Posts Tagged ‘dust’

You’ve Gotta Get Dust Off The Walls

September 9, 2020


If you look closely at the right side of the corner, you will notice dust on the textured wall.

Before anything can go on the wall – primer, wallpaper, smoothing compound – all the dust needs to be removed.

This is because nothing sticks to dust. Any sort of stress on the wall, such as new wallpaper drying and shrinking and putting torque / tension on the walls, or wallpaper expanding and contracting with temperature and humidity changes, can cause the material to let go from the wall, most usually at the seams.

My example is that it’s like when you flour a cake pan – the paper will kinda stick, but it won’t really stick.

So before I started to apply my smoothing compound to the walls, I went around the entire master bedroom with a damp sponge and wiped the dust off. A little dust fills up a sponge quickly, so I had to keep rinsing it clean frequently.

Textured, Woven, Faux Grasscloth in Cypress Master Bedroom

February 2, 2020


Even with high (13′) vaulted ceilings, the original medium-toned purple paint in this master bedroom in a new home in the Town Lake neighborhood of Cypress (northwest Houston) made the room look a little closed-in. And the purple didn’t coordinate with anything the young homeowners own.

So they broke out the extension ladder and painted three walls a creamy white. Then they had me install a textured vinyl wallpaper with a woven grasscloth look on the wall behind the bed.

The job too two days. One day was to apply smoothing compound to the heavyish texture which is typical of new homes in the suburbs. The next day I sanded it smooth, wiped off the dust, primed, and then hung the paper.

Daylight was fading fast, so I had to take the “after” photo when only three strips were up. But you get the idea.

In the top photo, you see I have laid my rolled-up strips against the wall in the order they came off the bolt, and in the order in which they will be hung. This helps minimize color differences

As with most solid color and textured patterns, I used the “reverse hang” procedure to minimize shading – you hang one strip right side up, and the next strip you hang upside down. This way, the same side of each strip is placed next to each other. That way, if, for example, the left side of a bolt of wallpaper is slightly darker than the right side, you won’t notice an abrupt color change between your two strips, because the two darker sides are placed next to each other. I know that sounds complicated, but it’s a common practice when hanging wallpaper, and it does reduce color variations between strips.

One strip did end up a tad darker than the one next to it. They are all from the same run, so who knows what’s going on there. It’s a minor color difference, and not nearly as bad as if they had chosen real grasscloth instead. (Real grasscloth has tons of disappointing color variances between and even within strips.)

The close-up shows the beautiful texture of this embossed vinyl material. I have no idea why it came out grey – the paper is actually navy blue.

The vinyl wallcovering has a woven fabric (scrim) back, and is way more durable and stain-resistant than real grasscloth, or any other wallpaper, for that matter.

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

Smoothing Knock-Down Textured Wall

December 20, 2019


This newish home in Kingwood (northeast Houston) had a typical suburban tract home knock-down texture. This would look horrible under the new wallpaper, as well as interfere with complete adhesion.

So I skim-floated the wall by troweling on joint compound (like plaster), and then sanded smooth. After wiping sanding dust off the wall with a damp sponge, I primed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer / primer by Zinsser. Sorry, no “during” photos. 😦

The last photo shows the smoothed surface, primed and ready for wallpaper. (The dark spots are where the original texture was thick and therefore peeking out from under the smoothing compound.)

From Dining Room to Home Office

December 4, 2019


The previous owners used this as a dining room, but the new homeowners are a young family that need the space for a home office / toddler’s playroom. They wanted a bolder pattern than the original soft clouds, but were happy to stick with the black and white color palette.

Once I got the original paper thoroughly soaked with a sponge and clean water, the paste reactivated and it stripped off the wall easily and with no damage.

It did reveal a previous wall treatment – a stenciled diagonal foliage pattern.

It also revealed a lightly textured wall. I don’t like these bumps showing under the new wallpaper, so I used a trowel and “mud” (drywall joint compound) to smooth the wall.

