Posts Tagged ‘edges’

“Priming” Wall With Paste to Keep Seams Down Tight

August 3, 2021
Hard to see, but the slightly darker, shiny section of wall to the left of the wallpaper is a bit of paste that I have rolled onto the wall along where a seam will lie.
The paste has pulled the edges of the paper nice and tight to the wall. Never mind the slight pattern mis-match … this is a hand screen print, and it’s pretty common for these to be slightly off in printing and/or trimming. The pattern matched better above the door, then drifted off as the paper neared the bottom of the strip. You can also see that some of the edges are somewhat jagged and saw-dusty, due to trimming at the factory.

Some manufacturers use inks that fight with their substrates. The substrate absorbs moisture from the paste and expands, but the inked layer does not, so you end up with the bottom layer stretching and forcing the top layer to curl back, resulting in edges that curl and don’t stay tight to the wall.

Any time you smell ink that calls to mind mothballs, you can expect to deal with this issue. It’s pretty common with screen printed wallpapers.

One trick is to lightly sponge the surface with water before pasting the back. Another, which I have discussed here previously, is to paste the paper, fold and book it, and then dip the rolled-up edges into 1/4″ of clean water. Then place the rolled up strip into a plastic trash bag for the booking period. This helps to keep the edges from drying out while the paper books.

On many papers, I’ve found that it also helps to roll a light coat of paste onto the wall, just under where the seams will fall. This works amazingly well to grab the edges and hold them tightly against the wall.

Bright Pink Girl Cave

July 28, 2021
Before
Done
Complicated by rounded edges, plus contrary qualities of the wallpaper, it took me four hours to get paper around these windows.
“Feather Palm” is the pattern name
Manufacturer is Milton & King

When the kids grow up and move out, Mom moves in! This is to be her “girl-cave” or sanctuary. The wallpaper went on just two walls of the room.

She will add pops of pink and other strong colors around the room, to make the look cohesive.

This is a non-woven material and a paste-the-wall product. But, for the area around the windows, wrapping around those bull-nosed edges, I found it better to paste the paper. For the rest of the room, I used the paste-the-wall method.

The contemporary style home is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

Nice Trim Solution for Bull-Nosed Corners

July 7, 2021
To the left is the wall to be papered. The white area to the right is the rounded edge of the wall corner. The brown strip is the wood trim.
The white on the left is the rounded corner of the wall. The wood trim makes a nice, straight edge against which to trim the wallpaper. It also eliminates the possibility of the paper curling away from the rounded edge.

These bull-nosed or rounded corners have been popular in new homes for more than 10 years now. They may look trendy, but they are the dickens to trim wallpaper along.

You can’t see where you’re trying to trim, it’s hard to trim straight, some thick or stiff papers don’t want to adhere to rounded edges, a textured wall can’t be smoothed exactly to where the trimming will take place – just for starters.

Today’s client had a good idea; to have a strip of wooden trim added along both the sides and the top of this door opening. It made my day much easier, and it ensures a neat trim line and removes worries of the paper pulling loose.

I’m going to keep the photo, in hopes of encouraging other homeowners to try this.

Wallpaper on Bull-Nosed Window Arch

February 24, 2021

The bull-nosed edges / rounded corners that have been popular for the last 10 years or more are a snafu for wallpaper. But when you add an arch, it gets much more complicated.

Wallpaper won’t wrap around and then under these arched areas smoothly and seamlessly, because you need to make relief cuts, or cut notches. Then you end up with V-shaped gaps.

There are several approaches to dealing with these. There are issues like ridges caused by overlaps. Paper not wanting to grasp onto and hold tight to a curved edge. irregularities in the curve.

I’ve been impressed with what many of my colleagues have done. But, as for me, well, I’ll be happy when these awkward and impossible rounded edges and curved arches go the way of the dinosaur.

For this particular room, I was lucky because the pattern was wild and non-specific enough that I could get creative.

I wrapped and then trimmed the paper to about 3/4″ around and under the rounded edge.

I could have cut a long skinny piece to fit the underside of the arched area. But that would have resulted in a pattern mis-match where the skinny strip met up with the rolled edge.

I opted for a variation on this theme, and used the branches and tree limbs in the pattern to my advantage.

