Posts Tagged ‘ceiling’

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

May 5, 2021

In my previous post, the wall had the thick, knock-down texture that is typical in new tract homes in the Houston area. You can’t hang wallpaper on this texture, because it looks bad under the paper, and because it interferes with good adhesion.

The solution is to “skim-float” the walls with joint compound, a.k.a. “mud,” which is much like plaster. The mud needs time to dry. When the texture on the walls is super heavy, as in this home, I usually let the smoothing compound dry overnight. That does add an extra day – and an extra day’s cost – to the job.

To save these homeowners from paying for that extra day, we pulled out all the stops. In this photo, you see my two box fans and my heavy-duty black floor fan blasting away at the wall. In addition, we have the room’s ceiling fan. And, in the lower left corner, the homeowner added his yellow “squirrel cage” fan.

Once the wall got half-way dry, I used my heat gun – the yellow gizmo you see lying on the dropcloth, which I call “The Great Persuader” – to speed up the drying process in stubborn areas.

Still, it took a long time for the wall to completely dry. Next I had to sand the “mud” smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then apply a primer.

Start to finish, all that prep, plus hanging the paper – a whole 3.1 strips in 35 sq. ft. of space – took nearly eight hours.

Sophisticated “Bloom” Pattern for Newborn Baby Girl

May 4, 2021
Wall is primed and read to hang.
Baby’s finished wall!
Close-Up … Watercolor-y look and feel on “non-woven” substrate that mimics real gasscloth’s substrate.
Rolling panels out on the floor, to verify sequence and pattern placement before hanging.
Panels laid out in sequence. Panels rolled backward and secured with dollar store hair bands, to reduce “curl” and “memory”, and, most important – to prevent the surface of the paper from coming into contact with / being contaminated by the paste on the wall.
Hanging a small test strip, to see how material will perform. This was important, because both the specs printed on the label , as well as the insert instructions, AND on-line instructions, turned out to be incorrect. Testing helped me know which installation process to follow.
Manufacturer and pattern information.
Layout diagram showing pattern orientation. Note that this design can be hung with the “flowers” coming up from the floor (as the new mother requested here) or hanging down from the ceiling, as depicted on the mock-up they sent.

Please read captions under the photos above, for synopsis information.

zUsed to brighten and personalize the accent wall behind a crib for a new baby girl (the new parents are waiting on a name!) this design by Emma Hayes is entitled Bloom.

Contrary to the information on the manufacturer’s website, the product label, and the instruction insert, this product did not need expensive materials or physical gymnastics to get onto the wall. It ended up being quite nice to work with.

I was made of a non-woven material, which is all synthetic, which means it is dimentionaly-stable and won’t shrink when it dries (or put undue tension on your walls).

another good thing about this paper is that it can be custom-sized to fit any wall. Here, it is important to have the paperhanger measure first and determine how many bolts to buy before you order. It’s not about total square feet. It’s more about how many strips are required to cover your wall.

And it’s imperative that you add 2″ to EACH dimension (top, bottom, and either side), to allow for matching the pattern, wonky walls, un-level ceiling, etc. The extra 1%-2% that some companies add simply is not enough. No matter what the guy on the website’s “Help” line says – they simply do not understand wallpaper, nor do they really know how much you need to buy.

This design is sort of a knock-off of other, more expensive designer brand names – but at a lower price-point, as well as printed on an install-friendly substrate (as opposed to brands that like to “waffle” and “quilt” and curl at the seams and other mis-behaving stuff …

Free-Form Rainbow for Baby Due Soon

March 21, 2021
“Before” wall, smoothed and primed.
Measurements done, strip placement plotted, material rolled backward and ready to hang.
Start in the center, to ensure the rainbow lands behind the crib. This is the first three strips.
Although the paper is smooth, the printing method makes it look lightly textured.

Momma chose this soft, water color-y rainbow mural by Anewall for her baby girl’s nursery.

The wall had to be carefully measured, and specific dimensions sent to the manufacturer, to ensure that the custom-printed mural would fit the wall and also have sufficient “bleed” (extra 2″ around EACH side), to allow for trimming and for unlevel and unplumb ceiling and walls.

Don’t let “custom printed” scare you. Modern digital printing makes this easy and affordable.

Just be sure that the paperhanger measures (not Handy Hubby) BEFORE you order.

This was printed on a non-woven material, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method.

The manufacturer is Anewall. I like the products from this company.

They offer several substrate options. I guess I like the non-woven (paste-the-wall) version best. Second to that is the pre-pasted. Not so fond of their vinyl offering, and definitely wouldn’t work with a peel & stick.

The home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston.

Crazy Unlevel Ceiling Line

January 14, 2021

OK, folks – you can’t keep the wallpaper looking straight as it runs along under the ceiling (meaning, keep the same motif at exactly the same distance from the ceiling), if the ceiling itself isn’t level or even straight.

