Posts Tagged ‘flat’

Soft Textured Foliage Brightens Entry

September 8, 2022
The homeowners knew they wanted something brighter for their entryway . But their paint samples tested on the wall were falling flat.
Wallpaper was the answer! Brighter and more personality and interesting than paint of the same color .
Here’s a better shot showing the actual color .
And here it is with my 100-watt light bulb gone and the room’s chandelier providing the light .
This is a stringcloth material . Note that, just like grasscloth , another natural fiber material , you will see the seams a bit. On this one, the heavy inked areas of the white berries showed more than the background areas . From a few feet away, none of this was visible.
Close-up showing the texture of the strings and the thick ink .
I do think this will have some sound-reduction qualities ( absorb noise ).
Also a note … cats and even dogs love to scratch or chew textured fibers like this.
Rolling it out on my work table. The rolls / bolts were really heavy .
Made by Wallquest in their EcoChic line.
The home is in the Tanglewood / Galleria area of Houston .
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Using Heat To Bend Vinyl

September 3, 2022
I will be wrapping a stiff , thick , embossed textured vinyl wallpaper around the inside of this window return . This 90* angle is called an outside corner . This is tricky enough.
But the real feat will be wrapping the material around that bend , and getting it to adhere to that little lip on the bottom next to the wainscoting – which is only about 1/4″ deep . That doesn’t give much for the paper to grab hold of, especially since it is stiff and will want to retain it’s flat position .
Heat gun to the rescue! Heat will cause the vinyl to soften and allow it to bend . This is my test piece. I’m experimenting with how much heat is needed and the delicate balance between bending and melting or burning .
Also how much time is required for the vinyl to cool and how well it will retain its new shape , and how firmly it will adhere to that little narrow 1/4″ lip .
Because I can’t safely put my hands in front of the heat gun, and my plastic smoother tool would not hold up, I use this ” Euni Plate ” of stainless steel , which was invented and manufactured and sold by a colleague of mine in the Wallcovering Installers Association WIA .
Here’s another view. The plate has angles and rolled edges for various uses. The damp cloth is to quickly cool the vinyl, in hopes to keep it in the bent shape .
Another trick is to use a straightedge and razor blade to gently and lightly score the vinyl along the outside of the corner fold , to break the surface a little and allow it to bend . You’ve got to be careful, because cut too deeply and you’ll end up with a sliced edge that’s unattractive and also may delaminate ( come apart ).
Finished – with nice tightly wrapped edges that are staying in place .
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Pet Peeve – Wall Paint on Underside of Crown Molding

August 23, 2022
You’re looking up at the bottom edge of crown molding , where the painter let his brush cover the surface with flat orange wall paint.
Gee, to me, beautiful molding is elegant and elevates the appearance of the whole room. It would look so much nicer to have that edge painted white like the rest of the molding.
A painter who’s either too lazy or unskilled to ” cut a clean line ” between the wall and the woodwork .

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Dark and Moody Bedroom Accent Wall

August 4, 2022
The wall has been skim-floated and sanded smooth , primed , and is ready for wallpaper .
The homeowner did a great job coordinating the wall and ceiling paint with the colors in the wallpaper.
This is a room that’s made for sleeping!

At first I thought the pattern scale was too small for the large wall. But once I saw it on the wall, I really like the way it fills the space.
To me, this pattern has a sort of calico look.
Close-up shows the light texture on the paper.
This is a non-woven material, so I’m installing via the paste the wall method . Here I’ve cut and arranged all my strips in the order in which they will be hung . This is a drop match pattern , which some folks think of as A and B strips. Meaning, for instance, an orange flower appears at the top of the wall on Strip A . But the next strip, Strip B, has a yellow flower at the top. When you get to the third strip, we are back to an A and an orange flower. Next comes another B strip – and so on.
I’ve rolled the strips backward , with the top of the strip coming off first. This will prevent the printed face of the wallpaper from bumping into the pasted wall during installation .
Wallpaper often shrinks a tad when the paste dries , and this can result in very minute gaps at the seams . With dark wallpapers , it’s pretty important to take steps to prevent white from showing at these gaps. Here I’ve measured out where each seam will fall, and taken diluted black paint to make a dark stripe under each seam . I don’t make the paint full-strength, because wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to paint. I want the wallpaper adhering to the primer I’ve applied. That’s also the reason why you don’t want to roll paint over the whole wall.
Also, I have only striped some of the seam areas, and will wait until some strips are up on the wall before striping more lines. This is because wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, which can make it difficult to plot the exact width of each strip as you move across the wall.

I use acrylic craft paint from the hobby store, applied with a bit of sponge. I keep a small dish of water to dip the sponge into, which dilutes the paint a bit.
You also see a stick of chalk pastel . See next photo.
Besides the wall peeking out from behind the wallpaper seams , it’s also possible / probable that the white edges of the wallpaper backing / substrate will show at the seams. I take a stick of chalk and run it along the edges, making sure to apply from the backside, to avoid getting chalk onto the surface of the wallpaper.
Be sure to use chalk pastels and not oil pastels – oil will bleed and stain wallpaper. Some installers use liquid paint or markers – again, be sure to use water-based or acrylic , and never oil based or permanent markers .
BN Walls is the brand. Altogether, this was a pretty nice product to work with. It was thin and very soft and flexible (many non-wovens are not).
I wasn’t happy with all the seams, though. I believe the paper was cut with dull or wobbly wheels at the factory, because the edges seemed to not be perfectly straight . So I ended up with gaps and overlaps in some areas. Here you can see the wallpaper edges pouching up a bit due to excess paper.
But, as I mentioned, this material was quite flexible, so it was pretty easy to spread these edges apart an use a tool to push them apart and then down to prevent them from pouching up again. Once the paste started to dry, these areas held nice and tight and flat.
This is a townhome in the Rice Military neighborhood of central Houston .

