Posts Tagged ‘delaminate’

Solid Vinyl Paper Pooching at Seams

May 15, 2020


Today I stripped off this paper. It was dark and dated. But also, it had started curling up a bit at the seams.

The homeowners said this started after Hurricane Harvey, when they were without power for two weeks, and the lack of air conditioning allowed humidity to permeate the house.

So here we have paper-backed, pre-pasted, solid-vinyl wallpaper doing what it does best – succumbing to humidity, by allowing moisture to wick in behind the seams, which causes the paper backing to swell, pushing the vinyl surface back in a curl. Sometimes, the paper backing actually delaminates (comes apart from) the vinyl layer.

My main reason why I encourage people to steer away from these materials. The price point is attractive, but the quality and longevity is not.

Interestingly as a side note, it looks like the previous installer did not pay attention to the pattern match. Well, no biggie. On this design, it is not very noticeable, and the homeowners have lived with it happily for 20 years or more.

Sweet, Creamy Classic Toile in a NW Houston Kitchen

January 10, 2020


I hung this “American Landmarks” wallpaper (top photo) 12 years ago – and it was still in perfect condition. 🙂 But now the homeowner was ready for an update.

Her original choice was a large murky blue plaid, and it was a low-end, pre-pasted, paper-backed vinyl from a big box store. These types of vinyl papers generally have bad, visible seams, and very often curl at the seams or even delaminate (vinyl separates from paper backing), especially when there is humidity (read: Houston).

All the paper I hung in this home (several rooms) 12 years ago was paper (not vinyl), and has held up perfectly all this time. Luckily, the homeowner listened to me this time around, and nixed the vinyl and went shopping at my favorite source (below), and selected a paper wallpaper.

Both patterns are toiles (line drawings using just two colors). But the new design has a softer look, and the light yellow background adds a whole lot more warmth to the room.

Oh – and the new paper has dogs on it – a perfect choice because the homeowner is a big fan of her three pooches!

The new paper is pre-pasted (I added a little extra paste) and is a thin paper that hugs the walls tightly, and the seams are next to invisible.

The home is in near-northwest Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Problem With Wall – Unstable Paint

October 22, 2019


Here’s where a little bit of paint has peeled away from the wall. Why? Most likely because over the 60 year lifetime of this house, various products have been applied to the walls.

Oil based paint, followed by latex paint, then gloss paint, maybe some smoothing compound, then more paint and then another coat of paint.

In all probability, improper prep, or, more likely, no prep at all, was done between all these surface treatments.

The thing is, all of these disparate materials are not likely to stick to one another, especially if no prep has been done.

The problem becomes, then, that when a new surface treatment (paint, wallpaper) is applied, and then dries, which results in shrinking, which results in pulling taught and putting stress on the wall’s surface, the stress can cause these various surfaces to actually pull apart (delaminate).

That’s what you’re seeing here.

Solid Vinyl Wallpaper is Not Good in Humid Areas

September 18, 2019


I don’t recommend the economical (i.e. lower end) pre-pasted, solid-vinyl wallpapers in humid rooms. Yes, the vinyl will resist water and stains if it gets splashed. But that gritty paper backing sucks up moisture, even moisture in humid air. When it does, the paper expands. The top vinyl layer does not. So the expanding paper pushes the plastic surface away from the wall, as you see in these photos.

In a further scenario, the two layers actually delaminate (come apart) from one another. This sort of seam cannot be glued back down.

It’s best to avoid this type of paper.

Trouble Brewing? Paint Not Adhering to Wall

June 26, 2019


Top photo: A small circle of paint had been pulled away from the wall. When I picked at it, I was able to easily detach more paint.

Second photo: When I removed the light switch plate, some paint had stuck to it, and pulling the switch plate off the wall took some of the paint underneath along with it.

The exposed wall underneath the paint was gritty and dusty. I could not tell if it was a layer of old paint, drywall, dust, residue from ancient wallpaper paste, or other. I had the feeling that if I had tried, I could have peeled all the paint off the dusty subsurface.

