Posts Tagged ‘drywall’

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.

Crazy Install – Underside of Stairs

February 28, 2020


You are looking upward at the undersides of five stairs that make up most of the ceiling in this West U powder room. You’ve gotta wonder why the builder didn’t just have the Sheetrockers drywall over it.

Well, either way, the workmanship in rocking in all these surfaces was incredible.

Equally incredible was ME getting wallpaper onto them! 🙂

It’s a lot more complicated than it seems, looking at it from the comfort of your cell phone screen. I won’t go into all the many factors, but each of the five stairs took me about an hour.

What Does A Plumbing Repair Have To Do With Wallpaper?

February 16, 2020


Thursday, I hung grasscloth on three walls of this master bedroom, and left for the night. When I arrived on Friday to finish the last wall, the homeowner hustled me into the adjoining bathroom and showed me where a repair had been done to the toilet’s water intake line the previous night.

By freak accident, some decorative item had fallen off the toilet tank and hit the water intake pipe “just so.” The pipe was of plastic, and had a few weaknesses in it. So when it was struck in just the right (or wrong!) place, it broke – and spewed water everywhere!

Luckily, the homeowner was home and caught this immediately. And, luckily, there is a neighborhood “guy” in the Heights (Inner Loop neighborhood of Houston) who is able and willing to come out at any hour to fix things like this.

Fixing it has to do with accessing the plumbing pipes. And that has to do with cutting into the wall.

Eeeek!

The homeowner was freaking out, that the plumber might have to access the pipe from the other side of the wall – the wall that I had just hung her beautiful new $$ grasscloth wallpaper on!

A cut through the drywall here would have necessitated replacing the entire strip of wallpaper. And because of how grasscloth is trimmed to fit specific dimensions, and because of the color differences between bolts and strips, it would have looked better to have replaced all the strips on the wall.

Major hassle, major work involved, and it would have used up all our “extra” paper.

Luckily, the plumber was able to fix the pipe by cutting through from the bathroom side.

The homeowner still has to get someone to come repair the drywall and paint. But VERY lucky that no other repairs had to be done.

And SO lucky that the homeowner was on-site, and knew to cut off the water to the house. If the leak had run for an hour – not to mention overnight or over a weekend – much more would have been damaged… Not just my new wallpaper, but the hardwood floors, moldings, insulation, possibly drywall and possibly furniture, and more.

Faux Agate Kill Point Over Door

December 1, 2019

When you hang wallpaper around a room, the last corner virtually always ends up in a pattern mis-match, because the last strip will be split vertically to fit gap between it and the first strip that was hung. The pattern on it won’t line up with the pattern on the first strip that it is butting up against. Difficult to explain.

Anyway, as you see in the first photo, if I had let this be the last corner (the kill point), the horizontal lines would not line up as they do in the photo, and there would have been an 8′ high, eye-jarring mis-match of lines.

So I chose to put the kill point over the door, an area that is only 7″ high, and that not too many people look up at.

The pattern came together over the door pretty nicely, but the design on the left piece was a bit higher than the design elements on the piece on the right, so there is a bit of a mis-match.

If I could bring the design on the left down a little, it would match up much more nicely with that on the right.

To do that, I took a straight edge and a razor blade and trimmed off a wedge-shaped sliver of paper from the left edge. The wedge was wider at the bottom than at the top. This created a gap at the bottom of the strip. When the strip was positioned to where it butted up against the previous strip, closing that gap forced the upper portion of the strip to lean downward, which brought the horizontal lines on the left strip down to where they met up nicely with the horizontal lines on the right strip.

At this point, the left strip is overlapped on top of the strip on the right. The thickness of the under-lying strip shows as a ridge under the upper layer of paper. I would have been OK with this, because the strip is over the door where no one is going to be looking.

But I thought I could make it look better.

So I did double cut. A double cut is a paperhanger’s term for a splice. Before cutting through the two strips of overlapped paper, it’s important to protect the wall, because if the wall gets scored into, when the wallpaper dries and pulls taught, the layers of paint and drywall and etc. inside the wall may give way (delaminate), and leave irreparable curls at the seams.

In this case, I used a few layers of scrap wallpaper placed behind where I would make my splice. So when I cut through the two left and right pieces of wallpaper, my razor blade did not go all the way down to the wall surface.

Once the cut was made, I removed the cut-off remnants on either side of the cut, and smoothed the remaining paper into place. As you can see, the pattern now lines up pretty darned well.

There were still a few lines that didn’t match up, so I took my trusty No. 2 pencil and drew a few “enhancements.” Voilà!

Patching Gap Around Light Fixture

November 8, 2019

The original light fixture had a rectangular base. The new one had a base that was barely larger than the electrical box. The electrician ended up with a slight gap on the left side of the box.

The wallpaper would most likely bridge that gap and look just fine. But since there was a slight difference in height between the wall and the base of the fixture, I wanted to close the gap to minimize chances of a visible pooch or bubble around the fixture.

I bought some drywall repair kits, and ended up using the one that had a thin aluminum mesh patch. I cut it to fit around the electrical box, using a few scraps to fill in gaps.

I then used drywall joint compound (“mud”) to smooth over the area. It took two of these skim coats, and a lot of time holding my heat gun to get everything to dry. Once sanded, it was nice and smooth.

A coat of Gardz penetrating sealer / primer, and the patched area was ready for wallpaper.

Elapsed time: Two hours.

This saved the homeowner having to hire “a guy” to do the repairs – and most likely, I would have had to “fine tune” whatever he did, anyway.

Don’t Skip the Wallpaper Primer!

October 30, 2019


A primer is imperative for a good wallpaper installation – and I mean a primer designed to be used under wallpaper, not a generic primer or a paint primer.

A good primer will

seal porous surfaces
mitigate a glossy surface (paper won’t stick to gloss)
allow for “slip” and repositioning while installing the paper
provide “tooth” for the adhesive to grab ahold of
withstand the torque created when wallpaper dries and pulls taught,
preventing “popped seams”
protect the surface, making future removal of the paper easier while
preventing damage to the wall

Ultra Prime Pro 977 by Roman’s is my preferred primer.

But different situations call for different primers. When hanging on a thirsty surface like new drywall or a textured wall that has been skim-floated, I will use Gardz by Zinsser. Other primers could be called for in other situations.

Knock-Down Texture on a Wall

October 3, 2019


Here is a new sheet of drywall, installed to repair damage from flooding during Hurricane Harvey. The drywall is grey.

The splats of white stuff you see on top is joint compound that has been sprayed on, and then “knocked down” to about a 1/8″ height by a worker with a wide taping knife.

This creates a texture on the wall that is pretty common in newer suburban homes.

The surface should be primed, and then a coat of paint can be applied.

In the case of wallpaper, the wall would have to be “skim floated” and sanded smooth, to get rid of the texture.