Posts Tagged ‘edges’

Wallpaper Woes in Chinese Restaurant

April 10, 2022
While waiting for my order to be ready, I couldn’t help but notice problems ….
Wallpaper starting to curl at the seams.
Wallpaper twisting in corners as the building shifts and drywall moves. This is pretty common in Houston.
Other signs of poorly maintained building and/or climate control issues.
Seam curling back. I believe this to be a lower-end solid vinyl wallpaper on a gritty paper backing – one of my least preferred types.
When the walls are not prepared correctly, and the paper is not hung properly, and when there is a lot of humidity (door left open, steam from kitchen getting into waiting area, A/C not running or turned off at night), humidity can enter into the seams and be wicked up by the paper backing. The paper expands and pushes away from the wall, causing the edges of the wallpaper to curl back.
The next step is that the vinyl surface can actually delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing. This is pretty impossible to repair.
At the very bottom, you can see the vinyl separating from the paper backing.
The wallpaper has been wrapped around this outside corner, and a new piece of paper overlapped on top of it. When this is done, with vinyl material, you’re supposed to use special vinyl-over-vinyl ( VOV ) adhesive, because regular wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to vinyl / plastic .
But even if the installer had used the correct adhesive, under humid conditions or with improper wall prep, the odds are that this wallpaper job will start to fail.
Also note dirt along the ceiling, and along the chair rail in the previous photo. General lack of maintenance and I am really suspecting lack of climate control.
The black smudges appear to be mildew coming from underneath the paper. Again, probably related to humidity.
Vinyl wallpaper is a sheet of plastic, and moisture can be trapped behind it. That can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
So why use vinyl wallpaper? Mainly because the surface is much more washable than most other types of wallpaper. In a business, washability is attractive.
But these property owners chose a low-end vinyl product, most likely skipped proper wall prep such as a wallpaper primer, and have not provided a hospitable environment for the paper.
There are other vinyl wallcoverings that would have held up better. For instance, vinyl on a scrim ( woven fabric ) backing, or the newer backing called non-woven , which has a 20% polyester content, and therefore less likely to wick up humidity.

Preventing White From Showing At The Seams

March 10, 2022
When wallpaper gets wet with paste, it expands a bit. And when it dries, it can shrink just a tad. That teeny gap at the seams can expose the wall underneath it. This can happen even with the non-woven materials, which are supposed to be dimensionally stable.
In addition, manufacturers usually print on a white substrate, so sometimes you see the edges of the paper at the seams, too.
All this is much more noticeable on a dark paper, such as here.
One thing I do to prevent / minimize this is to strip the wall with dark paint under where the seams will fall. So even if a seam opens up a bit, you’ll see dark, not white.
Since non-woven wallpapers don’t expand (much), it’s easy to measure the width of your strips and plot where the seams will fall, use a level, and then apply the paint.
I use plain old craft paint from the hobby store. I use a scrap of sponge and dip that in water (in my orange bottle cap) then into the paint, and then run my stripe down the plumb line I’ve drawn on the wall or used my laser level to shoot a vertical line.
It’s important to not get the paint too heavy or thick, because the wallpaper paste may not want to grab ahold of paint like it wants to hold on to a wallpaper primer. And definitely don’t use a gloss paint.
Be sure that it’s good and dry before you hang the wallpaper. A heat gun will speed things along if needed.
Not pictured, but you can look up other posts here … I also take a bit of chalk of a corresponding color and run it along the edge of the wallpaper to cover up that white edge. It’s important to apply the chalk from the back, to avoid getting any on the front of the wallpaper. Some colleagues use water markers, pencils, or gouache paint. Whatever you use, do not use anything with oil-based inks or colors. These will bleed and stain your wallpaper.
Chalking the edges is more important than striping the wall, IMO.
This pattern is called Allure and is by Graham & Brown , a brand I like a lot.

