Posts Tagged ‘drywall’

Cracks in Drywall Due to Ground/Foundation Shifting

October 12, 2018


Here are pictures of cracks and wrinkles in the drywall, and also in the wallpaper over the drywall. These are caused by the foundation of the home shifting, which is pretty common in Houston, and particularly in this Meyerland neighborhood.

Rain, and the lack of rain, as well as other factors, cause the ground to swell or shrink, and that causes the home’s foundation to move – and that causes cracks like these to appear. As weather conditions (and the conditions within the ground) change, the cracks can close up again.

I used a Stanley knife to cut out the bulged areas, and then placed mesh drywall tape over the cracks, followed by joint compound, which I sanded smooth and primed, before hanging the wallpaper. The mesh tape is supposed to flex a little, and will hopefully absorb some of the strain the next time the house shifts, so, with a little luck, the cracks will not reappear.

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Mildew on Wall Indicates Moisture Problem – Somewhere

October 9, 2018


I have just stripped off a solid vinyl wallcovering that had been up for at least 10 years, possibly twice that. The entire wall was covered with mildew. The mildew was present just on the exterior wall; not any of the walls that connected to interior areas of the home.

Mildew breeds when there is moisture. This indicates that there may be a leak in the home’s siding, or a leak in a window on an upper floor allowing water to get inside the wall and into the drywall. Another possibility is that plumbing inside the wall could have sprung a leak, and also caused the drywall to become wet.

Because the wallcovering was solid vinyl, it trapped the moisture between the wall and the wallpaper, and that allowed mildew to grow between the two surfaces. I’m rather surprised that the mildew didn’t penetrate through the wallpaper and show on the surface. The drywall didn’t appear to be soggy or rotted or compromised.

Another reason why I don’t like solid vinyl wallpapers.

Wall Sealing Whoops

September 26, 2018


Today I prepped a room where the drywall had been badly torn when the old wallpaper was stripped off. This happened because the original installer hung the wallpaper directly on the drywall, with no coat of paint or primer to protect the drywall.

Before I could smooth the wall surface, I had to seal the torn drywall, because moisture on the torn areas would cause the brown paper to bubble. I rolled on a heavy coat of Gardz, a water-thin, penetrating product that is designed to soak into the porous material, bind everything together, and dry hard. It is supposed to dry inpenetrable by water.

Once it was dry, I skimmed over it with joint compound (which will be sanded smooth later).

As you can see, the Gardz failed to do as claimed, and it allowed moisture from my smoothing compound to seep through it and enter the torn paper of the drywall, which then expanded and bubbled. I’ve got a big mess on my hands!

Tomorrow, when everything is dry, I will sand smooth. Usually bubbles like this dry out and then sand flat. But the large loose areas have me a little worried. They may still be loose and bubbled, and they may swell again when the wall is given its final coat of Gardz.

I may end up having to cut out some loose areas, refloat, and reprime.

Not good, because this could add a full day to this job, and because there could potentially still be unstable areas under the surface. Never good to have an unsecure surface under your wallpaper.

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry

September 11, 2018


Textured walls have to be smoothed before the new wallpaper can go up.

Getting smoothing compound (drywall joint compound) to dry takes – dry air, moving air, air-conditioned air, heat …. and a lot of time. Today’s job had particularly thick textured walls, which would take a long time to dry.

So I hastened things up with a few accessories. Here you see one box fan on the floor aimed at a wall, another box fan on the ladder aimed higher on a wall, a very strong black floor fan shooting dry air into the room, and a space heater under the sink cranked to “high.”

When I shut the door, the warmth from the space heater collects in the air, and pulls moisture out of the smoothing compound. Then I will open the door and let the floor fan pull dry air-conditioned air from the hallway into the room, pushing the hot, humid air out.

Done enough times over a long period of time, you can get smoothing compound to dry more quickly than it would on its own.

You Can’t Put Wallpaper Over a Hole!

September 2, 2018


I was told this job was ready to go, but when I got on-site, look what I found. They removed a noisy and ill-placed exhaust fan and drywalled over the hole. But when they removed the electrical switch for the fan, they forgot to patch that hole.

