Posts Tagged ‘double-cut’

Over-Zealous Installer Scored into the Wall

August 16, 2017

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Windows without trim molding like these have surfaces inside the opening that need to be covered with wallpaper. They are always a little tricky, because you need to paper both the top and the sides, but the strip of wallpaper will fold over to cover only one of these surfaces. So you need to come up with paper to cover the other surface.

The previous installer chose to splice in the additional paper he needed, which is what we call a double cut, and it’s a fine way to get these windows papered. He lapped a new piece of paper over the existing piece and then cut through both layers, removed excess, and had a perfect splice.

The problem is that he pressed so hard that he cut not just through the two layers of paper, but down into the wall – quite deeply, in fact. Then, as the paper dries and gets taught, and years go by, and especially in this case where the exterior wall had a leak and water damaged the drywall all around the window, the layers of drywall split apart a bit, and that’s why you see these gaps and curled edges.

When I double cut, I put a strip of polystyrene plastic under the area to be cut, to prevent the razor blade from digging into the wall.

This type of damage is difficult to fix, because the integrity of the wall itself has been compromised. Even if you repair the surface, the underlying layers may come apart again and create another crack on the surface.

What I did was to use repair tape to bridge over the cut areas, and then joint compound to float over and smooth the area. This way, if the wall should move or try to open up again, hopefully the tape will prevent any gap from showing.

“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.

A Good Reason Not to Double-Cut

April 10, 2017

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A double-cut is a paperhanger’s term for splicing two strips of wallpaper together. The edges of the strips are overlapped about 1″ on the wall, and then, bracing against a straightedge, a sharp razor blade and plenty of pressure are used to cut through both layers of wallpaper. Remove excess paper from both layers, and you have a perfectly butted seam.

The only problem is that it’s virtually impossible to do this without scoring into the wall, slicing through the top layer (or more). This cut makes the surface unstable, and when the new wallpaper dries, it shrinks and puts tension (torque) on the wall’s surface. This shrinking and tension can cause the wall to split and curl back, leaving a gap or a gaping wallpaper seam.

This is what you see in the photo.

To remedy this, I wanted to bridge the gap with something that would move with any shifting in the drywall, and that would not cause ridges under the new paper.

The new wallpaper was a thick, textured material, so I was not overly worried about ridges from the patch telegraphing through it.

I used strips from the paper backing of the old wallpaper / grasscloth I had just stripped off the wall to cover the cut wall areas. I tore the patches, rather than cutting, because the “feathered” edges of the torn paper would be less noticeable under the new paper than a sharp, straight edge would be.

The strips were wet from having been stripped off the wall with water, and the wall’s surface had damp paste residue remaining on it, so the patching strips adhered nicely to the wall surface.

But, to be sure, I brushed on Gardz, a penetrating sealer and “problem wall solver.” It soaked in, bound the surfaces together, dried, and made a taught, strong surface for the new wallpaper to go over.

Still, I made sure that my seams did not fall in the same exact spots as these compromised areas of wall. That greatly reduces the possibility of seams in the new wallpaper from curling back or pulling away from the wall.

As it turns out, because of the way I engineered the wall and various other factors, I did end up doing a double cut splice over this door. But I made sure it was not in the same place as the compromised wall surface. In addition, I protected the wall by putting a thin polystyrene (plastic) strip under the wallpaper before I cut, so that when I pressed my razor blade hard to cut through the two layers of cork, it did not damage the wall. Sorry, no pics, but there are other photos of that process on my blog, if you want to do a Search.

“Smoke” On A Floating Wall

January 13, 2017
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This wall in the dining room of a very contemporary new home in the Spring Branch area of Houston “floats” in the middle of the room. This breath of smoke floating across the wall adds a distinctly ethereal feel.

The interior designer on this job is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group, who was expertly assisted by Anthony Stransky. I love working for these guys. And homeowners love their creations, which are crisp, sleek, modern, a bit edgy, yet still warm and comfortable.

The smoke mural was custom made to fit the wall, and came from Murals Your Way https://www.muralsyourway.com/ , a member of the Wallcovering Installers Association (WIA). Their murals can be printed on various materials, and I chose the vinyl on an Osnaburg backing.

