Posts Tagged ‘bubble’

Soft Mattress Ticking Stripe in an All-White Bathroom

April 24, 2019


With just paint on the upper walls, this all-white bathroom was simply … too white. The addition of a soft stripe, in the shape of a classic mattress ticking pattern, was just enough to add some warmth and definition to the space.

While I like the pattern, I am not fond of the material, nor the brand. Norwall is one of the lowest-priced manufacturers out there, and … you get what you pay for. This is a solid vinyl wallpaper with a paper backing. The vinyl surface sounds attractive to homeowners, because it is a tad more stain resistant than other papers, and because it repels water.

The bad news is that humidity (such as when someone takes a shower, or splashes water on a seam) tends to find its way behind the seams and into the paper backing. That paper then swells and pushes away from the wall, causing the seams to curl.

Over time, the vinyl top layer can actually separate (delaminate) from the paper backing, leaving curled seams that cannot be reattached.

In addition, the seams are always a little “pouched” when the paper is installed, and never lie completely flat. It’s also common for this material to bubble or blister as it dries … I call it “burping” … or more properly termed off-gassing as the air released by the drying paste tries to find an escape but is trapped by the vinyl surface. So you have to keep going around the room chasing out bubbles. Really small ones usually disappear as paper dries.

Type in key words and use the Search feature here (upper right corner) to read my previous posts about these topics.

This was the first time I’ve encountered a Norwall solid vinyl paper-backed product that was not pre-pasted. Maybe the manufacturer has figured out what made it’s wallpaper so crap…py… er… disappointing. To be honest, the paper I worked with today (which had to have adhesive applied by hand/paint roller) went up with fewer problems than usual. There were still blisters, and still seams that were not as flat as they should have been. But overall, it was better than I expected.

Only time will tell how this product stands up to humidity in a family bathroom.

This is a new-but-classic-looking home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

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Starburst Diamonds in a North Houston Hall Bath

December 22, 2018


The owners of this 1970’s house in the Cypressdale neighborhood of north Houston have done some outstanding updates that have brought the home right into the modern age.

In this hall bathroom, the larger-scale, rough-surfaced shower tiles work with the sleek, white trough sink to create a clean-yet-warm feel.

A little pizazz on the walls was all that was needed to make the whole room pop!

This fun diamond starburst pattern in a metallic gold on raised-ink (embossed vinyl) covers the walls with the right scale, sheen, and theme.

The wallpaper is by York, and is in their Modern Metals line. I was quite pleased with it. While many wallpapers printed on non-woven substrates are thick and stiff and prone to creasing or having the inks crack and flake off, this one was thin and pliable and happy to hug the wall tightly, and then meld beautifully into turns and intricate cuts (like around detailed moldings). The seams were practically invisible.

What’s more, this wallcovering, with it’s 3-D embossed vinyl surface, will resist water splashes and stains much better than a paper-paper. A little caulk along the top of the sink will prevent water from wicking up under the paper (which could cause the paper to expand and curl and push away from the wall).

I pasted the paper, rather than the alternate installation method of paste-the-wall. Pasting the paper made it more supple and gave it more pliability, so it was easier to work with. It also allowed the paper to absorb moisture from the paste and then expand a tad before going to the wall. (Papers that expand after they are placed on the wall are likely to bubble or warp.)

This York wallpaper 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.

No Primer Under Wallpaper = Torn Drywall

July 24, 2017

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Today I stripped wallpaper off a kitchen where the previous installer had not bothered to prime the walls first, but hung his paper right on top of new Sheetrock.

This is very bad for many reasons.

` The walls will not have stick, so the new wallpaper will not have a proper surface to cling to – and this can cause curling seams, loose areas, and other problems.

` The walls will not have slip, which will make it much harder to install the new paper.

` With nothing separating the new wallpaper from the drywall, the paper will bond to the drywall, making it darned near impossible to get it off later.

This is what happened today. After I removed the top inked layer, and after I soaked the remaining paper backing for a while, the old wallpaper came away from the sections of the wall that were coated with joint compound or paint or wood stain.

But in areas of the wall that were just uncovered Sheetrock, the wallpaper grabbed tightly and could not be pulled off or scraped off. In stripping the wallpaper off these areas, some of the drywall came away, too, leaving areas that were torn and damaged.

These uneven, torn areas are problematic, because they leave bumps and ridges showing under the new wallpaper, and because, since they have no protective coating, they absorb moisture – from water, wallpaper paste, wallpaper primer, or other, and then they expand and then they bubble. Ridges and bubbles look like Hell under wallpaper.

