Posts Tagged ‘corners’

Grasscloth Engineering and Logistics – Technical Details Post

August 21, 2022
Grasscloth is a natural material that cannot be matched from strip to strip, so all the seams will be visible . In addition, there is usually a slight but noticeable color difference between strips / panels (called shading or paneling ) . So it’s important to plot the layout of the strips to give the most visually pleasing overall look. Usually this means balancing the width of strips so they are all equal , at least on the same wall . We call this engineering .
This wall presented particular challenges , due to the widths of the elements. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide . You can use your straightedge and a sharp razor blade and trim it down to any width you want.
The width of both the large wall spaces to the right and left of the bank of windows was 34.” The width of each window was about 35.” The width of the two spaces in between the windows was 7.”
So you’d think I could trim my panels on either side of the windows, and then over the windows, to about 34″-36″ – give or take a few inches (or fractions thereof).
But that would leave me with two 7″ wide strips between these 35″ panels. Although the look would be uniform and mirror-image from the center outward, moving from right to left you’d have: 35,” 35″, 7,” 35,” 7,” 35,” 35,” … those 7″ breaks were just not going to look right.
One option was to determine the width of the wall (189″) and make each strip an equal width. This worked out to six strips, each at 31.5″ Not good, because this would mean a seam down either far side. And since those sides were 34″ wide, that would mean a 31.5″ wide strip and a strip 2.5″ wide. Not attractive at all, and it would use up an extra strip of wallpaper.
This six strips @ 31.5″ wide scenario might also land with a seam smack in the middle of those 7″ wide interludes in between the windows. Not attractive at all.
So I decided to make the two outer strips 35″ wide. That left 119″ of wall space above the windows to be covered with wallpaper. Do some math and you get four panels of 29.75″ wide. This gave a balanced and uniform look to the area over the windows, and also prevented seams from landing between the windows.
Moving right to left, I cut and hung the full length outer strip first. Then I cut and hung the strip over the window on the right. Then I measured to find the centerpoint of the window in the middle. Turns out it was a bit less than 29.75″ away. So I trimmed that next over-window strip accordingly.
Once that was in place, I measured from that center point above the middle window out to where my left full-height panel would fall, 35″ out from the wall. Took the resulting measurement and divided by 2. Lo and behold, each of the next two panels over the window was going to be a bit wider than 30.” No problem. No one (but a paperhanger or maybe an engineer) is going to notice a 1/4″ or even a full 1″ difference in widths between this strips over the windows.
Another thing to point out … it’s important that I took measurements before cutting these strips for this second left-hand section. Because, since grasscloth comes at 36″ (and walls can be wonky), if my strips had been narrower (say, 28″), that last full-height panel on the left might have ended up needing to be 37″ wide – and that wouldn’t work because it only comes 36″ wide – plus you need at least 1/8″ to wrap around the corner.
Luckily I had the flexibility to be able to trim the panels over the windows to any width needed, to accommodate all this.
If you’ve followed all this so far, let me also toss in that we also need to figure how to get paper in between those windows. More on that below.
In this scenario, I’m moving from right to left.
Area beneath the windows needs to be treated in the same way, and preferably with widths that match what’s going on above the windows. In addition, it’s tricky because after you move across 12′ of wall space, the strips above and below the windows are going to twist and torque out of shape, so that last full-length panel on the far left might not butt up perfectly with the last strip under the windows.
The grasscloth is black , and my wallpaper primer is white . It’s common for teeny gaps to appear at the seams . In this case, it’s likely that white wall would peek out from those gaps. So I like to stripe under where the seams will fall with dark (diluted) paint . This takes measuring , plotting , and also a heat gun to get the paint to dry before the wallpaper hits it, to avoid staining. You can do a Search here to read more about this technique .
Now let’s talk about getting wallpaper in between those windows.
