Posts Tagged ‘flat’

Small Under Stair Segment

September 1, 2020


Just a tad of the underside of the home’s curved staircase jutted into the under-the-stairs powder room. The homeowner and I considered leaving the underside white, like the ceiling. But we decided it would look better to have all surfaces covered with the wallpaper.

Getting wallpaper onto both surfaces of this element presented some challenges. First, the curves and irregularity of the drywall work meant that paper would likely twist and warp and go off-kilter. Next, the underside was not perfectly flat, so there was the likelihood of void areas where the paper would not stick to the surface. Also, the curves and angles mean that the design will be torqued off-plumb, leaving the animal figures crooked and also not straight along the ceiling line. Finally, you can only match the pattern in one place, so that means that we would be left with mis-matches in three of the four corners / junctions.

Luckily, this pattern was extremely amenable to looking good even if it went off-plumb, tracked away from the ceiling line, or didn’t match perfectly. In addition, the SureStrip line (by York) is very flexible and malleable, and it adheres well with minimal shrinking, even on a surface with undulations.

I decide to match the pattern at the bottom of the sloped wall, where it meets the vertical back wall. Since this wall was a little higher on the left side than the right, it angled the new strip above it a bit to the right. Not a big deal … It’s only 27″ high, and no one is going to notice that the animal motifs are leaning a tad. And definitely no one is going to notice that the vines are not perfectly vertical.

Note that before applying paper to the underside of the slope, I wrapped 1/4″ of the paper from the horizontal area onto the underside (photo 2). This does create a slight ridge when the paper is applied to the underside and overlaps onto this 1/4″ flap. But I like this method, because it creates a nice, tight bond, and it eliminates the possibility of gaps showing if the two surfaces of wallpaper were trimmed flush to the corner of that rounded edge (which is not absolutely perfectly straight).

So, speaking of that slightly rounded edge, as well as the one to the left of the slope, in both these areas, the wallpaper pattern could not be matched. Not a big deal. It doesn’t assault your eye at all. I’m very pleased with the way this turned out.

On to other things. In the upper left, you might notice that there are two monkeys next to each other. This is just a result of the way the pattern worked its way across the wall, after being fitted to walls moving back into a 90* angle, and to walls moving forward in a curve. I did do a little cutting along the vines, so the slight mis-match would be less noticeable than if it were a straight vertical break in the pattern.

You’d have to spend a lot of time looking up behind you at that exact point to even notice that the two monkeys are closer to each other than they “should” be.

Later, I did go back and use scrap paper to cut an appliqu̩ of a rabbit Рalso trimmed along the wavy lines of the foliage Рand pasted this on top of the monkey. Sorry, no photo. But seeing a rabbit instead of an ape successfully broke up the repetitiveness of the dual monkeys. Now, all you see are happy animals in a forest.

Brunschwig & Fils’s Bibliotheque in a Heights Library

July 14, 2019


Another installer hung the paper in the first photo. For some unknown reason, two half-walls were left unpapered. I was called in to finish those two areas.

Brunschwig & Fils is a French manufacturer, with a long history. Like many higher-end brands, this product came with a selvedge edge that I had to trim off by hand (see last photo), using a razor blade and a 6′ long straight edge (not shown).

And, like many higher-end brand papers that are printed with ink that smells like mothballs, once paste is applied to the back of the paper, the inked surface absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the back side. When the top inked layer expands at a different rate from the substrate, you get waffling, or quilting. Sorry, no photo, but you can do a Search here to see previous blogs on this topic. Essentially, it’s a wrinkly mess.

One way to deal with this is to even out the moisture differential by lightly sponging water onto the face (inked side) of the wallpaper. The front can then absorb moisture from the sponging at the same time that the substrate is absorbing moisture from the paste.

As I worked with the paper, I discovered that it wanted to dry out quickly. So it helped a lot to also use a sponge to get a little moisture onto the back side of the wallpaper strip, before pasting.

