Posts Tagged ‘dust’

Lots of Gear to Smooth Textured Walls

January 26, 2022

Walls need to be smooth before wallpaper can go up, both for appearance and for good adhesion. Here’s just some of the equipment I carted into this house, to use while smoothing the textured walls of the powder room. In the black bucket is the smoothing / joint compound. To the left of it the grey metal thing is a space heater that pulls moisture out of the air. In front of that the white bucket holds wallpaper paste which will be used later.

The big square box is my Shop Vac, to clean up all the dust created when sanding the walls smooth. And fans – lots of fans – so speed drying of the smoothing compound.

Interestingly, the big black fan and the space heater both pull so much electricity that I cannot use them at the same time – they have been known to trip the circuit breaker!

Fixing Drywall Damage From Where Vanity Was Removed

January 20, 2022
The powder room in this 1990’s home in the Houston Heights is being updated, and that means replacing the wall-to-wall vanity. Here the vanity has been ripped out. The areas where the backsplash was adhered to the wall have pulled the top surface of the drywall off. In addition, the plumber had to cut out a section of drywall in order to gain access to the pipes, so he can install the new faucet and handles. You can see the connections roughed in.
You can’t hang wallpaper over this mess. First of all, it way too uneven – all those bumps will show under the new wallpaper. And the outline of the ” trapdoor ” will leave a big square ridge under the paper. Thankfully, the plumber secured the panel with drywall screws – most plumbers just leave you with a chunk of drywall floating in space, or even just an empty hole.
Back to patching issues … in addition, the torn areas of drywall will absorb moisture from the wallpaper primer and / or paste and expand, creating bubbles that will show under the new paper.
I needed to fill in dips and gouges, even out high areas, and prevent bubbling drywall.
Gardz by Zinsser to the rescue! This is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and then dries hard, binding them together and creating a stable surface, as well as resisting moisture from water-based top coatings.
This picture doesn’t look much different, but here the torn drywall is a little darker, indicating that the Gardz has soaked in and dried. The surface is now ready for a skim-coat.
But first, the trap door needs to be addressed. I covered the cut areas with four strips of self-adhesive mesh drywall tape (no photo).
Then I went over everything (wall to wall) with joint compound (commonly referred to as mud ) (no photo).
Because of the thickness of the high and low areas, this had to be a thick coat of smoothing compound, and would take a long time to dry. So I went to the jobsite two days ahead of our install date, to do these initial repairs.
And – no – you can’t use quick set or hot mud or 5 or 20 minute mud to do these repairs. These products are intended for repairs of small areas. Top coatings like primers, paint, and wallpaper paste do not stick well to them. Don’t let a contractor sweet-talk you into letting him use any of these to smooth a large area of wall.
Here is the wall after my first, heavy, coat of smoothing compound. I use Sheetrock brand’s Plus 3.
The bubbles you see just left of center show that Gardz didn’t 100% do its job of sealing out moisture, as a little expansion and blistering has occurred. Not a biggie. These will disappear when the surface is sanded. There is usually not a problem with these re-appearing.
When I got to work two days later, the smoothing compound had dried. I sanded pretty smooth. Then vacuumed up the dust on the floor, and then used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This is important, because no coating will stick to dust.
The wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth, so I did another skim-coat. This was much thinner, so didn’t need a lot of time to dry. I used a fan and my heat gun to speed things along.
Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, vacuumed and then wiped off all dust. Then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have the paint store (Murphy Brothers in central Houston) add a little blue tint, so I can see it when I apply it to the wall.
What a transformation! Now this wall is ready for wallpaper!