The first photo is a wall to the right of the kitchen counter, where differing layers of drywall have been pulled off the wall. The dark brown area is the deepest.

The third photo is a newish product that is wonderful for sealing and “repairing” torn drywall. Gardz (by Zinsser) is a penetrating primer / sealer that soaks into the surface, binding things together. It dries quickly. When it is dry, it is impervious to moisture – which means that you can apply a water-borne primer over it, or you can skim-float it with joint compound, and not worry about bubbles appearing.

I applied Gardz to these areas of torn Sheetrock, let it dry, then skim-floated over it with joint compound, and then sanded it all smooth. Then I applied a second coat of Gardz.

In addition to making the surface very stable, Gardz serves as a good primer for wallpaper, because it’s molecular structure on its dry surface is such that the molecules of paste, attached to the new wallpaper, will grab on and hold tight.

In this case, because I like a white pigmented primer, and because I like hanging on it, I went over the walls with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. The last photo shows the wall after all that work. Finally ready for wallpaper!

Using 20-Minute “Mud” to Repair Sheetrock Damage

March 31, 2017

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When the homeowners had their powder room vanity top replaced, the shorter new backsplash left a 1″ area of torn drywall around the top of the new backsplash. There was a height difference between the drywall and the wall (which was covered with at least two layers of old wallpaper). This needed to be evened out before the new wallpaper could go up.

Because torn drywall will bubble when it gets wet, I used a penetrating sealer called Gardz to prevent this by sealing the raw area. Once that was dry, I used 20-minute joint compound to “float” over the damaged areas.

The bag says “5” (see photo), but that is misleading. What they mean is that you have five minutes to mix the powdered material with water, stir smooth, and then work with the stuff, before it gets stiff and hard. The actual drying time is more like 10-20 minutes, and sometimes longer.

Once it’s dry, it can be sanded smooth. Wipe off the dust with damp sponge, let dry again. Then it can be sealed with a primer, and I like the penetrating sealer Gardz, once again, to seal this porous joint compound material.

Removing Pedestal Sink Tears Sheetrock

December 4, 2016

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These homeowners wanted the new wallpaper to fall seamlessly behind their powder room sink, so there would be no cut edge that could wick up splashed water, which could cause curling. So they had a plumber remove the sink. This also makes it immensely easier for me to hang the paper, because I don’t have to cut around the sink or pipes.

But since the sink was caulked to the wall, when it was pulled away from the wall, some of the drywall also pulled away, leaving torn areas. These torn areas are bad because they cause uneven areas under the wallpaper, and also because the moisture from the wallpaper paste will cause the compromised areas in the drywall to bubble.

So I sealed the torn areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer by Zinsser, which is formulated to soak into porous surfaces, then dries hard, sealing them and preventing moisture from passing through, and thereby preventing bubbling.

The next step was to skim-float over the torn areas, let dry, and then sand smooth, to even out the surface. A final coat of Gardz sealed the patched area.

Conflicting Instructions

January 19, 2016

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I know – the print is too small to read. But perhaps that is a good thing.

You see, the manufacturer of this wallpaper has provided instructions that don’t make sense.

In one paragraph, he tells the wallpaper installer to paste the paper, fold it (book), and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

But in the next paragraph, he says it’s equally O.K. to paste the wall and then apply the dry wallpaper directly to the pasted wall.

Folks, that don’t make no sense!

If the wallpaper has been pasted and then set aside for a period of time, it will absorb the paste, soften, expand, etc., and that step generally prevents stretching or bubbling on the wall.

But dry-hang products are not supposed to stretch or expand or bubble, so you can put paste on the wall rather than on the back of the paper, and take the dry paper directly to the wall.

These instructions apply to two different products, and the pasting methods are specific to each specific material, and cannot be mixed.

Me thinks that this manufacturer (like many out there), is good at designing pretty patterns, but has no clue as to what makes a good wallpaper, and has even less of a clue as to how to hang it on a wall. Me thinks he has snooped around the websites and instruction sheets of other wallpaper manufacturers and then “borrowed” some of their terminology, and simply tossed it into his own instructions, hoping to cover all the bases.

I hang wallpaper every day (almost), and I have the experience to know how to paste and handle this particular product. But the poor DIY’er who buys this wallpaper and tries to hang it by following the instructions, will be confused, and may well end up with a mess on his wall – wrinkles, bubbles, poor adhesion, yada.