Posts Tagged ‘commercial’

From Fussy Victorian to Serene Home Office

February 10, 2019


Originally, this front bedroom in a 1925 bungalow in the Houston Heights was wallpapered in a dark green and red floral. It was lovely, and went beautifully with the home’s vintage vibe.

But the new homeowners (who have lived here many years, but are just now getting around to decorating this room) want to use this room as a home office, and they wanted something lighter and more modern. In the top photo, you see me stripping off this floral paper.

They were considering grasscloth, but, after reading my warnings about that product (see the page link to the right), they decided to avoid the color variations, staining, and fragility of that material, and instead went with a sort of faux grasscloth – this textured vinyl in a silvery grey color.

The color of the new paper goes perfectly with the gray paint on the woodwork. The paper has vertical lines in a striped pattern, as well as subtle horizontal shading that mimic real grasscloth, but in a more controlled and pleasing way. The commercial-grage vinyl is thick and durable, and will withstand bumps, splashes, and stains way better than most other types of wallcoverings.

On my end, though, the vinyl material was very difficult to work with. It is thick and stiff, and it is on an Osnaburg woven fabric backing, which is much like canvas. It takes a really sharp razor blade and a lot of strength to cut through it.

And because it is so thick, it’s very difficult to get it pressed up tightly against woodwork – so when you trim against the ceiling, doors, or baseboard, it’s very likely to get a gap that lets the wall behind it show. I have a special trim guide that makes a “fat cut,” which helps eliminate that gap.

Because the wallcovering is made of vinyl, it traps moisture behind it, so when the paste behind it dries, there is nowhere for the moisture to go, so you get off gassing – which is a nice way of saying that the paper “burps” and creates bubbles. I had to continually go back and chase bubbles out of the drying paper.

The design has a textured raised vertical stripe pattern. I had cut my first several strips with the intention to start hanging. Then I started measuring the wall, plotting the layout, and counting stripes. They were not laying out properly across the wall. After studying the paper’s pattern for a while, I realized that the stripes on the ends of the paper would not be spaced correctly – unless paper was trimmed off the edges of the wallpaper strips.

By removing 2.5″ from the edge, the stripes would be spaced correctly. I could trim this 2.5″ off, using my work table, a ruler, and my 6′ straightedge.

But the manufacturer’s trimming roller had left a slight beveled edge where it cut the paper. Since my hand-cut edge would be straight up, you would see an odd junction where my straight cut met against the manufacturer’s beveled cut at each seam.

So the only option for a very smooth seam was for me to trim some off both edges of the wallpaper. This worked out to 1.5″ off one side and 1″ off the other. Which was complicated further by the fact that some of the bolts of wallpaper were 1/4″ – 1/2″ narrower than others. So much for quality control at the factory!

But what this meant to me was that I had to carefully measure the width of each bolt of paper, compare that to the rhythm of the stripes crossing the paper horizontally, and determine how much to trim off each edge, in order to have the stripes be spaced correctly across the room.

In real life, most people are not going to notice a spacing difference of 1/2,” or even 1.” Especially in a room with very dim lighting and tons of shadows, and a pattern that is difficult to see in the first place.

But since I had to trim the paper’s edges anyway, it just made sense to trim it so that the spacing of the stripes fell as perfectly spaced as possible.

Try as hard as you may, hand-trimming wallpaper, especially thick, heavy, fabric-backed vinyl, is not as accurate as what they do at the factory. Thus there is always the potential for slight gaps or overlaps at the seams. With a thin paper, it’s possible to stretch and manipulate the material to make a good seam. But with this thick vinyl, I expected to see these gaps and overlaps. However, I was amazed that the vinyl was more malleable than expected – every single seam melted together perfectly.

Although the specs said that the trimmed paper would be 25″ – 26″ wide, by the time both edges were trimmed off and the stripes spaced as they should be, the paper was actually only 24″ wide (give or take an extra 1/4″ or so). Lose 2″ on each of eight strips going across a wide wall … and that can screw up your engineering of the wall and your plans of the number of strips needed and how many bolts of paper will be required.

All of this fiddlin’ and futzin’ took a lot of time, and I was only able to trim and hang paper on two walls each day. So, with prepping the walls and hanging the paper in this … it was something like a 16 single roll room… it took me a full three days. Which is what I had planned on, so we stayed right on schedule.

There was no brand name, so I don’t know the manufacturer, but the label said “JL 8008.” This commercial-grade paper is available in the 27″ width (which is what I can work with) or the wider 54″ (which is more for commercial settings). It 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.

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Unhappy – Visible Seams Today – But a Solution

December 9, 2015
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I don’t often work in offices or businesses or commercial spaces, but today I did take on a job in an office park (photo 1) off Westpark & Chimney Rock in southwest Houston. It was a pipeline company that was spiffing up their offices, and everyone who worked there was positively delightful.

The wallpaper, however, was not quite so agreeable.

In the second photo, you see the painted wall before I got started. I rolled on a coat of Gardz, a clear primer. Then started hanging this small herringbone pattern by Schumacher. Although I followed the manufacture’s instructions to reverse-hang the goods (a trick to minimize color variances by hanging every other strip upside down, so you are placing the same sides of the wallpaper next to each other – it’s easier to understand if you are actually doing it, rather than typing it. 🙂 )

Anyway, as you can see in the next photo, there is a visible vertical 1/4″ wide line down each seam, between each strip of wallpaper.

I didn’t think it looked good, and the other guys working on the jobsite noticed it, too, so I called the interior designer, who called the clients. Bottom line: Although we all acknowledged that it didn’t look great, it wasn’t horrible, and besides, there would be furniture and a large painting on that wall, which would pretty much cover the white lines, as well as distract your attention to more interesting things (the oil painting).

So, they gave the go-ahead to continue hanging the paper. Still, I thought it could look better.

I was unable to remove the four existing strips, due to surface failure when attempting to pull those off the wall – Meaning, when the wallpaper, which is on a non-woven substrate, which is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to the wall, when I pulled it off the wall, some of the paint came away from the wall, too, leaving an uneven surface on the wall, which would leave dips and bumps under the new wallpaper. I had Gardz’ed the wall, so I thought the surface was stable. But if the paint beneath my primer is not sticking to the drywall, or if there are many layers of paint and they are not all compatible, or dust, or crumbling paint, or who knows what, you can have layers delaminating (coming apart), which is what I had today.

Long story short, I thought the white vertical lines looked better than crumbling walls and bumps under the paper. So I left those strips up on the wall, and focused on the remaining five strips.

Since it was a pattern that allowed it, what I did was, instead of using Schumacher’s factory cut edge, I used my 6′ straightedge and razor blades to trim off 1″ or so from either edge of each 9′ strip of wallpaper, making sure to continue the reverse-hang rhythm, while also making sure the “up” or “down” angle of the herringbone pattern lined up correctly with the pattern on the strips on either side.

This was tedious, but it proved to be the right solution. If you really looked at the wall, you could still see some of the seams, and there was still a bit of white discoloration. But the overall effect was MUCH more pleasing, and definitely worth the extra effort. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the finished wall with the hand-trimmed wallpaper.

Interestingly, if you look closely at the “before” photo (#2), you can see a faint vertical white line on the painted wall, before any wallpaper even went up.  This supports the designer’s theory that the strong fluorescent light is at least partly to blame for those white lines.

The interior designer for this job is Janet Dowlearn.