This is not good.

This is an old house, and many layers of paint and other treatments have been added to the walls over the decades (100 years!). Many of these substances are not compatible with each other, and especially not if the walls were not prepped properly before applying another coat of paint.

Latex paint won’t stick to oil based paint. New paint won’t stick to a glossy paint. Nothing sticks to a dusty surface.

All these various materials will adhere to one another – for a while. But when a stressor is added to the formula, there is the potential for the layers to delaminate (come apart). That’s what happened in the two areas above, when a bit of a tug was all it took to peel several layers of paint away from the wall.

The issue here is that wallpaper comes with its own stressors. Wallpaper gets wet when it’s pasted, expands a bit, and then when the paste dries, the paper shrinks a tad and puts tension on the walls. Over time, with changes in temperature and humidity, foundations shifting, and just plain old passage of time, this tension could cause the paint to give way from the walls – this usually manifests at along a seam.

I use a wallpaper-specific primer, and among its attributes is the ability to withstand this type of tension.

Let’s hope that over the years, the many layers of paint, the new coat of primer, and the wallpaper all work together to stay nice and tight to the wall.

Note: If I had known about the wall condition earlier, and if the homeowners’ budget had allowed, a liner would have been a good option in this case. A liner is a special type of paper that is applied to the primed wall the day before the paper goes up. It serves several purposes, but one is to distribute tension across the wall. Because the seams of the liner do not line up with the seams of the wallpaper, drying and shrinking wallpaper puts tension on the liner, and not onto the unstable wall itself, thus pretty well eliminating the chance that the wallpaper seams could cause the wall to delaminate.

The downside is that using a liner adds an extra day (or more) of labor, plus the cost of material.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Lower-End Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

June 7, 2019

People often think that vinyl wallpaper will be good in a bathroom, because water will roll off it. but in reality, very little water gets splashed on the walls – but a lot of moisture can get wicked into the seams.

These photos (you may want to scroll to enlarge them) show how the lower-end, paper-backed, solid-vinyl wallpapers tend to perform poorly in humid rooms like bathrooms. The problem is that moisture gets in between the seams and into the paper backing. That backing absorbs moisture and expands, curling away from the wall. The backing can actually go a step further and delaminate from the top vinyl layer.

This type of paper often performs like this when you’ve got people taking steamy showers, forgetting to turn on the vent fan, forgetting to keep the door open for air circulation, etc. Neither of these situations can be fixed. You will be stuck with these slightly curled seams.

The thing is, there are plenty of nice, paper or non-woven wallpapers out there, that will hold up a lot better in bathrooms.

Soft Mattress Ticking Stripe in an All-White Bathroom

April 24, 2019


With just paint on the upper walls, this all-white bathroom was simply … too white. The addition of a soft stripe, in the shape of a classic mattress ticking pattern, was just enough to add some warmth and definition to the space.

While I like the pattern, I am not fond of the material, nor the brand. Norwall is one of the lowest-priced manufacturers out there, and … you get what you pay for. This is a solid vinyl wallpaper with a paper backing. The vinyl surface sounds attractive to homeowners, because it is a tad more stain resistant than other papers, and because it repels water.

The bad news is that humidity (such as when someone takes a shower, or splashes water on a seam) tends to find its way behind the seams and into the paper backing. That paper then swells and pushes away from the wall, causing the seams to curl.

Over time, the vinyl top layer can actually separate (delaminate) from the paper backing, leaving curled seams that cannot be reattached.

In addition, the seams are always a little “pouched” when the paper is installed, and never lie completely flat. It’s also common for this material to bubble or blister as it dries … I call it “burping” … or more properly termed off-gassing as the air released by the drying paste tries to find an escape but is trapped by the vinyl surface. So you have to keep going around the room chasing out bubbles. Really small ones usually disappear as paper dries.

Type in key words and use the Search feature here (upper right corner) to read my previous posts about these topics.

