Posts Tagged ‘dust’

Another Reason to Not Let the Contractor Prep the Walls for Paper

May 10, 2018


Folks, please do NOT let your contractor or painter “prep the walls for wallpaper.” They simply don’t know how to remove wallpaper properly, and they don’t know what is required to prepare the surface for the new paper. Do a Search here (upper right corner) for more examples.

In this case, “I know that he removed the old paper, because I saw piles of it on the floor,” said the homeowner. But this photo proves that he didn’t. Nor did he bother to remove the towel bar, because when it was removed later, you can see the old wallpaper still under it.

I put the original wallpaper up back in the ’90’s, so I know that, with my good primer underneath, with a bucket of warm water and a little time, that paper would have come off easily and left the wall in perfect condition for new paper.

Instead of properly removing the old paper, this contractor skim-floated over it. That’s the thick white stuff you see in the photo. After sanding the wall smooth (which he did OK in most of the room, but, as usual, did a less than stellar job in corners and around moldings and door trim), he should have removed dust from the walls with a damp sponge – but virtually no contractor bothers with this step.

Removing dust is crucial, because if dust is left on the wall, it may hold up OK under paint, but when wallpaper is applied on top of it, when the paste dries, the paper shrinks a tad and puts torque / tension on the wall. When the walls are dusty, there is the potential for the surfaces to delaminate (come apart), leaving you with seams that gap and curl back. These cannot be glued back down, because the surface underneath is unstable and provides nothing for the paste to adhere to.

So next the contractor primed the walls. There was no mention of what primer he used. But I can tell you that primers formulated for paint are not advisable under wallpaper. PVA-based primers are commonly used under paint; they are designed to keep the paint from flashing. But they are soft and don’t provide a stable surface for wallpaper.

Primers formulated for wallpaper are designed to 1.) adhere to the underlying surface, 2.) provide a “crystalized” surface that the wallpaper paste can bite into and grab ahold of, 3.) provide a surface with “slip,” which will ease installation of the new wallpaper, 4.) allow for easier removal of the wallpaper later, with minimal damage to the wall, and 5.) withstand the torque / tension created by the drying wallpaper.

Ask a contractor or painter if he knows any of the information in the paragraph above. You will receive a blank stare.

All more reasons to NOT let the contractor prep the walls for paint.

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Heavily Textured Wall – Venetian Plaster

April 13, 2018


A few years ago, this wall finish was quite popular. There are different levels of thickness, but the general name for the style is Venetian Plaster. To me, this looks rustic and “Tuscan,” yet people were putting it in modern homes, and even Victorian styled homes. Today it’s out of style, and people are going back to wallpaper.

The walls will have to be smoothed again, before wallpaper can be applied. Because this particular example is especially thick, it will take a lot of smoothing compound and a lot of drying time.

The second photo shows the wall after I applied the smoothing compound. It had to dry overnight, with three fans set at ‘high’ blowing on it. In the third photo you see all the dust on the baseboard and floor, from sanding the wall smooth. This is way more than usual, because of the thickness of the original texture that I was covering up.

The last photo shows the wall after I sanded it and primed it. It’s now ready for wallpaper!

More Reasons NOT to Let the Painters Prep the Walls for Wallpaper

May 16, 2016
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This week, I got at least three calls / e-mails that declared: “Our painters prepped the walls for you, so everything is ready to go.” NOT TRUE! Painters are good at painting, and at prepping walls and woodwork for paint. For PAINT. So why would you have them prep the walls for WALLPAPER?

I run into this a lot. I think the painters are at the house working on something else (like PAINT), and they want to pick up a little extra money, so they tell the homeowners that they can prep the walls for the paperhanger. Folks – don’t fall for it. Let the wallpaper professional do what he / she is good at. Let the WALLPAPER HANGER prep the walls, not the painter (or anyone else).