The Big Easy On The Walls

March 5, 2022
West wall smoothed, primed, and ready for wallpaper.
The homeowner used to live in New Orleans, and she tells me that signs like this are very common in local convenience stores and neighborhood dives. Transplanted to Houston, these signs are very dear to her heart as a reminder of her roots – and the funky lifestyle in the Big Easy.
She wanted the signs recreated somehow to cover the walls in their newly-renovated powder room in the Houston Heights. I suggested she contact rebelwalls.com , who custom made the paper and sized it specifically to fit each wall in the room individually. I measured and made drawings, and a designer named Simon at RebelWalls laid it all out.
North wall before. This is the wall with the toilet and sink.
There were a couple of glitches, the first being that the strips were printed about 10″ longer than I requested. No biggie – I’d rather have too much paper than come up short.
But the main glitch being that I had asked for this “sign” to be centered over the toilet, which meant that the center of the sign (I used the middle fleur-de-lis) would land at 17.5″ from the wall to the left. But somehow it got printed to where the left edge of the pattern was 17.5″ from the wall … That left a whole lot of white space between the wall and the design, and also pushed the words too close to the mirror, which will hang over the sink to the right.
After careful measuring, calculating, and testing, I determined that if I used my straightedge and razor blade to take off a 12″ wide slice from the left side, the “sign” would move to the left such that its center would fall over the mid-point of the toilet.
Voilà! As you see in the photo, now the words are nicely balanced on this section of wall, and will not crowd the mirror which will be hung to the right.
The rest of the wallpaper moving to the right is unprinted, so as to leave a blank slate for the mirror to hang on. Here you see that wall, and also the wall to its right. This east wall has the same sign, but in a smaller scale, sized to fit the narrower wall. It’s also placed at a different height
Graphic designer Simon used my drawings and measurements to get the words nicely centered on this wall. The area above the door to the right (not visible) is left blank.
Here is the west wall (on the right) abutting the south / window wall.
The bull-nosed / rounded edges / corners such as you see around the window are really a pain with wallpaper, especially when they go both around the sides and the top, and can lead to some impossibilities. Too complicated to get into here. But I was pleased with the way this worked out. And the placement of the pleated shades toward the front of the opening helped a lot, too.
One interesting thing to note is that the thickness of this non-woven wallcovering (along with the joint compound I used to smooth the textured wall) is enough that it narrows the space inside the window just a tad,,, and that makes it a bit tight for the shades to fit back in,,, and that opens the potential for abrading the wallpaper as the shade is raised and lowered over time.
Another point … even though the widths of the wall spaces to be covered were different, we requested that the size of the font on the “sign” lettering be the same on the west wall and the north / mirror wall, and ditto for the window wall and the door wall.
I also made sure that the “signs” started at the same distance from the ceiling. This then ensured that each “sign” would land at the same distance from the tile below it.
Synchronizing the size of the fonts as well as the spacing between ceiling and tile helps immensely to lend a feeling of unity and order to this room.
I spent a full 2 1/2 hours plotting, measuring, testing mock-ups, and going back to the drawing board, before I ever cut any paper.
Prior to that, there were two visits to the home to get measurements and kick around options with the homeowner. In addition, she spent countless communications with the manufacturer and with our specific designer.
All this futzing is important, because, with murals, there is no second chance. There’s only one of each panel, and if one gets screwed up, there are no more to pull off the bolt, like you’d have with regular rolled goods.
RebelWalls is the manufacturer. I’ve had lots of great installs with this company.
What was inside our box, including Simon’s dimensions and lay-out.
Basic installation instructions. Ours was a bit – a whole lot – more complicated, because it covered not one but four walls. In our case, it worked best to have each wall be a separate mural, so to speak.
RebelWalls includes free wallpaper paste. I prefer to use my own pre-mixed vinyl adhesive, which is SureStik Dynomite 780. Recently bought by Roman, so the name has changed to just 780.
Certain pastes have been known to ” stain ” non-woven wallpapers (areas look wet but never dry out). I think that a high moisture content in the paste has a lot to do with this. So I’m hesitant to use a powdered paste that needs to be mixed with water.
I’ll squirrel away that RebelWalls powdered paste for another, better suited job. For this home’s install, I’m sticking with my tried and true 780.
A coupla more notes.
One, this project was a study in vision, desire, anticipation, and patience. The homeowner first contacted me in July 2021. It took nearly eight months to come to fruition. Granted, they had a whole kitchen remodel in the middle, which also included an update to this powder room. But just speaking for the wallpaper, there were several site visits, many emails, and then innumerable communications with the design team at RW.
In fact, since I’ve hung lots of RebelWalls and am familiar with their process, I thought I could lay out the design. But this project of separate “sign” motifs for each wall section was taxing my skill set. Finally I laid down my pencil and paper and said, “Stop doing what you yell at your clients for doing, which is trying to do something you don’t have expertise in! RebelWalls has designers who are trained to figure all this out. So let THEM do the math and placement and calculating and layout.” So we turned it over to them, and within a short time they had it all worked out perfectly (except for those few glitches I mentioned). Their customer service was amazing.
All this was crucial to ensuring that mural pieces fit the wall perfectly and that the final product looks stunning.
I also want to mention that the RebelWalls quality is excellent. It’s a non-woven material which has many advantages (too numerous to go into here, but you can Search). The seams melt together like butter and are invisible – even on areas with all that bare white space with no pattern. On a simple accent wall, you can paste-the-wall to hang it. In this (and most) cases, I pasted-the-material, which gives more flexibility and also ensures that paste gets into hard-to-reach areas – like behind a toilet.
In addition, the non-woven material is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate.
The company offers scores of patterns, from cute to sophisticated, and, as we did this time around, can make custom creations.
Super customer service, too.

lottery , money order , checks cashed , household supplies

From 20 Years of Red to Sweet Light Floral

February 5, 2022
Red is a classic dining room color, and painted walls served well since the late ’90’s. This homeowner has classic taste – note the elegant moldings below the chair rail and around the windows.
The update is lighter and brighter and opens up the room, making it feel larger.
Note the wallpaper around the corner on the right.
This is the paper in the adjoining hallway, which has been in place for decades. The new pattern coordinates beautifully in theme and color!
Close-up. Roses and script.
Norwall is a very economical brand (something like $25 per double roll on sale). Not my favorite quality, because the gritty paper backing can absorb humidity and separate from the thick vinyl surface, plus the seams tend to “pouch” a bit and don’t look great. But I’ve discovered that rolling a bit of wallpaper paste onto the wall under the seam areas will help to “suck down” the edges, creating better seams. I also do believe that the manufacturer has improved the substrate.
I was pleased with the way the seams looked on this install. You’re looking at a very close-up picture. Once the paper is dried and from two feet away, these seams will be invisible. In fact, the homeowner kept walking around the room remarking how she couldn’t even find a seam. Note the slightly textured surface.

The home is in the far west area of Houston.

Protecting the Ends of Wallpaper Rolls

January 12, 2022
Cardboard end caps are a nice touch to try to prevent the edges of the wallpaper from being damaged during shipping.

“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.