Posts Tagged ‘delaminating’

Big Pink Flowers for New Baby Girl

August 7, 2019

Here is a nursery accent wall, getting ready for a baby girl in a few months.

I like Spoonflower’s paper, and it’s been a while since I’ve hung it, so today was fun.

Spoonflower is different from other papers. For starters, it comes in strips of certain lengths, so you have to figure out how many strips of each length you need. For an accent wall like this, that was easy – but it can get complicated in chopped up rooms like bathrooms. Each strip comes packaged separately, in it’s own long, skinny zip-top bag.

The paper is pre-pasted, which you don’t see much these days. I find this type much faster to hang. The paper is also designed to be overlapped at the seams (instead of butted). This means you will see a 1/2″ wide ridge from floor to ceiling down either side of each strip. (See third photo.) In the grand scheme of things, this is not very noticeable. (In the old days, all papers were hung this way, and I have some authentic 1940’s paper in my home office to prove it. 🙂 )

The material is thin paper, and it gets very wet when it is pasted, and it expands. When the paper dries, it shrinks a tad. If the seams were butted, you would end up with gaps between the strips. By overlapping the strips a tad, gaps are prevented. This method also puts less tension on the wall, so you have less chance of layers inside the wall delaminating. (Do a search here for more info.)

The composition and the thinness of the paper also make it difficult to cut, because it wants to tear. So you have to keep a supply of sharp, new blades handy.

This paper is very similar to one I blogged about on December 25, 2018. I’m betting it’s made by the same manufacturer, but sold under different brand names.

Note that Spoonflower also offers a peel & stick so-called “removable” option – do NOT go with this one – horrible stuff, that P&S.

This home is in the Heights / Timber Grove area of Houston.

Potential Trouble Brewing

July 7, 2019


What you see here is a bit of rubbery latex paint and texture that has peeled away from the wall in this powder room. The surface underneath it felt gritty and dusty and porous. I had the feeling that if I had tried, I could have peeled all the paint off the wall.

This is not good.

This paint is probably peeling because of a combination of poor quality materials (cheap paint), improperly prepared surface (inappropriate or no primer, not removing dust from the wall, incompatible coatings (latex over oil based, not sanding or deglossing a gloss paint before repainting), climate fluctuations (humidity, temperature), stress on the wall (pulling off a piece of tape), or more.

All this is not so bad under paint, because paint just kinda sits there on the surface. But wallpaper actually puts stress on the surface beneath it, as it dries and pulls taught. Over time, fluctuations in humidity and temperature can exacerbate that, causing the paper to expand and contract ever so slightly, and then put tension on the wall where the seams fall.

This can result in not just the seams coming loose, but in the various layers inside the wall actually delaminating and coming apart from themselves.

Stripping Off What I Hung 20+ Years Ago

February 12, 2019


I hung this viny pattern back in the early 2000’s in dining room in the West U neighborhood of Houston. Now that it’s time for a change, I got to strip off what I had hung 20 years ago.

I was amazed at how easy it was, and at how there was NO damage to the walls.

The paper came away from the wall when I simply pulled it dry, but I was afraid of doing damage to the walls, especially at the seams. (When wallpaper dries, or over time with fluctuations in temperature and humidity, wallpaper can put stress on the seams, which can cause layers inside the wall to delaminate and come apart.)

To lessen the chance of putting stress on the seams, I used a sponge to put water on the surface of the paper. Because it was paper (not vinyl), water was able to penetrate, and reactivate the paste that was holding the paper to the wall. I made many trips around the room, soaking the paper each time. The more water that was able to soak into the paper, the softer the paste became, and the easier it was to pull the paper away from the wall.

Usually, the inked top layer of paper separates from the paper backing, and then you sponge water onto the backing layer, which reactivates the paste and then it comes away pretty easily. But in this case, the top and backing layers stayed together, and came off in one intact piece. This virtually never happens.

Note that I am pulling down, and not away from the wall. Pulling downwards minimizes stress on the wall. And I am pulling slowly and gently – not yanking.

What’s better – there was absolutely NO damage to the walls. Not one bit of primer pulled away from the surface, not one seam gave way, nothing to patch.

Why? Because when I prepped these walls 20 years ago, I did a proper job. I skim floated the textured walls to smooth them, removed all residual dust with a damp sponge, then primed with oil-based KILZ Original – great stuff, for many reasons. It holds tightly to the surface, it won’t rewet when water is sponged on the surface, it’s strong enough to resist double-cutting (strokes with a razor blade), it dries thin and smooth, and much more.

