Posts Tagged ‘expand’

Dark, Sparkly, Faux Cork in Spring Branch Powder Room

April 1, 2020


No good pictures of this, folks – you had to see it in person to get the full effect.

But the textured vinyl wallpaper had the appearance of a charcoal-colored cork material – with a few silvery sparkles tossed in here and there.

The homeowner wanted a snug, dark powder room. But not cave-like. This paper did the trick beautifully. It is dark, but with the large mirror and the light grey vanity and cararra marble countertop, there were plenty of light colored accents to offset the dark.

This was a new, open floor plan, contemporary styled home in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. The vinyl material will be resistant to water and stains. The non-woven substrate had a lot of fiberglass content – I could see the strands! – so it will be easy to strip off the wall when it’s time to redecorate. In addition, the material does not expand when wet with paste, needs no booking time, and can be hung with the paste-the-wall method. I preferred to paste the paper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt III – Curling Edges

March 18, 2020

As mentioned in a previous post about this install, wallpaper paste introduces moisture to the back of the paper, which causes the backing to absorb moisture and expand – and, sometimes, as in this case, the expansion will cause the paper to curl back on itself.

As you can imagine, this makes it a whole lot harder to get the strip positioned and secured to the wall.

Powerful Storm Clouds – Cole & Son Nuvolette

March 14, 2020


“Nuvolette” by the British manufacturer Cole & Son is a very popular pattern – but not every room can handle such a strong design. This bedroom in a new townhome on the far west side of Houston is large enough to contain the storm clouds – which will cover all four walls. Talk about drama!

The dark floor and dark woodwork help ground the pattern. The homeowner has a background in interior design, and I can’t wait to see what furniture, bedding, window coverings, and accessories she outfits the room with.

The pattern match is very tricky, and you have to plot everything carefully and confidently before you cut anything. The product comes packaged as an A-B 2-bolt set. On the label it’s noted that one pattern match is straight across, while the next strip is a drop match.

So, essentially, this has a multiple-drop pattern match , played out across four strips of paper – but with even more complicating factors tossed in. It’s a real brain-banger to plot out! I’ve hung it twice, and both times was lucky enough to have a large open area where I could spread out the A and B bolts, and then plenty of time and a distraction-free environment to get my head around the pattern match.

In the picture, you just see a nicely fit-together set of panels. But getting them to that point did take a good bit of engineering! (Especially since “someone” opened the shipping box and removed several of the bolts from their original packaging, so there was no way to tell the A bolts from the B bolts.)

Like most of Cole & Son’s wallpaper, this was a non-woven material. This stuff has a high-fiberglass content, and thus does not expand when it gets wet with paste. This allows you to get accurate measurements that won’t change when the paper is pasted. It also allows you to paste a strip and hang it immediately (no booking time), and takes the pressure off of having a booked strip over-expanding while you fiddle with hanging a difficult strip.

It went up pretty nicely. Tomorrow I will hang the remaining two walls.

The pattern is in the Fornasetti line by Cole & Son, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Cole & Son “Woods” in Pearland Laundry Room

February 6, 2020

North corner walls, originally textured.

North corner walls, smoothed.

North corner walls, papered.

South corner walls, smoothed.

South corner walls, papered.

Close up of paper.

This very popular wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, and is called “Woods.” I have hung it in the black-on-white many times (do a Search here – upper right), but this is the first time to do it in this softer colorway. The décor in this home is all soft and muted greys and taupes, with a lot of natural materials (wood, stone) tossed in, so this pattern and color are a perfect compliment.

The wallpaper material is called non-woven, which has a high fiberglass content. This means it doesn’t expand when wet with paste, so there is no booking time – meaning you can hang each strip as soon as it is pasted. In fact, you can paste the wall and dry-hang the strips, if you choose. Another advantage of non-wovens is that they are dimensionally-stable, and do not expand when wet with paste, like paper wallpapers do. Very handy when measuring and laying out the room.

A disadvantage of non-wovens is that they are prone to staining and blushing. This is where the paper looks like it is wet, but it never dries and disappears. Certain pastes (880, 234) are known to cause staining on these materials, as well as too much pressure while installing, or wetting the paper with water.

