Posts Tagged ‘contractor’

“The Wall Prep Is Done, And I’m Ready To Hang Wallpaper”

May 29, 2019


That’s what the “paperhanger” told the homeowner. Luckily, she knew better, and sent the guy packing.

Before wallpaper goes up, the walls need to be smooth, and then primed with a primer appropriate for wallpaper.

Please click and read my page on the right, “Do Not Let The Contractor or Painter Prep for Wallpaper” to learn more.

Contractor Patches On Top Of Wallpaper – Bad Idea

February 19, 2019


This home experienced a water leak, and the bottom 2′ of drywall had to be cut out and replaced. When taping-and-floating in the new drywall, the contractor didn’t bother to remove the existing wallpaper, but put his smoothing compound right over it. This is bad enough if the old paper is paper, but this wallpaper is vinyl – something you really don’t want buried under layers of joint compound and new wallpaper.

Vinyl is shiny, and few materials will stick well to it over a period of time. It is also thick, and that increases the likelihood that seams will pop up, even if they are buried under this “mud,” as we call it.

So I took a razor and cut above the contractor’s patch. Then I stripped off all the wallpaper above the patch. This left a difference in height between the patched area and the newly-stripped area, which would create a visible ridge under the new wallpaper. So then I took my own smoothing compound (joint compound) and floated over his patch and the now-bare wall, to eliminate any uneven areas.

Waited for it to dry, sanded smooth, removed dust, primed with Gardz, and finally was able to hang the new wallpaper.

This took a LOT more time than I originally planned for this job, but it was worth it to keep vinyl wallpaper from being underneath the new paper, and to prevent any bumps or irregularities from showing under the new paper.

Contractors and Painters Should NOT Prep Walls for Wallpaper

July 14, 2018


This home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, and has been redone, and is now ready for final touches, like decorating, i.e. – wallpaper!

The first three photos show how the contractor left the walls. It’s hard to conceive how anyone could think these walls are “ready for wallpaper.”

What you are looking at is where the contractor ripped off the top, inked layer of the original wallpaper. Most of them don’t realize that there is a backing layer of paper that is left on the wall, that should be removed, too. Simply soaking this with a wet sponge will reactivate the paste and allow the paper to be removed easily, and with no damage to the wall (esp. if there is a good primer underneath the paper). Read my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper” to see how this should be done.

Instead, this contractor left the paper backing on the wall. Some of this porous backing is exposed. Other areas have been covered with the paint that was used on the woodwork. This solvent-based paint “raises the grain” of the surface it’s applied to – see all the hairy fibers from the wallpaper backing that have gotten stuck in the paint and raised up? Some of them are more than 1/4″ high. They create a gritty feeling on the surface, like really coarse sandpaper.

The surface is uneven, and the bumps will show under the new paper. The unevenness also means that areas of the paper will not be able to contact the wall, so there will be gaps and air bubbles and poor adhesion. The backing of the original wallpaper has been exposed, and when new, wet, pasted wallpaper gets placed on top of that thirsty paper backing, it will absorb moisture, expand, and bubble.

I had three missions. 1.) Seal the surface 2.) Smooth the surface 3.) Prime with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

I rolled on a coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz to seal the surface, so that my following treatments would not cause the paper backing to bubble. When that was dry, I skim-floated the wall with a coat of joint compound. In the areas where the hairs were 1/4″ high, the skim coat was pretty thick, and took a good while to dry. Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, then vacuumed the dust of off the floor, used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the walls, and then followed up with another coat of Gardz. It will soak into the joint compound and dry hard, forming a stable surface for the new paper to adhere to.

The last photo shows the wall once I finished.

Geometric Pattern in a Powder Room – Flooded Home

May 20, 2018


This home in the Energy Corridor area of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August. A lower section of drywall had been cut out and replaced. The contractor’s wallpaper hanger put up this identical pattern. The homeowner wasn’t pleased with the job. To be honest, the installer did a pretty good job, in a room that was very difficult to hang. There were a few minor things that could have been done differently.

But what bothered the homeowner most was that the walls had not been smoothed properly before the paper went up. With that west-facing window blasting angled sunlight into the room, those irregular surface flaws were quite obvious. See the top two photos. (You may need to enlarge them.)

I stripped off the original paper and skim-floated the walls to make them as perfectly smooth as possible. I followed with a primer. (The previous installer had not primed the walls.) See third photo for walls that are ready to go.

This room was a major bugger bear to hang. For starters, there was a large metal mirror that protruded about 4″ from the wall, that could not be removed. This was directly over a pedestal sink. (The previous installer had the luxury of hanging the room before the sink was in place.) It’s hard to explain, but the logistics of winding wallpaper around these three-dimensional objects, preventing the paper from tearing, having the ridged and unforgiving pattern match on all planes, keeping the edges plumb, and keeping the edges straight so they would butt up with the next strip, all while fighting edges of the wallpaper that wanted to curl backwards, were extremely difficult.

In addition, the corners of the room were out of plumb, which pretty much guaranteed pattern mis-matches in all the corners. On a wild floral pattern, no one would notice. But with a geometric pattern like this trellis, the eye would catch even minor mis-matches.

