Posts Tagged ‘bubbles’

Air Bubbles from Latex Paint

June 13, 2018

The walls had a light texture covered with latex paint, so I skim floated over the walls to smooth them. When the wet smoothing compound got onto the wall, the latex paint absorbed moisture, expanded, and created these bubbles. It’s called “off gassing.”

After the mud dried and was sanded, most of the bubbles disappeared, but some rings were still visible. When I primed with Gardz, a water-borne penetrating sealer, many of the bubbles raised their heads again.

I will have to see if they dry flat over night, or if I will have to use my putty knife to knock them off in the morning. I don’t want bumps showing under the new wallpaper!

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Torn Drywall – Gardz Cures All

May 17, 2018

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When the wallpaper was stripped off the wall, some of the top layer of drywall came off with it. This is bad, because the inner layer that has been revealed will bubble when wet paint or wallpaper paste gets on it. Which, of course, looks bad under the new paint or wallpaper.

Gardz is a penetrating sealer that will soak into the surface, and then dry hard and impenetrable, allowing you to paint, paper, or, as in this case, skim-float over it with smoothing compound, without worries of bubbles or an unstable surface.

Gardz looks milky-white in the can, but dries clear. It is very thin and runny, so be sure to cover the floor and baseboards. In the photo, it has been applied to the lower left corner of the torn area.

The second photo shows the wall after it has been Gardz’ed, skim-floated, sanded, and re-Gardz’ed.

Mirror Removed – Ready for Wallpaper? NOT!

March 20, 2018


A mirror had been glued to this wall with mastic adhesive (a tar-like substance). When the mirror was pulled off the wall, the adhesive pulled some of the drywall along with it, and in other places it left some of the tar on the wall. Then someone skimmed over the surface with joint compound.

The wet joint compound caused the torn areas of the drywall to absorb moisture and ripple, and the tar worked its way through the joint compound.

Both torn drywall and tar are problems under wallpaper. The ripples from the torn drywall will show under the new wallpaper. And moisture from the wallpaper paste is likely to make the bubbles larger. The black mastic (tar) will bleed through the wallpaper, creating black spots.

If I had been there when they removed the mirror, I would have taken a utility knife and cut the globs of mastic completely out of the wall. Removing it is preferable to trying to cover it up. Yes, this would have torn the drywall, opening it up to wrinkling when it gets wet with primer or paste.

But the penetrating sealer “Gardz” is designed to fix torn drywall. It dries hard and impermeable, so moisture cannot get through. No worries about bubbles or wrinkles! The cut areas could then be skim-floated over and then sanded smooth.

But since I didn’t get to prep from the beginning, I inherited this wall in the top photo, with torn, wrinkly areas, and with tar bleeding through the joint compound.

To prevent additional bubbling, I coated the wall with Gardz. Once that was dry, wanting to both smooth the wall and create an additional barrier to contain the mastic stains, I skim-floated the entire wall, let dry, sanded smooth, and sealed again with Gardz.

Gardz doesn’t protect against stains, though. So, to keep the mastic from bleeding through, I coated the wall with KILZ Original oil-based stain killer and blocker. This worked better having the joint compound under it, because when I’ve put KILZ directly on mastic adhesive, the two petroleum-based products simply melded into one another, and left us with the very real potential for bleeding through wallpaper (or paint, BTW).

So the KILZ should have effectively blocked any stains from the mastic. But the new problem is that wallpaper paste will not stick to modern, EPA-approved, oil-based products. Plus, I was worried that a little of the black tar might still find a way through.

So I skim-floated the wall again, creating yet another layer that would bury those tar stains. After that was sanded smooth and wiped free of dust, I applied another heavy coat of Gardz.

All this took a long time, but it’s good assurance that bubbles will not be seen under the new wallpaper, and that no black spots will grow on its surface.

Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Again – Not Lovin’ It This Time

August 27, 2017

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“…Mitchell Black (company) is taking the intimidation out of wallpaper, one bold pattern and easy-hang strip at a time,” says the bi-line.  I’m always glad to see wall décor in public media.  But I see a number of problems with the rest of their information.

First, they print commercial grade (fine for its setting), traditional paper (great – as long as it’s a good substrate), and peel-and-stick (horrible).  P&S paper is like putting a large and unworkable sheet of Contact Paper on your walls.   Even though they call it “removable paper,” it will tear up the wall as you pull it off.   It’s very difficult to get smoothed out and looking good; the article even says that you can expect it to trap air bubbles so “…save it for rooms with lots of furniture and soft light.”  !!

Next, they print on 24″ wide x 18′ long rolls.   Regular wallpaper comes either 20.5″ or 27″ wide.  Why print on an odd sized roll?  And what’s with a measly 18′ long roll?  Most papers come 33′ long or 27′ long, and generally yield three or two strips respectively.  With a roll 18′ long, with 8′ high ceilings, you might get two strips (after allowing for trimming and pattern placement / matching), but with the more common 9′ ceilings, you will get only one strip).  And a whole lot of paper you paid for that is going in the trash can.

