Posts Tagged ‘drywall’

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.

Wildflowers Growing Up The Walls

July 31, 2020


Although I can’t tell if these are wildflowers or weeds, I really like this pattern. The homeowner does, too!

The original wallpaper in this hall bathroom was dark and dated back to the ’90’s. It had held up well, though. But the homeowner was ready for something new and fresh.

The original wallpaper was hung when the house was new, and was placed directly on the drywall with no primer. That bode badly, but – once I went to work on it, it stripped off relatively easily, and with no damage to the wall. It DID take most of a day, though, to strip both the large sink room and the large potty room.

Then I primed with Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, specifically formulated for wallpaper.

This is by Designer Wallpapers, and is a heavier non-woven material. It can be hung via the paste-the-wall method – but that works better on single accent walls. For this bathroom, with it’s corners and vanity and doors, I chose to paste the paper, which makes it more flexible, and easier to work into tight areas.

This home is in Katy (far west Houston). I hung paper in their entry a few years back, and was tickled when the homeowner called me to do some more rooms (additional posts to follow).

She also used the same gal to help her select and purchase her perfect paper – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby, my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price. (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.

Please Don’t Patch On Top Of Old Wallpaper!

July 9, 2020


There was a floor-to-ceiling crack in the drywall. I instructed the painter to strip off the wallpaper around where he was going to repair the wall, and to NOT put patching compound on the paper.

He said that he did strip off the paper. Then why, oh why, did he go and extend his patch on top of the wallpaper he did not strip off??!

In the second photo, you see where I cut around his patch, and then stripped the old green paper off the rest of the wall.

Not shown is where I skim-floated over his patch, to cover the ridge from his patched area and the little bit of paper left on the wall.

Sanded smooth and sealed with Gardz, the wall was then ready for the new wallpaper.

No, Virginia, These Walls Are NOT Ready For Wallpaper!

June 20, 2020


This powder room in a townhouse in the Galleria / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston has been remodeled. When the old vanity countertop was removed, the drywall was torn.

When the old vanity, which had spanned from wall-to-wall, was removed, it revealed the original wall behind it, complete with heavily-textured paint.

The contractor made a half-hearted attempt to smooth the torn drywall. But he didn’t even attempt to cover the textured bottom portion.

Seriously? Does anyone think that wallpaper can be applied over walls in this condition?!

Mirror Tar Bleeds Through Wallpaper – Prevention

June 18, 2020



The owner of this newish home in the Woodland Heights (Houston) had her handyman remove the powder room mirror and its surrounding built-in wooden frame. Mirrors are often adhered to the wall with mastic, a tar-like substance. When the mirror comes off, some of the tar residue invariably remains.

In the top photo, you can see where removing the mirror took the blobs of mastic along with it, as well as round sections of the drywall. But there are small smudges of tar still remaining on the wall.

The problem is that tar (among a lot of other substances) will bleed through wallpaper (as well as paint, and a lot of other materials).

There are stain blockers like my beloved KILZ Original Oil Based, BIN shellac based, or others, that are designed to block these stains. But I don’t trust them. For water, rust, blood, wood sap, etc., yes. But for oil-based substances like tar, I want more assurance. The best way to prevent bleed-through is not to cover the stain, but to remove it.

So I take a Stanley knife and cut into the drywall and then peel up the top layer of drywall, taking along the offending tar residue.

So now the dangerous tar is gone. But you’re left with torn drywall. This is bad for several reasons. For one thing, you have an uneven surface that will look bad under the new wallpaper (or paint). And since the top, protective layer of drywall is gone, any moisture (such as from wallpaper paste or from latex paint) will penetrate into the torn paper layer – which will swell and cause bubbling.

All of which looks pretty bad under wallpaper or paint.

So I used the product Gardz to seal the torn drywall. It is formulated to soak into the paper; then it dries hard and acts as a sealer and moisture-blocker. It won’t block stains, but it will prevent moisture from penetrating the paper and causing bubbling.

Once that was dry, I skim-floated over the entire area with joint compound. It looks rough in the photo, but once it’s dry, I’ll sand it smooth. Then I’ll give it another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. See last photo. Once that is dry, I’ll cover it with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 wallpaper primer, when I prime the other walls in this powder room.

All of these various products do take a while to dry, especially the joint compound as thick as I applied it. So I went to this job site a few days before the install date, to do the initial prep, so it would have plenty of time to dry before I come back for the final prep and wallpaper hang.

Clever and CUTE Homage to Historic Wallpaper

April 29, 2020


This adorable swatch of children’s wallpaper was uncovered during a whole-house remodel of a 1930 bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

I love the way these old wallpapers retain their intensity of color, even after all these years. There is also some of the “cheesecloth” adhering to the back ….

Back in the days before drywall, when walls were made of ship-lapped boards, the paperhangers would tack thin fabric over the walls, and then hang the wallpaper on top of that. This provided a smooth surface (instead of the seams between the boards showing through), and allowed for the paper to “float” over the walls, preventing cracks or tears in case of the house shifting on its foundation.

The homeowner salvaged some of the wallpaper and preserved chunks in frames, which hang in front areas of the home.

I was particularly thrilled to see this, because, well, I just LOVE old wallpaper, especially from that era.

Washing Texture Off of Walls

March 5, 2020


The owners of this new-build home in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston knew that they wanted wallpaper in the dining room and powder room. So they instructed the builder to not texture the walls.

Well, as often happens, the drywall/paint guys didn’t get the message, so while they were spraying texture on the other walls in the home, they also textured the dining and powder rooms (sorry, no picture).

But – they got stopped before they primed or painted. This is good.

The textured surface had to be smoothed before wallpaper could go up. I’m quite good at skim-floating, and I quoted the homeowners a price for me to float and sand the walls smooth.

But the homeowner is also pretty handy. He opted to smooth the walls himself.

Since no primer or paint had been applied, the texture on the walls was raw mud (drywall joint compound). With no coating on it, this stuff is water-soluble. That means that the homeowner could simply wipe the walls with a wet sponge to remove the texture.

Well, it’s actually a bit more than that. You have to wet the walls well, and keep on scrubbing, to the point where the joint compound / texture softens up and can be scraped off the wall with a stiff putty knife, or scrubbed off the wall with a drywall sponge.

And that’s what the homeowner did. He did such a good job that he cleaned the walls all the way down to the bare drywall. That’s what you see in the first two photos. This guy was way more thorough and meticulous than any “professional” I’ve seen out there.

The best primer for bare drywall is Gardz (third photo). It penetrates and seals both the paper face of the drywall, as well as the joint compound “mud” that is troweled over the joints and tape (see white areas in photos).

So my task for today was not to work on smoothing the walls, because the homeonwer had done such a great job of that. OK, well, I did do a little tweaking in a few areas. But primarily, what I did today was roll on (and cut into the corners and edges) a good coat of Gardz.

Besides sealing drywall, Gardz is a good primer for wallpaper. So once the primer was applied and then dried (about an hour), the room was ready for wallpaper.