Posts Tagged ‘countertop’

Non-Slip Mat Mars Countertop

April 4, 2020


In a bathroom with high ceilings, I needed to set my trusty 5-gallon bucket on the countertop, so I could set a foot on it to maintain my balance while I worked on the wall above it. To prevent it from slipping, I placed a non-slip shelf liner underneath – something I’ve done a zillion times before.

But this time, a little while after all the apparatus was removed, this circular spot appeared.

I believe the countertop is made of soapstone.

We are still researching why this happened. I do know that the soapstone had not been sealed when it was installed, nor had it been maintained with regular applications of oil as is recommended.

It could be that oil or other substances from the shelf liner leached into the soapstone. Or that the liner somehow wicked some substance from within the soapstone up to the surface.

I am hoping that, in time, the stain will dissipate, much as a drop of oil will gradually absorb into a leather jacket.

Other ideas are that, because soapstone is an impervious material, the stain is simply sitting on top, and so talcum powder or cornstarch sprinkled on top may absorb it.

Another suggestion is to apply mineral oil, as the conditioner that should have been applied regularly all along, and it may soak in and minimize and / or disperse the ring.

Dark, Sparkly, Faux Cork in Spring Branch Powder Room

April 1, 2020


No good pictures of this, folks – you had to see it in person to get the full effect.

But the textured vinyl wallpaper had the appearance of a charcoal-colored cork material – with a few silvery sparkles tossed in here and there.

The homeowner wanted a snug, dark powder room. But not cave-like. This paper did the trick beautifully. It is dark, but with the large mirror and the light grey vanity and cararra marble countertop, there were plenty of light colored accents to offset the dark.

This was a new, open floor plan, contemporary styled home in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. The vinyl material will be resistant to water and stains. The non-woven substrate had a lot of fiberglass content – I could see the strands! – so it will be easy to strip off the wall when it’s time to redecorate. In addition, the material does not expand when wet with paste, needs no booking time, and can be hung with the paste-the-wall method. I preferred to paste the paper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, 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.

You Never Know What You’ll Find Underneath Old Wallpaper

March 1, 2020


The tan damask wallpaper in this West U powder room is a true classic, but it doesn’t fit the homeowners’ more modern taste. This week I will replace it with a lighter colored textured material.

Today I removed the old wallpaper. What a surprise to find this underneath! At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was, and thought maybe it was some king of particleboard.

But once I got more wallpaper stripped off the wall, it was clear that this was a professionally-done faux finish job in silver and charcoal. It coordinated nicely with the black granite countertop and display cabinet.

More William Morris – Woodland Heights Master Bath and Closet

September 2, 2019


Here is a wonderfully renovated and updated 1925 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. It pretty much has the all-white decorating scheme going on. The homeowner wanted to inject a little warmth into the master suite, and chose this beautiful historic pattern in muted colors, by William Morris.

I put it on two opposing walls in the master closet, and on one wall in the master bathroom, directly across from the sink and mirrors. It is a fantastic compliment to the grey-veined marble counter top, and the darker grey paint on the vanity. (Sorry, no photo) And it adds the warmth and character the homeowner was seeking.

William Morris was a popular designer during the Arts & Crafts movement around the turn of the last century. His patterns are very stylized and rhythmic.

This is a British-made paper, and is printed on the pulp stock (rather than the new non-woven material that most British companies are moving to). You have to know a few tricks to working with it, but it goes up beautifully and will hold up for a good long time. It does not have any coating, however, so will be susceptible to splashes and stains.

The interior design firm for this project is Four Square Design (Laura and Sarah worked on this home). They work primarily with older or historic structures, and have saved many a beautiful home from being torn down.

Getting Smoothing Compound To Dry

June 13, 2019


The walls in this powder room were textured. (see top photo) To ensure that the new wallpaper looks good, and that it has a solid surface to cling to, the walls need to be smoothed. This is called floating, or skim coating, and I do a lot of it here in Houston. To do that, I trowel on a plaster-like substance, let it dry, then sand it, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then prime.

What takes the most time is waiting for the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound, which we also call “mud”) to dry. If the texture is heavy, often it has to dry overnight. The downside of this is that it adds an extra day of labor and expense. But when the texture is lighter, the drying can be speeded along.

In the second photo, you see some of the ways I get mud to dry more quickly. On the counter* you see two box fans, and on the floor is a much stronger fan. On the counter is also a space heater. Hot air in the room absorbs moisture, sucking it out of the wet smoothing compound. I let the room heat up, and then I have to open the door and let the moist air out – over and over again.

The yellow objet on the floor is a heat gun. A heat gun acts like a hair dryer on steroids, and can get small stubborn areas to dry pretty quickly.

A few other things help speed drying … Walls coated with flat paint will dry more quickly than with glossy paint. And having the air conditioning and / or heat cranking away will help, because, while regulating the temperature, these climate-control systems also pull humidity out of the air. I also like to turn the HVAC system’s fan from “Auto” to “On,” so that air is circulating continuously, which also pulls humidity out of the air and helps the walls to dry.

