Posts Tagged ‘farrow & Ball’

Farrow & Ball – Disappointing Quality

October 10, 2019


First three photos – Burnish marks from smoothing paint-coated paper to wall. Read below.

Last two photos – Fat seams caused by poor trimming and thick paper and paint. You man need to enlarge the photo to see clearly. Read below.

I’m disappointed in the quality of the Farrow & Ball paper I hung recently. (See my post from September 1st.) For a high-end brand, their quality-control is definitely lacking.

The seams are thick and dark, and many areas had to be repasted because they didn’t hold to the wall. As one of my highly-skilled, decades-long installer buddies put it: “This is a common problem caused by …… incompetence of factory trimming and poor choice of substrate. This substrate is thick and the trimming from F&B often gives us a “rounded” edge, for want of a better word.” Another installer described the seam edges as “scalloped.” You can never get a good, tight seam with thick paper and paint, and improper factory trimming.

Another disappointment was a sheen on the paper. F&B is proud of their paint, and, instead of using ink (like other successful manufacturers do), they coat their wallpaper with their paint. To get wallpaper stuck to the wall, to eliminate bubbles, and to set seams, you need to use tools, notably a smoothing brush (“sweep”) and/or a plastic smoothing tool.

No matter how gently I swiped with the brush, the paint burnished (left a sheen). Using the plastic smoother to try to coax the cantankerous seams to stay down left worse sheen along the length of each seam. I tried covering the smoother with soft T-shirt cloth, but that didn’t help. This sheen is caused by sensitivity of the paints. I hung three different F&B patterns, and had the same problem with each.
I worked as cleanly as possible, because trying to wipe even a small speck of paste off the surface left another shiny spot. The sheen was more noticeable when the paper was viewed from the side, with light hitting it at an angle.

If other manufacturers use inks that are designed to bond to paper, and that will withstand the light brushing and occasional wiping during the installation process, why does Farrow & Ball persist in using paint on their wallpaper??! Matt-finish paint is designed to be looked at, not rubbed or wiped or washed. And why use a thick, poor-performing substrate, when so many other companies have found wonderful papers to print on??

One solution for the sheen might be to coat the paper with a matt-finish varnish or other product that will even hide the shininess. As for the fat, noticeable seams, there is no solution. For now, we’re leaving everything as it is, because the client doesn’t see what I see, and she is delighted with her new wallpaper.

Farrow & Ball, Damaged Paper

October 10, 2019


While I’m griping about F&B, I’m including a photo of an 18″ long portion of one bolt that was severely damaged by the factory (another bolt had similar damage). This particular pattern was a sort of mural, with no repeating pattern that I could cut off and replace with more of the same pattern. In other words, I needed that 18″!

I ended up plotting the layout of the room so that this damaged left edge of the strip would end up cut off by the right side of a door frame.

Wrong Info – Farrow & Ball

October 10, 2019


In the instruction sheet, the manufacturer addressed a number of things that can go amiss when hanging wallpaper. One of these is the potential for the white substrate to peek out from the seams, especially as the wallpaper dries and shrinks a tiny tad.

One common solution is to color the edges of the paper. This is exactly what the manufacturer is suggesting on the instruction sheet.

The only problem is, they specifically tell you to use oil pastel crayons.

THIS IS VERY BAD. There are a number of substances that will stain wallpaper – and oil is one of them. Lipstick, cooking oil, hair cream, candle wax, a potato chip, and even the oils in one’s hands will all cause a blotch on wallpaper.

So it’s very bad to use oil pastels. Yes, they may do a good job of covering over the white edge of the substrate. But, sooner or later, the oils in the pastels will leach their way into the wallpaper, creating a stain that cannot be washed off or removed.

(For the record, permanent markers (Magic Marker, Sharpie) cannot be used either, because they will also bleed into wallpaper. There are a whole lot of other substances that cause stains … but that is a topic for another blog post … )

The correct alternative is to use artists’ chalk pastels. Some friends of mine use water-based paint, and some use colored pencils.

Test Strips

October 10, 2019


Yesterday, I hung Farrow & Ball wallpaper in another room in this home, and was not pleased with its quality and performance.

The seams were very obvious, due to the thick and stiff nature of the substrate, and to faulty trimming at the factory that left rounded and scalloped edges on the paper. In addition, the paper – which is coated with paint instead of the traditional ink – developed a sheen wherever my brush, smoother, or damp cloth rubbed against it.

So before I started in the powder room today, I did a “test run” by hanging a few short strips cut from scrap paper.

This way I could gauge what I could expect in the way of seams and sheen on this new pattern.

The consensus was that:
~ the seams were again wider / thicker than desirable
~ the seams again did not want to adhere to the wall properly in all areas
~ the ground (background color) developed shiny streaks where my smoothing brush or damp cloth came in contact with it. This was not as obvious as on yesterday’s “Feather Grass” pattern, because the textured raised ink on this “Hornbeam” pattern helped disguise it.

These test strips helped me plan what techniques to employ for today’s installation.

Farrow & Ball Feather Grass

September 1, 2019


Farrow & Ball is a long-established British company. Here is their very unique design “Feather Grass” which I hung in a master bedroom in the country. I love the look of this pattern as you gaze out the windows to the pastureland beyond.

