Posts Tagged ‘dust’

Smoothing Textured Walls = Sanding Dust

May 19, 2021

This master bedroom had textured walls that needed to be smoothed before the wallpaper could go up. (Texture looks bad under the new wallpaper, plus it interferes with good adhesion.)

I “skim-floated” the walls with drywall joint compound (what we call “mud”). This is akin to troweling on plaster.

Once that was dry, I sanded the walls smooth. In the first photo, you see the amount of dust that is created!

In the second photo are my “sanding sponges.” Some are coarse, some are fine, and one is angled, all with specific uses. These became available maybe 25 years ago, and are a huge improvement over the sandpaper-wrapped-around-a-block-of-wood that everyone used previously.

The putty knife is used to knock off big globs or high ridges, before hitting the wall with the sanding sponges.

Actually, I used to use a hand-held electric sander. That tool was fast, but it put a whole lot of dust into the air, and it traveled all over the room.

The sanding sponges are hand-operated and don’t throw dust up into the air. Also, manufacturers have made improvements to the joint compound formula which encourage the dust to sink to the floor rather than become air-borne.

You still end up with a lot of dust, though. And it does sift all over the room.

No problem. I simply bring in my Shop Vac (not pictured) and vacuum up all the dust. There’s still residual dust, so I use a damp rag to wipe dust off the floor, and a damp sponge to remove dust from the walls. (Important, because wallpaper will not adhere to a dusty wall).

Note that the photo shows an empty room. In rooms that have furniture, I cover it with painter’s plastic. And in most situations, which are usually one accent wall, I put up a sheet of plastic along the wall, draped from ceiling to floor, which contains dust to the 3′ along the wall, and prevents dust from getting to the rest of the room.

I also want to note that I am a big proponent of drop cloths. The reason you don’t see them in this scenario is because you can’t vacuum dust off a dropcloth, because the dropcloth gets sucked up into the vacuum nozzel. Much easier to vacuum dust up off a solid floor, and then wipe up any residue.

I also want to note that all my ladders wear “booties” / baby socks on the feet, to cushion the client’s floors and protect against scratches.

Paint Pulling Off Wall Where Tape Was Removed – Surface Stability Test

May 12, 2021
Paint pulling off wall where tape was removed.
Paint pulling off wall when painters tape was removed.
Paint pulled off wall and stuck to back of tape that was pulled off wall on new construction site.

It’s important to have a stable surface under wallpaper.

That’s because, when wallpaper gets wet with paste, absorbs moisture from the paste, and it expands. Then, as it dries, it lets go of the moisture and shrinks. When wallpaper dries and shrinks, it puts tension / torque on the walls.

If the surface under the wallpaper is not stable, the tension of the drying wallpaper can cause the underlying surface to pull away.

This photo is not showing the wallpaper pulling away from the wall. What is happening (usually) is that the paint (or whatever has been applied to the wall), has actually delaminated (come apart) from the wall.

This results in a “curled” seam, or a “popped” seam.

One way to test for this is to apply a strip of tape (blue painters tape, tan masking tape, clear Scotch tape, or other), let it sit a few minutes, and then yank it off. If the tape takes any paint along with it, you have a potential problem of the wallpaper not adhering correctly.

This is why it’s important to:

1, Before applying any coating, you must remove all dust from the wall, using a damp sponge, which must be rinsed frequently

2, Before hanging paper, a primer formulated specifically for wallpaper should be applied / rolled on and cut in to edges

A wallpaper-specific primer is designed to withstand the torque put on the wall as wallpaper dries. And it facilitates installation by allowing sufficient “slip” (maneuvering the paper) and “stick” (adhesion). The chemistry behind all this is fascinating – but too complicated to get into here.

If a wall is too “iffy,” and you don’t feel like the mess and expense of scraping off all the old paint, a liner can be applied before the actual wallpaper is hung.

A liner lessens the drying time of the wallpaper, which reduces the time there will be stress on the wall. A liner also redistributes stress on the wall, so much less chance of having seems detach from the wall.

A liner also adds additional cost to the job – for both material and labor, which may include an additional day(s).

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

May 5, 2021

In my previous post, the wall had the thick, knock-down texture that is typical in new tract homes in the Houston area. You can’t hang wallpaper on this texture, because it looks bad under the paper, and because it interferes with good adhesion.

The solution is to “skim-float” the walls with joint compound, a.k.a. “mud,” which is much like plaster. The mud needs time to dry. When the texture on the walls is super heavy, as in this home, I usually let the smoothing compound dry overnight. That does add an extra day – and an extra day’s cost – to the job.

To save these homeowners from paying for that extra day, we pulled out all the stops. In this photo, you see my two box fans and my heavy-duty black floor fan blasting away at the wall. In addition, we have the room’s ceiling fan. And, in the lower left corner, the homeowner added his yellow “squirrel cage” fan.

Once the wall got half-way dry, I used my heat gun – the yellow gizmo you see lying on the dropcloth, which I call “The Great Persuader” – to speed up the drying process in stubborn areas.

Still, it took a long time for the wall to completely dry. Next I had to sand the “mud” smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then apply a primer.