This laundry room is in a newish home in Pearland, a suburb in south Houston.

Feathery Stripe in Memorial Area Entry Hall

February 1, 2020


I admit … When the homeowner first emailed her selection to me, I wasn’t crazy about the design. But once it started covering the first walls of the home’s entry – boy did I start to see her vision. It is stunning. And it’s one of those patterns that looks even better in person.

It’s a sort of a wide, scratchy stripe. The homeowner says it reminds her of feathers.

I spent a lot of time with math and engineering, and in the end was able to balance / center this pattern not just on the first wall with the front door (2nd photo), but on two other walls with doors, as well as this widest wall (1st photo). And I eliminated a noticeable kill point (no photo).

This wallpaper is by Cole & Son, and is on a non-woven backing. This means that it does not expand when wet with paste, plus there is no booking time, so you can paste it and hang right away – or you can paste the wall. I’m glad I pasted the material, because walls in this room were pretty wonky, and softening the paper by pasting it made it easier to manipulate it to match up with the crooked walls.

Non-wovens are also designed to strip off the wall easily, cleanly and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

I did encounter a few minor printing defects. But we had enough extra paper to work around them.

Bold Green Gives Way to Serene

August 9, 2019


The bold green “raw silk” look paint was put up by a skilled faux-finisher about 15 years ago. It was a beautiful look in this dining room for all those years. But it was time for an update, and the homeowner wanted to go with a cleaner, quieter look.

It’s very hard to see in these photos, but this wallpaper has a subtle pattern, comprised of squares of varying widths, with some of them having smaller white squares inside them. All of these squares work together to form a wide striped pattern that plays itself out horizontally every 54″ across the wall. For the whole pattern to be visible, you need wallspace of 108″ (9′). Scroll to enlarge the photos, and hopefully you can see something of the pattern.

It’s interesting to note that you get this effect by reversing every other strip. In other words, hanging one strip right-side-up, and the next one upside-down. That way, the same edge of the paper is next to itself, so the pattern repeats as a mirror image of itself as it crosses the seam. In other words, on the first seam, the white squares are next to each other. On the next seam, the tan squares are next to each other.

I rolled the bolts out on the floor, side-by-side, so I could get an idea of how the pattern would work on the client’s walls. I decided the pattern would give the most impact if the white area was centered on each section of wall. There were six of these sections, each one a different width, separated by five windows and doorways of varying widths.

But centering the pattern on each section of wall, instead of hanging each strip sequentially as is typically done, meant that the pattern would fall out of sequence over the doors. Ah … but that’s a topic for the next blog post.

Back to this current post … So I found the center of each wall space, and used my laser level as a guide to hang the first two strips with the white squares butting the red laser line. The crown molding was not level, so the ceiling line wavered a little. But, the chair rail is more important because it’s closer to eye-level, and it was amazingly level. My squares marched perfectly across it with no tracking up or down, all the way around the room.

This wallpaper is a non-woven material. This stuff has a high fiberglass and synthetic composition, and does not need to sit (book), so it can be hung immediately after pasting. It also is dimensionally-stable, meaning that moisture from the paste will not cause the paper to expand. Thee factors made it a little easier and quicker, and kept measurements more accurate, in this room.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Do Bubbles Mean Trouble?

May 20, 2019

The walls in this dining room in a historic house in the Houston Heights had received many coats of paint over its 100 years. The latest was a coat of what appeared to be flat latex paint. Since this is not a suitable surface for wallpaper, I applied a wallpaper-specific primer.

I was surprised to see that, a few minutes after I rolled on my water-based wallpaper primer, blisters appeared.

I thought they would disappear as the primer dried, but they did not.

Obviously, the moisture in the primer was soaking into some of the layers below it, and causing something to expand and “off-gas”, which created the bubbles.

I switched from my wallpaper primer to a penetrating sealer called Gardz (also water-based) – and the same thing happened. (The Gardz dried so glossy that I feared the wallpaper would not stick to it, so I went back to my original Ultra Prime by Roman’s.)

Once the primer was good and dry, I used a stiff putty knife to knock off the high points of the blisters. The areas were not perfectly smooth, but they were OK for use under this particular wallpaper.