Farrow & Ball includes their own powdered paste, which you mix up with water. To get a smooth mix, I prefer a hand-held blender to the old-fashioned stirrer stick. Not shown is the 1-gallon bucket of cellulose pasted all ready to go.

The company sends a mock-up of what their design will look like. (The image above is from a different pattern I hung in this same home.)

Because their paper is coated with their paint, rather than ink, there can be variations in color as the printer moves through the batch of paint. So the company labels each bolt in the sequence that it came off the printer, and you are instructed to use the bolts and strips in sequence, to minimize any color variations.

This pattern is something like a mural, and comes in panels with one design per panel, rather than strips with multiple repeats of the pattern. In the photo above, I am rolling the paper out on the floor, to get an understanding of how it is laid out and how it is packaged.

Each bolt contained three panels, all rolled up together. The panels are made to fit a wall as high as 12′, so I had to cut each panel from the bolt, then trim it down to fit the 7 1/2′ high walls.

Yes, there is a lot of waste with Feather Grass. In fact, it takes a full strip to go above and below the windows and doors, even though you are throwing away the entire middle part. So, again, incredible amount of waste – I carted home a whole lot of unusable paper to toss into the recycling bin!

Before shot.

The “grass” pattern is meant to appear at about 4 1/2′ from the floor. Since you start hanging wallpaper from the ceiling, I needed to know where to place the tops of the sheaves of grass. So I drew a horizontal line around the room at the 4 1/2′ height. (enlarge photo to see the faint pencil line) This way, from up on the ladder at the ceiling, I was able to see where the tops of the grass stalks were landing on the wall. It took a few trips up and down the ladder on each strip, but I was able to get all the stalks lined up perfectly.

Finished photos. It’s a subtle colorway, so you may need to enlarge the photo to see it well.

Isn’t the overall effect lovely, with the soft misty color of the grass showing against the view of nature outside the window?!

I hung this in the country home (Chappell Hill) of a family for whom I have worked previously in their River Oaks area home in Houston.

Soft Pink Envelopes a Little Girl’s Room

August 27, 2019


I hung pink wallpaper in this little girl’s room and bathroom in the family’s Houston home a year or two ago, and they asked me to bring some more pink sweetness to the girl’s room in their country home outside of Chappell Hill, Texas.

This design is called “Yukutori” and is by Farrow & Ball. While a stronger design would work well on a single accent wall, this is a good pattern for putting on all four walls, because it’s soft and receding, and will be a good backdrop without stealing attention from furniture and artwork.

The slight orange-y tinge to the color works well with the red brick fireplace and chimney.

This paper is by Farrow & Ball, a British company.

I am disappointed in the quality of their paper, especially for the price the homeowners paid. I’ll talk more about this in later posts, which will include photos.

For now, enjoy the sweet look of this little girl’s bedroom in the country.

Farrow & Ball “Hornbeam” in a Country Home Powder Room

August 24, 2019


Farrow & Ball’s “Hornbeam” pattern is reminiscent of hedgerows in rural England.

I hung this in a powder room of a home outside Chappell Hill. I’ve worked for the homeowners previously in their Houston home.

While the pattern is lovely and suits the scale of the room and coordinates perfectly with the color of the marble contertop (and the color scheme of the rest of the house), I am not crazy about the quality of the wallpaper.

I will be posting more on this as I have time. Do a Search on the brand name to read these posts.

Farrow & Ball Branding, Sequence

March 13, 2018



Farrow & Ball (who manufacturers the “Lotus” wallpaper design in my previous posts), is a British company, and they do things properly and meticulously. I liked their labels and the trademark design on the box their paper comes in. The box is corrugated cardboard and cushioned to prevent damage to the edges of the wallpaper rolls.

Each roll is individually wrapped, too, with it’s own sticker. Going further, note that each of those bolts is numbered, indicating the sequence in which it was printed. The idea is that each strip of paper should be hung sequentially. This will minimize any color differences related to ink as it works its way through the press.

Farrow & Ball Paint on Wallpaper – Smudges, Splatters

March 13, 2018


Farrow & Ball is a British wallpaper and paint manufacturing company. They are unique in that, instead of using ink to print their wallpapers, they use their paints. It is a hand-screened process.

Any type of hand-done work means that there can be human error. (Well, you can have errors with machine-produced goods, too, but here we’re focusing on higher-end, artisan-inspired, hand-crafted goods.)

Anyway, here you can see a few smudges, and a few platters of paint on the wallpaper. All of these are considered typical and normal for a product like this.

While you are looking closely, I encourage you to notice the three-dimensional quality of the ink on the paper. It’s almost as thick as gesso. This gives the paper a subtle dimension, and ensures that every screen will be a tad different from the others.

Farrow & Ball “Lotus” in a Woodland Heights Dining Room

March 11, 2018

Look at the transformation of this bland dining room!

The pattern could be overwhelming if it were to go from floor-to-ceiling. But here, on just the 4′ above the wainscoting, it’s fun and cozy at the same time. This is a popular pattern, and it can be hung right-side-up or upside-down, depending on your preference.

This home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Rachel Goetz. I love her look, which is sophisticated, yet open and airy, but tweaked to be very livable for families with kids. The wallpaper is called “Lotus,” and is by Farrow & Ball, and was bought from Dorota at Southwestern Paint near the Rice Village. Call before heading over. (713) 520-6262.