I can put paper over small holes, but not one this large and not in such an obvious place. It will be visible, and it’s likely to get punched through.

So I had to go home, and will wait for the contractor to repair this (along with a few other dings).

Geometric Pattern in a Powder Room – Flooded Home

May 20, 2018


This home in the Energy Corridor area of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August. A lower section of drywall had been cut out and replaced. The contractor’s wallpaper hanger put up this identical pattern. The homeowner wasn’t pleased with the job. To be honest, the installer did a pretty good job, in a room that was very difficult to hang. There were a few minor things that could have been done differently.

But what bothered the homeowner most was that the walls had not been smoothed properly before the paper went up. With that west-facing window blasting angled sunlight into the room, those irregular surface flaws were quite obvious. See the top two photos. (You may need to enlarge them.)

I stripped off the original paper and skim-floated the walls to make them as perfectly smooth as possible. I followed with a primer. (The previous installer had not primed the walls.) See third photo for walls that are ready to go.

This room was a major bugger bear to hang. For starters, there was a large metal mirror that protruded about 4″ from the wall, that could not be removed. This was directly over a pedestal sink. (The previous installer had the luxury of hanging the room before the sink was in place.) It’s hard to explain, but the logistics of winding wallpaper around these three-dimensional objects, preventing the paper from tearing, having the ridged and unforgiving pattern match on all planes, keeping the edges plumb, and keeping the edges straight so they would butt up with the next strip, all while fighting edges of the wallpaper that wanted to curl backwards, were extremely difficult.

In addition, the corners of the room were out of plumb, which pretty much guaranteed pattern mis-matches in all the corners. On a wild floral pattern, no one would notice. But with a geometric pattern like this trellis, the eye would catch even minor mis-matches.

Compounding all of that was the fact that nothing in the room was centered. The window was not in the center of the wall, nor was the toilet – and they were not aligned with each other, either. The sink was not centered on the mirror, the faucet was not in the center of the sink, and the spout was off-set from the handle. I finally decided to balance the trellis design on the mirror, and it did fall perfectly symmetrically on either side. The kicker is that the room is so narrow that you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate all my efforts. 😦

I probably spent 40 minutes plotting how to tackle the first wall, and then a full two hours hanging the first two strips (the ones around the mirror and sink) (sorry – the room was too small to get good pics). The longer I worked, the more appreciation I had for the previous installer and the job she had done.

In the end, the walls I had prepped were smooth, and there were no objectionable bumps or gouges showing under the paper. I pulled some tricks out of my hat and got the pattern to match in the corners pretty darned well.

That window with it’s danged strong light still was a foe, though. The wallpaper seams butted together just about perfectly. Yet because of the way the edges curled back when they got wet with paste, I fought to keep them down tight to the wall. Once dried, they were nice and flat. I was pretty content. But when the sun moved and light came through that window from a different angle – some of those seams looked positively horrid! The light was casting shadows and making it look like the seams were overlapped. Yet they were perfectly flat. The inclination is to go over and over the seams with various tools and try to “force” them to lie flatter – but this can burnish or otherwise damage the wallpaper or the underlying surface. The good news is that as the sun moved, and as the louvers on the shutters were adjusted, the shadows disappeared and the seams looked good.

Let’s hope that the homeowners see this room only in the most positive light. 🙂

This wallpaper is by York Wall, one of my favorite brands. Interestingly, the paper came with the correct label, but the instruction insert was for another line made by this same company. I’m glad that I was familiar with both products, and had the sense to disregard the info that was not relative.

Sunroom With a Wonderful Faux Grasscloth –

May 18, 2018



This den in a 1948 ranch style home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston has two full walls of glass that look out onto a beautiful, green yard. The room was originally papered in really dark green vinyl faux grasscloth – I think the idea was to coordinate the room color with the verdant foliage outside. It wasn’t working. “We’ve lived with this for 20 years,” said the husband, “and have been trying all that time to figure out what would make it look better.” Indeed, I first looked at this room in 2015. Well, three years later, the homeowners finally found something way better.