As you can see in the photo, if I hang a 30″ wide strip, a whole lot of paper is going to be cut off and thrown away. Also, a whole lot of sticky, pasted paper is going to bump against that window molding and maybe even the window glass. A lot to clean up! And unwieldy, to boot.
My solution was to stop the wallpaper just a little below the tops of the windows. Then I would patch in a 7″ wide strip in between the windows. This is trickier than it sounds, because, if it were a paper wallpaper, I could simply cut along a design motif and overlay the 7″ wide piece. But grasscloth is thick and overlaps don’t look good. Also grass has no design elements , and the reeds of grass don’t necessarily fall perfectly horizontal , and even if you cut everything perfectly true to square , if the window molding is a teeny bit off-plumb , then your edges won’t butt up perfectly.
So that’s a good reason for striping the black paint under where the butt join will occur.
Same thing for the sections under the windows. I measured and positioned the strips so that the top edge (which I had trimmed to be perfectly horizontal) fell between the narrowest part of the windowsill molding, for less visibility.
I admit, instead of butting the two pieces, here I did overlap the 7″ wide strip about 1/4″ onto the piece under the window, right at that narrow junction. It’s only about 3″ wide, and I figured no one is going to be examining it that closely, anyway. This saved me about a half an hour of measuring, trimming, testing, repeat, repeat.
This is my second window interlude, and by this time I had realized that it’s hard to trim stiff grasscloth around intricate moldings precisely . So I used paint to fill in the edges around the window molding, just in case there might be any gaps between the grasscloth and the molding, so you would see black instead of the white molding paint. I did this with a small sponge; if I had used an artist’s brush it would have been a bit neater and tighter to the conforms of the molding. But sometimes you’ve gotta relax and realize that no one’s going to be scrutinizing the insides of moldings below shin-level.
Area over windows finished, with drapes back in place.
Turns out this particular grasscloth is so uniform in color (quite unusual, I will add), that you can’t really see the panels , nor their equal widths , anyway. I’m still glad I took the time to do all this math and trimming.
Area below the windows, done. That last seam on the left bears some explanation, too. Moving across the top of the windows, I measured that that last strip – the full-length strip – would need to be exactly 35″ wide. It butted up nicely to the last strip above the windows.
But, due to twisting , shifting , expansion , unlevel and unplumb walls and ceilings , and other factors, there is a really good chance that that last 35″ wide strip would not butt up perfectly with the last 30″ wide strip under the window . So I planned to splice these last two strips together.
Yeah, the drapes are hanging there, I coulda overlapped the two strips about 1/2″ and the drapes would have covered it. With a thin wallpaper, I probably would have done this. But grasscloth is thick, and an overlap would be visible , and also the adhesive / paste can’t be trusted to adhere as well to grass as it would to paper .
So I plotted for a splice. Instead of trimming my last strip under the window to 30″ (read above), I trimmed it to 32″ wide. That way, when I hung the last full-length strip to the left, which was 35″ wide, it overlapped the piece under the window by a few inches. Then I did a double cut and spliced the two pieces. See below for details about that technique.
Grasscloth is 36″ wide, and this wall area is wider than that. So two strips were needed. This means you’re going to have a seam, and since grasscloth seams are always visible, it looks best to plot to have the seam fall down the center. It uses more wallpaper to do this, but it looks much better than having, for example, a 36″ wide strip next to an 8″ wide strip.
As mentioned above, in case you get thin gaps at the seams, a dark stripe of diluted craft paint under where the seam will fall, will prevent white wall from showing through.
Rounded / bull-nosed edges and corners have been popular in new construction for at least 10 years. I wish they’d go away. They’re very difficult to trim around, and hard for the paper to conform to and adhere to.
It’s very hard to trim around that rounded edge, because the paper is hanging over and blocking your view, because grasscloth is thick and stiff and your fingers can’t feel through it, and because the edges aren’t necessarily true and plumb so a laser level or other level won’t help you much.
I use this little gadget as a trim guide. It’s actually a small section of the same corner bead material that drywallers use when they assemble these walls. Cut to about 1″ long and notched in different places where you might trim along the edge of the wall.
