Posts Tagged ‘drywall’

Damage From The Freeze – Repair Requests Starting To Come In.

March 31, 2021

The record-setting freeze that hit Texas in mid-February 2021 caused a lot of damage over multiple fronts.

In homes, a lot of this was due to water pipes that froze and burst, flooding floors or raining water down from walls and ceilings.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been getting calls for repairs to wallpaper.

Some homes “just” have water stains. But many homes have had to have drywall cut out, flooring pulled up, studs and outer wall brick exposed. Today I looked at a home where the entire first floor had been affected – all the kitchen cabinets, appliances, and backsplashes had been yanked out and trashed, all flooring gone, drywall cut out up to 18″ – nothing but studs and a raw concrete floor.

Even though the damage was on the lower 1/3 – 2/3 of the walls, to make the room look right, ALL the wallpaper has to be stripped off and replaced.

The kicker is, I had just hung their wallpaper back in October.

Repairs are hard to do, and hard to make look “as good as new.”

Even harder is that insurance companies always have a vastly different idea of what it costs for materials and labor, compared to actual real life prices, to get these people’s homes back to being livable again.

Repairing Damage from Remodeling

March 5, 2021

I hung this paper in a little boy’s bedroom about two years ago. Now a new baby is coming, so Son #1 is moving from the nursery to his “Big Boy’s Room” next door. In the process of the shuffle, the parents had the connecting Hollywood bathroom updated, and this involved moving a door – which meant messing up the wallpaper.

As you can see in the top photo, instead of taking the time and effort to remove the wallpaper, the workmen put their patching compound right on top of it. I don’t like hanging paper on top of paper, for many reasons. There are adhesion issues. And also, for one thing, it’s not good to have seams fall on top of seams. For another, because the new paper is somewhat thick, you would have a visible ridge from top to bottom along the edge of the new strip.

So I took a razor knife and cut roughly around the workmens’ patch. Then I stripped off the paper around it, up to the edge of the adjoining strip. I did this on both sides of the corner.

This wallpaper is of a non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. I was pretty disappointed that that turned out to not be the case.

On the other hand, I was happy that it didn’t. Stripping paper that way puts a lot of stress on the wall surface, and you can end up with delamination (coming apart) of various layers under the paper (primer, skim-float, paint, drywall).

So I used a more labor-intensive, but lower-impact method. Click my page to the right for more info on the process. I first stripped off the top, inked layer of paper. That left the white backing still adhering to the wall. I used a sponge to apply plenty of water to this backing. The idea is to reactivate the paste that is holding it to the wall. Once that paste was wet enough, the backing pulled off the all cleanly and easily.

I was really pleased that my primer from the original install held up perfectly under all this soaking and tugging. I had worried that it might “rewet” and pull away from the wall, which had been my experience with it before. I had used Gardz, a penetrating product designed to seal torn drywall. It’s also good at sealing new skim-coated walls. And wallpaper sticks to it nicely, so all the better!

One photo shows you the stripped off area next to the edge of the remaining strip. You can see the thickness of this existing strip. The new wallpaper will butt up against this, and there will be no ridge because the thicknesses of both strips are the same.

Another photo shows my stripped-off area next to the contractor’s patched area. There is a difference in height between the newly revealed wall and the patched area – and that will show as a ridge or bump under the new wallpaper.

To eliminate that difference in height, I skim-floated over the area. In one photo, you can see the wet (grey) smoothing compound. I set up a strong floor fan to assist in drying. My heat gun also came in handy.

Once it was dry, I sanded it smooth. Now you don’t see any transition between the newly exposed wall and slightly higher patched area. I applied Gardz to the all the newly patched areas. Set up the fan again. And once it was dry, I put up the replacement paper.

It’s a good thing the family had paper left over from the original install. If they had had to purchase new paper, it could have come from a new Run (slight difference in color shade), and that would have meant stripping off and replacing three walls.

We had barely enough paper. The corner was out of plumb by as much as 1/2″ from floor to wainscoting, on each side of the corner. That adds up to an inch out of whack. That one inch meant we needed a whole new strip of wallpaper, to get the paper on the wall to the left to match up with that on the wall to the right.

Long story short, the whole thing turned out great. There is a bit of a mis-match in that corner, but it’s not very noticeable at all.

The wallpaper is by the Scandinavian company Boras Tapeter.