Each of the three panels was about 42″ wide, and they were meant to be overlapped and then double-cut (spliced) at the seams. Great care was taken to not get paste on either the surface of the mural or on the ceiling, and to not score the wall while splicing.

I have a specially made 2 1/2″ wide plastic tape that keeps paste off surfaces, and another special 2″ wide polystyrene plastic strip that protects the wall from cuts from the razor blade, and a specially made non-slip straightedge used as a guide while trimming. All of these were invented and made by fellow members of the WIA (Steve Boggess and Eunice Bokstrom). Probably boring for the average blog-reader, but exciting stuff for us paperhangers. These things really helped make this job turn out perfect.

Difficult Grasscloth Install Today

October 23, 2016
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Boy, oh boy, today’s installation was a bear! To begin with, I had a 12′ high accent wall that required using my 8′ ladder, which is unwieldy and can push you away from where you want to work. The wall had a thick texture (typical in new homes in the Houston suburbs – this was near Cypress), that took hours to smooth, dry, sand, and prime.

When it was time to hang the paper, I pasted and booked (folded pasted side to pasted side) and prepared to trim a bit off each edge, which is pretty standard procedure for grass, plus I had planned to trim all the strips to 34.5″, which would make all the strips the same width, which is nice with grass since all the seams are quite visible. I got one seam that looked great. But there was some warping in the material, but I was able to smooth it out.

But when I tried to trim the next strip, the folded edges did not line up, no matter how many times I rebooked it. If the edges don’t line up perfectly, you will not get a straight cut. I dicked around with it for a while, but eventually had to get the strip on the wall, or it would become unusable – and we did not have even one extra strip.

I decided to use the factory edge and leave the strip it’s full width, which was going to screw up my balanced widths of 34.5″. I soon learned that unequal widths of strips was one of the least of my woes that day…

The paper backing had absorbed moisture from the paste, and the whole strip had warped out of shape. No way would the edge butt up perfectly against the previous strip. In the end, I got most of the strip butted and smoothed, but the bottom 1′ or so insisted on overlapping onto the previous strip, so I took a straightedge and very sharp razor blade and cut away the overlap.

This turned out to set the mood for the rest of the job. All the subsequent strips warped significantly, not matter how long or short I booked them. No way would the seams butt up. So I ended up overlapping all the seams and double cutting – the industry term for splicing.

This is not as simple as it sounds, though. For one thing, the newly smoothed wall was soft, and you don’t want to cut into it, or when the paper dries and shrinks a little, the torque it creates can actually pull the wall surface apart, resulting in a curled seam that cannot be pasted back.

So I ran out to my truck and got some special polystyrene strips that are 2″ wide and are placed behind the seam, to protect the wall from the cut. I also grabbed a really nice straightedge that is made just for this purpose, with a handle and a non-slip surface. And some blue plastic tape, because I had to protect the bottom layer of grasscloth from the paste on the strip that was to be overlapped on top of it during the double cut. This is important, because any paste that gets on the surface will stain grasscloth – you have to work absolutely clean.

All three of these special items, by the way, were invented by fellow paperhangers, and fellow members of the Wallpaper Installers Association.

Positioning all these materials took a lot of time. Making the cut itself was intricate, because I could get a good position on it for only a foot or so, then would have to climb down and move the ladder over a little, so I could get right in front of the next couple of feet as I worked my way down the 12′ high strip. Also, two layers of grasscloth are quite thick, and it takes a lot of pressure to do so – while trying not to push myself away from the wall and onto the floor. And you only get one chance to cut, because multiple swipes result in a jagged and ugly seam.

Once the cut was finished, I had to go back and remove the two excess pieces, and the polystyrene strip, and the blue plastic tape, all the while making sure that no paste got onto the surface of the paper. Finally I could take my tool and smooth the two edges together. Double cutting does make a beautiful and perfectly butted seam. But, boy, it sure does take a lot of time, effort, and you need the right equipment.

Including prep and installation, this one accent wall with just six single rolls of grasscloth took me a full 12 hours.

So the seams were nicely butted. But, as you see in the photo, the grasscloth displayed the typical color variations that I find so displeasing. We call it shading and paneling. In the top photo, you can clearly see a difference in color between the two strips, even though they are from the same batch. The second photo shows a little more of this. The third photo is dark, but if you look closely, you can see three strips (two seams), and the slightly darker area along one edge, which is quite noticeable because it butts up against the next strip which is lighter in color.