I wish I could still use KILZ Original. It was a superior primer for wallpaper (as well as stain-blocker). Unfortunately, EPA regulations have required manufacturers to make changes to their product, and wallpaper paste will no longer adhere to it.

I’m using alternatives now, and am pleased with the results. …Although I have not had experience stripping paper off these new products, so time will tell about that.

But these photographs of my experiences yesterday show what a superlative product the original KILZ Original was, and how important it is to take the time to prep a wall properly before hanging wallpaper.

Another Example of Wall Surfaces (Paint) Delaminating

January 7, 2019


This is a picture of an air conditioner vent, where I have removed the louvered cover. Around the edges, you can see where some of the paint stuck to the cover and pulled away when the cover was removed.

Although this house is only 30 years old, the walls have been covered with many layers of paint (probably due to children of different ages and genders using the room over the years). None of this paint would have been oil-based, but you are still going to find disparate and incompatible layers applied on top of one another.

The biggest issues here would be paint applied over dusty walls, or paint applied over a glossy surface, such as semi-gloss paint. It’s not likely that the new coat of paint would be able to adhere really tightly to either dust or gloss.

So when the air vent cover came off, you can see that it pulled off several layers of paint, probably right down to the drywall. I had a feeling that, if I tried, I could work at that wall and peel off all those layers of paint pretty easily, right down to the drywall.

The lesson here is, walls should always be prepped properly before any treatment (paint, wallpaper, wood veneer paneling) is applied.

What is proper prep? Well, that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother discussion!

Animal Blocks in a Baby’s Room

December 25, 2018


A new baby will soon be welcomed into the home of this young couple in the Houston Heights neighborhood called Norhill (or Woodland Heights). Mom wanted something gender-neutral, and found this colorful and adorable shapes-and-animals-in-blocks print on line at Lulie Wallace.

This went on just one accent wall of the room, but it is tame enough that it would work OK if put on all four walls.

I skim-floated the walls first, to smooth out the light texture on them, then followed with a primer coat of Gardz.

This wallpaper is a bit atypical, because it is pre-pasted, which means it comes with a thin layer of paste on the back that you activate with water (instead of having to roll paste on the back of every strip). I do like the pre-pasted papers. I do roll a light coat of paste on the wall, to augment the manufacturer’s pre-paste.

Another dissimilarity is that the paper comes packaged in individual strips, rather than traditional rolls with several strips rolled up together.

Even more unusual is that the strips were meant to be overlapped, instead of butted together. Overlapping the seams creates a vertical ridge under the paper which is somewhat visible. You also have to have an adhesive that will stick to the acrylic coating on top of the paper.

There are some good aspects to overlapping seams. For one, this makes for a very strong bond. For another, it takes stress of drying and shrinking paper off the seam and distributes it across that 3/4″ of overlapped area. In this 80-year-old house, with it’s many layers of paint with a history of not sticking to each other, this is important, because it greatly reduces the chances of the tension on the seams causing the paint layers to come apart, which would cause gapping at the seams. See previous post.

Another positive feature about overlapping the seams, and how that worked with this particular pattern, is that, in this 1930 home, with its unlevel ceiling and floor and its greatly-out-of-plumb walls, I was able to manipulate the strips of wallpaper so that they looked straight and plumb – even though they were actually hung quite off-plumb.

This wallpaper pattern is by Lulie Wallace, and was bought on line.

Loose Wallpaper; Wall Layers Delaminating

November 15, 2018


Look closely between the seam of the wallpaper in the top photo. You can see little crumbly things. In the second photo, the issue is even more pronounced.

This is in the upstairs bathroom of a 1950 house in central Houston. Over time, compounded by humidity, poor air circulation, poor air conditioning / heating, and possible influences from the outdoors, various layers inside the wall have let loose of one another.

What are these layers? Originally the walls were probably painted with oil-based paint. Over the years, layers of latex paint, gloss paint, joint compound, and etc. were piled on, probably without proper prep between coats.

Some of these materials are not compatible with one another, and, over time and with stressers like humidity, they can let go of one another.

If just the wallpaper has come loose, as in the second photo, it can be pasted and readhered. But when the wall itself is coming apart, there is no fix, other than to scrap everything down to the original drywall (huge mess) or go over everything with 1/4″ drywall.

In this case, the homeowner had me repaste the few loose areas of paper, and then chose to live with the other visible cracks, chalking it up to an old house full of character and quirks.

Stay Away from Low-End, Pre-Pasted, Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

June 6, 2018


Do a Search here, or read the page on the right entitled “Stay Away From … ” to read more.