Wallpaper Coming Off – Delaminating Wall

January 14, 2022

An Unfortunate Situation

This Brooklyn Toile wallpaper by Flavor Paper on an accent wall in a nursery went up beautifully. The contractor had added new Sheetrock to one wall, and painted the other, old/original wall. I skim-floated both walls and sanded smooth, primed, and hung the wallpaper. Perfect! (Search here to see my original post.) But within less than a month, the homeowner contacted me and said that the wallpaper was ” coming off the wall .” It was a 1920’s bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. And therein lies the brunt of the problem.
The wallpaper itself is not ” coming off the wall .” What’s happening is that the wall surface itself is coming apart – or, delaminating . This is because multiple layers of paint and other substances on the wall may not be compatible. A probably scenario: In 1920 oil-based paint was used. Later someone rolled on a coat of latex paint. Then the homeowners redecorated and used gloss paint. Then some ” flippers ” who had watched too much HGTV slapped on more paint without bothering to de-gloss or prime first. And somewhere in the mix you’ve got cheap paint and dust and other incompatible materials.
Over time, and especially when stress is put on the wall surface, such as when wet wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks, this stress can tug at the wall and actually pull these layers apart. There are other contributing factors, too, such as humidity, temperature, and location. I find it interesting that the worst parts of the affected seams were toward the top of the wall. This speaks of heat, humidity, and forced air (either hot or cold) coming out of the air vent just to the right of this wall. This photo is of the area over a door, very close to the air vent.
See how thick that is? It’s not just the wallpaper. There are several layers of wall coming apart. Some layers are clinging to the back of the wallpaper, and some are staying stuck to the wall.
Multiple layers, many years of coatings on this wall.
Easy to see the many layers. The paper itself, my blue primer, my layer of smoothing compound, paint, more paint coming off the wall. Then multiple layers of paint and texture still clinging to the wall. This shot is just below the ceiling.
Same thing happening at the baseboard at the floor.
Layers of paint separating from the wall in chunks. Some pulled off easily, and some I had to chop off with my 3″ putty knife.
Most of the paint and unstable surface material clung to the back of the wallpaper. This pile is just three strips – only half the wall. But it’s thick and stiff and heavy because of the paint stuck to the back of the wallpaper. There was so much and it was so heavy and bulky that I had to carry it out to my van in two trips. When I got home, it totally filled my trash bin.
Here’s the wall once all the other layers came off. Brushing my hand over it revealed a layer of dust. No wonder the paint and other coatings wouldn’t stick. Nothing sticks to dust. It’s like flouring a cake pan… The paint or wallpaper will kinda stick – but won’t really stick. Paint on top may be fine. But add a little stress from drying / shrinking wallpaper, and you may end up with layers that pull apart.
Wiping the walls with a damp sponge removed a lot more dust. But the wall still felt chalky. Whatever type of paint this was, it was not holding together.
I had to stabilize this chalky surface. Enter Gardz, a wonderful product – Gardz is a thin, penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and binds substances together. It dries hard and creates an intact surface. The darker area in the picture is where I’ve rolled on a test area. Gardz is thin like water, and it runs and drips and splatters. It’s imperative that you cover floors, countertops, and baseboards, and roll carefully, and roll upward rather than downward, to minimize runs and drips. A microfiber roller holds the liquid well, and reduces drips.
Gardz is made by Zinsser.
No photo of the finished wall, but I was very pleased with the stability of the surface. No more chalk or dust. Now, there still could be unstable or incompatible layers deeper inside the wall. (Latex paint over oil without proper prep.) But for now I feel pretty confident that this wall is solid and will hold up to the next process in preparation for getting the new wallpaper up.

Don’t Use Adhesive Picture Hangers

January 6, 2022
Yes, they’re strong enough to hold a 50lb painting.
But removing them may well take layer(s) of paint along with! Here you see a bubble that has lifted from the wall, as well as a break in the paint that was torn off by the adhesive picture hanger.
Several layers of paint have been pulled away from the wall. This is called ” delaminating .”
One reason for this is because the original underlying surface may have been dusty – as in dust from construction, or from sanding new drywall joint compound. Nothing sticks to dust. Other reasons for delaminating walls are incompatible surfaces, such as, an older home that starts out with oil-based paint, then someone comes along and applies latex paint over it without proper prep, then someone adds a gloss paint, then a ” flipper ” buys the house and slaps on a coat of paint without deglossing, ,,, on and on, situations that can cause layers of paint to not stick to each other. End result is that the wallpaper may come away from the wall, too.

December 30, 2021

Bridging A Gap

These are the plumbing stems for wall-mounted handles and faucet in a powder room in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner had the fixtures removed to make the wallpaper installation easier and with fewer ” relief cuts ” in the paper. This helps to eliminate chances of splashed water hitting open edges of the paper and wicking up inside, which can cause curling at the seams.
But the holes were a tad too big for the escutcheons (decorative back plates) to cover. The hole around the left handle gaps about a half an inch outside the plate (not pictured).

I wanted to close that gap a little bit, and also to provide a firm surface for the wallpaper to stick to. I cut ” collars ” out of scrap non-woven material. This material is very strong, and won’t stretch or warp out of shape. Non-woven makes a fine substrate for today’s wallpapers. In the photo, I have placed them around the plumbing stems.
I impregnated the “collars” with Gardz, which is a penetrating primer which soaks in and binds surfaces together, and then dries hard – a lot like varnish or shellac.
Then I skim-floated the area with drywall joint compound (” mud “), let dry, sanded smooth, wiped off dust with a damp sponge, and then primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime, my favorite wallpaper primer. So this photo shows the finished task. When the plumber comes to re-install the faucet, etc., if the holes are too small, he can simply cut some away.
Now that the opening is smaller, the escutcheon easily covers it.