All reasons why I dislike real grasscloth. The faux products are much more uniform, and seams can be invisible.

In addition, this is a pretty finely textured grass, and on a large, tall wall like this in a large room, I really don’t think the texture shows up very much, unless you are standing right at the wall.

The grasscloth product is by Brewster, and the interior designer on this job is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs.

Disguising a Kill Point

September 4, 2016

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When you wallpaper a room, there is almost always a mis-match in the last corner, the point where the last strip of wallpaper meets up with the first strip that was hung. So I try to hide this in an inconspicuous place, like a corner behind a door, for instance.

In this powder room in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston, there were no corners tucked behind doors, so all the corners would be very visible, and a pattern mis-match in these corners might be eye-jarring. Sometimes, that’s your only option.

But today, I got lucky with both a design and with wall dimensions, that allowed me to hide the mis-match in plain sight, so to speak.

The area over the door was only 9″ high, and was not as visible as the corners of the room. So I opted to put the mis-match there. The idea was to splice two strips of wallpaper, each with different design motifs, together, to try to fool the eye so it would not see a mismatch, but instead would see an unbroken pattern design.

The top photo shows the wallpaper pattern (a damask) as the artist designed it. In the second photo, I am moving from the right to the left, preparing to meet the wallpaper to the left (not yet in place, so you see white wall). To prepare for the splice that will take place on the wall (which we call a double cut), I have padded the wall, to protect it, with a piece of scrap wallpaper. (It is important to not let your razor blade cut deeply enough to score into the wall, because an un-intact surface can yield to stress applied by drying (shrinking) wallpaper, and actually pull away from the wall.

The next photo shows the two strips of wallpaper in place and overlapping, with the wall behind them protected, and ready for the splice (double cut).

Instead of making an easy, straight vertical cut through the two layers of wallpaper, which would be fast and mindless, and result in noticeable a pattern mismatch, I opted for what we call an “S-cut.” Meaning, instead of making a straight, ridged cut from top to bottom, if I cut in an “S” pattern, it will be much less visible. Even better, if I cut along an element of the p0attern, such as these swoopy floral things, it all will be much less noticeable. It’s also important to use a fresh, new razor blade for this.

So, in the next photo, I’ve made my cuts – along the curved element in the pattern’s design. Now the strip of waste wallpaper that was used to protect the wall has been removed, and so has the excess paper from the strip beneath our splice. All that remains is to smooth the remaining layers back together … Once this I done, in the final photo, even though the pattern does not technically match, no one is noticing the slight discrepancy, and it looks great

Obtuse Angle Inside Corner

April 22, 2016
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Wallpapering around corners, either inside or outside, can be tricky. But when you toss into the mix a corner that is not the typical 90* angle, it gets a lot more tenuous.

On an inside corner (see photo), you don’t want to wrap the paper around the corner, because corners and framing and Sheetrock and contractors are never 100% plumb or accurate, and thus your strip of wallpaper will come out of the corner off-plumb or wrinkled or otherwise unmanageable, plus you can end up with sections that cling tightly to the corner, and others that pull free, leaving a bubble under the paper in the joint area.

To prevent this, you wrap a teeny bit of the paper around the corner, cut a new trip, and then overlap that new strip into the corner, plumb it up, and then work your way out from there. That looks good in 90* inside corners.

But with obtuse angled corners like this one (Photo #1 (smoothed wall with clear Gardz primer applied), the paper may lie flat and tight to the wall, but that cut and overlapped strip will be fairly visible. Other things can be done to get rid of the overlap by eliminating the need to cut the strip, and to minimize any wrinkling at the outer edges.

To encourage adhesion in the corner, I “Velcro’ed” the area by applying a thin layer of paste, and then letting it dry to a barely tacky, but potent, state.

The material is a scrim (woven fabric) backed, textured solid vinyl wallcovering. It is thick, and only a little bit pliable. Here in picture #2, I worked the paper into the corner, and used my Euni Tool (metal plate) and other tools to really push it hard into the corner. A heat gun softens the plastic just enough to help it remember where the wall is.