This was the first time I’ve encountered a Norwall solid vinyl paper-backed product that was not pre-pasted. Maybe the manufacturer has figured out what made it’s wallpaper so crap…py… er… disappointing. To be honest, the paper I worked with today (which had to have adhesive applied by hand/paint roller) went up with fewer problems than usual. There were still blisters, and still seams that were not as flat as they should have been. But overall, it was better than I expected. This is not the same as being “satisfactory.”

Only time will tell how this product stands up to humidity in a family bathroom.

This is a new-but-classic-looking home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

UPDATE: This paper had only been up for a few months when the homeowner called me to say that some of the seams were curling. As expected, this was due to humidity / moisture…. either splashing water or the housekeeper’s damp rag running along the top of the chair rail. Or possibly humidity from showering.

Either way, some of the seams were starting to curl away from the wall, and were on their way to delaminating. I was able to tack down the curls. But if the paper starts to delaminate (vinyl layer separates from paper backing), there is no cure for that – at least, not anything that looks good.

Trick in Hopes to Stave Off Popped Seams from a Crumbly Wall

April 3, 2019


The walls in this powder room in the West U neighborhood of Houston had had many treatments over it’s life, including paint, more paint, skim-floating, wallpaper, and more. Sometimes, and particularly if prep is not done properly, these various layers are not compatible, and won’t adhere to one another well.

When the old wallpaper was removed, this was clear at the seams, where the various layers of the wall had pulled apart, leaving ridges along the length of each seam. This happens because the wallpaper dries and pulls taught and creates tension on the wall; if the wall is unstable, the layers can be pulled apart (delaminate). Sorry, no pics of the “before,” but you can do a search here to see pics of other rooms. This condition can happen over time, as the house fills with humidity and the paper absorbs it, then dries and shrinks again.

I dug out the raised ridges and applied tape over them, sealed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that dries hard. Then I skim-floated over all the walls, to create a smooth surface for the wallpaper. Sanded, wiped dust off with a damp sponge (nothing sticks to dust), and primed all walls with Gardz.

One good way to deal prevent this from happening again is to cross-line the walls with a special liner paper. This is a thin paper that is usually run horizontally before the actual decorative paper is hung. The idea is that if the new paper shrinks and applies tension, it will be distributed by the liner paper, and will not pull at the wall. If the liner shrinks and pulls, the tension is off-set by the decorative paper on top of it. So the two layers are working together to distribute any harmful tension on the wall surface.

Unfortunately, using liner adds a day of labor plus the cost of the material. The homeowner’s budget had already been busted by other factors, so she wanted to keep the job to one day. After collaborating with my colleagues in the Wallcovering Installers Association on our Facebook page, I decided to try this method:

From Office Max I got some plain old cash register tape. I plotted where each seam would fall, and used my laser level to guide placement of a floor-to-ceiling strip of the tape. I adhered it with regular wallpaper paste. At first, I worried that it would soak up moisture and bubble, but once it was smoothed into place, it laid down nice and flat.

Then I hung the wallpaper. The seams fell nicely on top of the tape, held tightly, and looked beautiful. There is the possibility of seeing a very slight ridge under the paper because of the thickness of the tape, but it’s very minimal because the tape is quite thin. And it’s much preferable to popped seams or delaminated walls.

The idea is that the tape will bridge the seam, and distribute tension from the drying paper across the width of the tape, keeping tension away from the wall itself. The tape is very thin, and doesn’t appear to have much tensile strength, but my buddies who have tried this method say it works well.

Time will tell, but I have a lot of confidence in this method.

Clever Kill Point – Eliminating a Pattern Mis-Match, Damask Pattern

January 15, 2019

When you hang wallpaper around a room, usually starting in a corner, the pattern on your last strip will never perfectly match up with the pattern where you first started. So we try to hide this in the least conspicuous place – like behind a door.

But in this room, there were no “hidden corners” that would be obscured by a door. Since all four corners were very visible, I wanted them all to have their pattern match perfectly.

