Posts Tagged ‘curling seams’

Whoops – Somebody Painted Over Old Wallpaper – And It’s Peeling Up

February 23, 2018


This wallpaper is in the potty room of a Hollywood bathroom in a newish home in Bellaire (Houston). Instead of stripping off the original wallpaper, someone decided to just paint over it.

It’s not clear if they painted over the inked, vinyl / acrylic – coated surface, or if they peeled off that surface coat and then painted over the remaining paper backing.

Not that it would make a lot of difference, but they probably did not prime or seal the surface, either.

Either way, as you can see, the various layers failed, and the wallpaper seam let go of the underlying surface, resulting in the “popped” seam you see in the photo.

This probably has to do with a lot of factors, including an improperly prepped surface (read above), latex paint adding moisture that could cause the underlying surface to expand and swell, and humidity from the shower and the window allowing moisture to enter the edges of the wallpaper.

Once humidity enters the edges of wallpaper, it can cause the paper to expand and then pull away from the underlying surface. This can result in curled seams.

This is what you see in the photo above.

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Wallpaper and YouTube Don’t Mix

December 31, 2017


This West University mother of young children went to YouTube for some primers on how to hang wallpaper, and then, along with hubby, spent a 3-day weekend tackling the powder room redo project. They didn’t do a horrible job (first three photos), but there were some things that must not have been covered on YouTube.

First, and probably most important, the walls should have been primed with a product designed for wallpaper.

Second, seams should be butted, not overlapped.

Third, wallpaper should not be wrapped around the door moldings, but trimmed at the base.

Fourth, I’m not sure what’s going on with the cuts at the baseboard. I think the room had seen a number of redecorating efforts, and that the baseboards took a bit of a beating in the process, leaving a surface that wasn’t smooth and wasn’t willing to hold on to wallpaper.

I stripped off their wallpaper, patched bad spots, sanded the walls, then primed with Gardz, a penetrating sealing primer that bonds together porous surfaces and that is also a good base to hold wallpaper.

The rest of the photos are of the room after I hung the new paper.

This product is a pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl material. It happens to be one of my least favorite kinds of wallpaper. The homeowner chose it because she has young children and the vinyl is reputed to be more water-resistant and durable than other types of wallpaper. If she had consulted with me before she bought her paper, I would have steered her in another direction.

It’s true that the vinyl surface is resistant to water, and it’s more resistant to stains than a paper-wallpaper. But that doesn’t make the product wonderful.

The main problem is the paper backing. This stuff is not horrible, but it does have a reputation for curling a tad at the seams (do a search on my blog for previous posts). Humidity (such as in a bathroom with showering) can cause increased curling at the seams. Any water that falls on a cut edge of the paper (along backsplashes, seams under hand towels, etc.) can wick into the paper backing and cause it to expand, which will cause the seams to curl.

To reduce the potential for seam curling, I used a special pasting process (rather than following the manufacturer’s instructions). And I ran a bead of caulk along the top of the backsplash (see 4th photo – the caulk will be clear when it’s dry) to prevent splashed water from wicking up under the wallpaper.

My trim cuts along the baseboard looked better than the homeowners’, but I still felt the baseboard was compromised somehow and that wallpaper did not have a good surface to grip ahold of. So I ran a bead of caulk along the top of the baseboards, too.

This wallpaper is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, a British manufacturer. It is a faux grasscloth, and, unlike true grasscloths, it is pretty water- and stain-resistant, and it has a pattern that can be matched. In fact, the close-up photo above shows a seam – and I’ll bet that you can’t find it! The pattern number is FD44143

Next time around, when a mom has concerns about her kids touching or splashing the wallpaper, I would suggest she consider one of the newish non-woven products. Or, better yet, a scrim-backed (woven fabric-backed) solid vinyl product, such as something from the Thibaut brand Texture Resource line, particularly Volume 4. Everything in that book is beautifully textured and realistic, and virtually indestructible. Do a search here to see my previous posts.

Stay Away From Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

December 6, 2017

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Solid vinyl wallpapers are often marketed as “kitchen and bath” papers, because they are somewhat more washable than other types of wallpaper, and because splashed water will run right off the vinyl (plastic) surface.

However, I find just the opposite with these solid vinyl papers, particularly the pre-pasted, lower-priced ones.

The seams generally never look great to begin with. Then the porous paper backing tends to absorb moisture, such as humidity in a steamy bathroom. When the paper absorbs moisture, it expands, and when it expands, it has nowhere to go but to push away from the wall – causing a curled seam. Often the top vinyl layer even starts to delaminate from the paper backing.

This is not a “loose seam,” and it cannot be “reglued.”