Start to finish, all that prep, plus hanging the paper – a whole 3.1 strips in 35 sq. ft. of space – took nearly eight hours.

Mess Stripping Wallpaper

February 6, 2021

Over the years, this powder room ended up with at least four layers of wallpaper. Some had been stripped down to the backing layer before the next layer went up, sometimes a primer was used, and in other cases, the installer simply plopped the new paper on top of the old.

The homeowners attempted to remove the multiple layers of paper. This mess would have been difficult to begin with, but, to complicate things, unfortunately, they pulled some bad information off the Internet. You can see how the use of a “paper tiger” scoring tool caused damage to the wallpaper as well as to the surface underneath – and didn’t help at all to loosen the old wallpaper.

My solution was to peel off the top layer of vinyl paper – the brownish striped faux finished pattern in the upper left of the photo. Then I used a sponge and lots of water to soak the tan backing until the paste reactivated and the paper could be scraped off the wall.

I would have preferred to also take off the layers of paper that remained underneath. But time was a consideration, and also the likelihood of damage to the wall surface. And I wasn’t sure if there was drywall or plaster under there.

So I used the product Gardz to seal off the revealed wallpaper. (Do a Search here on the word ‘Gardz” to learn more about this ingenious product.) Once that was dry, I skim-floated over the entire surface, to create a new, plaster-like layer. That was allowed to dry overnight.

The next day, I sanded this skim-float layer smooth. Because the smoothing compound had to be applied thickly, this resulted in a massive amount of dust. Luckily, it was all contained in the powder room, and was easily vacuumed up.

Then I used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This was followed by another coat of Gardz – a product that soaks in, dries hard, and effectively seals the surface. It’s a good sealer for new skim-coat, and it also works nicely as a primer under wallpaper.

With fans blowing on it, it dries quickly, and I was able to start hanging paper in an hour or so.

Over Prepared??

January 16, 2021

I need to smooth the textured walls in this home’s powder room. I told the homeowner that sanding the smoothing compound would involve some dust.

The powder room is down the hall and, of course, I would keep the door closed, vacuum up all the dust, and wipe the walls and floors free of dust.

The night before my arrival, the homeowner – who has had bad experiences with dust during remodels in previous houses – did this.

In two short hours, she plastic ‘ed over nearly every surface on the first and second floors.

She said she had to use up her pent-up nervous energy due to watching the unfolding of the Capitol siege on January 6th.

And, no – my wall smoothing did not begin to get any dust out into the public areas of the home.

But – it never hurts to be prepared. 🙂

Smoothing Suburban Heavily Textured Walls

November 1, 2020


In the tract homes in new subdivision developments all around Houston, it’s very common that the builder will use a heavy wall texture like this. You can’t hang wallpaper on this, because the bumps and dips will look horrible under the paper, and also they will impede good adhesion.

So the walls will need to be smoothed. This is accomplished by “skim-floating” or “skim-coating” the walls with joint compound. I do my own prep. And, as I like to say, I’m better at it than any “guy” you can hire. 🙂

The third photo shows the wall with half in original condition, and half with the smoothing compound applied over it.

Some people use a wide taping knife to spread the “mud,” as we call it. But I prefer the trowel shown in the fourth photo, because I am closer to it and can see everything that I am doing, and also I feel the position of the handle gives me better manual control.

Sometimes, using fans and playing with the A/C or heat systems, the compound will dry in a couple of hours. But with texture this heavy, the material must be left to dry overnight.

Tomorrow morning, I will sand the walls smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then roll on a primer. Once that dries (again, call in the fans!), the wallpaper can go up. The second-to-last photo shows it finished and ready for wallpaper.

The last photo shows the brand I prefer, USG’s Sheetrock brand “Plus 3,” which you can find at most big box stores and most paint stores. It sands a lot more easily than the standard joint compound in the red, white, and green box.

Paint Must Be De-Glossed Before Adding A New Coat On Top

September 29, 2020


The original paint in both these photos was a gloss or semi-gloss. When it came time to update, someone applied a coat of new paint right on top. Then the floor guys came and stained the floor. To protect the new paint, they applied painter’s tape. Unfortunately, when the tape was removed, it took some of the new paint along with it.

Believe it or not, even something as relatively gentle as wiping wallpaper paste off the woodwork is enough to cause poorly-adhered paint to delaminate.

This happens because the new coat of paint was not given a sound surface to grab ahold of and adhere to.

To have properly prepared the original gloss paint to accept the new coat of white paint, the painter should have done one or more of the below:

1.) Sanded the paint to knock off the gloss. This leaves dust residue, so that dust will need to be wiped off with a damp rag or sponge (rinsed clean frequently) or a Tack Cloth.

2.) Wiped down with liquid chemical deglosser, such as Liquid Sandpaper.

3.) Primed with a bonding primer, formulated to stick to glossy surfaces, and also formulated to serve as an appropriate base for the new paint.

A primer is also not a bad idea to follow up in the case of 1.) and 2.) above.

Yes, all of this is a whole lot of work, and it creates dust and/or odors, takes more time, and adds cost.

But it’s a step well worth the investment, because properly prepped and painted surfaces will hold up and look professional for decades to come.

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.)