Posts Tagged ‘crown molding’

Faces in Unexpected Places

January 26, 2020

How’s this for something no one else is gonna have?! The homeowner of this Galleria-area home in Houston is a big-personality gal, recently divorced, and she wants her new home to reflect who she is. Everything in the house that could have glitter, shimmer, mirror, or glitz does – including the dog bed and the kitchen backsplash.

This wallpaper in the adjoining powder room (with a huge crystal chandelier!) fits right in with that new life.

This is a sort of mural, composed of rectangular panels about 3′ wide x 2′ high. It was bought on-line, and came with no information or installation instructions.

It was a paper substrate, and was meant to be butted at the seams, as opposed to overlapped, as many mural panels are. After experimenting, I found that a powdered wheat or cellulose paste hydrated the paper best, and that a little of my traditional wallpaper paste added to the mix helped hold the paper tightly to the wall and minimize shrinkage as the panels dried.

The paper curled badly when it was wet with the paste (see third photo), which made it difficult to paste it, book it, and then get it to the wall.

It also expanded a lot when it got wet – almost an inch in each direction. Uneven expansion meant that it developed large wrinkles and warps that were difficult to remove.

In addition, the walls were bowed and uneven in the corners, the walls were not plumb, the ceiling was not level, the crown molding was at different heights on different walls, and we didn’t have a lot of paper to play with.

It took a lot of work to keep the pattern matched as well as possible in the corners, to keep the pattern running at the right point below the crown molding, to eliminate the aforementioned wrinkles, to butt the panels, to minimize white showing at the seams due to the panels drying and shrinking, the paper getting saturated and tearing or dragging when I tried to trim it, and lots more challenges.

All this could have been easier if the manufacturer had chosen a better substrate to print on. But – well, hey, we’ve got a digital printer, so let’s just dig up some paper stock, print cool designs on it, and market it as wallpaper.

Actually, this material worked out pretty well in this small powder room. But I would not want to paper a large, wide wall with it.

Most companies who make murals like this, on this type of thin paper substrate, allow for the edges to be overlapped about 3/8″ at each seam. This allows the installer to make adjustments for wonky walls and ceilings, and it eliminates the gapping at seams as paper dries and shrinks. It does, however, leave a ridge along each seam where the edges are overlapped.

Overall, though, I was not unhappy with this product in this room. And working out all the challenges was mighty fun. I was glad to have a nice, quiet, empty house to do all this in. All in all, this medium-sized powder room that I had prepped the weekend before, took me nine hours to hang.

Painters Aren’t Wallpaper Preppers – Bless Their Hearts

July 28, 2019


Someone else did some work in this powder room, and that included skim-floating and “prepping the walls for wallpaper.” The main part of the walls that you see when you walk into the room looked nice and smooth.

But on closer inspection, it’s clear that they did not bother to remove switch plate covers or the A/C vent, and didn’t know how to smooth the area along the top of the pedestal sink. Sorry, no pics.

And along the baseboard and crown molding, as well as behind the toilet, they did not get a smooth transition between the smoothing compound and the wall. Please see the photos. You notice where the smoothing compound is globbed on top of the baseboard in an irregular mess.

This is a problem, because these areas are exactly where the wallpaper will be trimmed, and asked to adhere tightly. The problem is, the paper needs a smooth, intact area to grab ahold of. These areas do not provide that.

I could chip off some of this stuff, but not all of it. So the homeowner will be left with jagged cuts at these areas, plus the possibility that the paper will not cling tightly to the irregular surface.

Again, folks: Wallpaper prep should be done by a paperhanger, not a painter or handyman or other kind of tradesman. They simply don’t understand what is required, and typically don’t have the patience or desire to do the detailed work correctly.

Lazy Painters / Lousy Painters

July 4, 2018

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First photo – you are looking at a very close view of crown molding. Note that the bottom edge of the molding is painted dark green, the same color as the walls. This bottom edge is supposed to be the same color as the rest of the molding.

In the second photo, I have brushed my primer on the wall, and so you can see more clearly the dark paint on the bottom of the molding.

Some painters are too lazy (or unskilled) to cut a neat line along corners and the join points of walls and moldings. So they often let their paint brush just swipe the bottom edge of the crown molding. It’s easier and faster than taking the time to tape off the molding, and it takes much less skill than carefully manipulating the brush to paint the wall, and not the molding.

This is a shame, and I hate to see it. To me, pretty moldings are one of the most classy elements in a home. Putting the wall color on the under edge of the crown molding sure does a lot to ruin the effect of the nice molding.

The primer I am using (Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977) is white, and in the third photo you can see that I have tried to cover some of the dark green paint. My primer is not paint, though, so, while it helps, it does not cover well. The green paint is still visible, and looks something like a ghost hovering in between my silver and white wallpaper and the white crown molding.

Crusty, Flaky Stuff on Woodwork

March 2, 2018


You’re looking at a section of crown molding. See that flakey stuff? That is the enamel paint on cracking and chipping off the woodwork. Why? When the original wallpaper was installed, some paste got on the crown molding. This is normal.

But in this case, the paperhanger didn’t wipe off all the residue (this can be hard to do, because it’s really hard to see). Over time, that paste residue ate into the paint and caused it to crackle and chip off the wood.

This can be avoided by making sure that all paste residue is completely wiped off any painted surfaces. I like to use a thin blue plastic tape on the top edge of wallpaper, which keeps paste from coming in contact with the crown molding or ceiling.