The new wallpaper is also a faux grasscloth in a textured vinyl material. I like this product much better than real grasscloth, because it is free of the visible seams, shading, paneling, and color variations that are such a disappointment with the real stuff (do a Search here for more posts / info). It is one of the few wallcoverings that are actually water-resistant and stain-resistant, and it will stand up to being banged into now and then – it’s the same commercial-grade material used in hotels and hospitals.

In addition, the scrim (woven fabric) backing, along with the vinyl surface, will provide some “give” – which is good, because this room had stress cracks in the drywall over doors and windows, and showed signs of the house shifting on its foundation, thanks to our contrary Houston gumbo soil.

The mottled color of the paper, along with the woven texture, give the feel of real grasscloth. The tan is a natural color, and it goes nicely with the view outside the window, but doesn’t compete with the scenery like the dark green paper did. The dark furniture in the room is no longer swallowed up by the dark wallpaper, and all of a sudden, the whole space is much brighter.

After 20 years, it’s a big change for the homeowners, but already, they are loving it!

This wallpaper pattern is called Bankun Raffia, and is by Thibaut Designs. It 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.

Torn Drywall – Gardz Cures All

May 17, 2018

Wallpaper - Torn Drywall Repaired
When the wallpaper was stripped off the wall, some of the top layer of drywall came off with it. This is bad, because the inner layer that has been revealed will bubble when wet paint or wallpaper paste gets on it. Which, of course, looks bad under the new paint or wallpaper.

Gardz is a penetrating sealer that will soak into the surface, and then dry hard and impenetrable, allowing you to paint, paper, or, as in this case, skim-float over it with smoothing compound, without worries of bubbles or an unstable surface.

Gardz looks milky-white in the can, but dries clear. It is very thin and runny, so be sure to cover the floor and baseboards. In the photo, it has been applied to the lower left corner of the torn area.

The second photo shows the wall after it has been Gardz’ed, skim-floated, sanded, and re-Gardz’ed.

Repairing Damage from Hurricane Harvey

April 27, 2018


This home in the Champions Forest area of north Houston received flood damage after Hurricane Harvey. The bottom 2′ or so of drywall had been cut out and replaced by the restoration contractor. The only thing is, the new drywall was recessed back about 3/8″ from the existing drywall. Even though this was near the floor in the niche behind the refrigerator, the homeowner didn’t want to have a difference in wall height, nor a mis-match in the wallpaper pattern.

So I used joint compound (“mud”) and drywall seam tape to bridge the gap and to float out the discrepancy. It took three coats, and several sandings, plus a sealing primer, but the finished wall is pretty even and smooth. (2nd photo)

There wasn’t enough left over paper to replace the whole alcove, so I used scraps to piece in the bottom area. Rather than make a straight horizontal cut 2′ above the floor, it’s less eye-catching to have the patched areas run along a feature of the design, such as the vines and branches in this pattern. (3rd photo)

Once the new strips were smoothed into place (4th and 5th photos), the patched areas are virtually undetectable.

Sometimes people complain about having left over wallpaper. But here’s a good example of why you should. (last photo) This homeowner had kept all her leftovers in their original wrappings and in their original box, in a climate-controlled environment (not the garage or attic), and she had what was needed to make this repair (and several others around the room that are not shown here).

Stripping Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

April 21, 2018


This pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpaper is one of my least favorite types due to its poor performance in humid areas. However, when it comes to stripping it off the wall, it’s one of my favorites. 🙂

Getting this paper off the wall is a matter of peeling off the top, printed, vinyl layer. This usually comes off in large pieces. The paper substrate layer will be left on the wall. That’s the light tan you see in the photo.

That layer gets soaked with a wet sponge and warm water. The backing will turn darker tan when it’s good and wet, as shown in the photo. It usually takes several applications of water, over a period of time, to reactivate the adhesive enough that the paper can be removed.

Sometimes that backing will simply and cooperatively come away from the wall. Other times you will need to use a stiff 3″ putty knife to gently scrape it off the wall, taking care to not gouge the wall or tear the drywall.

If the previous installer primed the walls, all this should go fairly easily and with minimal damage to the walls. But if no primer was used, it may take more care, time, and a little repair work to fix any damage to the walls.

See the page to the right on “How to Strip Wallpaper” for more information.