It’s intended that you place your trimming knife in one of the notches and slide the gizmo along the edge and make your cut. I find that awkward and also inaccurate. So I prefer to use the notches as a guide and mark where I plan to trim with a pencil. Since this wallpaper is black, I used this marking pencil from my home sewing kit instead. Chalk might work, but I was afraid it might now wipe off completely.
The pink pencil line was barely visible, but it was enough for me to use a scissors to trim along the grasscloth. I like this better than using a razor blade as I can see better, and also less chance of scoring into the primer or wall. Which raises its own set of issues – do a search here to find previous posts.
Inside view of the trim guide.
Finished arch. Note the four panels of equal width above the arch. And two flanking full-height panels also the same widths.
I was lucky that there was no pattern to match, so I was able to butt my two flanking strips right up to the edge of the bull-nosed corner. No trimming needed! Then I measured the remaining width between these two strips (the area over the arch), divided by four, and cut four strips of equal widths.
I hung the two on the left, and then one on the far right. This left one strip still to be positioned to the right of center. So the pieces are going to meet over the arch, rather than the last strip falling in a corner.
Same as the last strip under the window (discussed above), it’s really difficult to get your last piece to fit in here perfectly. I’ve done it, but it takes a lot of measuring, trimming, testing, retrimming, and often starting all over again.
So I did a double-cut / splice.
A double cut involves cutting each strip an inch or so wider than it should be, and overlapping the two. Then you take a straight edge and sharp razor blade and cut through both layers. This handy tool is a wonderful non-slip guide for this process. It was invented by an installer colleague in the Wallcovering Installers Association ( WIA ) and she has them fabricated in various lengths (along with other cool tools ) and sells them on-line. Contact me if you’re interested.
Anyway, it takes a lot of strength to cut through two layers of grasscloth, so somewhat difficult for lil’ ol’ me.
You also want to be sure to not cut / score into the wall, because the tension of drying wallpaper can tug at the wall and cause it to actually come apart, leaving an open seam that’s difficult to repair.
So you’ve got to put some padding under the wall where the cut will take place. I use special strips of polystyrene (hard but flexible plastic) to pad the wall. Also invented by a colleague in the WIA , who also sells other cool tools and supplies. Contact me if you’re interested.
This black grasscloth was printed on a white substrate. If the seams aren’t absolutely tight, there can be worries about the backing showing through to the front. So sometimes we’ll take a piece of chalk or pastel (never oil pastel or permanent markers because they bleed and stain ) and run it along the edge of the paper – from the back, and taking care to not get chalk on the surface.
I do this frequently with dark papers ( do a search here to see previous posts ) but opted not to do it with this grasscloth. It wasn’t necessary, and might have stained the porous reeds of the grass. It was beneficial, though, to have striped dark paint on the wall under the seams, as mentioned above.
Ugh. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide, and this section of wall is 38″ wide. It’s not visually pleasing, nor is it easy from an installation point of view, to have a 36″ wide strip next to a 2″ wide strip. Or to use scraps and put a 25″ wide strip next to a 13″ wide strip.
So best to plan two strips of equal widths. Two strips, each 19″ wide, with the seam down the middle.
Actually, the strip on the left was 19″ wide, but I trimmed the strip on the right to 21″, because I like the wallpaper to extend 2″ over the top of the door molding. This provides a more stable surface in case of shifting foundation or walls, and less likelihood (knock on wood) of the seam opening up should the house / drywall experience shifting.
Note that design “rules” caution against seams down the middle of spaces. But it would have been more visually distracting (and used up more paper) to have made three strips of each 12.75″ wide. And would have looked even dumber to have used scraps left from other walls and put together two strips of disparate widths.
So the homeowner and I discussed during our initial consultation , and she was happy with the center seam. Once it was all finished, this particular grasscloth was so even in tone that you barely see the seams, anyway. Win-win!
This did use up additional paper, though, as noted in a previous photo above.

