Posts Tagged ‘gap’

Jungle Paneled Installation, Italian Product, for a Nursery

June 22, 2019


The top photo shows a sample panel of the wallpaper taped to the wall of the nursery. You can see the sharply sloping ceiling line to the right.

The mother-to-be fell in love with the jungle theme and the colors of this paper. She bought it on-line from an Italian company. Unlike most wallpapers that come in rolls, this product came in sets of panels, each of which was 27″ wide x 39″ long. In the second photo, you see the first three tiered along the left, and the next two strips positioned to the right. Other panels will be filled in above and below, and to the right.

Precious little information was available on how to install this product … and what there was came in Italienglish, which was little help. There was a brief on-line video, plus you could read the experiences of previous DIY clients in the customer reviews section. In such cases, you have to use the scant available information, along with your own experience, to decern an install method.

Turns out, this is similar to the old-school paper murals that come in panels and call for powdered paste. Except this company did not include paste (as most do), nor were the panels meant to be overlapped.

Luckily, I have sources for wheat, cellulose, potato starch, and other powdered wallpaper adhesives. These are mixed up on-site, are less aggressive as far as stickiness goes, and are more wet than the pre-mixed pastes used for most installations today.

More wetness, along with the particular type of paper these murals are printed on, means that the paper will absorb more moisture and can expand substantially. This is why most of these types of murals are designed to be overlapped at the seams. The seams of this product, however, were meant to be butted … which means that when that paper dries, it could shrink, and that could result in gaps at the seams.

Because the mural came in panels instead of continuous strips, the edges of the strips could not be lined up exactly perfectly, neither vertically nor horizontally. And this was exacerbated because each panel absorbed paste and expanded differently from the others, so there could be a difference in width or height between panels of as much as 1/8″.

This meant that there were some pattern mis-matches between strips. It also resulted in some seams overlapping. I left before the paper was completely dry, but I imagine there are areas where the some seams gap, too.

But I tend to overthink things, and fret about minute details that most people never see. The bottom line is, the accent wall looks fantastic, and will set a theme for the new baby’s room.

Note that this paper gets really wet when it’s pasted, and so you see a bit of blotchiness in the photos. This will disappear and the paper will be much lighter and brighter when it’s all good and dry.

The product is also not really technically a “mural.” But it comes in panels like many murals do, so I’m using that term for simplicity’s sake.

Besides the special paste, because this product was printed on a rather flimsy paper, I used a softer brush to apply the paste (as opposed to a roller), and I used a soft, long-bristled smoothing brush.
The video showed the guy using his hands to attempt to smooth the paper into place. If you looked closely, his finished wall had a lot of bubbles and wrinkles. My long soft smoothing brush was much more appropriate.

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Wallpaper In This 1/2″ Wide Space? – You BET I Can!

December 27, 2018


Well, somebody forgot to tell the contractor to push the vanity all the way against the wall … Resulting in this 1/2″ wide gap between the countertop and the wall.

With some careful folding, unbooking, and the use of a wooden yardstick to both pull the pasted paper away from the wall, and then smooth it against the wall as needed, I was able to get a contiguous strip of paper into this narrow space.

World Map – A Lesson in Measuring

August 6, 2018


Regarding the previous post about the world map … with murals, it’s always important to measure carefully before ordering. Some maps are custom made to fit your specific wall, and some come in a set size. In both cases, it’s best to have the paperhanger measure the space and tell you what to order.

When the mural is custom-sized to fit your wall, it’s imperative to add an extra 2″ to EACH SIDE of the map. This means that you will have an extra 4″ of both width and height. This will allow for trimming at the ceiling and floor and opposite ends, as well as accommodate crooked walls and unlevel floors and ceiliings.

In the case of this world map, the product came in one set size. Turns out the mural was half a foot or so taller than the wall. Good. That allows a little extra for trimming at the ceiling and floor.

But the width came out to be exactly the same as the width of the wall. Sounds perfect, huh? NOT! Because when I butted the mural up against the door frame on the right, that gave a nice, tight fit – but since that frame was not perfectly plumb, by the time the 12′ of mural reached the opposite wall, it had gone cattywhompus, and that resulted in a crooked gap at the left side. See first photo.

In addition, the ceiling was way off level. That meant that ceiling line sloped downwards and “ate up” some of the print at the top of the mural.

If I had had that extra 2″ of “bleed” area all around each side, I could have hung the map a bit off-plumb, so that the print would have lined up with the un-level ceiling. And I would have had enough to meet both the right side of the wall and the left side.

But none of that happened, so here’s what I did. I butted the mural up against the door frame on the right side of the wall. That left a gap when I got to the left side of the wall. See first photo. So I took some of the paper that was trimmed off at the floor, found some blue water that was the same color as the part of the map on the left side, and fit it in to that narrow 1/2″ gap. The pattern doesn’t match perfectly – but you don’t notice it. And it is the part of the wall that will be behind the door.