When a surface is level, and you place a level against it, the bubble will be smack in the middle of the window. As you can see, in today’s room, the bubble wasn’t even trying to be in the center of the window.

Even crazier, these two photos were taken on the same wall, and just a foot apart.

That means that the ceiling line was more like a roller coaster than a nice, flat, level platform. Understandable in a 1935 house built on ever-shifting Houston “gumbo” soil.

How this applies to wallpaper is that, if you are trying to position a particular motif – let’s say it’s a sailboat – just under the ceiling, as subsequent strips of paper get hung, that sailboat motif is going to move up and down under the ceiling line. Sometimes that even means that the top part of the sailboat may get chopped off as the ceiling line moves downward.

Cute As Can Be Pineapples In Clear Lake Powder Room

August 21, 2020


Originally, this powder room in a brand new home in the Clear Lake area south of Houston was painted a taupe-y grey, and the walls were heavily textured. This bright and crisp Pineapple pattern in navy on white really opened up and brightened the room, and made it fitting for a family with two toddlers.

It took a day and a half to smooth the textured walls, and a full day to hang the paper. The extremely un-plumb walls and un-level ceiling and floor and sink, and other features were all obstacles. The homeowner and I decided that it would be better to have the pattern match in the corners, and then let it run crooked along the ceiling and floor lines. Too complicated to get into here. But in the end, the finished room looks great!

I usually love Serena & Lily papers, but this time I encountered several printing defects. There was a slight pattern mis-match at the seams. There was a faint smudge on one motif at the point of every pattern repeat. And one bolt had a line of dark blue ink along the right edge that ran for several feet. AND … this bolt came with no label. I assumed it was a return, and was of a different run, and thus was unusable in this powder room Luckily, I usually have the homeowners order enough paper to accommodate issues like this.

Coincidentally enough, my Wallcovering Installers Association colleagues on our private Facebook page had just been discussing Serena & Lily papers, and a rash of printing defects and other issues that many installers had been experiencing lately.

Other than the printing defects and wonky walls, the paper went up nicely.

Serena & Lily papers (and other home good merchandise) can be bought on-line, or through their paper catalog – which they just mailed out recently.

Tips On Hanging Wallpaper On A Ceiling

May 2, 2020

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


After wallpaper is pasted, it is “booked,” which means folding pasted-side-to-pasted-side, usually sectioned off with the top 1/3 and then the bottom 2/3. Then the strip is taken to the wall and unfolded and then positioned and smoothed against the wall.

But when hanging a ceiling, which can be a much longer strip and with gravity working not with you but against you, I’ve found that accordion folds (see photo) make the strip much more manageable. Once the first section is in position on the ceiling, I use push pins to hold it temporarily in place, while I move along the ceiling, working the remainder of the strip into position, unfolding one section at a time.

Since I don’t have scaffolding, I set two ladders next to one another, so that I can step from one to the other (see photo), when enables me to smooth longer portions of the strip of wallpaper into position before having to get down on the floor and move the ladders further down the way.

Sorry – no pics of me unbooking those according folds or smoothing the paper against the ceiling … If I had taken my hands off the paper to pick up my camera, the whole strip would have peeled itself away from the wall!

Crazy Install – Underside of Stairs

February 28, 2020


You are looking upward at the undersides of five stairs that make up most of the ceiling in this West U powder room. You’ve gotta wonder why the builder didn’t just have the Sheetrockers drywall over it.

Well, either way, the workmanship in rocking in all these surfaces was incredible.

Equally incredible was ME getting wallpaper onto them! 🙂

It’s a lot more complicated than it seems, looking at it from the comfort of your cell phone screen. I won’t go into all the many factors, but each of the five stairs took me about an hour.

Grasscloth in Cypress Powder Room

February 18, 2020


The walls and ceiling in this large powder room in a newish home in the Bridgeland Creek neighborhood of Cypress (northwest Houston) were originally a dark gold. I like dark rooms, but this one felt oppressive. It needed to be a little lighter, and to have a bit more interest on the walls.

The walls had a heavy texture, typical of new homes in the suburbs of Houston. I skim-floated the walls, then let dry overnight. The next day, I sanded the walls smooth, wiped off the dust, primed – and then was ready to hang wallpaper.

The pictures don’t adequately show the color of the new grasscloth, but we have natural brown grass color overlaid onto a really deep blue paper backing. The designer had the ceiling painted a dark, sort of murky blue, which coordinates really nicely with the blue in the grasscloth.

Lighting is funny … While I was working in the room, I had two 100 watt light bulbs; one suspended from the ceiling and one attached to where the light fixture belongs. The grasscloth just looked “normal.”

But once the room’s decorative light fixture went back up, it cast light on the textured surface in such a way that the “nubs” and knots really showed up! (see photo) The homeowner loved it!

As a note … With grasscloth, there is no pattern match, and you can also plan on seeing color differences between strips. So it’s important to plot where your seams will fall.

