and then cut the booking time a little.

~ No matter which pasting technique was used, particularly on the tan colorway, in some areas where the ink crossed the seam, the paper wanted to curl back and leave a tiny gap.

~ The pattern matched in most areas, but dropped a little in some of the motifs, resulting in a mis-match. Then it would match up perfectly again as you went further down the wall.

~ The paper, particularly the silver colorway, twisted and warped horribly. I would butt a strip up against the previous strip, matching the pattern, then go to smooth the rest of the strip against the wall – only to find HUGE puckers and warps. OK, you can tease away minor wrinkles. But when you have several warped areas that are each protruding 1/2″ away from the wall, it’s really difficult to get that strip of paper to lie flat against the wall. I spent at least 20 minutes working and easing the puckers out of one strip and getting the paper to lie flat. To be honest, I’m astonished that I was able to do that. This particular wall had only three 7′ high strips … Because the warping increases as you hang subsequent strips, if I had had to hang many strips in a row, and taller strips, such as on a bedroom accent wall, I don’t think it could have been done without making some relief cuts or double cuts and resulting in some serious pattern mis-matching.

~ The tan colorway was reasonably durable, plus minor creases would pretty much disappear when the paste dried and the paper pulled flat to the wall. But the silver colorway was very delicate, and was prone to creasing at the drop of a hat. Don’t fold it, don’t wet-trim it, unbooking a pasted strip was very likely to cause a crease, and ditto when pressing the paper into a corner to trim … and working around that toilet was the prime area to put stress on the paper and cause more creases. This toilet was butted up against the wall, so it was impossible to slip the paper behind it, so it was necessary to cut the paper to fit around it. That’s hard enough to do with an electrical outlet that protrudes a half an inch from the wall, but veeery difficult when you have something as three-dimensional as a toilet. I must have spent the better part of an hour working the paper around and behind and under that toilet. Note to Self: Next time, make the homeowner pull the toilet out of the room!

~ The silver colorway had a metallic sheen, and every way the light hit it made the pattern look different. It was literally impossible to see the pattern match in some instances, particularly when turning a corner. What looked like a tan line on the right wall would literally show up as a silver line on the left wall. Look at all the horizontal and vertical lines in this design… It was virtually impossible to tell if I had the right line matching up with its proper partner. Trimming on the table (such as when I needed to split a strip) was equally difficult. I was just about impossible to tell design from shadow, and to know if I was cutting straight along the pattern.

~ Metal left marks on the paper. So I had to be very careful while using my straightedge, as well as other tools such as scissors, trim guide, etc.

~ The paper wouldn’t slide around on the wall as most do, so it was difficult to get each strip perfectly positioned.

~ It ate razor blades like crazy. The paper somehow dulled blades faster than even heavy vinyls.

~ When I cut a strip off the bolt, it wanted to stay rolled up. This made it very difficult to trim or paste the strip. So I had to roll all the strips backwards, until the paper relaxed and got rid of the “memory” to curl.

Most of these issues have to do with the substrate used by the manufacturer, but toss in the metallic ink and whatever engineer screwed up the pattern match.

Prepasted Wallpapers

August 3, 2018


Yesterday’s post was regarding a pre-pasted wallpaper. A lot of my colleagues scoff at pre-pasted papers, because they are lower-priced and because they are targeted to the DIY crowd.

But I like them! As long as they are paper or the newer non-woven materials (and not vinyl, which is horrible low-end stuff!), I think they are fabulous products, as well as much faster to apply. Please read yesterday’s post for more reasons why I like these papers.

In the photo, you see the water tray I use. I roll the strip up and run it through the water to activate the thin layer of paste which the manufacturer has applied to the back. As the paper comes out of the water, I fold the pasted sides together – this is called booking. The paper is set aside for a few minutes so the paste can activate, the paper can absorb moisture and expand, and to let excess water can drain off.

I will often roll on and cut into the edges a very light coat of paste, just to augment the adhesive already on the paper.

Then the paper is applied to the wall. Because a lot of water comes in contact with the surface, it’s important to wipe the surface completely, and to rinse your cloths frequently.

Playful World Map With Fun Animals for Baby’s Nursery

August 8, 2017

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Couples love this mural for their new baby – I’m betting it’s all over HOUZZ and Pintrest, and that’s where web surfers are finding it. This is the third time I’ve hung it, each time in a different color. The seams were much better this time, having been cut straight so there were not gaps of overlaps, and lying down better. (Search to read my previous posts.)

The mural came from Portugal, and was custom-sized to fit this accent wall in the nursery. The homeowner did the measuring, and he did a good job (as opposed to a prior install – read previous post), and the manufacturer also added a little around all the edges, to allow for trimming at the side walls, floor, and ceiling.

Now, if the homeowner had called me before he ordered that mural, I would have had him get it a little larger. The manufacturer’s guidelines allowed for a scant 1″ at the ceiling and baseboard. In a perfect world, this would be fine.

But in this room (in a beautifully renovated 1940 bungalow in the Houston Heights), the walls were not plumb, and the ceiling was not level. If I had hung the mural true-to-plumb, it would have started tracking off-kilter along the ceiling and floor lines, quickly eating up that 1″ allowance, and quite possibly ending up running out of paper at the top of the wall or at the baseboard. The same thing could happen at the corners, too. (That did happen on one of my other installs.)

Before I pasted a piece, I did a lot of measuring and plotting, to be sure I could position the mural so it would cover the entire height and width of the wall space. Much too complicated to explain. But, in a nutshell, what I did was to hang the mural off-plumb, but parallel with the un-level ceiling.

I started with the center panel, to minimize any tracking on either the left or right sides. I also made sure that the strips falling on either side of that center piece would be wide enough to reach the two wall corners, even if they hung crooked.

My strategy worked, and I ended up trimming off 1 1/4″ from the top, and 3/4″ from the bottom, on each strip. This meant that the mural was running parallel with the ceiling and floor, which was more important than being perfectly plumb. (Note: Usually you’re trimming off 2″ at both top and bottom, so today we were really cutting it close.)

Another complicating factor to this install was that, while most wallpaper widths are 20.5″, 27″, or 36,” these three mural panels were each 4′ wide. I’m 5’3″ tall, and my arm stretch is probably not a full 4,’ so handling, positioning, manipulating the pasted 9′ long strips was very difficult.

Additionally, it was important to “work clean,” because the surface is textured and it’s not easy to remove any paste that might get on the front of the wallpaper.

There’s more: My work table is 33″ wide, so pasting and booking the 48″ wide x 9′ long strips was a challenge. And the pasted strips, which I booked in accordion folds, were heavy and unwieldy.

All that mental plotting and physical gymnastics were worth it, though, because the finished mural looked fantastic, and the mom-and-dad-to-be loved it.

I have a pretty long lead time (4 months), but this couple called at the moment when another job had just postponed due to construction delays, so I had an open day and could get them done right away. That’s really good, because the baby’s coming, and the parents want to get the room furnished and decorated and ready.

I’m glad I was able to help them. 🙂