Posts Tagged ‘crooked’

Compensating for Crooked Walls

July 17, 2018

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Today I was to hang this cute bear wallpaper on one accent wall of a baby’s nursery.  The walls were 0ff-plumb, and the ceiling was not level, and the pattern was very plotted and symmetrical.  So let’s just say that the room presented challenges.

One thing that helped was the way the blocks of bears are printed on the wallpaper.  See Photo 1.  Unlike most wallpaper designs, the motifs did not cross the seams, so there were no elements to be matched from strip to strip.  This left me free to place the bears’ heads at the top of the wall with every strip.

Normally, when the ceiling is not level, the wallpaper pattern (the heads of the bears) would start to move up or down the ceiling, and that means that the heads would start to get chopped off horizontally.

But since this pattern did not cross the seams of the wallpaper and I didn’t have to match any parts of bears across the seams, I was able to pull each strip up to the top of the wall, and eating a uniform line (or head-count 🙂 ) at the top of the wall.  It meant that the lines of bears were not perfectly level from strip to strip – but that was not very noticeable, and was a whole lot better than seeing heads get chopped off.

The walls on either side were also not plumb.  As a test, I hung the first strip of paper butted into the corner, so it is parallel with the wall.  The second photo shows my laser level red line against the side of the paper.  If you could see above the top of the photo, that red line is butted against the edge of the paper at the top of the wall.  Yet as you move down the wall, the strip of wallpaper moves away to the left of the red level line.

I could pull the strip of paper into plumb so that it aligned with the red laser line – but that would cause a slew of bears to get their heads sliced off vertically where they hit the adjacent wall.  As well as when they got to the opposite wall.

Also, since the ceiling was not level, the bears’ heads would start marching either up or down the ceiling line, and, again, some bears would get their heads chopped off.

What to do?

I checked for plumb on both outer walls, and found that both walls were off-plumb by a fairly significant amount.  Luckily, both walls were out of plum parallel with one another.  This meant that I could hang the paper off-plumb and butted into the right corner, and it would come out on the left side of the wall nicely parallel to the opposite side (right corner).

So the pattern aligned nicely with both the right and left walls.  But since to do this I had to hang the paper off-plumb, it would also go off-level at the ceiling.  And since the ceiling was already no where near level, it was very likely that the pattern was going to track up or down that ceiling line, with a bunch o’ bears getting their heads cut off.

Here is where the placement of the pattern on the 20.5″ wide wallpaper made a difference… Because I didn’t have to match a bear’s head to a bear’s head horizontally across the seams. I could position each strip so that the tips of the bears’ ears were at the top of the wall.  (Read previous paragraphs.)

But because the ceiling was off-level by such a great degree, some of the pattern did get crooked, and so you see a couple of black feet starting to appear above the brown bear at the top of the wall (See photo 3).

But I’d rather have a few paws showing at the top of the ceiling, than have a bunch ‘o bears get chopped off vertically at the corners.  But still, I didn’t like looking at those paws hanging down from the ceiling.

The fix was easy.  I took some scrap wallpaper and from it I cut some thin strips of white paper that I then pasted over the offending paws.  Voilà!  No visible dangling paws.

AND the pattern looks amazingly equal in each corner,

This is a new townhouse in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston.

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Crooked Light Switches

May 30, 2018


You would think that if you were working in a $1.5 million dollar home, you would take care and pride and precision in your job. Yet these poor homeowners are left with an electrical outlet that leans toward the right, and light switches that lean to the left.

Fudging the Kill Point to Fool the Eye

May 26, 2018


My two previous posts dealt with a wallpaper pattern of stacked blocks in a room with crooked, unplumb walls and an unlevel ceiling. Besides keeping the pattern level, and having all the horizontal lines match in all four corners (note my pencil guide-line near the top of the wall in the first photo), it was important to keep the blocks all the same size. Or at least make it look like they are all the same size.

A kill point is the last corner or join in a room – where the last strip meets up with the first strip. This almost always ends in a pattern mis-match. So you try to hide it in an un-obvious corner. This room, however, had no hidden corners, and no good place for the kill point.

So I decided to put it over the door. It took some work to keep those gold lines at the same height all the way around the room. The pencil line you see near the top of the first photo helped with that.