The electrical box, the light fixture, and the faucet were all in different vertical positions on the wall. Because the mirror would take up most of the wall behind the faucet and block the seam, I chose to center the seam on the light fixture, because it would be visible above the mirror. Well – sort of visible … as you can see, light rays from the fixture are so strong that no one can see where the seam is, anyway. 😦

The room had a “floating” sink. One of the photos shows the area under the sink. This area is open to view, and, because there are so many obstacles, it is difficult and time-consuming to wrap the paper underneath and trim around all those pipes and brackets.

The grasscloth wallpaper is by York. I was pretty pleased with the consistency of the material. Although some of the strips did present “paneling” and “shading” – color variances between strips – even strips that came off the same bolt and that were reverse-hung. One strip even had a rather abrupt color change mid-way from top to bottom. (no photo)

But that’s par for the course with grasscloth, and it’s considered to be “the natural beauty of this natural material.”

The interior designer for this project is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group.

Keeping the Pattern Match While Coming Around a Bank of Windows

February 14, 2020


Hanging wallpaper around windows is tough, because getting the pattern to match above the windows, and then down the side and then match up with the pattern under the window is really tricky.

ESPECIALLY in a room where the walls are out of plumb, and the ceiling is not level, and also considering that wallpaper naturally stretches and warps when it is wetted with paste, plus various other factors.

I was lucky that this was a non-woven material, which is “dimensionally stable” – meaning it (supposedly) won’t expand, nor twist or warp when it absorbs paste. So, theoretically, after papering over and then under the window, the final full-height strip along the right side should butt up with the strip above the window, and then the strip below the window. That, actually, did work out perfectly.

But I still had to deal with the potential for the pattern to track off kilter, due to all those un-plumb and un-level factors. If it got off a little, I could tweak it a bit by pulling the last strip either higher or lower – the pattern is forgiving, and you would not notice a small pattern mis-match – especially 11′ up and behind drapes.

But I wanted to minimize a potential pattern mis-match as much as possible.

I figured that if the pattern stayed straight across the top of the windows, and also stayed straight across the area below the windows, it would have to match up with the final 11′ strip to the right of the windows.

To keep the pattern straight and at the right height on the wall, I used a level and pencil to draw a horizontal line that corresponded to the top of a leaf motif in the pattern. I did this both above and below the window.

Then, while hanging the paper, I made sure to keep that particular leaf at the same height of the line I had drawn on the wall.

It was a bit trickier than that, because it was a drop match, which means that that leaf only showed up on every other strip. But it all worked out.

One trick is to keep the strip “open,” which means that you put it into position, but don’t trim at top or bottom until you get the following strip into place. That way, you have the option of moving the previous strip either up or down to match the pattern, or, in the event that it won’t match perfectly, you can split the difference and spread the pattern mis-match between the two strips.

But I didn’t have to do much splittin’. By keeping the leaf at the height of my pencil line, by the time that last strip fell into place, the design matched up perfectly both above and below the window.

Textured, Woven, Faux Grasscloth in Cypress Master Bedroom

February 2, 2020


Even with high (13′) vaulted ceilings, the original medium-toned purple paint in this master bedroom in a new home in the Town Lake neighborhood of Cypress (northwest Houston) made the room look a little closed-in. And the purple didn’t coordinate with anything the young homeowners own.

So they broke out the extension ladder and painted three walls a creamy white. Then they had me install a textured vinyl wallpaper with a woven grasscloth look on the wall behind the bed.

The job too two days. One day was to apply smoothing compound to the heavyish texture which is typical of new homes in the suburbs. The next day I sanded it smooth, wiped off the dust, primed, and then hung the paper.

Daylight was fading fast, so I had to take the “after” photo when only three strips were up. But you get the idea.

In the top photo, you see I have laid my rolled-up strips against the wall in the order they came off the bolt, and in the order in which they will be hung. This helps minimize color differences

As with most solid color and textured patterns, I used the “reverse hang” procedure to minimize shading – you hang one strip right side up, and the next strip you hang upside down. This way, the same side of each strip is placed next to each other. That way, if, for example, the left side of a bolt of wallpaper is slightly darker than the right side, you won’t notice an abrupt color change between your two strips, because the two darker sides are placed next to each other. I know that sounds complicated, but it’s a common practice when hanging wallpaper, and it does reduce color variations between strips.

One strip did end up a tad darker than the one next to it. They are all from the same run, so who knows what’s going on there. It’s a minor color difference, and not nearly as bad as if they had chosen real grasscloth instead. (Real grasscloth has tons of disappointing color variances between and even within strips.)

The close-up shows the beautiful texture of this embossed vinyl material. I have no idea why it came out grey – the paper is actually navy blue.

The vinyl wallcovering has a woven fabric (scrim) back, and is way more durable and stain-resistant than real grasscloth, or any other wallpaper, for that matter.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Bankun Raffia” 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.