Posts Tagged ‘curl’

Hoping to Rectify Failure (Humidity Causes Poor Seams)

August 24, 2018

Humidity is the great enemy of wallpaper. In addition, the lower-end, pre-pasted, solid-vinyl papers with the gritty manila paper backing are not a good choice, in my opinion, in any room, but particularly not humid rooms like bathrooms. This house on the beach with irregular climate control spelled double trouble.

This home on Pirate’s Beach on Galveston Island (south of Houston) was on the beach, so was exposed to lots of humidity. In addition, because the homeowners use it only sporadically, they turn the air conditioner off or set it to a run less while they are away. This means that the home fills up with humidity. And even when the A/C is running, air circulation in this room is poor.

Metal elements such as the light fixture and screws holding things into the walls were rusted. Mildew was found behind some sheets of wallpaper. And the wallpaper itself was curling at the seams – a result of the paper backing absorbing moisture from the air, expanding, and forcing the vinyl surface to curl backward at the seams. (Read more about this on the page to the right about vinyl wallcoverings.)

Another factor for the poor performance of the original vinyl wallpaper was that the walls had not been primed, but the installer put the vinyl paper on top of new drywall. And nothing was done around the shower to protect the paper from splashing water.

I stripped off the old vinyl wallpaper, washed the walls with bleach to kill the mildew, and primed with the penetrating sealer Gardz. Once the new paper was up, I ran caulk along the top of the vanity backsplash, and all along the shower and tub, to prevent splashed water from wicking up under the paper.

The new wallpaper is a thin non-woven material that is “breathable.” No wallpaper is going to hold up under very humid conditions. But this one has a much better chance of staying nice and flat for many years.

The new wallpaper is very similar in appearance to the original, and keeps with the beachy feel of the home. It is by Brewster, in their Chesapeake Bay collection, in the Easy Walls line, and is reasonably priced. It is a pre-pasted material. I did augment the manufacturer’s paste with a .

In the photos, the paper looks blotchy. That is because it is still wet; it will be nice and white when it’s finally dry. The drying time worries me, though, because after six hours, even some parts of the first strips were not dry. This is a real indicator that the room has some serious humidity and air circulation issues.

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Budget-Friendly Solid Vinyl Wallpaper is NOT a Good Choice

June 19, 2018


This is an economical pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpaper. As you can see, it has not held up well. Humidity exasperates this situation, but it can happen in any room … the seams allow humidity to get into the paper backing, which swells with the moisture. This causes the paper backing to push away from the wall, which causes the vinyl top layer to curl back. Sometimes the two layers even delaminate (detach from each other). These are not “loose seams,” and cannot be glued back down.

Please stick with paper wallpaper, or the newish non-woven materials. And stay away from these solid vinyl “bargains.”

Do a search here to read more posts on this subject.

Difficult Hang Today – Lots of Work to Get Good Seams

June 17, 2018



I don’t recall ever having seen a wallpaper product labeled “heavyweight paper” before. I wasn’t thrilled with this stuff. It was thick, and that made it difficult to work with. I prefer thin papers because they form to the walls better. This paper didn’t have any coating on it, so it is not any more durable than a thinner paper, so I don’t see the reason for the “heavyweight” treatment.

And any time you apply paste and the edges of the paper curl backward (Photo 1), you know you are in for a tough install.

The room was already prepped, and it was just 9 single rolls on an easy top of a dining room – no tricky moldings to trim around, no toilets to reach beind, no awkward spaces to situate the ladder in… It should have taken 5-6 hours. Instead I toiled for 12 hours.

I hung three strips, and wasn’t happy with the two seams between them. They pouched just a little and would not lie down flat. (Photo 2) With strong light coming in from the windows, the seams looked bad. There was no way of knowing how the seams would look once the paper was good and dry. But for now, I couldn’t stand the look, and I didn’t want to leave the homeowners with these pouchy seams.

I removed two of those strips, refreshed the paste, and kept them “open” by placing them in a plastic trash bag so they would remain useable (we didn’t have a lot of paper to spare). I ran to the truck and got supplies so I could double cut new seams (splice on the wall). I needed a special trim guide, and a special polystyrene padding strip to protect the wall so that the razor blade wouldn’t score into it (which could compromise the surface and lead to delamination of layers … too complicated to get into here, but you can do a Search and read previous posts on this subject).