After sanding smooth, vacuuming up the dust, wiping dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then priming, the new wallpaper could go up. I used a laser level to center the design on the wall.

This wallpaper pattern is in the Magnolia Home collection- yes, good old Joanna Gaines. It is by York, and is in their SureStrip line.

It is pre-pasted and goes up easily and cleanly, and is a delight to work with – one of my favorites. SureStrip is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

The home is in the Energy Corridor area of west Houston.

Fading on Stringcloth Wallpaper

November 11, 2019


The circle on the right is where I removed the towel ring. On the left is where I removed the switchplate cover. You can see that the stringcloth that was exposed to light has faded a bit over the years it has been in this powder room.

Another interesting thing is the amount of dust that has collected inside the switchplate cover. This is because of air suction inside the wall – probably due to a leak in the ductwork somewhere.

Textured Walls Show Under Wallpaper

June 3, 2019


The powder room walls in this ’90’s home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston had a light texture. Wishing to conserve time, money, and mess, the homeowner chose to skip having the walls smoothed, and asked to have the wallpaper hung over the walls as they were.

The original wallpaper selection was thick and spongy and would have disguised the wall texture a bit. But the original choice was not available, and the alternate turned out to be thinner and smoother and glossier – all recipes for telegraphing the wall texture through to the surface of the wallpaper.

I admit, this does not look bad, and it is something that I probably notice more than the homeowners do.

But still, I don’t like the way it looks. Next time – even if it takes more time, costs more money, and results in a little dust – I will insist on smoothing the walls.

Another Example of Wall Surfaces (Paint) Delaminating

January 7, 2019


This is a picture of an air conditioner vent, where I have removed the louvered cover. Around the edges, you can see where some of the paint stuck to the cover and pulled away when the cover was removed.

Although this house is only 30 years old, the walls have been covered with many layers of paint (probably due to children of different ages and genders using the room over the years). None of this paint would have been oil-based, but you are still going to find disparate and incompatible layers applied on top of one another.

The biggest issues here would be paint applied over dusty walls, or paint applied over a glossy surface, such as semi-gloss paint. It’s not likely that the new coat of paint would be able to adhere really tightly to either dust or gloss.

So when the air vent cover came off, you can see that it pulled off several layers of paint, probably right down to the drywall. I had a feeling that, if I tried, I could work at that wall and peel off all those layers of paint pretty easily, right down to the drywall.

The lesson here is, walls should always be prepped properly before any treatment (paint, wallpaper, wood veneer paneling) is applied.

What is proper prep? Well, that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother discussion!

Patch Disguises Delaminated Wall

December 19, 2018

I hung this paper for a young couple in a cute 1930 bungalow in the Heights neighborhood of Houston a year or two ago. After a year or so, the wallpaper began to gap at the seams. Turns out this is not the wallpaper coming loose from the wall. What is happening is that the various layers of paint and etc. inside the wall are actually coming apart.

The wallpaper dried and shrank and put torque (tension) on the wall at the seams. Also factoring in is humidity in the air, poor air circulation in the air, and possibly a moisture problem inside this wall. Oh, and this wallpaper manufacturer, Hygge & West, is known for using inks that curl away from the wall at the points where they cross the seams.

But the real culprit is years’ worth of paint and other wall surfaces that are not compatible with one another. Back 80 years ago, you had oil-based paint. Cover that with latex paint, then do a project that creates dust that sifts onto the walls, add some gloss paint, roll on a coat of latex, then a layer of texture, then more paint … all without proper prep between.

Proper prep or not, most of these wall coatings are not prepared to adhere to one another, and when drying / shrinking wallpaper puts stress on the surface, the various layers can let go from one anther and “delaminate” – which means to come apart.

In the photo, you can see the thickness of the separating layers. Some layers of paint have held fast to the wall, but others have let go and curled back. Because there is dust and gloss and other factors underneath, it’s not guaranteed that anything will hold the layers back tight to the wall.

