Posts Tagged ‘edges’

Updating a ’60’s Dining Room – But Staying True to Mid Century Modern

November 1, 2018

I love all things vintage, and have a keen fondness for old wallpaper in particular. So it really hurt to strip off this beautiful (albeit kitschy) mural – the original installed on one wall of a dining room in this 1960 home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston.

The new homeowners, a young couple, had a more modern vision for the look of their home. This very whimsical “Franz” design feels both modern and mid-century at the same time. And, it perfectly mirrors the thin linear gold lines of the chandelier.

The wallpaper is by a company I had not heard of before – Half Full. It is based in California, and their products are reasonably priced. Unlike many “boutique” manufactures, the company was able to provide sensible product information over the phone, and I was pleased with the quality of their wallpaper.

The surface was printed with a clay-coated ink, and the substrate felt like a pulp material. Installation instructions called for a typical vinyl adhesive, and standard booking times. The material – particularly the edges – did tend to dry out a little too quickly, but a little additional pasting helped with that. There was no detectable shrinkage. I do wish they had printed this black design on a dark substrate, because, even though I used chalk to color the edges of the paper, the white paper backing did show through at the seams just a smidgeon.

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Difficult Hang Today – Lots of Work to Get Good Seams

June 17, 2018



I don’t recall ever having seen a wallpaper product labeled “heavyweight paper” before. I wasn’t thrilled with this stuff. It was thick, and that made it difficult to work with. I prefer thin papers because they form to the walls better. This paper didn’t have any coating on it, so it is not any more durable than a thinner paper, so I don’t see the reason for the “heavyweight” treatment.

And any time you apply paste and the edges of the paper curl backward (Photo 1), you know you are in for a tough install.

The room was already prepped, and it was just 9 single rolls on an easy top of a dining room – no tricky moldings to trim around, no toilets to reach beind, no awkward spaces to situate the ladder in… It should have taken 5-6 hours. Instead I toiled for 12 hours.

I hung three strips, and wasn’t happy with the two seams between them. They pouched just a little and would not lie down flat. (Photo 2) With strong light coming in from the windows, the seams looked bad. There was no way of knowing how the seams would look once the paper was good and dry. But for now, I couldn’t stand the look, and I didn’t want to leave the homeowners with these pouchy seams.

I removed two of those strips, refreshed the paste, and kept them “open” by placing them in a plastic trash bag so they would remain useable (we didn’t have a lot of paper to spare). I ran to the truck and got supplies so I could double cut new seams (splice on the wall). I needed a special trim guide, and a special polystyrene padding strip to protect the wall so that the razor blade wouldn’t score into it (which could compromise the surface and lead to delamination of layers … too complicated to get into here, but you can do a Search and read previous posts on this subject).

From then on, instead of using the factory edges for seams, I double cut. Double cutting involves padding the wall behind where the seam will be, overlapping the new strip onto the old strip while carefully matching the pattern, and then using the handled straightedge and a sharp new razor blade to cut through both layers of paper. Then you peel back the paper at the newly cut seam and remove the two thin strips of excess paper that were just cut off. Then you remove the plastic padding strip.

Now you can put the edges of the freshly cut new seam back together. Because they were cut into each other, they will fit together perfectly. But because the padding strip has some thickness, the two newly cut edges are now a teeny tad wider than needed, so you’ll have to do some finessing to get the seam to butt together, instead of pouching up just a bit.

Because one strip of pasted paper overlapped onto another, once the excess paper strips are removed, there will be paste residue left on a 1″-2″ edge of one of the wallpaper drops. This has to be washed off with a damp microfiber rag, and you will have to rinse the rag and wash the wall several times to get all the residue off.

And all of this has to be done on a time frame, because while you’re working on one seam, the edges of the next are rapidly drying out, which is a whole new can of worms.

My finished double cut seams were perfect. (Photo 3)

But after I had worked my way around the room a bit, I looked back at the first wall, and saw that, as the paper dried, it shrank just a little. This left a visible gap between the two strips. (Photo 4) This gap isn’t visible from a distance, and it’s not visible if you look at the walls at an angle. But if you are standing three feet away and looking head-on, you will see the gap. I think it’s too much.

Oh, and, one more thing … the paper was easily marred if it was touched by any bit of metal. (Photo 5) Scissors, straight edge, trim guide, even the metal eraser housing on the end of my pencil would leave a grey mark if it happened to rub against the wallpaper. Most of these marks would wipe off, but not all of them. And wiping the paper leads to abrasion, so you want to avoid overdoing it. I worry about how the wallpaper might be marked up when the homeowners innocently go about hanging their art and mirror.

Considering what the homeowners paid for the wallpaper and installation, I think they should have a better outcome than this. This paper is manufactured by Thibaut. Thibaut makes many types of wallpaper, and most of them are lovely to work with, and they perform well. It makes you wonder why they would use this “heavyweight” stock, which produces a less-than-desireable outcome.

Curved Walls, Bull Nosed Edges

December 23, 2017


This is a beautiful entry to a new home in Sugarland. But to a wallpaper hanger, it presents many challenges.

First are the bull-nosed, or rounded, corners. When wallpaper ends on one of these corners, it’s very hard to get straight, neat cuts, because, with the paper hanging over the corner, it’s impossible to see where you are cutting. The walls were far from plumb, so I couldn’t use a level or shoot a line with my laser level. I have a tool that helps as a guide, but it slips and is not 100% accurate. And my pencil line on the dark paper was almost impossible to see.