From then on, instead of using the factory edges for seams, I double cut. Double cutting involves padding the wall behind where the seam will be, overlapping the new strip onto the old strip while carefully matching the pattern, and then using the handled straightedge and a sharp new razor blade to cut through both layers of paper. Then you peel back the paper at the newly cut seam and remove the two thin strips of excess paper that were just cut off. Then you remove the plastic padding strip.

Now you can put the edges of the freshly cut new seam back together. Because they were cut into each other, they will fit together perfectly. But because the padding strip has some thickness, the two newly cut edges are now a teeny tad wider than needed, so you’ll have to do some finessing to get the seam to butt together, instead of pouching up just a bit.

Because one strip of pasted paper overlapped onto another, once the excess paper strips are removed, there will be paste residue left on a 1″-2″ edge of one of the wallpaper drops. This has to be washed off with a damp microfiber rag, and you will have to rinse the rag and wash the wall several times to get all the residue off.

And all of this has to be done on a time frame, because while you’re working on one seam, the edges of the next are rapidly drying out, which is a whole new can of worms.

My finished double cut seams were perfect. (Photo 3)

But after I had worked my way around the room a bit, I looked back at the first wall, and saw that, as the paper dried, it shrank just a little. This left a visible gap between the two strips. (Photo 4) This gap isn’t visible from a distance, and it’s not visible if you look at the walls at an angle. But if you are standing three feet away and looking head-on, you will see the gap. I think it’s too much.

Oh, and, one more thing … the paper was easily marred if it was touched by any bit of metal. (Photo 5) Scissors, straight edge, trim guide, even the metal eraser housing on the end of my pencil would leave a grey mark if it happened to rub against the wallpaper. Most of these marks would wipe off, but not all of them. And wiping the paper leads to abrasion, so you want to avoid overdoing it. I worry about how the wallpaper might be marked up when the homeowners innocently go about hanging their art and mirror.

Considering what the homeowners paid for the wallpaper and installation, I think they should have a better outcome than this. This paper is manufactured by Thibaut. Thibaut makes many types of wallpaper, and most of them are lovely to work with, and they perform well. It makes you wonder why they would use this “heavyweight” stock, which produces a less-than-desireable outcome.

Lower-End Vinyl Wallpaper is Bad Stuff

April 24, 2018


Pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallcoverings are economical, and they are often touted as “kitchen and bath papers,” because the vinyl surface is resistant to water and because it can be washed better than paper papers.

But these products often perform poorly, especially in rooms with humid conditions or where they may be splashed with water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. It’s very common for the seams to curl, as you see in the photo. In some cases, the seams never look good, even when the paper is newly hung.

The curling seams are caused, in my opinion, because the paper backing absorbs moisture from the air, or if water is splashed onto a backsplash and can be wicked up into the paper backing of the wallpaper. The paper expands, the vinyl doesn’t, causing it to curl back. Then the vinyl actually delaminates from the paper backing. This is not a “loose seam” and cannot be simply glued back down. The two layers of the product are coming apart, and cannot be repaired.

My advice – avoid these papers. Instead go for a paper paper, or one of the new non-woven papers. More info on choosing a quality paper in the “Beginning – General Info Pack” page to the right.

From Diagonal to Vertical

March 3, 2018


This home in Bellaire was (Houston) built in the ’90’s, and the original wallpaper (top photo) in this bathroom was outdated and had begun to curl at the seams. I stripped off the old paper and primed the walls with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that is a good base for wallpaper to adhere to. See second photo.

The new tone-on-tone blue striped wallpaper updates the room, and adds a softer look. The homeowner chose cherry red accessories to accent the room. These are toned down by navy blue rugs and towels that are a slightly duskier navy and red.

This paper is a pre-pasted solid vinyl on a paper backing. Despite the economical price-point, I don’t recommend these types of papers, especially in rooms that are prone to humidity, such as bathrooms.