But I also wanted to keep the boxes all about the same width. The manufacturer had set the width at 21.” But as the design worked its way around the room, the final space (over the door) was going to end up at 24.5″ wide. I could make that last block 24.5″ wide, if I spliced in a bit of scrap paper. But that would throw off the pattern match a bit, and those 3.5 extra inches of width would be likely to catch the eye.

So I decided to “shrink” that last panel over the door instead, but by only about 1,” which would be less detectable to the eye.

To “shrink” the last panel to 20,” I would have to some inches elsewhere. I decided to add it in the corners.

When you hang wallpaper around inside corners, you cut the paper in the corner, allowing 1/16″ or 1/8″ to wrap around the corner. Then the new strip of paper overlaps that thin wrapped area. Obviously, a small amount of the wallpaper pattern / design is lost in the process.

If I have plenty of paper, I can cut a new strip in such a way that the pattern will match pretty much perfectly. With a design like these blocks, I would measure what the width of each block was supposed to be (21″), and then cut the new piece so its width, when added with the width of the existing half-block, would work out to 21.”

I also have the option of making the new half of the block a little wider or narrower. I measured carefully around the room, and figured that if I “grew” the blocks in each of the four corners by about 1,” by the time the paper worked its way around to that final strip over the door, that 3.5″ gap would be gone, and I’d have an excess of about 3/4.” A difference in width of 3/4″ is much less noticeable than a strip that is overly wide by 3.5,” so I decided to go with that.

I spliced the two strips together at the point where they met, and then appliquéd on one portion of vertical gold line (which had been cut off during the splice).

The photograph’s angle distorts the size and shape of the blocks a bit, but, from a distance, they all look very much like they are the exact same width. Ditto for the blocks in the corner in the original post.

Finishing Touches to the Stacks of Blocks (Previous Post)

May 25, 2018


Because walls are never plumb, and because ceiling lines are never perfectly level, and because wallpaper can twist and distort once it gets wet with paste, with a pattern like in the previous post, it’s not advisable to place a key element, such as the gold horizontal line, at the top of the wall. It will begin to run crooked – either up into the ceiling, or fall down below it. So for this install, I raised the pattern so that the horizontal gold line would be cut off. This made that top block about 3/4″ shorter than the blocks below it. Not a biggie – at 10′ up, no one is going to notice this small discrepancy.

I did want to make the blocks look more homogenous, though. I thought that having a gold frame around all sides of the top blocks would make them blend in better with the other blocks all around the room.

So I used my straightedge to trim some narrow strips of the gold double-stripe out of left over wallpaper scrapes. Then I appliquéd them on top of the paper, just at the ceiling line.

Squiggly, Jocular Geometric in a Front Entry

August 5, 2017

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Life at home will never be too serious when walking through the front door is this fun!

The homeowner is the mother of a toddler and a newborn, and she chose this light-hearted pattern for the entry of their beautifully renovated and updated 1958 ranch style home in the Spring Branch area of Houston. Originally, the entry felt small and unwelcoming, and the walls had a heavy texture that was, well, it was icky.

I smoothed the walls, which took a long time, mostly waiting for the smoothing compound to dry, before I could sand it smooth and roll on a primer.

This playful pattern looks like someone took a grey Sharpie and drew star flowers and squares on the wall. It really expanded the space visually. The entry is now something fun and inviting to step into.

Since the entry can be seen easily from the living room and the great room and kitchen, it interjects a playful mood into the rest of the house.

This wallpaper pattern is from the Sure Strip line by York, one of my favorite brands, for many reasons. I like the “raised ink” texture to the paper. The thin paper will dry flat and hold tightly to the wall. Yet the material was developed so that, when it comes time to redecorate, it should strip off the wall easily and in one piece, with no damage to the underlying surface. On top of all that, it comes pre-pasted, and is very nice to work with.

Even though I was battling a regimented pattern in a room full of unlevel ceiling, un-plumb walls, and crooked corners, the finished project turned out fantastic.

This wallpaepr was bought at below retail price from 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.