It’s also hard for the wallpaper to grab and hold tight when it has to turn around a round corner. And double so because, while I smoothed the walls, I was unable to smooth them to the exact vertical line along the rounded corners where the wallpaper would end. That means that the wallpaper was left to adhere to 1/8″ or so of fairly heavily textured wall surface. That leaves less area for the paper to stick to, meaning that there may be some visual gaps, and also the worries that the paper may let go and curl back down the road, as well as some bumps showing under the paper.

The rounded walls made for difficulty, too. It’s fairly easy to make flat walls perfectly flat. But even highly skilled drywallers have a hard time making walls perfectly even all the way around. If you paint the walls, it’s no problem, because paint will go anywhere. But wallpaper wants to fall straight, and won’t conform to walls that have bows or bulges or womps or the like. You can end up with wrinkles or areas that won’t lie flat or edges that warp out of shape.

All this was compounded by the height of the walls – 12′. The greater the wall height, the more chance the walls will be bowed or out of plumb or have other issues.

Regular paper can be stretched a little to accommodate these irregularities, but there’s a chance it will pull apart and gap a tad at the seams when it dries. This particular paper was a non-woven material, which is even less pliable. It was supposed to be a paste-the-wall procedure, but I opted to paste the paper, which wet it more and gave it more flexibility. Sill, I did notice a teeny bit of gapping at the seams as it dried. It will take several days to dry completely, so we will have to wait and see how it holds up.

In case of gapping at the seams, to minimize any of the white wall showing, I striped black paint behind where the seams would fall, as you see in the top photo. That’s a good trick, but it is testy, too, because paint is designed to look pretty, and does not have the type of surface that wallpaper is formulated to grab ahold of. So far, though, my paint is sticking to the wall, and the paper is staying down nice and flat.

Another thing with a circular room is – where is the end point? If there are no corners, where do you end the pattern? I was lucky on this one, because I had about 8′ linear of wall that was only 12″ high. And because the paper was dark and the pattern was pretty small and crazy and hard to see. So on that 12″ high area, I just brought the left side of the paper around the room to meet up with the right side, and overlapped the two last strips and spliced them together. The pattern doesn’t match, but there’s no way anyone could ever see – not from 12′ down on the ground.

This wallpaper is by Eijffinger, and is made to order in the Netherlands and takes several weeks to arrive. It was very nice to work with. I hope that next time I encounter this brand, it will be on a nice, flat, predictable wall. It was bought at below retail price from 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.

Grasscloth in a West Houston Study

November 17, 2017

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This couple wanted the textural look of grasscloth for their study, in a newish home near Cross Creek Ranch and Cinco Ranch, a bit southwest of Houston. The pattern they chose is a medium-fine grass in a pretty uniform color. With fine grass, you don’t notice as much the mis-match of the fibers at every seam.

The grass fibers have been sewn onto the front of the wallpaper. But the black backing is less homogenous, and exhibits variations in its color. These are the horizontal differences in color that you see in the pictures.

Some of these color variations spill onto the surface of the material, too. These can be especially evident as swathes of darker colored dye on the outer edges of the wallpaper. (See photo)

Overall, this product looks very good. People who like grasscloth love the texture of the natural material. And they like the “organic look” of visible seams, mis-matched pattern (there is no pattern to match!), and the color variations at the edges and within the strips.

I believe the manufacturer of this grasscloth is York.

Coloring the Edges of Dark Wallpaper

November 6, 2016
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Some conscientious wallpaper manufacturers print their dark colorways on a black or otherwise colored stock, but most wallpapers are printed on white substrate. If the surface of the wallpaper is dark, there is always the possibility (or, likelihood), that, when the seams are butted against one another, the white edges of the stock backing will show.

To help prevent this, I use chalk pastels to color the edges of the wallpaper strips. The color should be applied from the back side of the wallpaper, and with a light touch. Chalk that gets on the surface can be easily wiped off. The chalk won’t interfere with the paste, nor with adhesion. It does take time, though.

Stay away from oil pastels, because they can bleed into wallpaper and stain it, often taking many months to do so.

This wallpaper is by “Grow House Grow,” an on-line company.

Chirpy Birds and Cheery Color for a Little Girl’s Room

June 16, 2016
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Today I hung this bright, happy paper on an accent wall in a little girl’s bedroom, in the Highland Village area of Houston. It sure changed the all-white room into something cheery and fun!

The paper is in the EcoChic line of WallQuest. It was a little thicker and stiffer than most of the EcoChic papers I have worked with before, and I would have preferred the thinner paper. I also was not happy with the edges that got banged up in shipping – but they pretty well flatten out as the paper dries. The paper doesn’t have a coating, and it will stain easily, so the family will have to be careful to avoid touching it or splashing it. But since it’s behind the headboard, it will be well protected.

The paper was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Old World Look for a West University Dining Room

July 16, 2015
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This new home in West University Place (Houston) has a lot of elegant features, like intricate moldings, oak hardwood floors, and crystal chandeliers. So this somewhat old-world looking wallpaper was the perfect choice for the dining room. (Top two photos)

The house is new, though, and has the rounded / bull-nosed corners and arches that have been popular for the last 10 years or so. These corners may look great, but they are the Devil to trim wallpaper against!

I have a few tricks that help get an accurate cut. One of them is the laser level, which you can see shooting a perfectly vertical line right a the edge of the rounded corner, so I know where to place my straightedge and do my trimming. Of course, you have to choose your corner – the one in the photo is true to plumb. But two other corner edges were off-plumb by a significant amount. The pattern was forgiving, though, and I was able to tweak it here an there, and keep everything looking perfectly straight and plumb.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers and was perfectly lovely to work with. The homeowners bought it bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.