Posts Tagged ‘dropcloth’

Protecting Woodwork from Paint Splatters

August 25, 2022
I hate seeing little speckles of paint on people’s floors or moldings . This happens when tiny splatters of paint fly off the roller cover . Sometimes the operator is just moving too fast , but some paints are thinner and prone to splatter than others. You can Search here to find pictures of what I’m talking about.
To prevent my wallpaper primer from landing on the floor , baseboards , backsplash , or, as in this case, wainscoting , I first cover the floor or vanity with dropcloths . Next I use these strips of thin , flexible , plastic-backed paper dropcloth material to cover anything that the dropcloths can’t reach.
I use push-pins to hold them in place.
I cut these strips from larger dropcloths. 8″-9″ wide seems to be about right to protect most baseboard heights and other surfaces , such as this chair rail wainscoting in a Houston Heights dining room .
Once I’ve rolled primer on the wall above, I remove the protective strips and use an angled trim brush to cut in the primer along the top edge of the molding .
wallpaper installer

Stuff Doesn’t Wanna Stick To Slick

March 23, 2022
Tomorrow this breakfast area wall will get wallpaper. Today is prep day.
The wall has a very heavy texture, plus some issues with previous patches in areas, probably due to drywall cracks. I need to skim-float over all this to smooth the surface.
In addition, the current paint is quite glossy – and this can present a problem for the smoothing compound to adhere to it properly.
So I want to prime over this gloss paint before I skim-coat the walls. The primer has to both stick to the gloss paint and provide a base that the smoothing compound will adhere to.
Another issue is that I won’t be using this every day, so keeping it shaken up and useable was a consideration. I looked high and low for an appropriate primer. Finally I snapped that the Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 that I use under my wallpaper jobs checks off all the boxes … It sticks to just about anything, and it dries nice and flat / matt so any topcoat (wallpaper or smoothing compound) can grab ahold and stick, I have it in my van all the time, and I use it frequently enough that it’s always mixed up and ready to use. To top it all off, it dries in less than an hour. VoilĂ !
This stuff can be tricky to find. Sherwin-Williams used to stock it for me, but became unreliable. Now Murphy Brothers on Bissonnet (Houston) gets it just for me.
Besides dropcloths on the floor, here I’ve tacked strips of thin paper dropcloth material along the wainscoting (I also do this along baseboards) to keep any drops or roller splatters from marring the homeowners’ floor and moldings.
Here it is applied. Since my goal is to cover and eliminate the glossy paint, and then provide a base for the smoothing compound, this coat doesn’t need to be opaque or cover the wall evenly.
Tomorrow we’ll see how the wallpaper turns out!
Fast-forward … I’ve floated the wall and sanded it smooth. Compare the smoothness to the “before” picture at the top.

Smoothing a Textured Wall, Continued

March 3, 2022
Continuing from yesterday’s post … The smoothing compound has dried and I’m ready to sand it smooth. This photo gives an idea of what needs to be sanded down. Some areas, such as around electrical outlets, are more irregular and have more raised areas to be sanded down.
Before I get to the sanding, a 3″ stiff putty knife comes in handy for scraping down high areas.
For decades, contractors wrapped sandpaper around a wooden block and used that to sand walls. Then, about 25 years ago, some genius invented these sanding sponges. They’re soft, flexible, easy-to-hold blocks covered with sanding fibers of various grits. They have angles that aid getting into various corners. I find that the edges can be a bit “pointy” and can gouge into the surface, so I often use a scissors to cut off the corners, as you see in all but the one on the far left.
Held against the actual wall.
Don’t forget a dust mask, to prevent inhaling the fine particles. And, yes, this is an N-95 … The same mask that protects us from ingesting the COVID 19 virus also protects the lungs of us home improvement contractors.
Manufacturers have done a good job of creating joint compound whose dust settles to the floor, rather than going air-borne and sifting all around the room. Still, it’s best to take measures to keep dust out of the rest of the home. Here I’ve hung a sheet of painter’s plastic across the wall, to contain sanding dust.
Once I’m done sanding, I’ll use my Shop Vac to clean up the mess, removing dust from both the floor and the walls.
It’s crucial that all dust be removed from the wall. If not, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper (or paint) will kinda stick – but not really stick. Vacuuming the wall will not remove all dust. The only way to remove all residual dust is to wipe it off the wall with a damp sponge.
Look at how much dust has accumulated on the sponge after only a few swipes.
The sponge needs to be rinsed clean frequently. Once I’m done, I’ll dump this bucket of dusty water down the toilet (not the sink).
Swipes from the damp sponge will leave wet marks on the wall. These need to dry before moving to the priming step, so as not to trap moisture within the wall surface.
Here I’m rolling on my favorite wallpaper primer, Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have my paint store guys add just a bit of blue tint, to help me see where I’ve rolled it on. The short angled brush is for cutting the paint in around corners and edges.
I’ve tacked strips of dropcloth along the top of the baseboards, to prevent splatters.
Finished wall, nice and smooth, primed, and ready for wallpaper.

Contractor ‘Preps For Wallpaper’ – NOT!

December 19, 2021
These bumps and dents and wrinkles WILL show through the new wallpaper. In addition, the patching compound is porous and not compatible with (won’t stick to) wallpaper primers.
Surface is not smooth, gaps and irregular areas around edges at baseboard, countertop, and window molding.
I had to fill in this gap, and stand there with a heat gun blowing on it for an hour, getting it to dry way into the depths of the gap.
Another picture of the gap. Besides that it’s not smooth and thus bumps will show under the wallpaper, this “small” gap is an issue. Wallpaper needs something to adhere to, and especially so in corners and edges. If the surface is not solid, there is nothing for the wallpaper to hold on to, and so you can end up with curled edges and wallpaper “flapping in the breeze.” (Don’t mind the wrinkly fingers – they’re very adroit and adept.)
They also got paint splatters / speckles all over the hardwood floors. C’mon, guys – just put down a dropcloth!