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

Going For More Of The Same

February 9, 2021

I hung the original wallpaper in 2014, when the house was first built. The PEX water lines used in the home (flexible hoses instead of PVC pipes) were new at the time. Tragically, after a few years, the lines used in this home failed and caused leaks all over the house. Replacing all the water lines required cutting holes in MANY places throughout the home.

You can see in the photos where the plumbers cut out drywall and then patched it back in. This company actually did a good job of removing the wallpaper in the areas of their repairs.

Unfortunately, with the amount of wallpaper that was left over from 2014, I was not able to do repairs. The entire room had to be repapered.

The homeowner loved the pattern and wanted to keep it. It was still available, so she bought enough to repaper the room.

For various reasons, the original wallpaper was much more difficult to get off the wall than I expected. I could have gotten it off – but it would have taken about two full days.

So I opted to hang over it. It’s important to skim-float over the seam areas. First, because the seams will leave a little ridge that will telegraph through and show under the new paper. But also, because as wallpaper dries, it shrinks and puts tension on the seams. There is always the potential that this tension will cause the the surface below to pull away from the wall, and especially so if there is a weak area such as a seam. So you always want to avoid putting a seam on top of a seam.

So I skim-floated (do a Search here to learn more) over the seams, as well as over the patched areas left by the plumbers. See photos. Then I sealed the walls with Gardz, a product that penetrates and seals porous materials – like drywall joint compound and like this traditional British pulp wallpaper. Because it soaks in and dries hard, it helps to prevent moisture from paint or wallpaper paste from soaking through, and thus prevents bubbling of the underlying surface. That’s why this product is primarily used for sealing torn layers of drywall.

Although a bit glossy for my liking, Gardz is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on.

Interestingly, the expansion rate of the new wallpaper was a bit less than the original, and so the seams fell about 1/4″ to the right of the original seams. This reduced the worry of seams falling on top of seams and causing lifting.

It was a complicated room, and the paper was thick and stiff and difficult to work with. Prep took one day, and it took me two additional days to hang the paper (16 single rolls – 8 double roll bolts).

The wallpaper is in the line of Nina Campbell, by Osborne & Little, a British company. While most British papers these days are printed on an agreeable non-woven substrate, this one is a traditional, old-school British pulp … thick, stiff, difficult to fit into turns and angles, easy to tear, easily stained, non-malleable, plus the factory’s trimming roller blades must have been dull or wobbly, because the edges were not cut perfectly straight, which meant the seams had some “gaps and overlaps.”

Still, the finished room did look pretty darned good – even if it looks exactly the same as it did in 2014.

But that’s exactly what the homeowner wanted. So all is good and mission accomplished!

Mess Stripping Wallpaper

February 6, 2021

Over the years, this powder room ended up with at least four layers of wallpaper. Some had been stripped down to the backing layer before the next layer went up, sometimes a primer was used, and in other cases, the installer simply plopped the new paper on top of the old.

The homeowners attempted to remove the multiple layers of paper. This mess would have been difficult to begin with, but, to complicate things, unfortunately, they pulled some bad information off the Internet. You can see how the use of a “paper tiger” scoring tool caused damage to the wallpaper as well as to the surface underneath – and didn’t help at all to loosen the old wallpaper.

My solution was to peel off the top layer of vinyl paper – the brownish striped faux finished pattern in the upper left of the photo. Then I used a sponge and lots of water to soak the tan backing until the paste reactivated and the paper could be scraped off the wall.

I would have preferred to also take off the layers of paper that remained underneath. But time was a consideration, and also the likelihood of damage to the wall surface. And I wasn’t sure if there was drywall or plaster under there.

So I used the product Gardz to seal off the revealed wallpaper. (Do a Search here on the word ‘Gardz” to learn more about this ingenious product.) Once that was dry, I skim-floated over the entire surface, to create a new, plaster-like layer. That was allowed to dry overnight.

The next day, I sanded this skim-float layer smooth. Because the smoothing compound had to be applied thickly, this resulted in a massive amount of dust. Luckily, it was all contained in the powder room, and was easily vacuumed up.

Then I used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This was followed by another coat of Gardz – a product that soaks in, dries hard, and effectively seals the surface. It’s a good sealer for new skim-coat, and it also works nicely as a primer under wallpaper.

With fans blowing on it, it dries quickly, and I was able to start hanging paper in an hour or so.

The 2-Hour Wall

January 9, 2021

Re my previous post, the wall in the photo above took me a full TWO HOURS to get three strips of wallpaper onto.