So I cut a long skinny strip (actually, a number of shorter strips that I would meld into one long strip). But I plotted my cuts so the edge of the strip would run along a tree branch in the design. I had to choose specific branches that didn’t have birds sitting on them, because I didn’t want to chop any birds in half. Leaves, yes. Birds, no. 🙂

The branches also had to have at least 5″ of “open” space next to them, to fill the area between the rounded edge and the window glass without cutting off any birds or important design motifs.

The next photos will show you what I did. I had to do some tweaking. In the end, the finished arch looks pretty darned natural.

Cushioning The Ends Of Natural Material Wallpaper

February 20, 2021

Wallpaper looks best when it arrives from the vendor with its edges just as the manufacturer trimmed them. Then you can count on it to seam up on the wall perfectly.

But it’s common for packages of wallpaper to get slammed around during shipping. This usually affects the edges, creating bashed areas that don’t look good on your walls.

Natural materials (cork, as pictured above, or grasscloth, or other natural, textured materials) – these materials are particularly susceptible to dents and fraying edges.

To nip this bud before it becomes a thorny rose, many manufacturers are placing these round protective collars (see photo) on the ends of their product, before packing for shipping.

They work pretty well. Plus, the collars themselves are made of paper, and can go into the recycling bin.

Danged Banged Edges!

August 26, 2020


This family bought their wallpaper on-line, and I’m not sure from where. But the company should have included a little bubble wrap around the edges of the bolts, or at least in the bottom of the shipping box. And the UPS guy should have tossed the box more gently!

These banged up areas appeared on BOTH sides of EACH double roll bolt. Often, these damaged areas will flatten out as the paper dries on the wall. But these banged up areas were bad enough, and the paper was delicate enough, that they would be visible, and I would not put them on the wall.

This simple star pattern was reversible (either side could go up or down). So I rolled each bolt up backwards, so the inside, more protected section of the bolt was coming off first. I measured off two strips, and then discarded the remaining, damaged, 10′ or so of material.

10′ is a lot of paper to throw in the trash, all because the factory couldn’t bother to carefully pack their shipping boxes.

Normally, I would have gotten three strips from each of these double roll bolts. But because of cutting around the damaged paper, I only got two strips. Luckily, the homeowner had purchased an extra double roll bolt, so there was enough to finish the accent wall, with no real badly banged edges showing on the wall.

Trimming Along Bull-Nosed Edged Walls

March 10, 2020


A whole lot of new homes these days have rounded bull-nosed edges on their walls’ outside corners. These might be up to date and pleasing to the eye, but they are bugger-bears to trim wallpaper on.

For one thing, the paper is hanging over the edge, so you can’t see what you are doing or where you are trimming. Next, it’s impossible to get a correctly-positioned or straight cut – especially since you can’t see where you are cutting.

A solution to that is to use a laser level to draw a straight line that you can trim against. The problem with that is that it’s highly unlikely that the wall edge will be perfectly plumb. So if you follow a plumb laser line placed against a wall edge that is slightly off-plumb … Well, you see where we are heading.

Wallcovering Installers Association to the rescue … one of my colleagues in a distant city invented this ingenious device. It is made from the very same “bead” molding that drywall guys use when installing these walls.

I cut one to a size that’s comfortable to fit my hand. Then I cut out notches at various places. Once the gizmo is placed straddling the rounded corner, I choose the notch that corresponds to the position that I want my cut to hit.

The inventor puts a trimming knife in the notch, and then trims along the edge of the wallpaper. But I find that maneuver to be awkward. And I fear that either the gizmo or my blade will slip, resulting in a crooked cut.

So I stick a pencil point into the notch and use that to draw a line along where the cut should be made. Then I remove the guide tool and then use a straightege and razor blade to trim along my pencil line. I have the flexibility to tweak things if anything should get off-kilter.

Faces in Unexpected Places

January 26, 2020

How’s this for something no one else is gonna have?! The homeowner of this Galleria-area home in Houston is a big-personality gal, recently divorced, and she wants her new home to reflect who she is. Everything in the house that could have glitter, shimmer, mirror, or glitz does – including the dog bed and the kitchen backsplash.

This wallpaper in the adjoining powder room (with a huge crystal chandelier!) fits right in with that new life.