Last, it says, “Some pros paint first, but it’s not necessary.  Just spackle holes and sand rough spots.”  Wrong, wrong, WRONG!  Proper wall prep counts for 60% or more of a successful job!  Paperhangers don’t “paint” – they prime, with a primer specifically suited for wallpaper.  And merely glossing over imperfections won’t hide them … walls must be as perfectly smooth as possible.  If you paper over a textured wall, the bumps will show through.  If you paper over a glossy wall, the paper won’t stick.

I’m not fond of their patterns, either.  Cute designs, but three of the four photos of room sets with furniture and accessories looked awfully busy.

Just my 2c.

Fixing a “Hot Mess”

April 18, 2017

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The homeowners of this house in Fleetwood (west Houston) tried to remove the wallpaper from their powder room on their own. They did a reasonably good job at the start, but soon realized that they were in over their heads.

In the top photo, they have removed the top layer of wallpaper from the wall on the left. The problem came when trying to take off the white backing layer. Their efforts resulted in torn drywall (second photo). Torn drywall is very bad, because it will leave uneven areas under the new wallpaper / paint. Worse, it will bubble when the moisture from the wallpaper paste or latex paint touches it, and that will leave bubbles under the new wallpaper / paint.

These homeowners were smart enough to stop before more damage was done, and called in the pros (me).

I finished stripping off the old wallpaper, using methods that caused less damage to the drywall. There was one patch of original wallpaper, a foil-type that dated back to the build date of 1976, that would not come off without a lot of damage to the wall. I left that section on the wall.

Once all the paper was off that would come off, I sealed the torn drywall and other unstable surface areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer. Once that was dry, I skim-floated the entire room with “mud,” (joint compound). When that was dry, I sanded the surface smooth. Then I vacuumed up the dust, then wiped any residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge.

Lastly, I rolled on another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. It will dry hard and tight, preventing the torn drywall from bubbling, and holding all the loose or unstable areas together. It is also a good primer for wallpaper, so tomorrow the walls will be prepped and ready for their new décor! See last photo.

Prepping Heavily Textured Walls for Wallpaper

February 15, 2017
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Wow. Some DIY remodeler / house flipper loved this textured wall finish, and sprayed it on EVERY WALL AND CEILING in this otherwise-beautifully-updated home near Gessner & Kempwood. The young couple who bought the home want wallpaper in their two daughters’ rooms and in a front room study, plus they want chalkboard paint on one wall in the kitchen.

Wallpaper looks best and sticks best to smooth walls, and the chalkboard wall needs to be perfectly smooth, so I am spending two days smoothing these surfaces. The wallpaper will go up later.

Today I skim-floated the walls with joint compound. (It’s kind of like plaster, and is applied with a trowel.) I went through nearly FIVE boxes of the stuff (see photo). Each box is 44 lbs. Need I say that my arms and shoulders are tired and sore? 🙂

Applying it thickly enough to cover the 1/4″ – 1/2″ bumps means that it will take a looong time to dry, so I have turned on the heat in the house (to help draw moisture out of the smoothing compound) as well as the house fan (to circulate air), set several fans up blowing against the walls, and left it to dry overnight. Tomorrow, I will sand the walls.

Because the skim coat was so thick, even when it is sanded, the surface will not be perfectly smooth, and will also have many holes caused by air bubbles. So I will trowel on a second, much lighter coat, to cover these irregularities. With the heat cranking, and the fans blowing, this second skim coat should dry fairly quickly.

Then I will sand one final time, vacuum up the dust, wipe the walls free of dust with a damp sponge, and finally roll on a sealing primer called Gardz.

The painters can then apply the chalkboard paint to the kitchen wall. And when I come back to hang wallpaper in a month or so, the messy part of the job will be over and done with, so no more dust or mess or smells in the clients’ home – just new, pretty wallpaper for the little girls’s rooms and for Mom’s study.

Peel & Stick “Temporary” Wallpaper – Horrible Stuff

November 23, 2016

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Boy, oh boy, did I hate seeing this featured in Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Interior designer and television star Genevieve Gorder has many fans, and so does BH&G magazine! When people read something in print, they tend to believe it. I hope that people do NOT read this article and make a mad dash to buy this new product… peel & stick, so-called “temporary” wallpaper.

In my experience, it’s horrible. You know how difficult it is to put Contact paper on a surface without getting wrinkles or bubbles. But Contact paper is only about 18″ wide, and only as long as your shelf. Imagine trying to manipulate that Contact paper in a wider strip, and one that reaches from floor to ceiling! And if you try to pull it up to reposition it or smooth out a wrinkle, it will pull the paint off the wall below, creating an uneven surface and leaving paint on the back of the paper, so you have areas that now will not stick to the wall.

And the claim of “temporary” is misleading, too. In my experience, the stuff bonds tightly to the wall, and gets tighter over time. Removing it is likely to cause damage to the paint and even the underlying drywall.

I won’t hang peel & stick, and many of my friends won’t, either.

When shopping, please do your research before making a final decision.

New Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Bathroom

May 3, 2016
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Last week, I stripped off a decade-old botanical and bird wallpaper pattern from my master bathroom, and replaced it with this “Raspberry Bramble,” by Bradbury & Bradbury (http://bradbury.com/), a California-based company that specializes in patterns true to the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts and Victorian periods, along with some Mid-Century Modern and other designs.

This B&B wallpaper was a little tricky to work with. For starters, it has to be hand-trimmed (see photo) to remove the selvedge edge. My go-to pre-mixed adhesive is not a good choice for this material, so I chose a potato-starch paste available from Bradbury, that comes powdered and is mixed with water on-site.

This particular pattern has a lot of ink (smells like moth balls!) on the surface, and, when paste is applied to the back, the backing absorbs paste and swells at a different rate than the inked surface, resulting in wrinkles and bubbles and twists, plus the curled edges you see in the photo, which can prevent the seams from lying down properly. The moisture differential can cause the paper to continue to swell on the wall, causing wired (overlapped or puckered) seams.

I’ve hung a good amount of Bradbury & Bradbury papers, but had never encountered the degree of bubbling and curling as with this paper.

The solution to all this is to mist or damp-sponge the surface of the paper, which puts moisture on the front, and allows the front and back (wet by the paste) to absorb moisture more evenly. Then the paper is folded loosely (booked), and also rolled up like a newspaper. This helps push the curled edges back down. Then the strip of wallpaper is placed in a plastic trash bag to sit for 10-15 minutes, much longer than the booking time for most papers.

All of this took more time, but it resulted in smooth paper with flat seams.

My plan for this room is to achieve a 1700’s French chateau look, so I am also darkening and stenciling my vanity, which has a new “Noche” travertine countertop, will be hanging some frilly antique wall clocks, period artwork, a beautiful chandelier, and adding other features.

Laura Ashley for English Country Cottage Charm

December 11, 2015
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Decorating themes by Welsh designer Laura Ashley were all the rage in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, and every now and then a modern-day homeowner seeks the charm of this very British, flowered, cottagey look. Indeed, today’s client had stored this wallpaper (left over from a previous house) for several years. It was still in good condition, and hung very nicely.

I hung this on just one wall of a powder room in a large home in Sugarland (Houston). Usually I recommend papering all the rooms in a powder room, because such a small room can look very chopped up if different walls are treated differently. But this pattern has so much going on, and is so “sweet,” that putting it on all the walls might have been overwhelming. I think the homeowner made the right decision by putting it on only the wall you see when you first walk in.

This is a solid vinyl material on paper backing, pre-pasted, and the manufacturer is Imperial. Laura Ashley used to be made by another company, and required using their own special (and difficult to get) paste, or you would get horrible bubbles. This version made by Imperial was much nicer to work with.

I don’t usually like solid vinyl material on a paper backing, especially the pre-pasted varieties. In humid rooms (steamy bathrooms), it is prone to the paper backing absorbing moisture and curling back at the seams, and also the vinyl layer can even delaminate from the backing. This type of problem is impossible to repaste or repair.

I didn’t mention anything to the homeowner, though, because, well, gee – she already had the paper. It was funny, though, because she had read my information about which papers to buy and which to avoid, and she sheepishly brought up the fact that this was “one of the papers you don’t like.”

I am sure she will be fine, though. This powder room will not be subject to humidity, and I put a good primer on the wall, plus used additional adhesive to ensure a tight bond. I predict that it will hold up quite nicely.

Bubbles = Bad News

May 17, 2015
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I had stripped off the old paper in this powder room, and the handyman came and did a few repairs. Later, I came back and primed the walls with Gardz, a water-based product that soaks into the wall and dries hard, sealing everything. A half hour later, I looked and noticed that bubbles had formed (Photo 1). Not good, as these will show under the wallpaper, not to mention they indicate an unstable sub-surface.

The bubbles are a result of the sub-surface absorbing moisture from the primer, and expanding, causing the bubbles. The homeowner said that the handyman had had the same problem in the adjoining room. Since she says there are no more layers of wallpaper in the wall, I suspect this is a result of years of painting, priming, floating, etc., and some of those layers not being compatible with one another. In other words, if someone put latex paint over old oil-based paint, without properly prepping the surface, you might have two materials that don’t stick well to each other. Likewise, there are many other materials can be incompatible.

So, what I did was, with my razor knife, I cut out the area that was bubbled (Photos 2 & 3). Then I floated over the area with joint compound (Photo 4). Interestingly, a couple of these patches had additional, very small bubbles appear (Photo 6).

These were rather deep patches, and I wanted to be sure they were good and dry, all the way down to the bottom, so I hit them with the heat gun to encourage drying, then let them dry overnight, in the air-conditioned room (A/C pulls humidity out of the air).

The next day, I sanded everything smooth, and primed again with Gardz. Sorry, no photos – I forgot to bring my camera. 😦 There is always that nagging worry that the wet paste on the back of the wallpaper will cause an unstable surface to bubble, but the wall was sealed well, and the paper went up beautifully with no problems. See tomorrow’s post.