So I had to find another place put that “kill point,” – where the last piece meets up with the first piece. I decided to put that over the door, a 20″ high strip. I figured that would be less noticeable than a 7″ length in a visible corner.

Sorry, for some reason, my “before” photo disappeared; it was a shot of the gap over the door where the last strip was coming to meet the first strip.

In the top photo above, I have overlapped the two strips, to see how “off” the pattern match will be. I am preparing to splice these two strips together, and will use some tricks to make that pattern mis-match less noticeable.

Next, I padded the wall with some scrap paper. This means that I placed a width of scrap paper behind these two pieces that will be spliced together. This is to protect the wall from being scored when I make my splice. You don’t want to cut into the wall when doing a splice, because, when the wallpaper dries and pulls tight, it can put tension on the wall, sufficient to cause the layers to delaminate and pull apart, creating a “popped” seam.

Next, I took a sharp, new razor blade and cut through both layers of wallpaper, using the swerving lines in the damask design as a guild – a swerving cut will be less noticeable than a straight like that cuts abruptly through the pattern.

This is tricky, because you want to cut through two layers of wallpaper, but not into or through the third layer that is being used to pad and protect the wall.

Second photo – I screwed up! For some reason, I had trouble cutting through the two layers of wallpaper. I tried twice, but each time I only cut through one layer. So I attempted it one last time, making sure to push really hard on the razor blade.

Well, now the razor blade was ready to do its job … But it was too zealous … This third attempt, the blade cut neatly through both layers of wallpaper, which is good. But it also cut through the third layer of wallpaper I had put behind everything, to protect the wall. And into the wall underneath. In the photo, you can see how the drywall was scored. This is bad.

To prevent the drying / shrinking wallpaper from tugging on those cut edges of drywall, I grabbed some special paper tape I keep in the van, and placed strips over the curved cuts in the drywall. These are very difficult to see, but the paper strips are there, in the third photo.

Then I fit the two strips of wallpaper back together, smoothing them into place over the paper tape. Then I made sure to wipe off any paste residue that was left on the surface.

Now, if those two spliced strips of wallpaper should shrink as they dry and put tension on the wall, the tension will not be on the cuts in the wall, but rather on the strips of paper. The strip of paper tape will disperse the tension over it’s 1″ width, and keep it away from the weakened areas of the cut drywall. This should prevent any delaminating of the drywall, and prevent any popped seams.

In the last photo, we are back to hiding that last seam, the “kill point.” From down below, your eye will never pick out any pattern mis-match. Mission Accomplished!

Faux Grasscloth – Vinyl That Is Good In A Bathroom

December 29, 2018


Originally, this powder room in the Galleria / Tanglewood area of Houston had what I call a “ditzy” print on the walls – tiny little figures that repeated themselves all over the wallpaper like a zillion little dots lined up in rows. It was outdated and discolored, and didn’t fill the wall space well.

The new homeowner wanted something modern and serene, that would be durable in an area that’s exposed to water. This Bankun Raffia in a steely medium grey is perfect.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (read the page to the right). Nor do I like solid vinyl wallpapers (see the page to the right “Stay Away From ….). But this is one vinyl paper of which I approve.

The vinyl surface is thick and embossed with texture, so it mimics the feel and look of real grasscloth. But it has none of the color variations and shading / paneling issues or visible seams that make the real stuff so disappointing. In fact, you can hardly find a seam.

The vinyl surface is a lot more resistant to water and stains than most any other type of wallcovering. And the woven fabric backing won’t absorb humidity and curl or delaminate like the lower-end paper backed vinyls will. And that fabric backing makes this product quite durable and strong, and resistant to tears (like you see when a home’s foundation shifts and the corners twist out of alignment).

In fact, this stuff is the same iron-tough material that is used in hotels and hospital corridors, and will withstand dings and bangs and can be cleaned easily.

Being thick and stiff, it is a bit difficult to work with, particularly when turning corners. But the benefits are worth it.

This wallpaper pattern is called Bankun Raffia. It is so popular, now it comes in more than 30 colors! It’s by Thibaut Designs, 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.