Stuff Doesn’t Wanna Stick To Slick

March 23, 2022
Tomorrow this breakfast area wall will get wallpaper. Today is prep day.
The wall has a very heavy texture, plus some issues with previous patches in areas, probably due to drywall cracks. I need to skim-float over all this to smooth the surface.
In addition, the current paint is quite glossy – and this can present a problem for the smoothing compound to adhere to it properly.
So I want to prime over this gloss paint before I skim-coat the walls. The primer has to both stick to the gloss paint and provide a base that the smoothing compound will adhere to.
Another issue is that I won’t be using this every day, so keeping it shaken up and useable was a consideration. I looked high and low for an appropriate primer. Finally I snapped that the Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 that I use under my wallpaper jobs checks off all the boxes … It sticks to just about anything, and it dries nice and flat / matt so any topcoat (wallpaper or smoothing compound) can grab ahold and stick, I have it in my van all the time, and I use it frequently enough that it’s always mixed up and ready to use. To top it all off, it dries in less than an hour. Voilà!
This stuff can be tricky to find. Sherwin-Williams used to stock it for me, but became unreliable. Now Murphy Brothers on Bissonnet (Houston) gets it just for me.
Besides dropcloths on the floor, here I’ve tacked strips of thin paper dropcloth material along the wainscoting (I also do this along baseboards) to keep any drops or roller splatters from marring the homeowners’ floor and moldings.
Here it is applied. Since my goal is to cover and eliminate the glossy paint, and then provide a base for the smoothing compound, this coat doesn’t need to be opaque or cover the wall evenly.
Tomorrow we’ll see how the wallpaper turns out!
Fast-forward … I’ve floated the wall and sanded it smooth. Compare the smoothness to the “before” picture at the top.

Starting to Smooth a Textured Wall

March 2, 2022
This is a typical wall texture provided by many builders of new tract homes in the suburbs of Houston.
Wallpaper doesn’t look good hung over this texture, because the bumps will show through. And the high-and-low ridges and dips interfere with good adhesion to the wall. So this accent wall will need to be skim-floated to smooth it before the wallpaper can go up.
In addition, this wall started out with a semi-gloss paint. I worry about my materials being able to stick to a glossy surface.
So, before applying the smoothing compound, I am priming the wall with something that will stick to the gloss paint, as well as provide a matt finish for the smoothing compound to adhere to.
I’ve discovered that my favorite wallpaper primer also works great for this purpose. It sticks to just about anything, and dries almost dead-flat. I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.
I use a trowel (top) to spread on the smoothing compound. The 3″ stiff putty knife is used to knock off big-ish chunks on the wall, or bits of grit. I use the 1 1/2″ flexible putty knife to apply the smoothing compound in tight spots like around electrical outlets or between a door molding and a wall corner.
The smoothing compound I use is drywall joint compound, and I like the Sheetrock brand Plus 3 version. Search hear (upper right) to see previous posts with photos of this material.
Bottom of photo – trowel sticking to the wall shows you just how tacky this stuff is. Above that are blobs of the smoothing compound waiting to be spread around, and a little bit on the left initially smoothed onto the wall. At the top of the wall you see a section that I have already covered with the smoothing compound. This will dry overnight, and I will sand it smooth tomorrow.
Sometimes I can float a wall, get it to dry, sand it smooth, prime, and hang the paper all in one day. But this texture is so heavy that more time is required for it to dry, so it will need an overnight sit. Some fans, plus the home’s heat and/or air conditioning help to pull moisture out of the smoothing compound and hasten dry time.

More Work on Yesterday’s Delaminating Wall

January 15, 2022
Re yesterday’s post … after I got the wall stabilized, I skim-floated the surface to smooth it. That dried overnight, and today I sanded it smooth, vacuumed up the dust and then wiped residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then primed with good old Gardz. I feel pretty confident that that wall is secure enough to withstand the tension of drying wallpaper. But, just to be sure, I applied a liner. A liner is a special paper that goes on the wall under the decorative wallpaper. In this case, the purpose is to distribute tension so that no stress is placed directly on the wall. So it’s important that the seams of the liner and the decorative wallpaper do not line up or fall on top of each other. This way any tension is dispersed and distributed, and any inner surface that wants to delaminate will be held in place by the layers of paper over it. In this photo, the section to the left has the new white liner, and I am moving toward the right to finish this wall.
t’s important that the liner be flat and that the seams lie down tightly, so no bumps or ridges show under the new wallpaper. I was really pleased with how these seams just melted away.
There are all kinds of liner papers out there. This one is a stiff, somewhat thin non-woven option made in Germany.
Using a liner does add to the cost of the installation, for both material and labor to hang it.

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 appliqué of a rabbit – also trimmed along the wavy lines of the foliage – and 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.