Similar Theme; Different Feel

July 14, 2017

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The original wallpaper in this large powder room in Hunter’s Creek Village was red and had “broken twigs” as its design. The homeowner wanted a subtle change, so went with something fairly similar, but more modern. The paper is a grasscloth, and is dark blue, with gold “broken lines” covering the surface.

The paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, using a straightedge and a razor blade. This is a bit more difficult to do with grasscloth, which is thick and stiff, than with regular paper. In addition, the manufacturer’s trim guideline marks were off, which resulted in edges that were not straight. It took some time to figure out how to bypass that, and how to salvage the strip that got the crookedly cut edge.

There were a lot of other challenges to this room, including crooked walls, bowed walls, 12′ high ceiling, paper that twisted when it got wet with paste, a console vanity with exposed plumbing and a lower shelf, and less paper than I asked for – I needed 11 1/2 strips, and I had 12 strips….which meant that there was no extra paper to fix an error. Every strip had to be cut and hung perfectly.

I trimmed, pasted, and hung one strip at a time. This was tedious and slow, but it allowed me to gauge what was going on with each strip and how it interacted with the other strips (previous and succeeding), crooked corners, and the conformation of the room, as I worked my way around the walls, plus it gave me time to work around more difficult areas, such as the light fixtures, the “low boy” toilet, and the console sink.

The finished room looks great, and the homeowner loves it.

Because it’s grasscloth, the family will have to be careful to not splash water onto it, because it will eventually stain the material, or cause the dyes to run.

This paper is by Kravat, and I was very pleased with the quality of the material. (But, let me say here, I was NOT pleased with the mis-marked trim guidelines.) Back to the grasscloth – the color was very uniform, and there were virtually no shading or paneling or color variations, which are problems with most other grasscloth products I have hung. Do a Search here on those terms, to learn more.

You get what you pay for. This Kravat grasscloth cost about $350 per single roll (about 22 useable square feet).

Crooked Walls = Wrinkly Paper

December 3, 2016
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Walls in homes are usually never perfectly plumb, just as ceilings and floors are never perfectly level. Not a problem if you’re painting. But if you are hanging wallpaper, that wallpaper wants to hang straight, and so it wants a straight wall to hang on to.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that if a wall is crooked, bowed, or off-plumb, wallpaper will have difficulty hanging butted up against it.

In this case, I had turned a strip of wallpaper around an outside corner – very tricky for several reasons, and more so because virtually no outside corner is perfectly plumb, which compounds the trickiness. If you wrap wallpaper around a wall / corner that is not plumb / straight, the far edge of the wallpaper will likewise become bowed or un-straight. So when you go to butt the next strip of wallpaper against this one, one straight edge will not be able to find another straight edge to “marry with,” and the strips will want to gap or overlap. Not good.

So what I did was, once I got around the outside corner, I made sure that the far edge of the strip of wallpaper was plumb and straight. I used a 6′ magnesium straightedge and a 4′ level as guides.

But making the far edge of the wallpaper strip comply to plumb caused the body, or central area, of the wallpaper strip to become wrinkled due to excess material. Thankfully, this was a forgiving pattern.

What I did was, I cut along some lines of the wallpaper design motif. This created some relief, so I could ease out the wrinkles and smooth the paper against the wall. Voilà! The wrinkles and stress on the paper are gone; cuts, splices, and overlaps are invisible, and the the far edge of the paper is straight and ready to butt against the next strip of wallpaper.

Black & White Trellis in a Heights Bungalow Kitchen

February 18, 2016
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I have not been papering many kitchens lately, so it was a treat to do this one, in a 100-year-old bungalow in the Heights (Houston). The homeowner was doing cosmetic updates, and working with the existing features, like a black & white checkered floor, black appliances, and a really cool old sink. She had a new bank of cabinets built over the stove, and added a black glossy tile backsplash around the stove, to cut down on cooking splatters that could stain the wallpaper.

The walls had seen decades of treatments, and they were kinda sketchy, so I skim-floated them to make them nice and smooth. There was nothing I could do, however, about the un-level and un-plumb walls, ceiling, and floors. With a wild floral pattern, you might not notice a crooked ceiling line. But with a rhythmic trellis, you will.

One wall was nice and straight along the ceiling line – but the other was not.