*I normally keep a dropcloth on the vanity counter. But the vibrating fans can cause the dropcloths to slip, and you don’t want anything crashing down on the homeowner’s countertop. I do have lengths of self-grip shelf liner that help keep the fans from moving around too much.

Diamonds Brighten a Bellaire Bathroom

May 11, 2019


Originally, this home in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston was rife with the “Tuscan” look, and this under-the-stairs powder room shows just that … The gold overlaid with a red glaze was a good look, but the new homeowners wanted a brighter, more modern look.

Just look at how the diamond pattern on a white background changed the room! The heavy darkness is gone, and the feeling is totally modern. The black and white scheme goes beautifully with the new black countertop and white sink.

One not-so-great thing is that somehow we got two different run numbers. Different run numbers were printed at different times, and can be slightly different in shade, so cannot be used on the same wall. Luckily, we had enough paper that I was able to plot out which bolts to use on which walls, and the room turned out looking great.

This paper is by A-Street Prints, which is made by Brewster, a good company. It is a non-woven product with a high fiberglass content that is designed to strip off the walls easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. The material is dimensionally-stable and will not shrink as it dries.

It can be hung by the paste-the-wall method, but I preferred to paste the paper. In a bathroom with choppy areas, this ensures that paste will get to every surface, and it also makes the paper more pliable and malleable, which is essential in a room like this with crooked corners and a curved wall (not shown).

This wallpaper 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.

Wallpaper In This 1/2″ Wide Space? – You BET I Can!

December 27, 2018


Well, somebody forgot to tell the contractor to push the vanity all the way against the wall … Resulting in this 1/2″ wide gap between the countertop and the wall.

With some careful folding, unbooking, and the use of a wooden yardstick to both pull the pasted paper away from the wall, and then smooth it against the wall as needed, I was able to get a contiguous strip of paper into this narrow space.

From Bold and Dashing to Soft and Pretty

October 2, 2018


The homeowner loved the “Longwood” pattern originally in her powder room (see a snippet of it in the second photo), but, after going through the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, she worried that putting the same paper in her renovated bathroom would remind her of the horrible storm. So she decided to tame things down a little, and went with this “Augustine” pattern by the same company.

She chose this muted colorway (it’s a tad brighter in person than in my photos) partly because the greens in the paper melded nicely with her marble countertop, and also because the blues looked great with her blue ceiling (which was chosen to go with the original Longwood design).

The contractors did a reasonably good job prepping the walls. However, they painted over the old wallpaper, which is not a good idea. They also didn’t bother to remove the mirror or light sconces when they applied their smoothing compound, and you can see remnants of white gunk under the oval where the mirror hung and by peeking behind the light fixture. These were small things, but it took me two hours to smooth over these areas, get to dry, sand, and then prime.

The new Augustine humming bird pattern is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a very old, historic design. I love the design, and the paper is wonderful to work with. It is pre-pasted, so goes up more quickly than papers that have to be pasted by hand. It is easy to manipulate around turns, it doesn’t tear easily, it is thin and hugs the wall tightly, it dries quickly, and it has a lovely “raised ink” texture.

This paper is by Thibaut, 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.

The home is in the Memorial-Dairy Ashford / Energy Corridor area of Houston.

Lazy Drywall Contractor

September 7, 2018


These powder room walls were textured in a heavy “Tuscan” finish. The homeowner asked her contractor to smooth the walls, so they would look good under the new wallpaper. The guys did a good job in most areas. But, as you see here, they fell short in others.

First of all, it’s simple to remove a toilet paper holder. Why try to work around it, and get smoothing compound slopped all over it?

In the middle picture, this is a shot of the vanity backsplash. The smoothing compound falls short of the stone countertop. Since the wallpaper will end here, it needs a solid surface to grip ahold of. This gap between the smoothing compound and the stone will allow the wallpaper to gape open and curl away from the wall.

The third photo just shows careless work. Not horrible, but they could have done better.

In all these areas, and others, I was able to do touch ups, so when the wallpaper goes up tomorrow it will have a smooth, intact surface to adhere to.

The sad part is, the homeowner paid the contractors to do this work, but now is paying me to finish the job.

Messy Countertops Make Wallpaper Installation Difficult

December 3, 2017

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A week before I start a job, I send the homeowners information about the installation process and what things I will be needing. One thing I ask is that they clear toiletries, jewelry, paperwork, etc., out of the work area. Well, here are a few households that didn’t get the message. 😦

All this mess is hard for me to work around. And since I often need to sand, even if I cover these items with plastic, they are likely to get a little dusty. And they’ll need to be protected from splatters from the wallpaper primer.

Sometimes I’ll move things out of the way, and then you never know where they will end up – under the vanity, on the bedroom floor, on the dining room table, in the bathtub – anywhere I can find a surface to set them on. That gets them out of my way and keeps them clean, but it puts the homeowners on a search mission later, and they’ll have to try to put everything back the way they had it in the beginning.

Best for the homeowner to take these things out of the room herself, and stash them where she can find them when the wallpaper job is finished.