Adhesive silicone caulk was my glue of choice. It will stick to porous or glossy surfaces. I squeezed some carefully into the popped seams, spread it around, closed the seam back up, and then waited for the caulk to tack up and grab ahold of the layer above it.

Eventually the caulk dried enough and became tacky enough that it held the layers together. Not perfectly, but at least there was no gaping opening at the seam.

The gap and a slight “pouch” still showed, so I thought of covering them with a patch that would span the seam, holding both sides together.

So next I took some left over paper (ALWAYS save your left overs!) and cut out dark green palm leaves. I made sure to leave a wide section on either side that was cut along the individual fronds, so they would mimic the pattern on the wall, and so there would be a wide area to straddle the seam and add stability. The area I cut out between each front helped the patch blend in with the pattern that was on the existing paper on the wall.

The stupid camera ate my picture of the patch after it was cut and pasted, but before it was applied to the wall. Dang it, because that would have explained a lot of my process.

Anyway, I made several of these frond-leaved patches, pasted them, and then applied them to the wall, directly straddling the popped seams. Not only did this cover and hide the open edges of the seams, but the width of the patch helped strengthen the bond while at the same time lessening the possibility that a seam would open up again.

In the last photo,  at the top of the picture, you can see one appliqué patch applied, straddling the seam.  Moving down the wall, I would add two more similar patches over the seam.

From a distance – heck, even from up close, you could not see the repaired areas.

Cole & Son Woods in a Powder Room

November 13, 2018


This powder room in a newish townhome in the Rice Military area of Houston was originally papered in a darkish jungle/ethnic/animal-themed wallpaper. It was a good look, but the new homeowners wanted something brighter and fresher. Plus, the original paper had been hung over the textured walls, and the bumps were showing through.

It would have taken me two long days to strip the original paper, smooth the walls, and hang the paper. So the homeowner tackled the removal of the original paper (following instructions on my blog (see page on the right side) plus info she found on the internet), which saved her the price of a day’s labor. It also made my job a bit easier.

But this job still required a lot of prep, which took a lot of time. The homeowners were out of town (they let me into the house via remote access), and it was nice because I could work in peace and quiet, and I could stay as late as I needed.

I skimmed on smoothing compound, waited while it dried, sanded smooth, wiped off the dust, primed, and then finally hung the paper.

The pedestal sink was tricky to get around, as they always are. And the bull-nosed / rounded edges of two outside corners in the room were a challenge. Additional hurdles were crooked walls, un-plumb walls, and a ridged non-woven wallpaper material that would not bend or yield to crooked, un-plumb walls. 🙂 The pattern itself was a bit forgiving of these imperfections, and I used a few tricks to make things look straight and true.

This wallpaper design is quite popular, and I have hung it a bunch of times. It is called “Woods,” and is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is printed on a non-woven substrate, and is designed to be a paste-the-wall installation – but I find that paste-the-paper is a superior method.

Best of all, the homeowner loved what the pattern and light color did for the room. The powder room is instantly brightened, and the images of tree trunks give the room a whole lot of dimension and draw you in, as if you were actually walking in a forest.

The strong diagonal repetitiveness of the tree branches usually bothers me a bit. But in this room, with each wall holding only two or three strips, the pattern is dispersed nicely and the diagonal effect is minimized. So, what you see is the forest, and not so much the trees. 🙂

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.

Smoothing Sandy Textured Wall

September 11, 2018


Walls in the under-the-stairs powder room of this 1945 home in River Oaks (Houston) were covered with a sand-textured paint. The bumps would look awful under the new wallpaper, and would also interfere with good adhesion. So I needed to smooth the walls.

I troweled on drywall joint compound. Because the sand texture was so thick, the smoothing compound needed fans blowing on it overnight to become completely dry.

Once dry, I sanded it smooth. See second photo. Wiped clean of dust and primed, the walls are now ready for wallpaper.