Getting A-head

January 26, 2018


I plotted the layout of this pattern to have the leopards’ heads be at the top of the wall, just under the crown molding. This worked nicely for the first three walls. But due to unplumb walls and a very unlevel ceiling, as the wallpaper strips moved from left to right across the four subsequent walls, these poor leopards got their heads got cut off.

I cut new intact heads from scrap wallpaper, and appliquĂ©d them onto the cats’ chests. A little snipping and trimming was needed to get the various body parts to line up.

The leopards’ necks are a little shorter than when they started out. But that is much less disagreeable than half-heads. 🙂 From 9′ down on the floor, all the eye can see is that the animals’ heads are lined up perfectly under the crown molding.

Hospitality, Welcome, Friendship = Pineapple in a Dining Room

December 21, 2016
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I have to admit – at first, I didn’t like this wallpaper pattern. I thought the overall pattern of the pineapples and foliage formed too regimented of a trellis design, and the pattern would look austere and severe once it played out across the walls. But once on the walls, the pattern is perfect! I think that if the walls were floor-to-ceiling, yes, then the pattern would be too strong. But with the chair rail and wainscoting, the scale fills the upper portion of the walls nicely, and the bold black and green and gold are a good juxtaposition with the white paneling below.

Because the display cabinets on the built-in buffet are the center of attention in the room, I chose to center the pineapple pattern there. In the third photo, you see me using the laser level to get the first strip perfectly centered and plumb.

This room has a lot of decorative moldings, some of which you can see in the “before” photo, which take a lot of time to trim around. In addition, I wanted the pineapples to fall at a certain point below the crown molding and to hang at a certain point above the chair rail, and because I started on the wall with the granite countertop, which sat 4 1/2 inches higher than the chair rail, it took quite a bit of measuring and figuring and plotting to get the pattern where I wanted it … Let’s just say that that first buffet wall, plus two strips on either side, took me a full four hours.

I hung this in a dining room in Spring Branch (Houston). This wallpaper is by Hygge & West, an on-line company. The mothball-smelling inks used can cause the edges to curl, so I did fight with that to an extent during the day. Lightly sponging the surface before pasting, and striping the wall behind seams with a little paste both helped to keep the seams flat and tight to the wall.

Two Years of Barren Finally Beautified! (Coordinating Patterns)

October 29, 2016
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In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a family that has been living with a partially-remodeled powder room for more than two years. Today I got them one large step closer to being finished.

The once-drab, dark, and windowless room is now bright and crisp. An ikat trellis (“Bungalow”) was used on the walls, with a coordinating leopard print (“Tanzania”) on the ceiling. The trellis has a lot of movement due to the curved lines, so it really energizes the feel of the room.

The room had unplumb walls, unlevel crown molding, and bowed drywall, so it presented a bit of a challenge, and took me ’til after dark to finish. But the completed job looks great, and the homeowners are very happy.

Both wallpaper patterns are by Thibaut Designs. Two designs and colorways that are intended to work together are called coordinating or companion papers. This home is in the Memorial / Energy Corridor area of Houston.

A Pet Peeve – Paint On The Bottom Of Crown Molding

July 15, 2016
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See the beautiful white crown molding at the top of the photo? See the tan wallpaper at the bottom of the photo? Now see the ridiculous mauve line of paint along the bottom edge of the crown molding? That’s not a shadow. It’s paint. Unnecessary and marring paint.

Before the wallpaper went up, the walls were painted a reddish mauve color. Some painter was either too lazy or too unskilled to “cut a neat line” between the wall and the bottom edge of the crown molding. Instead, he let his brush run paint up onto the bottom edge of the crown molding, eliminating the crisp line between the wooden molding and the wall.

I think that beautiful trim work is one of the defining features of a home. One of my pet peeves is when a painter compromises that by blurring the line of definition between molding and wall. I’ve even seen them paint the edges of door and window moldings, because it’s easier than taping and takes less skill than cutting a sharp line with a proper trim brush.

Clever Solution for a Border that You Can’t Get Off the Wall

July 8, 2016

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These homeowners had gotten tired of the border around the top of their bathroom. But some borders can be the Devil to remove. So this savvy lady came up with a simple and handsome alternative.

She painted the border to match her wall color. Then she added painted wooden trim around the bottom, to cover the edge of the border. I think it looks great, and you would never know there is wallpaper under there.

Another option would be to paint the border and the wood trim semi gloss white, to match the crown molding. This would give the effect of really wide crown molding, and look quite elegant.

Keeping the Waves at the Top

December 18, 2015
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I hung this wallpaper in a nursery in Montrose, Houston. The crown molding on the left half of the wall was level. But as I moved to the right, the molding went off-level, and that meant that the pattern design started to be chopped off at the top of the wall.

Lowering the design on the next strip to keep it from being chopped off would mean that the pattern would not match the pattern on the previous strip. So I matched the pattern along the full height of the wall, except for the very top row. For this row, I cut horizontally across the width of the strip, roughly following the outline of the design. I could have cut a straight line, but I thought that following the design would do a better job of disguising the cut.

Then I lowered the pattern until it fell below the crown molding just where I wanted it to. The result was a little bit of an overlap onto the rest of the strip below it. I simply added a little extra paste, smoothed everything out, and – voilĂ !

Once the paper dries, it will shrink and the overlap will be minimal. Plus, at 10′ up, it would be hard to detect even if you were looking directly at it.

The wallpaper pattern is by Waverly, for York Wall.