It irks me no end when some contractor pockets the homeowner’s money and assures her that the walls are “ready for wallpaper.” The poor homeowner trusts her “guy” and doesn’t see the real mess. Or the steps and money needed to fix it.

This was a small area (6′ wide x 2′ high backsplash to a butler’s pantry), but it took more than two hours to smooth it and then get it primed.

Smoothing Textured Walls = Sanding Dust

May 19, 2021

This master bedroom had textured walls that needed to be smoothed before the wallpaper could go up. (Texture looks bad under the new wallpaper, plus it interferes with good adhesion.)

I “skim-floated” the walls with drywall joint compound (what we call “mud”). This is akin to troweling on plaster.

Once that was dry, I sanded the walls smooth. In the first photo, you see the amount of dust that is created!

In the second photo are my “sanding sponges.” Some are coarse, some are fine, and one is angled, all with specific uses. These became available maybe 25 years ago, and are a huge improvement over the sandpaper-wrapped-around-a-block-of-wood that everyone used previously.

The putty knife is used to knock off big globs or high ridges, before hitting the wall with the sanding sponges.

Actually, I used to use a hand-held electric sander. That tool was fast, but it put a whole lot of dust into the air, and it traveled all over the room.

The sanding sponges are hand-operated and don’t throw dust up into the air. Also, manufacturers have made improvements to the joint compound formula which encourage the dust to sink to the floor rather than become air-borne.

You still end up with a lot of dust, though. And it does sift all over the room.

No problem. I simply bring in my Shop Vac (not pictured) and vacuum up all the dust. There’s still residual dust, so I use a damp rag to wipe dust off the floor, and a damp sponge to remove dust from the walls. (Important, because wallpaper will not adhere to a dusty wall).

Note that the photo shows an empty room. In rooms that have furniture, I cover it with painter’s plastic. And in most situations, which are usually one accent wall, I put up a sheet of plastic along the wall, draped from ceiling to floor, which contains dust to the 3′ along the wall, and prevents dust from getting to the rest of the room.

I also want to note that I am a big proponent of drop cloths. The reason you don’t see them in this scenario is because you can’t vacuum dust off a dropcloth, because the dropcloth gets sucked up into the vacuum nozzel. Much easier to vacuum dust up off a solid floor, and then wipe up any residue.

I also want to note that all my ladders wear “booties” / baby socks on the feet, to cushion the client’s floors and protect against scratches.

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

May 5, 2021

In my previous post, the wall had the thick, knock-down texture that is typical in new tract homes in the Houston area. You can’t hang wallpaper on this texture, because it looks bad under the paper, and because it interferes with good adhesion.

The solution is to “skim-float” the walls with joint compound, a.k.a. “mud,” which is much like plaster. The mud needs time to dry. When the texture on the walls is super heavy, as in this home, I usually let the smoothing compound dry overnight. That does add an extra day – and an extra day’s cost – to the job.

To save these homeowners from paying for that extra day, we pulled out all the stops. In this photo, you see my two box fans and my heavy-duty black floor fan blasting away at the wall. In addition, we have the room’s ceiling fan. And, in the lower left corner, the homeowner added his yellow “squirrel cage” fan.

Once the wall got half-way dry, I used my heat gun – the yellow gizmo you see lying on the dropcloth, which I call “The Great Persuader” – to speed up the drying process in stubborn areas.

Still, it took a long time for the wall to completely dry. Next I had to sand the “mud” smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then apply a primer.

Start to finish, all that prep, plus hanging the paper – a whole 3.1 strips in 35 sq. ft. of space – took nearly eight hours.

Preventing Speckles on Floors and Counter Tops

December 13, 2020

One of my pet peeves is splatters from a paint roller, that land all over a homeowner’s floor or countertop. See top two photos.

There are ways to prevent this. First and foremost is to use a dropcloth. You’d be surprised at how many contractors don’t bother.

But protecting shoe molding and backsplashes and faucets takes a bit more. A lot of people use blue painter’s tape across the top of surfaces.

But I like my method, which you see in the third photo. It’s a strip of dropcloth that I have cut into 9″ wide strips. The material is absorbant paper on the top side, and water-proof plastic on the back.

I use push-pins to tack it above the baseboards and shoe molding, and backsplashes, etc.

It’s wide enough to protect any width of molding, and also faucets on a vanity’s sink. And it’s thin and flexible enough that it will contour around any wall configuration.

Careless Painters – Splatters on Granite Countertop

November 27, 2020


One of my pet peeves … See the little white specs on the homeowner’s new granite vanity countertop? Whoever painted the walls and ceiling didn’t bother to cover the surface with a dropcloth.

Paint Speckles on Homeowner’s Countertop – I Hate Sloppy Work!

July 26, 2019


Look closely, and you’ll see scazillions of miniscule splatters of paint on the granite vanity top, backsplash, and even on the faucet and handles. Obviously, whoever worked in this room previously did not bother to cover the area with a dropcloth.

Such a shame. A few dollars’ worth of materials, and a little bit of time would have protected the homeowner’s fixtures.

Paint Splatters on Brand New Granite – Naughty Painters!

March 19, 2019


In this photo, you are looking down at a windowsill, with the black and white tile floor below that.

Workmen had painted the walls and overhead soffit. As you can see, they didn’t bother to protect the brand new granite window sill with a dropcloth. Nor did they shield the floor or bathtub, both of which were equally covered in paint speckles and splatters.

Come on, guys! All it takes is a dropcloth and a few minutes of your time.