Posts Tagged ‘drywall’

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.

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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.

Innovative Solution for Drywall Cracks

March 16, 2018


I had noted that the walls in this powder room had one horizontal crack in the drywall. I picked up a roll of mesh tape, so I could fix the crack.

But when I got to work, the HO had already applied this. It was recommended by the Sherwin-Williams guy. It’s peel-and-stick, and comes in several widths. It feels like vinyl, and if there is any movement within the crack, it is supposed to expand and contract without opening up another crack.

The instructions say the feathered edges allow you to paint over it invisibly. The wallpaper was thin-ish, and I worried that the patch would show under the paper, so I chose to skim over it, which smoothed away any rides.

I don’t have any history or info on this product, so time will tell how it performs in this application.

A Small Repair Today – Plumbing Issue

March 15, 2018


This couple had water damage from Hurricane Harvey, and I repapered their powder room a month or two ago. Well, recently a pipe burst, and, long story short, they had to replumb the whole house. To run the new pipes, the plumbers had to cut holes in the drywall.

The top photo shows where the plumber patched a hole with a scrap of drywall. He left some irregular areas and rough edges that would show under the wallpaper. So I skim-floated over these areas and then sanded smooth, as you see in the second photo.

There was precious little paper left, so a patch was called for (rather than replacing the whole wall). From leftover paper that matched the pattern around the drywall patch, I cut along the pattern design (third photo). This would be less visible than if I cut a square patch with straight edges.

Once I put the patch into place, lining it up with the pattern on the wall, the repair was invisible. (The gap at the bottom will be caulked.)

Another Reason to Buy (and Keep) Extra Wallpaper – Repair Water Leak

March 14, 2018


Having extra wallpaper is a good thing. Keep it wrapped up with its label, and stored in a climate-controlled closet. You never know when you will need to pull it out to make repairs.

This home was damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Repairs were made, and I hung beautiful new wallpaper in the powder room just a month or two ago. Well, the poor homeowners suffered another water issue – a leaky pipe. Yes, this would be one of the new pipes in their new powder room.

Fixing the leak required cutting a two holes out of the drywall. The plumber did a decent job of patching the holes. The next step is covering that drywall with some wallpaper.

It’s such a good thing that the homeowners have scraps left from the install.

Stripping Off Old Wallpaper

February 14, 2018


This hall bathroom in a 1955 ranch-style home in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston was damaged by a roof leak during Hurricane Harvey. The contractor’s guys did a good job replacing drywall and painting the woodwork, but they fell short when it came to wallpaper. See first photo.

But this just gave the homeowner a chance to choose something that coordinated better with the decades-old tile that she loves (and that I love, too), and to pick a paper with more color and flair, that is more suited to her taste. See tomorrow’s post for that.

My first task was to remove the existing wallpaper. It turned out that there were two layers of paper, and, in some places, THREE layers.

In the second photo, I have removed most of the top (new) paper, which is the aqua trellis by Thibaut. I took it off by simply tearing it off the wall. Below it, you see the green savoy (small, tight, squiggly) by Waverly. Interestingly enough, I have hung this a bunch of times – in the ’90’s. 🙂

This paper was attached more tightly to the wall. To remove it, I had to first separate the top inked layer from it’s paper backing. You can see this in the second photo. Once the top layer, with it’s water-resistant acrylic surface was removed, it left behind a white paper backing. I used a sponge and bucket of hot water to soak the backing. It didn’t take long before the underlying paste reactivated, and then it was ready to let go of the wallpaper. You can see clean wall revealed in the photo, where the layers of wallpaper have come away.

In one area of the room, I got a surprise. There was a third layer of paper under the others. The top vinyl layer had been stripped of eons ago, but the tan, gritty paper backing was left on the wall. You can see this in the third photo dry (light tan) and soaked with water (dark tan). Once that tan paper backing got soaked enough with several spongings with hot water, the paste reactivated and the paper was happy to come away from the wall.

I was uncommonly lucky today, because whoever hung the original wallpaper had taken the time to prep the walls correctly. First, he skim-coated the textured walls to yield a smooth surface for the paper to adhere to. Second, he applied good quality penetrating sealer. This sealer might have been Gardz, a product that I use now, or another similar sealer, perhaps even a solvent-based (as opposed to water-based) sealer. His sealer provided a hard surface for the new paper to stick to, and also gave a surface that was resistant to all the water I was using to strip off the old wallpaper.

Check out the fourth picture to see the huge pile of wallpaper I pulled off this one small hall bathroom.

Once all the paper was off, the walls were in very good condition. There were no delaminated areas, no lifted areas, nothing that needed patching – just an amazingly intact surface.

I did a few little touch-ups to a few little areas (I wanted to clean up 60 years of grime collected along the top of the tile), and then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer, by Roman’s, their Pro 977 / Ultra Prime. It’s a white pigmented primer, and is a wonderful surface to hang wallpaper on.

Lively Watercolor-y Koi Pond For A Flooded Powder Room

January 12, 2018


What a fun paper! I have a koi pond, so that makes me doubly crazy about this pattern!

I hung this lively pattern in a large powder room in a home in the Memorial area of Houston that had been flooded by Hurricane Harvey. It’s four months after the storm, and this is the first person whom I have seen who has had repairs finished and who has been able to move back into her home. (See the darker drywall at the bottom of the wall, in the top photo? That’s the new Greenrock that replaced the drywall that got damaged by water.)

The rest of the house is very traditional, with a lot of antiques. So going with bright color and a fanciful fish pattern was a bit of a leap. But you can get away with a lot of drama in a powder room, because you don’t spend a lot of time in there. And the homeowner was ready for something uplifting.

This pattern is by York, in their SureStrip line. I love both the manufacturer and this line of papers. It is a thin and pliable non-woven material, turns corners nicely, and will hug the wall tightly. It is nice to work with, and does not shrink when it dries, so no gaps at the seams. It is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.