Humidity is a factor, but so is improper wall prep. Usually, when there are curling seams like this, the previous installer neglected to prime the walls, and just hung wallpaper on top of the bare drywall.

In the two photos with paper curling away from the top of the baseboards and from the top of the granite countertops, it is not sticking because the surface beneath it is slick – overspray of gloss paint from the woodwork, caulk used around the top of the backsplash. Again, a primer would have prevented this.

I also like to run a bead of caulk around the top of the backsplash, to prevent splashed water from being wicked up under the cut edge of the wallpaper, which would cause curling.

I have blogged a number of times about curling seams due to crummy paper-backed, pre-pasted solid vinyl wallpapers. Choose some key words and do a Search here to read more.

Homeowner Tackled the Wallpaper Install – So, How’s That Working Out for You?

August 9, 2017

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The homeowner tried tackling this wallpaper installation herself, without even consulting so much as a YouTube video. She didn’t do an all-out bad job, and the paper is still stuck to the wall after three years. But there are a number of things that were done incorrectly.

1. Walls were not primed with a wallpaper primer

2. Caulk should have been run around the top of the backsplash

3. Paper was wrapped around the edge of door moldings and not trimmed.

4. Seams were overlapped

5. Overlapped areas were not secured with a “vinyl-over-vinyl” adhesive.

6. Pattern was not matched.

7. And, last but very important – a poor choice of wallpapers.

I am not a fan of paper-backed, solid-vinyl wallpapers, especially the pre-pasted, lower-end products. Do a Search here on various terms, and you will learn a lot about the material and its poor performance. IMO

In the meantime, when I take on this job, I will remove all the old paper, scrub the walls to remove paste residue, fix any dings in the walls, prime with an appropriate primer, hang the paper properly, by matching the pattern, butting the seams, and trimming correctly along baseboards and door moldings, etc., and, when finished, I will run clear caulk along the top of the vanity and other key areas, then give the family my “lecture” about leaving the door open and using the exhaust fan and avoiding long steamy showers.

Brightly Nautical Wallpaper in a Master Bathroom

July 8, 2017

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I didn’t get pictures of the original wallpaper, but it was a pre-pasted, paper-backed solid vinyl (my least favorite kind) and had been poorly installed on un-primed bare drywall. Over the 12 years it was up, humidity from the bathroom had penetrated the seams and caused the paper to curl.

This paper (not vinyl) wallpaper, hung over properly primed walls, will cling tightly to the wall and perform well for many years to come. Plus, it’s bright and pretty and adds a lot of life to the room.

One shot shows the oceanic paper in the main room, looking into the potty / water closet, which has been papered in a coordinating yellow striped pattern. I really like using two papers this way. See tomorrow’s post for pics of the potty room.

This home is in West University Place (Houston). The wallpaper pattern is #839-T-6701 by Thibaut Designs, and 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.

Spring Time in a Powder Room

July 7, 2017

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I forgot my camera yesterday, the day I stripped off the old paper and prepped the walls, so I cannot show you the 15 year-old wallpaper with its curling seams, due to 1.) being an inexpensive paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper (my least favorite kind – do a Search here), and 2.) the previous installer did not prime the walls but instead hung the wallpaper directly on the new home’s bare Sheetrock, and 3.) age, heat, and humidity. The pattern, however, was not too dissimilar to this one, being a sort of “impressionistic painting” design in the same blue, pink, yellow, and green color scheme.

Anyway, the new powder room looks fantastic. The colors are similar to what the homeowner had before, but this wallpaper should hold up much better. The material is paper (not vinyl), and will hug the wall tightly. I removed every scrap of old paper and sealed the walls with a penetrating sealer named Gardz, and then primed with a wallpaper-specific primer called Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977.

On top of this good foundation, the new wallpaper is a pre-pasted, raised-ink paper by Thibaut, and is one of my favorite products to work with, and I also love it’s dependable performance down the road. The pattern is #6936, and is very similar to their “Augustine” hummingbird design (Do a Search here). I love the barely-discernible texture of these raised-ink papers. A unique printing process results in this effect.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and 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.

Pouched Seams in Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

June 27, 2017

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I hung this paper in a master bathroom back in 2001, and it has held up very nicely. But if you look closely, you can see that the seams are “pouched” up just a little.

This is a type of paper called paper-backed solid vinyl, and often comes pre-pasted, and is usually toward the lower end of the price point. I don’t like these papers because they have a habit of doing just this – curling every so slightly at the seams.

The reason, I believe, is that humidity gets into the seams and then into the paper backing. The paper swells, and the vinyl surface has nowhere to go, so it curls backwards on itself.

Better alternatives are acrylic-coated papers, or the newer non-woven wallcoverings.