So, I had the choice of several options: I could hang the wallpaper so it would look straight across the ceiling, OR I could hang it so it looked straight against the woodwork, OR I could hang it so the pattern matched nicely in the corners.

I consulted with the homeowner, and she said, “No one will pay any attention to the ceiling line, but I would like the corners to look good.” I think she was right, that making the pattern match perfectly in the corners was the least eye-jarring, and the best way to go.

Oh, and I also called in a little help from my friend Mr. Sharpie, plus a little creative trimming and twisting and overlapping and tugging.

The wallpaper is only on a few sections of wall in this kitchen, but it makes a bold statement. And, as the homeowner said, “I love it, it fits – because I am bold, too!” (She is quite a vivacious lady!)

This is a paper wallpaper, and is not very resistant to stains. So, in the area around the dog’s food and water bowls, the homeowner will have a piece of clear Plexi-Glass cut to fit the space and then use small nails to discretely tack it to the wall. The Plexi-Glass can be easily wiped clean, and the wallpaper will be protected from stains.

This wallpaper pattern is in the Anderson Prints line by EcoChic, was nice to work with, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Coordinating the Last Two Corners And the Kill Point

April 16, 2015

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When wallpapering a room, the pattern in the last corner virtually never matches. It’s just physiology and geometry. We call that last corner the “kill point,” and try to put it in an inconspicuous place, like behind a door, or in a short strip over a door. But in this room, the kill point was very obvious – a 5′ high strip next to the toilet. To make matters worse, the walls were crooked, when throws the pattern off-plumb and exacerbates the mis-match.

In the middle of a wall, a mis-match on this geometric pattern would be very obvious. But in a corner, not so much, because it’s fairly busy and the corner disguises the break. However, the strong horizontal line looks much better if it’s maintained from wall to wall.

But what to do if the wall is crooked and causes your wallpaper design to start running uphill? That’s the problem I faced after turning the corner on the right. So what I did was, instead of smoothing that next piece into place and trimming it at the ceiling and floor, I positioned it temporarily, and then placed the second strip, which met the corner on the left, also leaving it loose. Then I was able to play with both strips, to line up the horizontal lines, (which were off by about 1/4″ – 3/8″).

To twist the wallpaper into line, I wrapped the lower section of the right hand strip a littler further onto the wall on the right than it was at the top. This caused a slight pattern mis-match, but it was minor and low to the floor, so not a biggie. Same thing in the left corner.

But wait – there’s more! Look at the photo with the toilet. If you look closely, you will see that one of the diagonal lines in the wallpaper is narrower than the others. What I did was, I cut along the white stripe and then twisted the paper to line up as I wanted it to to match the pattern, overlapping the white stripe over the wallpaper below it. Because no vertical lines are dissected, you don’t notice the slight pattern mis-match.

I tossed in the final photo so you could see how the finished room looks. This was hung in a powder room in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Different Prep & Installation Techniques

April 15, 2010

Please click the links at right to learn about me and my business.

After I finished my two-day job yesterday (which turned out very well, BTW, two tones of blue stripes on white paper in two young boys’ shared bathroom), the client made the comment that she was glad she hired me.  Here are some things she mentioned.

1. My work was beautiful.

2. The other installers she talked to had quoted higher prices.

3. The other installers stated they were not going to remove the existing wallpaper.

4. The other installers had said that there would be places were the stripes would not line up and would not match.

My thoughts:

3. I agree that it can sometimes be difficult to remove existing wallpaper, especially the very thin tight paper in this room, and that SOMEtimes it’s possible to prep the existing paper and hang new paper over it. But a paperhanger should always at least TRY to remove the paper. That eliminates worries about loose places here and there, and about the new wet paper causing bubbles in the paper surface below.  Plus, the fewer layers and the less bulk you have on the wall, the less chance of something pulling away down the road.

4. Yes, houses are never truely “square” or true to plumb, and stripes can be tricky to install. But there are many tricks of the trade, so to speak, that can actually make stripes EASIER to install, and easier to hide such flaws as this particular room had, like the mirror that was 1/2″ out of square with the wall from it’s top to bottom edges. Planning ahead to have to live with crooked lines is like giving up before you’ve started.

Instead of making excuses for inaccuracies, I say devise a way to eliminate, or at lease minimize, the chances of them occuring.