This is a sort of mural, composed of rectangular panels about 3′ wide x 2′ high. It was bought on-line, and came with no information or installation instructions.

It was a paper substrate, and was meant to be butted at the seams, as opposed to overlapped, as many mural panels are. After experimenting, I found that a powdered wheat or cellulose paste hydrated the paper best, and that a little of my traditional wallpaper paste added to the mix helped hold the paper tightly to the wall and minimize shrinkage as the panels dried.

The paper curled badly when it was wet with the paste (see third photo), which made it difficult to paste it, book it, and then get it to the wall.

It also expanded a lot when it got wet – almost an inch in each direction. Uneven expansion meant that it developed large wrinkles and warps that were difficult to remove.

In addition, the walls were bowed and uneven in the corners, the walls were not plumb, the ceiling was not level, the crown molding was at different heights on different walls, and we didn’t have a lot of paper to play with.

It took a lot of work to keep the pattern matched as well as possible in the corners, to keep the pattern running at the right point below the crown molding, to eliminate the aforementioned wrinkles, to butt the panels, to minimize white showing at the seams due to the panels drying and shrinking, the paper getting saturated and tearing or dragging when I tried to trim it, and lots more challenges.

All this could have been easier if the manufacturer had chosen a better substrate to print on. But – well, hey, we’ve got a digital printer, so let’s just dig up some paper stock, print cool designs on it, and market it as wallpaper.

Actually, this material worked out pretty well in this small powder room. But I would not want to paper a large, wide wall with it.

Most companies who make murals like this, on this type of thin paper substrate, allow for the edges to be overlapped about 3/8″ at each seam. This allows the installer to make adjustments for wonky walls and ceilings, and it eliminates the gapping at seams as paper dries and shrinks. It does, however, leave a ridge along each seam where the edges are overlapped.

Overall, though, I was not unhappy with this product in this room. And working out all the challenges was mighty fun. I was glad to have a nice, quiet, empty house to do all this in. All in all, this medium-sized powder room that I had prepped the weekend before, took me nine hours to hang.

Balancing Grasscloth Panels

January 18, 2020


Because grasscloth does not have a pattern that can be matched, the seams are always visible. And, due to the characteristics of natural materials, the strips will have color variations within themselves. This means that you will distinctly see each individual panel on the wall.

Because each panel is noticeable, walls usually look better if each panel is the same width. In other words, on a wall 14′ wide, it looks better to have five strips that are each 33.5″ wide, rather than four strips that are 3′ wide and one that is 2.’

In addition, grasscloth invariably comes with edges that have been abraded during shipping. On top of that, it’s common to have color issues at the edges – either a light band, or a dark band, or irregular bands of shading along the edges.

For that reason, many paperhangers trim the edges off both sides of each strip of grasscloth. This allows the installer to trim the width to fit the wall’s dimensions, it gets rid of most of the damage caused by shipping and handling, and it reduces the shading that the manufacturer’s dye process may have left along the edges.

If you study the photo closely, you will see that all these panels are the same width.

And, while some jagged color variations do appear along some of the edges, it is not pronounced, as the darkest areas have been trimmed off.

There is still a color difference between the three strips on the right and the four strips on the left – but that is just the nature of grasscloth and its manufacturing process

As you can imagine, all this measuring and plotting and trimming takes extra time. If you’re like me and like math and geometry and logistics, hanging grasscloth can be a whole lot of fun!

Stroheim Playful Geometric – A Tough Hang Today

March 24, 2019


This colorful and playful geometric pattern went in an elevated “nook” in an open play area in a new home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston. It wakes up an otherwise all-white house, and coordinates perfectly with bright artwork in the room.

The paper is by Stroheim, and was somewhat difficult to work with, especially in a room that presented the challenges it did – wide window, and four cubbyholes around three fixed built-in shelves.

First, the paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, a straight edge, and a razor blade. This is tedious and took about an hour to trim eight single rolls.

Second, any time you have wallpaper whose ink smells like mothballs, you know you are in for a tough day. The ink absorbs moisture from the paste at a slower rate than the substrate, so the paper backing puckers (called waffling or quilting). This doesn’t go away, even after booking and sitting in a closed plastic bag for several minutes – so you end up with wrinkles and blisters on the wall.