Faux Grasscloth – A Handsome Choice

April 26, 2016
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This young couple had had a faux-finisher do a textured striƩ pattern on their powder room and master bathroom walls, but they were not pleased with the look. They were considering grasscloth, but I discouraged that idea, because, in a bathroom, and in a home with young children, grasscloth will stain and even bleed if it is splashed with water or touched by little hands. Because it has no pattern that can be matched from strip to strip, you see all the seams. Toss in the color variations, shading, and paneling (do a Search here), and I pretty much discourage homeowners from using grasscloth.

A wonderful option is this faux grasscloth product. It’s made from vinyl and is backed with a woven fabric material (scrim), and is resistant to water, stains, and dings. In fact, it’s practically indestructible – it’s the same sort used in hotels and hospital hallways, where it will be banged into and abused, and still hold up. Furthermore, this product is thick and textured, so it delivers the tactile surface the clients were searching for. And, best of all, the color is uniform, so there are no issues with eye-jarring color differences between strips of wallpaper.

The finished look is tailored, serene, crisp, warm, masculine yet soft, and a good backdrop to just about any room or accessory.

Another big plus for this paper is that it is bonded to a woven fabric backing, and does not have a paper backing. The woven fabric adds even more strength, and allows for some flexibility if the walls move or shift (this is Houston, built on Gumbo Soil, after all). And they should not have any problems with lifting or curling seams in the future, even in humid conditions. Vinyl papers that are bonded to paper backings, on the other hand, do tend to absorb moisture from humidity and then expand, curling backwards, which means that the seams can open up and be impossible to glue back down. See previous post.

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.

Did I Mention that I DON’T LIKE Solid Vinyl Papers?!

November 17, 2014

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Solid vinyl adhered to a somewhat gritty manila-type paper backing, usually pre-pasted and at the lower end of the price scale, is one of my LEAST favorite types of paper. The photo at top shows you exactly why.

Under humid conditions, or, as in this case, where the original installer failed to use a primer under the wallpaper, it’s common for the seams to curl just a little. It’s not a loose seam that can be pasted back, but rather the material curling back on itself, and it’s virtually impossible to fix.

My theory is that the porous manila paper backing tends to absorb moisture / humidity, and when it does, because it is paper, it swells. But the vinyl surface does not expand and is forced to curl back on itself as the backing gets larger.

There is one redeeming quality about this paper, though. Well, two, actually … The first being that these papers are usually fairly washable, and also resistant to some surface stains. Just don’t brush your cleaning sponge crossways across the seam.

The best thing about them, though, is that they usually come off the wall fairly easily. They are called “peelable” papers, and here is the process:

In the second photo, on the left, you see the dark wallpaper still adhered to the wall. To the right, on the lower half of the photo, I have peeled the vinyl surface away from the wall, which usually comes off in pretty big pieces.

The paper backing is still clinging to the wall. No problem. All it takes is a sponge and a little warm water in a bucket. If you’re lucky, as I was today, the paper will peel right off the wall in large strips. At worst, you will have to gently scrape it off with a putty knife.

On the right half of the photo, you can see where I have wet the paper backing, and the water has darkened it. The paste has been reactivated, and the paper is coming away from the wall easily. At the top of the photo, the paper has already been removed completely from the wall, leaving a nice, clean, smooth surface.

Ready for a PRIMER – which the builder’s installer guy should have done in the first place.

NOTE: I am talking about solid vinyl papers with a paper backing, most of which are pre-pasted, and many of which are sold at a low price-point. The newer vinyls on a non-woven backing behave differently, and will probably hold up much better on your wall, without curling seams.

Please AVOID Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallcoverings!

August 2, 2014

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Digital ImageThis curling at the seams, which is not repasteable or repairable (at least not if you want it to look right) is not uncommon when economically-priced paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper has been used, particularly in humid rooms like bathrooms.

My theory is that the science is that moisture from humid air (teenagers taking 45-minute steamy showers!),works its way into the seams of the wallpaper, and is absorbed by the porous, gritty paper backing typically used on these types of wallpapers. The paper expands, and that causes the material to curl at the seams. These “curls” are usually hard and stiff, and really don’t respond to attempts to get them to reattach to the wall.

A liner under the wallcovering would probably benefit, because liners help to absorb moisture, while they also “lock down” the seams. However, liners add additional cost for merchandise and labor, and add at least a day to the job.

Much better, in my opinion, to steer away from “solid vinyl” materials, and buy “paper” or “vinyl-coated” or even the new “non-woven” wallcoverings.

My wallpaper seller gal can help guide you (see link at right, “Where to Buy Wallpaper in Houston.”