Posts Tagged ‘clay’

Another Installer’s Problems With British Pulp Paper

May 31, 2022
Scroll down a few posts to see where I hung this exact same pattern, and coincidentally just a few blocks away. I had absolutely no problems. Yet this poor installer struggled and ended up with many dissatisfactory issues.
In this photo, you see where the wallpaper has shrunk at the seams and left a gap, some tears, and a patch to cover a mishap.
More tears and gaps.
Paper coming lose from the wall. Not taking primer or paint with it. But you can see the adhesive clinging to the back of the paper. I’m suspecting this is clay adhesive. Nothing wrong with clay, but I prefer one of the vinyl-based adhesives.
Not sure what the guy used as a primer (if any).

This is the popular Strawberry Thief by William Morris , usually sold by Morris & Co. I’m believing the problem here is the material on which this pattern was printed.

The site from which this was purchased called it a ” heritage ” paper. It is, indeed, made of what we call a British pulp material. Old-fashioned, it is. These days, most wallpaper coming from the U.K. is printed on non-woven stock. The paper I hung a few days ago was non-woven.

Pulp wallpapers have a nice look. But they have no protective coating, so become soiled easily. They soften when wet with paste and tear easily, and can also shred under the razor blade while trimming. They expand when wet with paste, and then shrink as they dry, which often results in gaps at the seams.

Even skilled installers can have difficulties when working with this stuff. In fact, on the private Facebook page of the Wallcovering Installers Association ( WIA ), we have just been discussing this very same topic.

I believe this previous installer had a few shortcomings, such as lack of skill and maybe used the wrong or no wallpaper primer. But I think the real and unsurmountable culprit was the substrate.

Moral: If given the option, choose a non-woven material. They are made with minimum 20% polyester content, and thus are resistant to shrinking, tearing, and tension at the seams. Many other advantages, too. Non-wovens are also referred to as paste the wall .

Rebel Walls Gives You Paste

February 24, 2022
I carry 5-gallon buckets of wallpaper paste in my van. But to make it easy for DIY’ers, rebelwalls.com includes a box of paste with every order. This is powdered paste that needs to be mixed with water. This may be lightweight and easy to ship, but I don’t like to use it when hanging a non-woven material like theirs.
Non-wovens are prone to staining and blushing (look like they’re wet but never dry out) . Most often this is caused by the paste – usually a paste that is too “wet” or, in other words, has a high moisture content. Roman 880 is notorious for this, as is Dynomite (now Roman) 234.
But a paste that you make by mixing powder into water seems even more risky for having a high water content, and causing staining. And so is the practice of dampening the back of the paper with a damp sponge, or a spritz of water from a squirt bottle. In my mind, too much water / moisture = risk of staining or blushing.
I say, skip the anxiety and use a low-moisture pre-mixed vinyl adhesive such as Roman 838 or Dynomite 780 (also now made by Roman). Clay pastes are also known for low water content – but I definitely do not recommend on a non-woven material, as I’ve seen the red clay bleed through far too many wallpaper surfaces.

Special Paste for Special Paper

July 22, 2020


Most wallpapers can be hung with standard wallpaper pastes. But some papers are more delicate or have special characteristics (silk, vintage, non-woven, prone to curling seams,) and thus call for special pastes.

When certain pastes are used, non-woven wallpapers like this one can display “blushing” or “staining,” which look like wet spots that never dry.

This manufacturer, Rebel Walls, has included a box of paste that is specially formulated to work with non-woven material. It is a powdered potato starch-based paste that is mixed with water on-site, allowed to set up, then mixed again, and then it’s ready to use.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t use this paste. With the propensity of non-wovens to blush and stain, the less moisture you introduce, the better. So I would opt for a pre-mixed clear paste, such as Roman’s 838 or SureStik 780. But beware – some other types of clear pre-mixed pastes will stain (880, 234) and probably clay pastes will, too.

Arts & Crafts Authenticity in a 1908 Heights Home

July 16, 2020


This home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston dates back to the very early 20th Century, back when the Arts & Crafts movement was in full force. The style emphasized nature, earthy colors, blocky features, and stylized designs.