One thing that helps with this is lightly wetting the surface of the paper with a damp sponge. This allows the ink to absorb moisture, and relax at the same time the paper backing is expanding and relaxing.

You will also notice in the photo that the edges of the paper are curling toward the front. This is, again, the result of uneven absorption of moisture from the paste. Unfortunately, this continues once the paper is on the wall. I had to keep going over the seams to make sure they were down and that edges were not coming away from the wall. No matter how much paste I put under the seams, or how tacky I let the paste get, it didn’t seem to want to grab those edges.

Once the paper is good and dry, though, usually the seams lie down nice and flat, and any blisters or wrinkles will disappear.

Clay-based paste has less moisture content, and could possibly help reduce the waffling. I hate clay paste, though, because it’s hard to wipe off woodwork and off the surface of the wallpaper, and because it works its way through the paper and casts a tan tinge on the paper.

One thing that will help with issues like these is a liner paper. A liner is a plain paper of a special material that is applied to the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It’s job is to absorb moisture from the paste, which causes the paper to dry more quickly, and to “lock down” the seams quickly. So a liner has its place, but it does add an extra day of labor, plus the cost of the liner material.

Interestingly, the Stroheim instructions did not spec a liner; only a good quality wallpaper primer (which I did use). They also did not spec clay-based paste, but recommended three different types of clear pastes (vinyl, wheat, or cellulose), each of which is distinctly different and contains different moisture contents. I would think wheat or cellulose to be too thin and weak to adequately adhere this particular material.

I’ve hung plenty of their products and had no problems with waffling or curling seams; it’s clear that the company has a blanket set of instructions that they stuff into every roll, with no regard to the substrate it’s printed on or the type of ink that was used.

The other thing is, most of the time, you don’t know what you’re going to be working with until you show up at the job site. Even if you research the brand and pattern number ahead of time, there will likely be no mention of the type of substrate or the “mothball” smelling ink. If I had known, I would probably have suggested that this homeowner use a liner. Beyond that, it’s good to have your truck stocked with a variety of primers and adhesives.

Back to the difficult room … I always say that a window like that is easy for you to look at, but very difficult for me to get paper around, at least while keeping the pattern straight and properly lined up. That’s because papers stretch and twist when they get wet with paste, and can contort out of whack. And the wider the obstacle you are working around, the more the paper can go off-kilter. So you can start perfectly lined up on the left of the window, but by the time you get to the right side, the strip coming down from the top of the wall may not line up with the pattern coming across horizontally below, and the two edges may not butt up perfectly, either.

It didn’t help that the pattern had an irregular hand-drawn look, so I couldn’t use a ruler to make sure every horizontal line was equidistant from the window molding. So that window wall took about two hours in itself.

Then there was the wall on the right, with the four cubbyholes in between the three shelves. I had to get two strips of paper on the backs of each of those cubbies, keep the seams from curling, and keep the pattern straight, continuing to four more strips on the wall to the right (the inside side of the wall you see on the right of the photo next to the door molding), so that all four of those strips would line up with one long piece coming down from the ceiling. Oh, and did I mention the extremely unlevel ceiling? This wall in itself took about three hours.

Actually, the irregular hand-drawn look of the pattern helped immensely, because the pattern didn’t have to line up exactly perfectly. Also, the way it was printed on the paper, the design motifs didn’t cross a seam, so that allowed me to raise or lower a strip slightly, to keep the pattern where I wanted it, without disrupting the look of the design. In fact, it was possible to not follow the correct pattern match, and the eye really couldn’t detect it. I could also cut strips vertically to narrower widths, to suit the area I was working in.

There were a few other tricks I pulled out of my hat, in lining up the design after coming around the window and shelf walls, to plumb up the pattern after turning a corner, and to disguise the very unlevel ceiling. The kill point (last strip meets up with first strip) turned out amazingly undetectable, with very little tweaking from me.

In the end, the nook turned out fantastic, and is ready to host children’s performances, reading marathons, or just gazing out the window.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and on whole-house remodels, and is a great resource for finding and coordinating all the details – tile, plumbing and light fixtures, rugs, furniture, lamps, accessories, paint colors, and, of course – wallpaper. 🙂