Even though the vinyl is clinging tightly to the corner, coming out of the corner and moving to the right, you cannot be sure that the right edge of the strip of wallpaper will be hanging either straight or plumb. So it’s risky to try to butt a new strip of wallpaper to this edge.

A good alternative is to make a double-cut, which is a paperhanger’s term for a splice. That is, you overlap the papers and cut through both layers, so you can splice them together.

This pattern was the perfect candidate, because there was no pattern to keep aligned and matched up. So the design was not a concern… but logistics and surface stability were.

Using a razor blade to slice through two layers of textured vinyl wallpaper takes a lot of pressure, and that can put deep cuts into the wall below. When the wallpaper paste dries, or even just with time and humidity and temperature fluctuations, the paper can shrink, and that puts torque (tension) on the wall, which can cause an unstable surface to pull away from whatever is beneath it. Bottom line, you could end up with wallpaper seams that come open, and pull paint or Sheetrock off, too.

So how do you double cut (splice) two strips of wallpaper to get a perfect seam, without damaging the wall underneath? The answer is to pad / protect the wall. Many people use scrap vinyl wallcovering. But I have some better stuff – Boggess strips. Named after a wallpaperhanging colleague of mine who invented them. You protect the surface of the wallpaper from paste with plastic tape or waxed paper, and then place these clear plastic strips under where you want to make a double cut. Your blade will slice through the two layers of wallpaper, but will not get through the Boggess strip. VoilĂ ! Paper cut and spliced, and the wall in still intact.

Vinyl Wallpaper and Un-Straight Walls

June 1, 2015
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OK, a lot of technical stuff coming up, and a little hard to follow, but I will do my best to explain. Here I am hanging a faux-leather, textured paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper with no pattern to match. In the left side of the first photo, I have just come from left to right around an outside corner. When you wrap wallpaper around a corner, you can bet that the corner will not be straight or plumb and the wall may even be bowed. That means that you cannot expect the right edge of this strip of wallpaper to be straight, and that means that you cannot expect the next strip of wallpaper to butt up perfectly against it.

Since this paper has no pattern to match, the solution is simple, if not easy. I am going to overlap the next strip and splice it in with the previous strip. But you don’t want to just overlap and slice through both layers with a razor blade. Doing so could: 1.) get paste on the surface of the first strip, which, since it’s a textured paper, would be hard to wipe off, and, 2.) score the wall, and that means that when the paper dries, it shrinks and puts “torque” on the seam / surface – and that could cause the surface to pull away from the the subsurface – keep in mind that here we have Sheetrock, paint, new paint, and wallpaper primer, one on top of another, so there are several layers that can all pull apart from one another. To put is succinctly, the end result is a curled seam – which cannot be glued back down.

So, in the first photo, in preparation for the double cut (splice), I have put a “Boggess pad,” which is a long flexible strip of polystyrene plastic under the seam, to protect the wall. You see a bit of it peeking out on the right side of the photo, and you see the ridge it makes under the paper in the center of the photo.

On the right side of the second photo is the new strip of wallpaper, coming to meet the existing strip. Along the edge of this new strip of wallpaper is a strip of waxed paper, and you can see some of it sticking out on the left edge. This waxed paper will protect the existing strip of wallpaper from the paste that is on the new strip of wallpaper.

In the third photo, the metal tool with the pointy top on the left is a special straight edge that I use for cuts like this. I have already made the cut along its edge, and you can see both the cut and the waxed paper on the left side of the cut. You can see a little bit of the hump created by the polystyrene strip under the vinyl paper, on the right.

In the fourth photo, I have pulled the vinyl strip on the right back a little, so I can pull off the waxed paper from under it. The polystyrene strip is still against the wall, under the vinyl paper on the left. I am about to remove that, too.

All this has taken some time, and another factor playing in here is “open time,” which means how long the paste will stay wet and allow you to fiddle with all this.

In Photo 5, I am about to smooth the two edges of the seam back together.

In Photo 6, you see how perfectly the edges meet. A double cut (splice) really gives you the most perfect seams, because the two pieces of paper are truly melded together. It does take a lot of time and materials, though, and is not really called for except in certain situations.

This room turned out looking great, and the homeowners were pleased. The homeowner did ask me why my price was higher than the guy who had hung paper in another room. From what I saw, the other installer did a good job in that room.