Part was access – narrow space, difficult to maneuver the ladder, squeezing around the toilet, wall height a little taller than I could reach comfortably,,, for starters.

But the main issue was wrapping wallpaper around this jutting wall with its two outside corners.

You’re not supposed to wrap wallpaper around outside corners, especially with a double corner as pictured here. The reason being that framing, drywall, corner beads, and all sorts of other construction components are never perfectly straight or plumb or level. Thus, attempting to wrap wallpaper around them will usually result in various things – the paper going off-plumb, the paper warping or developing wrinkles, the far edge of the paper twisting and not being straight so the next strip cannot butt against it without gaps and overlaps, stretching the paper to force it to cooperate, which will result in it shrinking when it dries and exposing gaps – among other unfortunate situations.

I did run into some of that in the instance pictured above. This new (and expensive) home had walls that were more “off” than most, with one corner being off by a full 3/4″ over a drop of only 9′. On this particular wall, the paper developed a pretty sizeable wrinkle toward the bottom 1/3 of the wall. I had to find a way to relieve wrinkle by eliminating the excess paper, while still keeping the left edge of the strip intact and straight, so the subsequent strip could butt up against it.

My solution was to cut through the paper vertically along the right edge (along the edge of the wall’s outside corner), about 1/4″ in from the edge, and from the floor to about 3′ up. Then I pulled the strip away from the wall, which enabled me to work out the wrinkle, making sure to maintain the straight edge along the right.

I smoothed the strip back against the wall, again, easing out the wrinkle. The excess from the wrinkle moved to the right, and left a bit of wallpaper hanging over the corner to the right. I used a straightedge and very sharp razor blade to cut off this sliver of excess.

This method did mean that there was a bit of an overlap, and thus a bump / ridge, along the right edge. I was worried that this would show, especially with the somewhat shiny paper, as well as light shining unforgivingly from the fixture to the left (not pictured). But once it was all done, the small overlap was barely noticeable. And definitely better than a large wrinkle.

Because I was able to keep the left edge of the strip straight, the next strip butted against it very nicely, with no gaps or overlaps.

I will mention that it also did help that this particular paper was a bit more flexible and fluid than many non-woven materials. Also, because I pasted the paper instead of the wall, the paper had a chance to relax and become malleable. The primer I used gave it a solid surface to cling to, so there was no shrinking or gapping as it dried.

These three strips on this one wall took me two full hours.

Patching Minor Cracks

November 29, 2020


Today, under the sink, there were two 18″ vertical cuts in the surface. (sorry, no photo) I couldn’t tell if they were cuts into the drywall, or simply in the paint, but I was afraid that they might show under the wallpaper, or, worse, open up and cause cracks to develop in the wallpaper.

They weren’t major enough to require a full-fledged tape-and-float job. So my quick fix was to grab this thin paper tape and use it to bridge the cuts. The tape is made by a colleague, Steve Boggess, a fellow member of the Wallcovering Installers Association (WIA). It’s thin and has feathered edges, so it’s unnoticeable under most wallpapers.

It’s pre-pasted on one side, so it can be easily adhered to the wall. But today I chose to embed it in the primer I was using in the room. That’s what you see in the second photo.

Once the primer dried, I was very pleased with the flatness of the strips. Once the paper covered them, you could not detect them at all.

The stuff is called “seam tape,” and has other uses, as well.

Sometimes (Rarely) You Have To Hang Over Old Wallpaper

September 18, 2020


It’s always best, for many, many reasons, to remove old existing wallpaper before hanging new. Especially if that old paper is vinyl or non-woven or thick / textured.

But sometimes, it just isn’t feasible. Here, the original installer didn’t use a primer, so his wallpaper bonded to the bare Sheetrock and would not come off without taking the top layer of drywall along with it. I worked at it for an hour, but only removed about 10 square feet – and much of that included damaged drywall.

So, time to try another tact. This method only works with paper (not vinyl or anything thick or textured), and the original paper has to be tightly secured to the wall. First, I removed any loose areas – usually over joints in the drywall that have been coated with joint compound (it’s porous and sucks the paste off of the wallpaper).

Then I took joint compound and skim-floated over any uneven areas or any sections of torn drywall, and all wallpaper seams. Seams may feel flat, but once new wallpaper is on top of them, the vertical lines of seams will telegraph through and be visible.

