Posts Tagged ‘dust’

Contractor Prepped Walls – But Left Dust

November 20, 2022
I usually insist on prepping the walls for wallpaper. But we had a time crunch here, and the homeowner asked her paint contractor to strip the old wallpaper and smooth the walls.
He did a good enough job of skim-floating and sanding the walls smooth.
Unfortunately, he neglected to wipe residual dust off the walls.
The problem is that nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. Over time, stress, humidity, and other factors can cause the wallpaper to expand and contract, which puts tension on the seams. This tension tugs at the seams , and if the wall surface underneath is unstable ( dusty ), the layers can pull apart ( delaminate ), and you end up with failing seams.
So I wiped down every square inch of wall, using a sponge and bucket of water. I rinsed the sponge frequently, to prevent build up of dust on the sponge.
Here’s drywall dust wiped off in just a few swipes. In the background, you can see tracks of my damp sponge along the wall. These damp areas will need to dry thoroughly before I can apply my wallpaper primer. A heat gun helps speed that process along.
One fear that I have is because, as you see in the photo, the contractor spray painted the woodwork, and in so doing, got a lot of overspray onto the wall. This can be painted over without much problem.
But, as mentioned above, putting wallpaper over this can open a can of worms.
Even with a good wallpaper primer underneath, the drying / shrinking wallpaper can put stress on the seams. If the wall underneath is dusty, the layers may let loose of one another and result in a popped seam .

Smoothing Over Holes and Bumps

October 8, 2022
The artwork and hanger have been removed, but this wall anchor remains in the drywall . It will leave a bump under the new wallpaper . I removed it from the wall. That left a hole that will leave an indention under the new paper .
Here I’ve collected a bit of joint compound (we call it mud ), a plaster -like substance that’s used for installing drywall , as well as for patching holes and smoothing textured walls (called skim-floating or skim-coating )
Here it is applied over the hole.
To speed the drying process, I use my heat gun .
Using a sanding sponge to smooth it.
Wiping dust off with a damp sponge . Important, because neither primer nor wallpaper paste will adhere to dust .
After this dried , I primed over this area and the whole wall with wallpaper primer . I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .
Now the wall is ready for wallpaper, with no worries that bumps or dips will show through .

Tape Test for Unstable Walls

September 21, 2022

There can be reasons for unstable walls, mostly cheap or poor quality paint, dust, someone applied paint over dust, improper prep, incompatible layers inside the wall built up over years (oil based paint, latex paint, dust, gloss paint, joint compound, etc.).

These can cause problems with wallpaper, mostly with the layers delaminating (coming apart), which causes the wallpaper seams to come away from the wall. Sometimes sheets of wallpaper simply fall off the wall.

This isn’t so much a problem with paint, because it just sits on the surface. But wallpaper shrinks when the paste dries, or expands and contracts with humidity, and can put tension on the seams

Before wallpaper goes up, one way to test for such unstable surfaces is the tape test . Use a razor blade to cut an “X” into the wall, scoring through the paint and maybe into a few layers beneath. Place a strip of blue painters tape over the cut. Pull the tape off the wall.

If paint comes away from the wall along with the tape, or if layers inside the wall come apart, you know you have to do a lot of specialized prep to stabilize the wall before hanging / installing the wallpaper.

This example is an interesting twist. The homeowner used a piece of tape to hold up a wallpaper sample. Then used an ink pen to write notes on it. When removed, the tape took the paint off – in the shape of the writing!