Damage to Wall from Double Cut, Pt II – Repairing

November 5, 2021
Here the wallpaper has been removed. You can see I’ve placed drywall mesh tape over the cut area.
This a picture of the left side of the window, where I am repairing the same type of cut in the wall. Here I have applied drywall joint compound over the mesh tape. Once that dries, I will sand it smooth, wipe off the dust, and roll on a wallpaper primer. This should keep the crack from opening up further, prevent the wallpaper from coming open at the seam, and sanding everything smooth will keep bumps or ridges from showing through the paper. (Sorry for the dark photo – I don’t know what’s going on there…)
Here’s a photo of the patched area, dried, sanded smooth, and ready for primer.

Fun Hourglass Geometric on Home Office Accent Wall

October 30, 2021
Home office wall before – textured wall was skim-floated and sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, primed, and ready for wallpaper.
Done! The homeowner wanted the “hourglass” pattern centered on where her desk would sit, rather than on the wall itself.
Close up. The silver lines are metallic raised ink, and there is a “grainy” design that gives the impression of a textured surface.
Graham & Brown is a British company that is among my favorites.

Working from home during COVID (and now for good), this homeowner wanted to enliven her workspace and get rid of endless grey walls. This fun pattern certainly did the trick!

This non-woven wallpaper was a lot more stiff and a lot less workable than most G&B papers. I used the paste-the-wall installation method for this simple accent wall, but pasting the paper would have made it more agreeable to work with.

The home is contemporary in style, and is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

Sanding Dust from Smoothing a Textured Wall

October 26, 2021
Bumps from textured walls look bad under wallpaper, and they interfere with good adhesion. To smooth a textured wall, I skim-float with joint compound (a plaster-like drywall material). Once it’s dry, I sand it smooth. This makes dust. In the photo above, the wall only needed a light skim-coat, so the sanding was minimal. Yet, you can see how much dust was generated. On the right is the “tent” of plastic I ran across the wall to prevent dust from getting to other parts of the room.
Here’s a closer look at the powder that has fallen to the floor. And also the sanding sponge I like. The 90 degree corners tend to be too sharp and can gouge the surface, so I take a scissors and trim that off. That’s the exposed red area you see along the edge there.

The next step is to vacuum up all this dust. Then residual powder must be wiped off the wall with a damp sponge, and you have to rinse the sponge frequently. The next step is applying a wallpaper primer. Once that’s dry, the wall is ready for wallpaper.

Danger Signs of an Unstable Wall Surface

October 13, 2021
These nails were holding picture hooks to the wall. The hooks had an adhesive backing. When they were removed from the wall, chunks of latex paint stuck to them and pulled away from the wall, revealing a crumbly sub-surface. This is bad news for wallpaper that might be hung on top of this.
Other spots. What happens is, this is a 90 year old house. Over the years, many coats of paint and other surface treatments have been applied to the walls of this dining room. These coatings are not necessarily compatible with each other. Plus they may have been applied without the proper surface preparation. Oil based paint, then latex, then someone rolls on a gloss paint, the next guy follows with latex but neglects to de-gloss the previous layer so the new layer doesn’t really stick well.
Somewhere along the line, something got chalky. Here you see I have wiped crumbly chalky substance from inside the wall. This is why the latex paint is not adhering well and pulled away so easily. Nothing sticks to dust or grit or chalk.
Gardz is cool stuff. It’s a penetrating sealer that soaks in and actually binds crumbly materials together, drying into a hard, solid mass. The problem here is, it won’t penetrate the paint that is on top of the unstable layer, so we’re still dealing with a wall that has potential to come apart (delaminate).
Gardz applied. You can see how it has soaked into the porous areas, but is sitting on top of the latex paint.

The problem with an unstable wall and wallpaper, is that, as wallpaper sits on a wall and the paste dries, the paper shrinks just a tad, and this shrinking puts tension / torque on the wall beneath it. Sometimes this is actually powerful enough to pull the layers inside the wall apart, resulting in seams that split open.

These are not “loose seams,” but the paper actually taking layers of paint and dust along with it. Really can’t be repaired.

So best to find a way to prevent it from happening in the first place. More on that later.

Rifle Paper “City Maps” – Fun Stuff

October 1, 2021
Wall smoothed and primed; ready for wallpaper. I used craft paint to color the putty-colored edge along the top of the backsplash.
Finished
Pattern centered nicely on the faucet and on the light fixture above (not shown).
The original heavy texture and lifeless khaki paint in this powder room. At the far top right, you see my smoothing compound over the door. Once this is spread over the entire wall surface, it will be allowed to dry, then sanded smooth, residual dust removed with a damp sponge, and a wallpaper-specific primer applied.
Done! So much brighter and more fun! Note the blue ceiling – a lovely touch!
View from outside the powder room.
Close up.
Rifle Paper is made by York, one of my favorite brands. Previously I’ve worked with their non-woven (synthetic fibers) wallpaper material, so I was surprised to see they also print on traditional stock like this one.

This powder room is in a newish home in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.