For starters, it’s difficult to install, and the seams never really look good. Second, the paper backing tends to absorb moisture from the air and then expand, and that causes the seams to curl. The vinyl surface layer is known for delaminating (separating from that paper backing). This, again, results in curled seams. This is not something that can be pasted back. So you are either left with curled seams or faced with repapering the entire room.

The best way to (hopefully) avoid this is to properly prep the walls, and to keep humidity to a minimum (avoid steamy showers, keep the A/C / heating vents open, run the exhaust fan, keep the door open).

Better yet, avoid purchasing paper-backed solid vinyl wallcoverings. If you shop at my favorite place (see the page on the right), you will be steered to beautiful papers of a better quality, while still at affordable prices.

Stay Away From Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

February 21, 2018

Wallpaper - Curlinig Seam, Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl, Mylar
Paper-backed solid vinyl papers are about my least favorite of all papers. The main reason is that they tend to curl at the seams, especially when there is humidity present.

The issue is that, IMO, the gritty manila-type paper backing is porous, and so it will pull moisture and humidity out of the air when the room is under humid conditions (teenagers taking long hot showers). Once this happens, humidity / moisture can enter the seam and soak into the paper backing, the vinyl surface can delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing, causing the surface to curl away from the substrate / backing. This is what you see in the photo.

Because the two layers of the wallpaper have actually come apart, it is also very difficult to paste back against the wall. It would be far better to remove all the wallpaper, properly prep the surface (smooth, primer), and then hang the new wallpaper.

Soft Pink and – Wild Green Banana Leaves for a Baby Girl

January 11, 2018

Here’s something different for a baby girl’s nursery. The mother wanted a “Beverly Hilton Hotel” look – this hotel features the iconic “Martinique” banana leaf wallpaper. It is fabulous, but it’s quite expensive, and it’s difficult to install, too. Do a search here to read my experience with it.

I was able to direct this mom-to-be to my favorite source for buying wallpaper (read below), and she helped her find something at a more reasonable price, that is better looking, too, and definitely is holding to the wall better.

The rest of the room – walls, ceiling, woodwork, are painted a very pale pink. There’s just enough pink in the wallpaper to coordinate it with the rest of the room and pull everything together.

This went on one accent wall in a baby’s room in Clear Lake. The paper is in the Sure Strip line by York, one of my favorite brands. I did have a little trouble this time with seams wanting to curl back, but only where the dark ink crossed the seam. This tends to be because the inks absorb moisture from the paste differently from the paper substrate, and they fight each other. I stayed a little late to be sure the seams were setting securely as the paper dried.

This wallpaper pattern 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.

It’s So Much Easier When The Sink & Toilet Are Out Of The Room

July 27, 2017

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The homeowner was nice enough to have both the pedestal sink and toilet pulled out of the powder room. This made it so much easier and faster for me to get wallpaper back there. Plus she got a neater look under the sink, and no cut edge along the top of the sink (which could absorb splashed water and curl).

“Sigourney” Wallpaper in China Seas Collection by Quadrille

June 16, 2017

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This “Sigourney” design by Quadrille is a well-loved wallpaper pattern. It comes in a large and a smaller scale. Today I hung the larger pattern.

This went in the large and sunny breakfast area of a new home in Oak Forest (Houston).

The wallpaper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, before the paper could go up. The heavy inks smell like mothballs, and fight against the paper backing, causing the paper to “waffle” (pucker) and the edges of the paper to curl.

My table-trimmed seams curled and didn’t want to lie down against the wall, so I ended up double-cutting (splicing) all the seams. Double-cutting involves a lot more steps and materials than simply butting factory-trimmed seams.

So this job took a lot more time and sweat than expected, but turned out looking fabulous.

Fun Wallpaper Pattern for a Not-Too-Serious Master Bath

March 17, 2017

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This fun and somewhat ethnic looking wallpaper pattern went into the master bathroom of a newly remodeled 1939 brick bungalow in Montrose (Houston).

The homeowner kept saying, “It changes it SO MUCH! Before, it was just all white. Boring white. This has personality, and the room feels larger, too.”

The wallpaper is by Hygge & West, an on-line company, and is called “Diamante.” ¬†Unlike most of their papers, which waffle, and curl at the seams (see yesterday’s post), this one was a positive delight to work with. I am guessing that that’s because there is not as much ink on this pattern.