I like this look a lot, so it was really fun to work with the wallpaper and help bring their living room to their vision. They have the period furniture to go with it.

The wallpaper is by Bradbury & Bradbury, a California company that makes wallpaper in vintage and antique designs – Victorian, William Morris, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, Oriental, Atomic Age, ’20’s, and more.

Their paper is a little tricky to work with. First, there is an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off with a 6′ straightedge and razor blade (search here for other posts showing that process).

The manufacturer calls for clay-based paste, which I hate, for various reasons. But to comply with their specs, I bought a $50, 50lb, 5-gallon bucket of it – and used only about 1/2 gallon. Clay is a low-moisture paste, which helps with this material.

When wet with paste, the heavy inks on this paper absorb moisture differently from the paper backing, and the result is “waffling” or “quilting” – which is when you get wrinkles inside the unprinted areas (do a search here for more posts on this issue). To prevent this, it helps to lightly dampen the surface of the paper with a sponge and clean water. This helps even out the moisture ratio. I found that this pattern also fared better with a little water sponged lightly onto the back, as well.

To handle the 20′ long horizontal strips, after pasting, I folded the strips accordion-style. I also added blue plastic tape to the bottom edge, to prevent paste from getting onto the painted woodwork, which would eliminate the need to wipe it off during installation. Then all went into a plastic trash bag to “book” for a few minutes.

I set up two ladders, so I could step between them as I unfolded the accordion pleats, and I also used push pins to hold the booked strip up while I got down and moved the ladders.

The paper adhered nicely to the wall without curling at the edges. There were a few wrinkles in the inked areas, but these disappeared as the paper dried.

A wide decorative border like this, especially dating to this era, is called a “frieze.”

What’s really cool is that the homeowner (a former contractor), added the block wood molding because he wanted to unite the heights of the door molding with that of the windows (both just barely visible in the photos). That was way before they thought of adding a wallpaper border. Once they discovered Bradbury and started hunting for a wallpaper, turns out that the height of the space between the two moldings was exactly the height of the wallpaper frieze.

Even more amazing is that the paint colors were chosen before they went searching for wallpaper – but are magically perfectly harmonious with the colors in the frieze.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Birchwood Frieze,” by Bradbury & Bradbury. They have lots more gorgeous stuff on their website.

Dark Paper Bringing Brightness to a Harvey Hurricane Flooded Home

June 28, 2018


This home in the Bellaire subdivision of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017. Everything below the 4′ high water mark had to be cut out and thrown out. The homeowners loved the Mid-Century Modern vibe of their 1952 home, so, as the structure was put back together, they re-created everything as accurately as they could – baseboards, doors, cabinets, flooring – they even found a funky green refrigerator designed in the style of what I can only describe as an old Studebaker sedan.

When it came to wallpaper, they wanted something to reflect the vintage vibe. After much research, they agreed on two papers from the Bradbury & Bradbury Vintage ’20’s collection. This colorful bird-flowers-and-foliage-on-black pattern went in their sun room, which can also be called the piano room.

The ’20’s Vintage wallpaper collection is pretty new from Bradbury and Bradbury, which is out in California. This company produces historic-styled patterns from eras such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Victorian, Asian, and more, right on through into the new offerings based on designs from the “Modern Age.”

Like many higher-end or specialty and / or “boutique” wallpaper brands, this paper came with a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand (by me!). The manufacturer’s trim guidelines were spot-on, and so the edges were nice and straight, and the pattern design matched from strip to strip perfectly.

This pattern is digitally-printed on a paper substrate with a somewhat shiny surface. I found that it accepted the paste (clay paste is recommended, to mesh with the paper which is printed on a clay-coated substrate) with no protests, and, after appropriate booking time, the paper handled nicely and the seams laid down nice and flat. That slightly shiny surface also allowed me to wipe any stray spots of paste off the surface.

Because the paper was black, I did take the extra step of using a piece of black chalk to color the edges of the strips, to keep the white substrate from peeking out at the seams.

This room holds a grand piano, and is in the back of the house, where it looks out onto the patio and backyard. It gets a lot of sunlight in the daytime, and the colors in the wallpaper will really stand out, and will bring a lot of light into this very deserving home.