Once that was dry, I sanded smooth and “feathered out the edges,” then wiped off all dust with a damp sponge. See top photo.

Then I rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer, Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977, and made sure to cut in around the edges with a trim brush. This primer sticks to just about anything, including the light acrylic protective coating on most paper wallpapers, such as what I had today. It doesn’t penetrate the joint compound and cause the torn drywall to stretch or wrinkle. Nor will it allow moisture from the new wallpaper paste to penetrate through. And it’s lightly pigmented, so it works well under thin wallpapers.

Plus, it is formulated to receive and hold wallpaper, makes installation easier in many aspects, resists tension on the wall as wallpaper dries and shrinks, and eases removal of the wallpaper in the future.

Once the primer is dry, the room will be ready for its new wallpaper.

Serena & Lily Wallpaper Too Translucent

September 8, 2020


I guess that Serena & Lily is starting to print on non-woven substrates. I am not a fan (see yesterday’s post).

Besides being very stiff and uncooperative, this material is very translucent. As you see in the photo, the leaves of the second layer of wallpaper are clearly visible through the top layer.

This means that it’s likely that color imperfections on the wall will show through. New Sheetrock, for example, with its grey drywall interspersed with bands of white joint compound. Or hanging this product on a dark painted wall will result in a “dirty” cast underneath the paper, and will not yield the bright, crisp white look that S&L is known for.

As a primer, I like Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, which is a white-pigmented primer, and an ideal choice under thin, see-through material like this. But it is not a heavily-pigmented primer, so there is still the worry that the finished walls will not look as bright as they should.

I do hope that S&L will improve this product. There are tons of nice non-wovens available, so let’s hope they do some research and come up with a better substrate.

Rust From Water Damage Will Stain Wallpaper

August 11, 2020

Look to the right of the can. Notice the tiny spots of red. This is rust, and rust is bad because it (along with certain other substances, like ink, tar, oil, tobacco, water stains, wood sap (knots), mold, mildew) will bleed through wallpaper. Maybe not immediately, but, over time, it will work its way through the primer and the paper and to the surface, leaving a spot that cannot be washed off.

Actually, there was a whole lot of rust along the entire height of this wall’s corner. An air conditioning leak had kept the drywall wet for a period of time, and rust had formed along much of the metal corner – called a “bead.”

I skim-floated over the affected area with joint compound, and that buried the rust … for a while. But rust (and other substances), will eventually work their way to the surface, leaving spots on the wallpaper.

So a stain blocker was called for, which will prevent any stains from bleeding through. For this I love KILZ – but only the “Original” oil-based version. The water-borne products just don’t measure up

Some reasons I skim-floated over the area was to provide a buffer space between the rust and the sealer in hopes that the rust would not make it all the way up to the surface, to create more material over the very corner itself that could soak up the sealer, and because the stain blocker would soak into the porous smoothing compound more so than to the sharp corner of the metal bead.

Two Layers of Wallpaper to Strip Off – and No Primer

August 8, 2020



It’s not good to put wallpaper over wallpaper, especially if the bottom layer is vinyl. And double especially if no prep is done.

In this case, a vinyl wallpaper was hung over another vinyl wallpaper, which had been hung on unprimed drywall, back when the house was built 30 years ago.

All very bad. Vinyl is plastic, and therefore glossy, and that means that new wallpaper placed on top of it won’t stick. Look at the curling paper in the top photo and you will see what I mean. The second photo shows the paper curling away from the baseboard.

Raw drywall is porous in some areas, meaning it sucks the paste off the wallpaper, and thirsty in other places, meaning that it bonds tightly to the wallpaper paste and is often impossible to get off without damaging the drywall.

In the last photo, you can see where I have peeled off the top layer of wallpaper, revealing the paper backing underneath. Under that, you can see where I have removed some of the top layer of the first wallpaper, and the lighter colored backing of that paper is also visible.

So you are looking at two layers of wallpaper backings, installed on the home’s original drywall.

I knew I could remove the top layer of vinyl paper (see my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper”). But I honestly didn’t think I would be able to get the first layer off the wall.

But this job surprised me. … Turns out, both the top and bottom layers stripped off relatively easily, and with minimal damage to the drywall. Solid vinyl wallpapers are easier in situations like this. Click the link on the right to see the process.

Note: “Relatively easily” does not mean “quickly.” It took me about four hours to remove the paper from this 10 single roll (5 bolt) powder room.