Welcoming Room for Mother-in-Law

August 24, 2022
This young couple hosts the mother / mother-in-law a few times a year, and are lucky enough to have a private spare bedroom for her. To make it special, they wanted to jazz up the area a little. Enter this fun and whimsical wallpaper pattern .
The room before was a pretty shade of murky teal – but needed personality and warmth.
The wall started out with a light orange peel texture . I skim-floated the wall, and then sanded it smooth .
Along the baseboard at the floor , here’s the dust from sanding , along with the sanding sponge I use – this is a modern take on the idea of wrapping sandpaper around a block of wood .
I tack painter’s plastic across the wall from ceiling to floor to prevent dust from getting into the room or onto the furniture .
Here’s the wall smooth and primed , ready for wallpaper .
Since this is a dark wallpaper and I want to be sure that the white wall does not peek out from behind the seams, I stripe dark paint along the wall under where the seams will fall. Because non-woven papers don’t expand when wet with paste , it’s simple to measure the width of your strips and plot out where each seam will fall. Use the laser level as your guide . Do a Search here (upper right hand corner) to read more about this technique.
I use craft paint from Texas Art Supply (or any hobby store ), diluted with water from a Gatorade bottle cap , and applied with a scrap of sponge .
Further insurance is taking a chalk pastel (never oil pastel – oil bleeds and will stain wallpaper) and running it along the edge of the wallpaper strip – from the backside to avoid staining the surface – to cover the white substrate the wallpaper is printed on. This is to prevent white from peeking out at the seams , which can happen with dark papers.
Centering the first strip in the middle of the wall, and using my laser level to ensure the strip is nice and straight and plumb .
Note: The strip is not centered on the wall. The dominant pattern element is. Notice that the center of the dominant pattern motif – the white circular flower – is 3.5″ to the right of the left edge. This means that I had to position the left edge of the wallpaper 3.5″ to the left of the center of the wall, in order to get the round white flower to fall down the center of the wall.
When you look again at the finished photo, you’ll notice that the white flower falls down the middle of the walls, and that it also appears at equal distance from both the right and left walls.
Most people wouldn’t be able to put their finger on this symmetry , but it is something they subconsciously notice , and it lends a feeling of orderliness to the room.
As orderly as you can be, that is, with pigs dancing around the meadow dandelions !
Finished accent wall . The three other walls painted in blue were a bit of a surprise, because one would think the more dominant color of green would be used. But with so much green in the wallpaper, green on the walls, too, would have been too much, perhaps. I like the cool feeling that the blue creates .
There is plenty of the exact same blue in the wallpaper pattern to tie the walls and wallpaper together.
Close up shows the stamped printing technique .
You’ve gotta love a frolicking pig in a hand-knitted sweater!
This pattern is called Hoppet Folk and is in the Wonderland line by Borastapeter , a Scandinavian company .
It’s a nice, sturdy but flexible non-woven material that can be hung via the paste the wall installation method .
In addition, this product will strip off the wall easily and in one piece , with no damage to your walls, when it’s time to redecorate.
This is a very popular pattern, and I’ve hung it more times than I can count, just in the last two or three years. It does come in other colors – but most people gravitate toward this black version.
The townhome is in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

Smoothing Over A Mess

August 3, 2022
This kind homeowner had the sink / vanity in this powder room removed. This makes it a LOT easier and faster for me to to get the wallpaper up, and with less stress on the paper and fewer relief cuts .
Removing a sink that’s attached to the wall often damages the surface. Here you can see how the workman used spackle compound to cover the torn drywall and other damage.

s

Close-up. This isn’t a very smooth surface, and the wallpaper will have a hard time grabbing ahold and adhering. It’s also way too porous and crumbly to support wallpaper.
In the top photo, you see where I have applied smoothing compound on the upper portion of the wall. I’m working my way down.
Once it’s dry, I will sand and prime it, and it will be nice and smooth.
Here’s a shot of the fresh smoothing compound, before sanding.
Some people use a drywall taping knife or a broad knife to apply the plaster-like substance. I prefer the trowel you see in the photo, because it gives me more control and precision.
The 2″ flexible putty knife is for getting into smaller areas. The 3″ stiff ” Hyde ” putty knife is for knocking off high points or bumps on the wall before applying the smoothing compound.
This process is called skim-floating or skim-coating .
I like to use the Plus 3 lightweight joint compound made by Sheetrock . We just refer to it as mud . Find it in the drywall aisle.
The Plus 3 spreads on easily enough, sands easily , and the dust falls to the floor where it can be vacuumed up easily – as opposed to getting air-borne and drifting all over the place.
This box, which is approximately one cubic foot , weights 32 pounds . Ugh. Try carrying that across a parking lot and then up to the third floor of a townhome!
I like to transfer the material to a 5-gallon bucket. This is what it looks like in the bottom of the bucket.
Easy to scoop out. When I’m finished, I use a wet hand to smooth down the surface, wipe residue off the sides of the bucket, then place a thick sheet of plastic over the surface to keep air from drying it out. Then, of course, I put the lid onto the bucket.

Fun Fuzzy Flocked Faces – No Timid Walls Here!

July 30, 2022
Originally, the powder room was moody and posh , with black lacquered walls , ceiling , and woodwork, black toilet and sink, and that gorgeous etched mirror.
But the homeowner waned it to make a statement – and this wallpaper sure does!
Corner to left of door.
Same corner primed. Wallpaper paste won’t adhere wall to the glossy paint. My preferred primer, Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime , sticks to just about anything, provides a good base for the wallpaper , dries quickly , and facilitates removal of the wallpaper when it’s time to redecorate .
Same area with wallpaper.
Close-up .
Flocked means that the wallpaper has raised , fuzzy areas, something like velvet .
Just look at my work table at the end of the day!
I sure don’t want to transfer any of this to my next jobs, so I took extra care to remove all of this dust before packing up my equipment.
The design is called Croquis and is by Jean Paul Gaultier , and the brand is Lelievre , a French company.
The material is a user-friendly non-woven or paste the wall , and was nice to work with. It will strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.
The home is in the Spring Branch area of Houston .

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.