I’m doing some research, and am hoping to gain insight as to why this blistering happened, so I’ll know how to prevent it in the future.

City Scape Zig Zag Lines

April 26, 2019


I love this headboard. The homeowner and his father-in-law made this from scratch, and they made the bed frame, too. I think it’s supposed to look like rough ship-lapped wood … but to me, it looks like the skyline of a major city.

Realizing that the dark navy paint on the accent wall behind the headboard was flat and boring, the couple went to Dorota (read below) and found this fun and lively wallpaper pattern. It echoes the shape of the headboard, while adding a modern, urban edge to the room. And I think it looks like a city skyline!

Note that this pattern very much resembles one by York, in the Candice Olson line, which I have hung a number of times. I guess there is nothing wrong with a company riding the tide of trends, and making a knock-off of a proven design winner.

This is in a master bedroom in a newish townhome in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston. My photo of the label didn’t turn out (Note to self: Always check your phone’s photo log before leaving work for the day.), but I can tell you that the manufacturer is Designer Wallpapers.

The material is a crisp, stiff, medium-weight non-woven material. This stuff has a fiberglass content, so it does not expand when it becomes wet with paste, and it also is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This material would have been more flexible if I had pasted the paper. But since this was one solitary accent wall, with no corners or toilets or sinks or windows to cut around, and since I didn’t feel like lugging my 7′ long and 30lbs table up the three flights of stairs to the master bedroom, I chose to paste the wall.

Because it was a dark paper adhered to a white backing, I used artist’s chalk to color the edges of the strips, so that the white backing would not peek out from the seams.

After cutting the non-woven strips, I roll them up backwards, with the colored surface rolled up inside, and the top coming off the roll first, and then secure it by wrapping an elastic hairband around it. This way, after paste is spread on the wall, when I climb up the ladder with the paper and unroll it, the printed surface will not come in contact with the paste on the wall.

Pasting the wall is a clean way to work, because no paste gets on the woodwork or ceiling, so there is nothing to wipe off. And the excess paper that is trimmed off at the ceiling and baseboard has no paste on it, so it’s clean and won’t stain anything it might fall onto.

The paper went up nicely, and the seams were positively invisible. Oddly enough, because the paper was supposed to not stretch or expand, I did have a little trouble with the pattern match dropping – the pattern matched at the top of the wall, but as you followed it down the 9′ high wall, the pattern began to rise. In order to accommodate this, I had to lower the pattern and allow a slight mis-match at the top of the wall, which permitted me to have a perfect pattern match at eye-level.

Also odd, since the paper was supposed to not expand, even though I hung my first strip against a plumb line (laser level beam), as it moved down the height of the wall, the pattern started to track to the right. As subsequent strips were hung, the paper became more and more off-plumb, until I reached the far left corner, and it was out of whack by more than half an inch from ceiling to floor.

If this had been some wild floral pattern, it would not have mattered. But with a rigid geometric pattern, and especially a vertical one like this, and on a dark background, even with a mere 1/8″ discrepancy, you’re going to notice when things get crooked.

Since the paper is not malleable, I was not able to stretch it into plumb. But I was able to pull a few tricks out of my hat to make it look like the paper was perfectly parallel to that left wall. I didn’t take photos, so no sense in my trying to explain it here. 😦

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallcoverings, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Timorous Beasties, Papillion de Nuit

April 20, 2019

Say it in French and it sounds beautifully exotic. In reality, they’re moths.

This rhythmic pattern by Timorous Beasties went in a powder room in a new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. Note the brick and wooden accents in the room.

Whereas most wallpaper patterns repeat either every strip or every other strip (half-drop), Papillion de Nuit has a quarter-drop pattern match, which means that the pattern repeats itself every fourth strip. It’s extremely difficult to figure out and to keep properly placed on the wall, especially when every motif is identical.

In addition, the powder room had some challenging features of its own. The whole job took me about 14 hours! It looks great, though.

It’s made of fiberglass-based non-woven material. This can be installed via the paste-the-wall method, or by pasting the paper (which is what I generally do). Some features of this material is that it is designed to be stripped off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate, and that it is dimensionally-stable and won’t expand or stretch when wetted by the paste.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

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. 🙂