But I’m wondering if he has knowledge of primers and layers of wall surfaces and torque and open time, and if he has waxed paper on his truck and knows when to use it, and if he has a special $125 trim guide and knows how to use it, and if he has ever heard of a Boggess strip or if he just cuts into the wall and hopes it all holds together.

Bottom line … sometimes special situations call for special tools and equipment and skills.
Not saying another guy couldn’t do it his way and have it turn out looking great.
Just saying I’m glad I have these gadgets to use, and the know-how to use them to keep the homeowner’s wallpaper clean and unwrinkled.

“Growing” Paper to Fill a Gap Under a Window

May 12, 2015

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Hanging wallpaper over, around, and under windows can be tricky, because wet wallpaper stretches, crooked walls cause paper to twist, moldings can be unparallel, on and on. In this case, in order to keep the paper straight in the corner (and keep my pattern match spot-on), I had to pull the paper to the right, and that resulted in a 1/4″ gap on its left edge, which was under the window. (Photo 1)

To disguise this, I pieced in another piece of paper, matching the pattern, but “growing” the paper a bit.

In Photo 2, I have cut vertically along the right edge of a design element (a tree trunk) in the pattern, and removed the paper to its right. In Photo 3, I have taken a new strip of wallpaper and butted it against the left edge of the strip on the right. On this new strip, I also cut along the same tree trunk, but along the left edge, so that the two tree trunks would overlap.

This results in a tree trunk that is slightly wider than its supposed to be – but who the heck is going to notice? It also results in a slight ridge along the tree trunk, due to the thickness of the overlapped pieces. It’s a thin paper and will dry quite flat, and, hey, it’s under the window, so not many people are going to notice that, either. But, still, I could make it look better.

So I did what we paperhangers call a double-cut, which is our term for a splice. With a very sharp razor blade, I carefully cut down the middle of the overlapped edges, then removed the excess paper (Photo 4). Once the pieces were smoothed into place, and once they dry, this splice, as well as the extra width, will be practically undetectable.

Kill Point – Betcha Can’t Find the MisMatch!

November 8, 2014

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Here is a continuation of the job I did yesterday…. When you hang paper going around a room, the last strip of wallpaper bumps up against the first strip you hung, and in this spot, usually a corner, the pattern virtually never matches. So I plot to put this in the least noticeable location, usually in a corner behind a door.

But in this dining room, all four corners were very noticeable, and I was destined to end up with a mis-matched corner 8′ tall. Even with this somewhat blurry and muted pattern, I didn’t think it would look very good, and wanted the homeowners to have a prettier dining room than that.

So what I did was to paper the wall to the right of the window, and then papered the narrow section between the window and the corner, making sure to match the pattern in the corner. But the section between the window and the corner, I stopped the paper a few inches above the height of the window, and left the area over the window unpapered.

Then I proceeded around the room, ending up moving from left to right over the window, to meet the point where I had started, in that corner you see in the first photo. At this point, the pattern did not match in the corner – but only for one foot, from the ceiling down to where the narrow strip of paper between the window and corner stopped. At this junction, the pattern also did not match horizontally, from the corner to the window. So we have two one-foot intersections of mis-match, one vertical and one horizontal.

The vertical one, I left alone. Not very noticeable.

The horizontal one wasn’t very noticeable, either, thanks to the pattern. But I wanted it to look better. So I did what we call a “double cut,” which is a fancy term for a splice. After first protecting the face of the bottom sheet of wallpaper with a piece of waxed paper, and then padding the wall to protect it from being cut into (which could cause lifting of the primer and paint and then curling wallpaper seams), I took a new, sharp razor blade and carefully cut around parts of the design, to meld the pattern together.

If you look closely, you can see that I cut along the large leaf motif and then along some berry looking things, from the corner arching to the left, stopping at the upper corner of the window. Look carefully, and you’ll notice that the upward-swooping large leaf on the left is a little shorter than its companion on the right.

I removed the excess wallpaper, the waxed paper, and the padding, and smoothed the spliced pieces into place. It doesn’t match, but it sure looks good.

In fact, if I hadn’t pointed out exactly where the mis-match is, I’ll bet you never would have caught it! And it definitely beats an 8′ vertical length of mis-matched pattern