Posts Tagged ‘dust’

For All You Dreamers Who Think That Liner Will Smooth Texture Walls … NOT!

June 23, 2022
Some people have spent too much time on YouTube or DIY websites. There is a misconception that liner paper will smooth out textured walls.
Nope, sorry, it ain’t happenin.’
The special type of paper called liner is used under some wallpaper s, and serves certain functions. Smoothing walls is not one of them.
If you’re planning to hang wallpaper over textured walls, liner paper cannot be used as a replacement for skim-floating , sanding , priming , and properly prepping the walls .
As you can see in the photo, liner paper shrinks as the paste dries, and pulls tight against the wall. This means that little imperfections will show through.
In the photo above, a towel bar had been removed, and the support bracket had been stuck / recessed into the wall paint , so the indentation and ridges from the bracket were still evident on the wall.
Covering them with a wallpaper liner helped mitigate them a bit … but, as you can see, the raised outline of the mounting bracket is still visible.
The issue is that this raised area, covered with liner or not, will still ” telegraph ” through the new wallpaper, creating a noticeable and unpleasing look.
To properly smooth a textured wall before hanging wallpaper, the surface must be skim-floated with joint compound (also referred to as mud ), sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, and then primed. Now the wall should be smooth enough to provide a good surface for the new wallpaper.

Smoothing a Textured Wall, Continued

March 3, 2022
Continuing from yesterday’s post … The smoothing compound has dried and I’m ready to sand it smooth. This photo gives an idea of what needs to be sanded down. Some areas, such as around electrical outlets, are more irregular and have more raised areas to be sanded down.
Before I get to the sanding, a 3″ stiff putty knife comes in handy for scraping down high areas.
For decades, contractors wrapped sandpaper around a wooden block and used that to sand walls. Then, about 25 years ago, some genius invented these sanding sponges. They’re soft, flexible, easy-to-hold blocks covered with sanding fibers of various grits. They have angles that aid getting into various corners. I find that the edges can be a bit “pointy” and can gouge into the surface, so I often use a scissors to cut off the corners, as you see in all but the one on the far left.
Held against the actual wall.
Don’t forget a dust mask, to prevent inhaling the fine particles. And, yes, this is an N-95 … The same mask that protects us from ingesting the COVID 19 virus also protects the lungs of us home improvement contractors.
Manufacturers have done a good job of creating joint compound whose dust settles to the floor, rather than going air-borne and sifting all around the room. Still, it’s best to take measures to keep dust out of the rest of the home. Here I’ve hung a sheet of painter’s plastic across the wall, to contain sanding dust.
Once I’m done sanding, I’ll use my Shop Vac to clean up the mess, removing dust from both the floor and the walls.
It’s crucial that all dust be removed from the wall. If not, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper (or paint) will kinda stick – but not really stick. Vacuuming the wall will not remove all dust. The only way to remove all residual dust is to wipe it off the wall with a damp sponge.
Look at how much dust has accumulated on the sponge after only a few swipes.
The sponge needs to be rinsed clean frequently. Once I’m done, I’ll dump this bucket of dusty water down the toilet (not the sink).
Swipes from the damp sponge will leave wet marks on the wall. These need to dry before moving to the priming step, so as not to trap moisture within the wall surface.
Here I’m rolling on my favorite wallpaper primer, Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have my paint store guys add just a bit of blue tint, to help me see where I’ve rolled it on. The short angled brush is for cutting the paint in around corners and edges.
I’ve tacked strips of dropcloth along the top of the baseboards, to prevent splatters.
Finished wall, nice and smooth, primed, and ready for wallpaper.

Keeping Dust to a Minimum

February 5, 2022
Most homes in the Houston area have textured walls. These bumps are unsightly under wallpaper, and also interfere with consistent adhesion. So I like to skim-float the walls with drywall joint compound (I use the Plus 3 version) and then sand them smooth.
Sanding this stuff creates lightweight, powdery dust that sifts through the air and gets over everything. Homeowners tend to hate that. 🙂
So here I’ve created a ” tent ” out of painter’s plastic along the walls where I will be sanding. This creates a pretty darned effective barrier that prevents dust from getting into the rest of the room.
Here’s the dust created by smoothing just the top 5′ of wall area. And my ShopVac to clean it all up.
I find it easiest to let the dust fall onto the floor and even the carpet. It’s easy to vacuum dust up off these surfaces. Dropcloths and plastic tend to get sucked up into the vacuum hose, and the dust doesn’t come with it. I once tried protective self-adhesive plastic that’s made to cover carpet … but it was extremely difficult to unroll, plus, it was even more difficult to get back off the floor. I truly feared it would pull off the surface finish of the floor along with it.
The vacuum gets most of the dust. But there is still a fine, invisible layer left on surfaces. So you need to take a damp rag and wipe the floor.
I also vacuum the walls. After the visible dust is gone, it’s imperative that you take a damp sponge and wipe residual dust off the walls. You have to rinse the sponge frequently to get all the dust. If not, it’s like, as I like to say, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper will kinda stick – but not really stick.
Once the walls are perfectly dust-free and dry, follow up with a wallpaper primer.
Then go and hang your wallpaper!

You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd …

February 2, 2022

And you can’t hang wallpaper when the house isn’t ready!

The poor homeowners of this completely renovated bungalow in the Houston Heights have had delays of up to nearly a year. Some COVID and supply-chain related. But lots more due to … well, due to tasks just not getting done. The mom pressed the contractor hard to be sure the space would be ready for wallpaper today. But as soon as I pulled up, I knew it wasn’t gonna happen.

No A/C and no heat = humidity = not good for wallpaper

Workmen in the area (my specs specify no one else on-site)

Workmen’s ladders blocking my access to rooms I am supposed to paper

Workmen’s power tools blasting noise = disrupts concentration

No running water in the house (I need to keep paper and woodwork clean)

Floors need to be sanded = dust getting onto the walls / wallpaper

High probability that someone will get handprints, paint, or other on the new paper

Yard is a mudpit = not good carrying my 50lb bucket of paste or 7′ long table back and forth

House not secure and likelihood of tools and equipment “walking off” esp. overnight

No one but me wearing a COVID-conscious mask

So, no wallpaper went up today. At first I thought I could at least get the primer up. But various factors made that not viable.

A day of work lost for me. For the rest of the week, I will have to try to find other clients who can be ready on 1-day’s notice. And reschedule these folks for later down the road.

This is a big disappointment for the homeowners, who are very much wanting the work to be finished and to move into their lovely new home.

Oh, and song lyrics compliments of Roger Miller, 1965.

Another Calm and Quiet Bathroom

January 29, 2022
Textured walls have been skim-floated and sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, primed, and are ready for wallpaper.
For the master bathroom, the homeowner again chose a symmetrical, fanciful, woodland themed design in muted tones of cream on tan.
The overall look is balanced and calm.
I added the paper towel cushions to the cabinet handles on the left, to prevent them from slamming into and marring the new wallpaper.
Close-up shows the unique light texture of raised ink on this material.
The manufacturer is Schumacher, pattern name is Chenoceau. Usually I don’t like this brand, but this paper was actually pretty nice to work with. It does not have a protective coating, so the homeowner will need to be careful with splashes of water and toiletries to prevent staining, and to not let damp towels hang against the wallpaper.

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.