Other tricks to slow drying out are to 1.) Book the paper (fold pasted side to pasted side and then roll up loosely like a newspaper) and then dunk the ends into a bucket of clean water. 2.) Place the booked strip into a black trash bag, which will prevent evaporation during the time the paper books. 3.) When the wait time is up, gently unbook the paper and lightly spritz the back with clean water from a spray bottle. Alternately, you could sponge the surface once again. The idea is to introduce a little more moisture, to loosen up the paste and to make the paper more malleable.

I had been told that this paper was difficult to work with, and that the seams wanted to curl. I had the opposite experience – I thought it was lovely to work with. The seams laid nice and flat, and the paper was easy to manipulate, and it clung tightly to the wall. Applying moisture to the surface and back got rid of the waffling, and any that did remain (there were small puckers in the white horizontal “shelf board” areas) disappeared as the wallpaper dried.

This home is in the Houston Heights neighborhood, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

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.

Manipulating a Thick, Stiff Paper Around a Curved Wall

July 2, 2018


Curved walls like this pose a problem when wallpapering, because it’s virtually impossible for the framers and drywall guys to get the walls perfectly smooth and straight without bows or dips or humps. You may not see these imperfections when looking at the wall. But they can cause difficulties when hanging wallpaper.

Wallpaper wants to hang straight, and must have a straight edge for the next strip to butt up against. Walls that are not perfect can throw paper off-kilter, and can create wrinkles, bubbles, or an un-straight edge that will show gaps or overlaps when the next strip is butted against it.

Some papers are more pliable and malleable than others, and can be tweaked and twisted into compliance. In contrast, the non-woven material I am working with here is thick and stiff, and unwilling to conform to anything other than flat wall. As you can see in the second photo, by the time three strips were up on this curved wall, some wrinkles had inevitably formed in the last strip.

Non-woven goods have the installation option of pasting the wall. But I preferred to paste the paper, for several reasons, but mostly because that would give the paper a bit more softness and flexibility.

Because the paper had become soft and flexible, I was able to work those wrinkles out. It took time and finessing, but the paper ended up flat and smooth against the wall, and the seams were butted without gaps or overlaps.

This wallpaper pattern has a thick gesso-like texture on a metallic silver background – Quietly glamorous, really. It is by York in their Candice Olson line, and 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.

A Possible Good Quality Pre-Pasted, Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

March 8, 2018


In previous posts, including one day ago, I have railed against the lower-price-point, pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpapers. Do a Search here to find out why.

But today, at the end of a 9-day job in Bellaire, where each of the four bathrooms was using the same brand of wallpaper, this final pattern (in a powder room) actually went up beautifully.

The seams laid down nice and flat, there was no bubbling, no curling, no fighting with it. Even I could not find the seams!

I noticed three differences. First, the vinyl on the surface was smooth, instead of the lightly textured faux “satin” look on the other two patterns. Second, the paper backing seemed smoother, as contrasted to the somewhat gritty, porous paper backing on the other patterns. Third, the pre-paste applied by the manufacturer to the back of the paper was smoother and more gel-like, instead of the dry, globby, cantankerous paste on the other papers.

It’s too early to tell how this paper will hold up under humid conditions. But I have much more hope that it will not absorb humidity from the air, and will stay nice and flat to the wall.

The manufacturer is “Exclusive Wallcoverings” and is a British company. I’m not saying I love this paper, but it appears to be better than most of the pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl offerings out there.

Wallpapering a – Doorbell?

February 6, 2018


In the top photo, you see the mechanism for a doorbell. I have hung grasscloth wallpaper behind it, and then replaced the doorbell.

I don’t like to put wallpaper on things other than walls, but I have to admit, the plastic cover to the doorbell, which had been painted with some blah flat wall paint, was sad and, well, unattractive.

So I primed the plastic housing and then worked with the stiff grasscloth to get it to wrap around the oddly-shaped box. It took a little persistence to get the grasscloth to stick to the curved box.

It was worth the effort. Once the housing was placed over the dingers, you could barely make out the shape of the cover.