For now, I’ll just say that I really dislike these papers, because the seams are always visible, and usually the paper is curled back a little at the seams.

The reason is because the gritty manila-type paper backing will absorb moisture from a humid room (think steamy showers), or will soak up water if they are splashed on (think bathtubs and kitchen sinks).

When the paper backing swells with moisture, it grows, and it can only go in one direction, which is to push away from the wall. That means that the printed / vinyl surface will bend backwards along with it. So now you have a curled seam.

Sometimes this goes a step further, with the bottom paper layer actually delaminating (separating from) the top vinyl layer, also resulting in a curled seam.

These are not “loose” seams. They cannot be simply glued back down. The curling and the delaminating are characteristic of a lower-end product made with paper on one side and vinyl on the other, reacting to humidity in the room.

It doesn’t have to be a humid room, either. Usually these seams never look good and flat, even when the paper has just been installed. See third photo.

Bottom line: Steer away from these products. Rather, choose a paper wallpaper, or a non-woven material, or other instead. Ask me to check your selection, before you make the purchase.

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.

Don’t Use Vinyl In Rooms That Have Drippy Water Or High Humidity

November 9, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


I am getting ready to strip off this paper, which I hung more than a decade ago. (I also hung the previous paper, about 20 years ago, so this will be my third time to paper this powder room!)

The first photo is a seam that happened to fall just where the hand towel hung. Over the years, as people reached for the towel, water dripped from their hand and onto the wallpaper, and then was wicked into the seam. The paper backing would become wet, and swell. Over time, the top vinyl layer delaminated from the paper backing, curling backwards.

The same thing has happened in the two other photos, which show the baseboard around the sink, where, presumably, water also got dripped onto. (This is a home with active children.)

The other walls that were away from the wet areas were perfectly intact, from crown molding to baseboard.

The moral is, solid vinyl wallpaper with a paper backing is not a good choice in areas that will be exposed to water or humidity. Manufacturers try to market vinyl as “bathroom” wallpaper, because it is more washable than paper wallpapers, and because water will roll off its surface. But water will also get sucked into the seams, and cause the delaminating and curling that you see here.

Not surprisingly, these paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers tend to be at the lower end of the price range.

Much better choices are wallpaper made with a paper surface, or a vinyl-coated surface on a paper backing, or even the newer non-woven materials, especially the thinner ones.

Note that solid vinyl on a scrim (woven fabric) backing is a whole ‘nother animal, and will hold up quite nicely in a splash-prone area.

In all cases, I like to run a bead of clear caulk around the top of the sink, to prevent splashed water from being wicked up under the wallpaper.

Have I Mentioned That I HATE Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Wallpaper?

December 23, 2015
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Here are pictures of curling seams in a bathroom in a 1963 ranch style home in Meyerland (Houston). These older homes have low ceilings, poor air circulation, non-existent exhaust fans, and outdated air conditioning / heating systems. Which equals HUMIDITY. Humidity is the Great Enemy of wallpaper.

And these paper-backed solid vinyl wallcoverings are particularly problematic. In my opinion, the paper backing absorbs moisture (humidity) and swells, while the plastic top layer cannot, so the paper curls at the seams. The material also delaminates – which means that the plastic top layer will actually detach itself from the paper backing. The curling that follows cannot be “reglued.”

But this home has other issues going on. Besides the humidity and the delaminating, it looks as though the original installer did not properly prime the walls. It’s possible that his paste was not formulated to stand up against humidity.

But more important, over the years, many things have been done to this room. And so we have layers of original oil-based paint covered with latex paint, and on top of that patches of joint compound, and more layers of various products … and at some point, these disparate materials cannot keep holding on to one another, and may pull apart – resulting in curling wallpaper seams.

This room has also experienced water damage from a leaky window, and toilet, and roof. Water from those leaks got into the Sheetrock and deteriorated the internal structure, which became weak and then pulled apart. And when those internal layers pulled apart, the torque (stress) put on the walls by the drying wallpaper was enough to pull the layers of wall apart, and that can cause the wallpaper seams to curl.

Curled seams are not always just about the subsurface, though. When pasted, many of these papers will have their paper backing swell, and when the front plastic layer does not swell, then you have seams that curl backwards even before you get to the wall. And once on the wall, the product can continue to curl. Sometimes these seams will dry flat. But many times, the seams don’t look as good as they should, plus are ripe for swelling / curling more, once a little humidity is introduced into the room.

In my opinion, PAPER or the newer NON-WOVEN wallpapers, are better options.