Wallpaper Woes in Chinese Restaurant

April 10, 2022
While waiting for my order to be ready, I couldn’t help but notice problems ….
Wallpaper starting to curl at the seams.
Wallpaper twisting in corners as the building shifts and drywall moves. This is pretty common in Houston.
Other signs of poorly maintained building and/or climate control issues.
Seam curling back. I believe this to be a lower-end solid vinyl wallpaper on a gritty paper backing – one of my least preferred types.
When the walls are not prepared correctly, and the paper is not hung properly, and when there is a lot of humidity (door left open, steam from kitchen getting into waiting area, A/C not running or turned off at night), humidity can enter into the seams and be wicked up by the paper backing. The paper expands and pushes away from the wall, causing the edges of the wallpaper to curl back.
The next step is that the vinyl surface can actually delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing. This is pretty impossible to repair.
At the very bottom, you can see the vinyl separating from the paper backing.
The wallpaper has been wrapped around this outside corner, and a new piece of paper overlapped on top of it. When this is done, with vinyl material, you’re supposed to use special vinyl-over-vinyl ( VOV ) adhesive, because regular wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to vinyl / plastic .
But even if the installer had used the correct adhesive, under humid conditions or with improper wall prep, the odds are that this wallpaper job will start to fail.
Also note dirt along the ceiling, and along the chair rail in the previous photo. General lack of maintenance and I am really suspecting lack of climate control.
The black smudges appear to be mildew coming from underneath the paper. Again, probably related to humidity.
Vinyl wallpaper is a sheet of plastic, and moisture can be trapped behind it. That can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
So why use vinyl wallpaper? Mainly because the surface is much more washable than most other types of wallpaper. In a business, washability is attractive.
But these property owners chose a low-end vinyl product, most likely skipped proper wall prep such as a wallpaper primer, and have not provided a hospitable environment for the paper.
There are other vinyl wallcoverings that would have held up better. For instance, vinyl on a scrim ( woven fabric ) backing, or the newer backing called non-woven , which has a 20% polyester content, and therefore less likely to wick up humidity.

Pulp Wallpapers – Difficult to Handle

January 30, 2022

I mentioned in my post of January 27, 2022 that this wallpaper is what we call a classic or traditional British pulp material. All wood pulp and a little ink. No synthetic fibers, no protective coating.

When dry, the stuff is quite stiff and brittle, and when wet it can turn to mush. It dries fast, so sometimes can ” freeze ” and stick together when you unbook it – which can actually tear the paper apart.

This makes it difficult to work with it when going around intricate moldings, or into corners, or any time you need to bend or unfold it.

It’s also tricky to cut. It dulls blades quickly. And even a brand new razor blade can get bogged down or snagged. This can easily tear the paper. Another thing that happens is that you get these little ” buggers ” where the top part of the paper trims off, but little bits of the substrate stay behind.

The photo above shows this happening at a trim cut along a baseboard. You have to gently pull the strip away from the wall, being careful not to crease it or tear it. Then use your scissors to snip off these little bits. It’s a real PITA.

Peel & Stick = Bad Stuff. Don’t Fall For It!

November 25, 2021
he lure of (false!) claims of easy to install and easy to remove led these homeowners to purchase peel & stick ” wallcovering ” and try to install it themselves. It did not go well. The wall was coated with a gloss paint, as per manufacturer’s instructions. Yet, here you can see that it is not even trying to adhere to the wall.
Many brands come in rectangles of a few square feet, rather than traditional strips that are long enough to reach floor to ceiling. These small rectangles are much harder to keep perfectly lined up, so you are very likely to end up with overlaps or gaps at the seams.
It’s not pliable or malleable, so won’t readily be eased into corners or turns. Here, note wrinkles and warps in the corner in the center of the photo, and at the ceiling line in the center top of the photo.

The wall was not smoothed before applying the paper, so you see unsightly texture. The roughness is also interfering with good adhesion, because the paper is only sticking to the tops of the bumps, instead to the entire surface.
So much for easily removeable. As you can see, trying to take this stuff down – it took the paint along with it.

Foliage Update for Guest Bedroom

November 10, 2021
This small floral print was fashionable when it went up, 30+ years ago. But now it’s dated, and also some stains and dirt are showing. Time for an update!
Old paper has been stripped off, the walls have been primed with my favorite Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime, and ready for wallpaper.
Done! An accent of grasscloth was used on one wall. I love the way the greens match, and everything coordinates with the paneling / wainscoting.
Usually I place the pattern so a prominent design motif sits at the ceiling line. But in a room with wainscoting or chair rail, that horizontal mid point in the wall is more visible. So I plotted to have the bottom of the dark green, most visible flower land just above the top of the chair rail. It looks like it’s growing from the wood! The pattern also just happened to land nicely at the ceiling line, with no major design elements getting cut in half.
The material has woven fabric look to it – but that’s just the printing. It’s actually a very flat paper. It was very thin, and reminded me of papers from decades ago. It hugs the wall very tightly. I liked it a lot.
Exclusive Wallcoverings
The grasscloth accent wall. All four strips were reverse-hung, and hung in the sequence they came off the bolt. Yet you see a color difference (called paneling or shading ) between some strips. This is quite typical of natural products like grasscloth and sisal.
Close up. Bad photo … the color is actually an attractive green. The material is more of a thin balsa wood about 1/2″ wide, rather than traditional grass or reeds. I feared it would be difficult to cut through, but it turned out to work very nicely. But it would not have been good in a room with corners or intricate details to trim around.