Compounding all of that was the fact that nothing in the room was centered. The window was not in the center of the wall, nor was the toilet – and they were not aligned with each other, either. The sink was not centered on the mirror, the faucet was not in the center of the sink, and the spout was off-set from the handle. I finally decided to balance the trellis design on the mirror, and it did fall perfectly symmetrically on either side. The kicker is that the room is so narrow that you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate all my efforts. 😦

I probably spent 40 minutes plotting how to tackle the first wall, and then a full two hours hanging the first two strips (the ones around the mirror and sink) (sorry – the room was too small to get good pics). The longer I worked, the more appreciation I had for the previous installer and the job she had done.

In the end, the walls I had prepped were smooth, and there were no objectionable bumps or gouges showing under the paper. I pulled some tricks out of my hat and got the pattern to match in the corners pretty darned well.

That window with it’s danged strong light still was a foe, though. The wallpaper seams butted together just about perfectly. Yet because of the way the edges curled back when they got wet with paste, I fought to keep them down tight to the wall. Once dried, they were nice and flat. I was pretty content. But when the sun moved and light came through that window from a different angle – some of those seams looked positively horrid! The light was casting shadows and making it look like the seams were overlapped. Yet they were perfectly flat. The inclination is to go over and over the seams with various tools and try to “force” them to lie flatter – but this can burnish or otherwise damage the wallpaper or the underlying surface. The good news is that as the sun moved, and as the louvers on the shutters were adjusted, the shadows disappeared and the seams looked good.

Let’s hope that the homeowners see this room only in the most positive light. 🙂

This wallpaper is by York Wall, one of my favorite brands. Interestingly, the paper came with the correct label, but the instruction insert was for another line made by this same company. I’m glad that I was familiar with both products, and had the sense to disregard the info that was not relative.

Yet More Reasons to NOT Let the Contractor / Painter “Prep for Wallpaper”

March 22, 2018

Pics of some “wallpaper-ready” walls left by the contractor.

In the last photo, note joint compound jammed into the box of an electrical outlet. This water-based material resting between the connectors on the electrical outlet, could serve as a conductor – and could have easily short-circuited the circuit … which could have blow out every light and electrical appliance on that circuit. As well as potentially started an electrical fire.

I chipped the gunk out of the outlet, and then spent about fours smoothing this mess on the walls, and then priming with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

Tomorrow the paper will go up.

Leave Your Shoes At The Door And You’re …. Half-Way Good

August 9, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image


Today I worked in an under-construction home, and, once the new floors are in, it’s pretty customary to have workmen remove their shoes. I liked that this contractor was considerate and removed his shoes before entering the house.

But, geeze, can’t you put them to the side and out of the way, so other people can get in and out the door? !

Just one of the small details that makes women better suited than men (in my opinion:) ), for tasks that involve care and attention to details and forethought and whole-picture thinking – like hanging wallpaper. 🙂

“Wallpaper,” not “Paint”

May 9, 2013

Digital ImageI found this under the wallpaper I stripped off of a bathroom yesterday. It’s common for builders to write on the walls, to indicate where wallpaper is to go, so the painters know not to texture and/or paint the walls.

What’s different this time is that the contractor had a nice stamp printed with the word “wallpaper,” instead of just using a pencil, like most of them do.

What’s particularly pleasing is that the ink was compatible with the paper….. You see, many inks (among other substances) will bleed right through wallpapers, especially vinyl goods. That’s why contractors carry around lead pencils for when they have to write on a surface that will be papered or painted.

Sorta Sad Way to Get New Work

April 18, 2013

I got a call from a contractor today for whom I hung 20 rolls in a client’s hallway just two weeks ago. Hmmm. Worried. But right off the bat he assured that that nothing was wrong with the job I had just finished for him. Whew!

However, there WAS something wrong – very wrong – in that same house in that same room.

They discovered that water had been leaking into one exterior wall for decades, and had wet the Sheetrock, rotted the studs, and bred mold, all deep inside the wall. Bottom line – the entire wall has to be torn out and rebuilt. Including the beautiful wallpaper I had just installed.

The plus side is, it was a beautiful pattern, nice paper to work with, and the homeowners were lovely people. AND… the contractor has guys who will carry my bulky table and 50lb bucket of paste up the stairs for me!

The contractor is Kevin Topek, of Permaculture Design http://permaculturedesign.net/. Yes, a landscaper. But it turns out that working around people’s homes, he’s picked up skills to do much more than outside yard work. AND…his clients know and trust him, and know that he does tasks well. So when home repair issues arrise, many of his clients depend on him to help them. I do have to say, the work he did previously in this home (flooding due to a burst water heater) was better than many of the “professional” remodel / rehabbers out there.

More Fun With Contractors and Wallpaper

April 15, 2010

You know how things come in threes? Well, here comes No. 2:

A few days ago, I got a call from a painter friend whose crew had accidentally damaged a client’s wallpaper while taping off areas in preparation for painting.

Well, the other day I got a call from another contractor, whose crew had accidentally damaged the client’s wallpaper while installing and working on new counter tops.

This is pretty common, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anyone was being careless. Countertops are heavy, and, while positioning them, it’s easy to bang into the walls and damage the wallcovering.

It’s also a reason why, when redoing a room, I like to be the LAST contractor to work, to lessen the chances that damage will be done to the new wallpaper.

In fact, just today, I got an e-mail from someone who read my post about Don’t Tape the Wallpaper!, who realized it would be better to have me come do the installation AFTER her painters were finished.