Here’s what I encountered today. The walls in this bathroom were originally textured. The painters (or contractor or some other worker) skim floated the walls to smooth them. They did a decent job. In the middle of the walls.

But look closer. These guys did not bother to remove the switch plates or the light fixtures (top photo), so there are rough areas under where the new wallpaper will go, plus a difference in height of the wall surface. I always remove towel bars and light fixtures and smooth the wall as completely as possible.

They also did not get the smoothing compound tightly into corners or along the ceiling and baseboards (second photo). This leaves a gap or jagged area where the wallpaper is supposed to be trying to hold onto the wall. Not good at all. I ask myself, “Is this a good bed for the wallpaper to lie in?” What you see in the photo is not. I always squish the smoothing compound into the corner, and then take my finger and run it along there, like you would with caulk, creating a smooth transition, which gives the wallpaper something solid to grab ahold of.

The painters did a good job of sanding the walls smooth, but they did not wipe dust off the walls. Nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. These things will “kinda” stick, but once tension / torque is put on the wall (by drying / shrinking paint or wallpaper), the subsurface is likely to let go, resulting in peeling paint or curling seams. It is imperative that sanding dust be wiped off the wall with a damp sponge, rinsed frequently, before paint or wallpaper are applied.

One e-mail I got the week stated that the painters had “prepped the walls” (whatever that means), and then applied KILZ 2 as a primer. “These guys prep walls for a high-end interior designer all the time, and this is what they use.” But why would you not ask the paperhanger who is going to hang the paper which primer he / she prefers? KILZ 2 is a sealer and stain blocker. It is not a wallpaper primer. It was developed as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to KILZ Original, but is not nearly as good. It is also latex, which is not a good choice under wallpaper.

Once a product is on the wall, it’s on there. You can’t get it off. So you can only go over it with something more suitable. This results in more and more layers piled up on the wall, some of which may be compatible and may adhere to one another, and some of which may not. Now put paste, wallpaper, and tension-while-drying on top of that. See where this is going?

If you want to have your painter prep the walls for wallpaper – go ahead. But as I tell my clients: You can pay your painter to “prep the walls,” but you’re going to pay me to do it over again.

Peeling Paint – What Is Going On?

May 8, 2016

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I was “undressing” a bathroom today, to get all the fixtures off the wall so I could put up the new wallpaper. When I removed the hand towel ring, paint from the wall stuck to it, and pulled away from the wall. Latex paint peeling away from the wall like the skin of a balloon.

Why did this happen? Probably because whoever applied the paint used a cheap brand and put it over some other cheap paint. The paints were not able to bond together for a tight hold.

Another possibility is that the room had undergone renovations, which left dust on the walls, and when paint was applied over the dust, a tenuous bond resulted, which gave way the first time it was tested (by me pulling off the towel ring).

Moral: Properly prepare the wall, by removing all dust (with a damp sponge, rinsed frequently), using the right primer, and then following up with a good quality paint, properly applied. Waiting for the paint to dry and cure before attaching towel bars will also help keep these fixtures from getting stuck in the paint.

Smoothing Textured Walls Means There Will Be Dust

February 21, 2016

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Wallpaper looks best, and adheres best, when it is hung on a smooth wall. To smooth a textured wall, joint compound (similar to plaster) is troweled onto the wall, allowed to dry, sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, and then primed. Then it’s ready for wallpaper.

The sanding process, though, does make dust. And it’s a fine, white, powdery dust, that sifts and drifts. My ShopVac does a good job of getting it up, and then I wipe up any reside with a damp cloth.

Keeping Dust Out of the Client’s Home

August 31, 2015
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I do a lot of floating walls (smoothing textured walls, so the bumps don’t show through the surface of the wallpaper). This entails sanding, and sanding always means dust.

In a powder room, not a biggie – I just close the door, sand, and then vacuum up the dust. But in open areas, dust can float all over the room. To contain the dust, I put up a curtain of painter’s plastic. It works great, and homeowners stay happy.