The home is in League City, a southern suburb of Houston.

Clever Over-the-Door Kill Point

October 2, 2021
When you hang wallpaper on all four walls of a room, you get to the point where your last strip meets up with the first strip you hung. We call that the kill point. That last strip gets split vertically in order to bridge the width of the distance to meet up with the first strip. The cut-off part gets thrown away. This virtually always results in a pattern mismatch in the corner where the first and last strips come together. So, when possible, you hide this mismatch in a corner behind a door, or somewhere else that is not noticeable. But in this powder room, ALL the corners were out in the open and very visible. But I think the corners look better when the pattern matches exactly, as shown in this photo.
But there is still going to be SOME point in the room where the last strip meets the first strip – and where the pattern will not match. I chose the least conspicuous place in this room – over the door. After all, not many people spend much time looking 10′ up over a door that’s behind them. Still, a pattern mismatch here would be very noticeable; maybe more broken up and obvious than in a corner. But I had a plan …
Moving from right to left, I plotted where my next strip would fall. The sequence of “high” and “low” maps at the ceiling line was in sync with the strips on either side. But I’m going to end up with a 5 1/2″ gap on the left side. Since the figures / maps were about 8″ wide, cutting one down to 5 1/2″ wide would distort it too much. So instead I decided to “grow” the white areas in between the map figures.
I could do this because there were “stripes” of white areas in between the maps that were uninterrupted from top to bottom; if there had been a motif that crossed horizontally, this would have been much more difficult. I took that strip of wallpaper slated for over the door and slit it vertically along the “empty” white area into three parts.
Then I took some scrap paper from the waste pile (always buy a little extra paper!) and used my straightedge to trim off slices that had no printing on them. Each of these ended up being only about 1″ wide. I was looking for about 6,” so I made six slices, plus one more for good measure. Because these slices were all white, and because the backing was also white, I put a pencil mark on the back side, so I could tell which side to put the paste on. Because the paper was thin and somewhat transparent, I had to remember to make my marks lighter than usual. Going back to the third photo, you will notice a tiny bit of ink on the far left edge of the piece mocked up above the door; I used my straightedge to trim off this 1/4″ wide area, too.
Here is how the all-white strips would be placed in between the printed sections. In actuality, each gap took two 1″ strips, not the single one shown in the photo.
Here is the first printed section going in next to the strip to its right. I couldn’t use a 1″ strip in between these two because there was a tad of pattern that had to be matched between the two strips, due to various logistics. But I could add two of the 1″ strips to the left of the new printed section, as shown here. Moving to the left, I did that two more times, with two more sections and two more sets of 1″ wide strips. At the last juncture, I did do a vertical overlap of the excess 1/2″ resulting from the gap of 5 1/2″ and the six 1″ wide fill-in strips. I could have done a double-cut (splice), but the strips were awfully narrow to work with, I wanted to avoid scoring damage to the wall, and the overlap would be obscured by the vertical elements in the pattern motifs. Plus, it was 10′ up, after all.
Here is the finished look. The seams will be less visible once the paper is dry. The three spaces between these three map motifs are 2″ wider than the spaces between the maps around the rest of the room. But the difference is virtually undetectable. And, like I said, who’s looking way up there, anyway? And … it’s a whole lot more attractive than the other option – of having a pattern mismatch running the entire 10′ height of a corner in the room.
The pattern is “City Maps” and is by Rifle Paper, which is made by York, one of my favorite brands.

Katie Kime – Tough Install Today

July 21, 2021
The Great Persuader

The previous wallpapers I’ve hung by Katie Kime have been on a non-woven substrate, a dependable synthetic material that has many positives going for it – light weight, breathable, stain-resistant, strips off the wall easily when redecorating, doesn’t expand when wet with paste so you can paste the wall as an alternative to pasting the paper, doesn’t expand so you can hang pasted strips immediately (no booking time), and your measurements will be accurate.

So I was surprised today by the weight of this material. And I could tell immediately that it was not their usual non-woven material.

Through a 20-minute Chat with their Customer Service (which is excellent, by the way), they told me that, due to the construction supply shortages related to the COVID pandemic, they are currently unable to get their usual materials, os have temporarily switched to a vinyl.

The backing looks like non-woven to me, but their instructions say to paste the paper and then book for 10 minutes, like a traditional paper. I suspect these instructions are outdated, but I followed them anyway.

This stuff was very thick and stiff … like working with a sheet of plastic. It was hard to press tightly into corners and to get tight cuts at ceiling and floor. I had to push really hard with a brand new blade to even slice through it.

I even had to use the heat gun to “melt” the material a bit so it would fit into and around inside and outside corners. This stuff would be the dickens to hang in a room with intricate cuts and turns.

Nice Trim Solution for Bull-Nosed Corners

July 7, 2021
To the left is the wall to be papered. The white area to the right is the rounded edge of the wall corner. The brown strip is the wood trim.
The white on the left is the rounded corner of the wall. The wood trim makes a nice, straight edge against which to trim the wallpaper. It also eliminates the possibility of the paper curling away from the rounded edge.

These bull-nosed or rounded corners have been popular in new homes for more than 10 years now. They may look trendy, but they are the dickens to trim wallpaper along.

You can’t see where you’re trying to trim, it’s hard to trim straight, some thick or stiff papers don’t want to adhere to rounded edges, a textured wall can’t be smoothed exactly to where the trimming will take place – just for starters.

Today’s client had a good idea; to have a strip of wooden trim added along both the sides and the top of this door opening. It made my day much easier, and it ensures a neat trim line and removes worries of the paper pulling loose.

I’m going to keep the photo, in hopes of encouraging other homeowners to try this.

Rounded / Bull-Nosed Edge Windows – Hate ‘Em!

April 27, 2021

I’ll be glad when these rounded outside corners go out of style. Getting wallpaper around them is an art – and a juggling match of wits.

They are especially difficult on exposed arches. (Do a Search here to read my experiences.)

But they are also especially trying on un-trimmed windows, as you see here.

Too complicated to get into all the intricate details of the whys and the hows.

But just let me say that each of those rounded window returns took me at least an hour.

And the room has eight of them.

Wallpaper on Bull-Nosed Window Arch

February 24, 2021

The bull-nosed edges / rounded corners that have been popular for the last 10 years or more are a snafu for wallpaper. But when you add an arch, it gets much more complicated.

Wallpaper won’t wrap around and then under these arched areas smoothly and seamlessly, because you need to make relief cuts, or cut notches. Then you end up with V-shaped gaps.

There are several approaches to dealing with these. There are issues like ridges caused by overlaps. Paper not wanting to grasp onto and hold tight to a curved edge. irregularities in the curve.

I’ve been impressed with what many of my colleagues have done. But, as for me, well, I’ll be happy when these awkward and impossible rounded edges and curved arches go the way of the dinosaur.

For this particular room, I was lucky because the pattern was wild and non-specific enough that I could get creative.

I wrapped and then trimmed the paper to about 3/4″ around and under the rounded edge.

I could have cut a long skinny piece to fit the underside of the arched area. But that would have resulted in a pattern mis-match where the skinny strip met up with the rolled edge.

I opted for a variation on this theme, and used the branches and tree limbs in the pattern to my advantage.

So I cut a long skinny strip (actually, a number of shorter strips that I would meld into one long strip). But I plotted my cuts so the edge of the strip would run along a tree branch in the design. I had to choose specific branches that didn’t have birds sitting on them, because I didn’t want to chop any birds in half. Leaves, yes. Birds, no. 🙂

The branches also had to have at least 5″ of “open” space next to them, to fill the area between the rounded edge and the window glass without cutting off any birds or important design motifs.

The next photos will show you what I did. I had to do some tweaking. In the end, the finished arch looks pretty darned natural.