In the photos you can see that there is part of the map that extends over the tops of the doors on either side (only the right hand side and door are shown). This area extends further into the wall than the door frame molding that the mural was butted up against. This left another gap, this time about 1″ wide, over each door.

Again, I was able to take some scraps that had been trimmed off and find a piece with color and design that “kind of” blended in, and I patched those in in the 1″ gap over the doors. Again, the pattern doesn’t match perfectly, but the color and the themes do, and over the doors, no one is going to notice.

One final trick … Remember I said that the ceiling was not level, and so it was chopping off some elements at the top of the wall? Those were letters that spelled “ARTIC OCEAN.” As the mural moved across the room, and as the ceiling moved along with it, we had three-quarters of an “A” on the left, and only an eighth of an “N” on the right. (Note: If I had had enough extra height, I could have pulled the entire mural up high enough that all those letters would have been cut off. Another reason to consult the installer before ordering a mural. ūüôā )

Anyway, the eye wants to see uniformity, not letters getting smaller as you move across the room. So what I did was, I decided that those words really weren’t important at the top of the wall – especially because the corresponding letters spelling “SOUTHERN OCEAN” had been cut off at the bottom of the wall, and also because the letters were so thin and unimportant that no one was going to see them way at the top of the wall, anyway.

But if someone did look up there, he wouldn’t want to see the name of the ocean getting progressively smaller. So I took some scrap paper that matched in color, and cut small patches, and then glued these over the letters “A,” “R,” “T,” “I,”… and so on, to cover them up. I used a special adhesive that would stick to the glossy map surface.

Once they were gone from view, and the gap at the left edge filled in, no one will be able to see anything crooked on this world map!

Bottom line: Have the paperhanger measure BEFORE you order the mural.

Difficult Hang Today – Lots of Work to Get Good Seams

June 17, 2018



I don’t recall ever having seen a wallpaper product labeled “heavyweight paper” before. I wasn’t thrilled with this stuff. It was thick, and that made it difficult to work with. I prefer thin papers because they form to the walls better. This paper didn’t have any coating on it, so it is not any more durable than a thinner paper, so I don’t see the reason for the “heavyweight” treatment.

And any time you apply paste and the edges of the paper curl backward (Photo 1), you know you are in for a tough install.

The room was already prepped, and it was just 9 single rolls on an easy top of a dining room – no tricky moldings to trim around, no toilets to reach beind, no awkward spaces to situate the ladder in… It should have taken 5-6 hours. Instead I toiled for 12 hours.

I hung three strips, and wasn’t happy with the two seams between them. They pouched just a little and would not lie down flat. (Photo 2) With strong light coming in from the windows, the seams looked bad. There was no way of knowing how the seams would look once the paper was good and dry. But for now, I couldn’t stand the look, and I didn’t want to leave the homeowners with these pouchy seams.

I removed two of those strips, refreshed the paste, and kept them “open” by placing them in a plastic trash bag so they would remain useable (we didn’t have a lot of paper to spare). I ran to the truck and got supplies so I could double cut new seams (splice on the wall). I needed a special trim guide, and a special polystyrene padding strip to protect the wall so that the razor blade wouldn’t score into it (which could compromise the surface and lead to delamination of layers … too complicated to get into here, but you can do a Search and read previous posts on this subject).

From then on, instead of using the factory edges for seams, I double cut. Double cutting involves padding the wall behind where the seam will be, overlapping the new strip onto the old strip while carefully matching the pattern, and then using the handled straightedge and a sharp new razor blade to cut through both layers of paper. Then you peel back the paper at the newly cut seam and remove the two thin strips of excess paper that were just cut off. Then you remove the plastic padding strip.

Now you can put the edges of the freshly cut new seam back together. Because they were cut into each other, they will fit together perfectly. But because the padding strip has some thickness, the two newly cut edges are now a teeny tad wider than needed, so you’ll have to do some finessing to get the seam to butt together, instead of pouching up just a bit.

Because one strip of pasted paper overlapped onto another, once the excess paper strips are removed, there will be paste residue left on a 1″-2″ edge of one of the wallpaper drops. This has to be washed off with a damp microfiber rag, and you will have to rinse the rag and wash the wall several times to get all the residue off.

And all of this has to be done on a time frame, because while you’re working on one seam, the edges of the next are rapidly drying out, which is a whole new can of worms.

My finished double cut seams were perfect. (Photo 3)

But after I had worked my way around the room a bit, I looked back at the first wall, and saw that, as the paper dried, it shrank just a little. This left a visible gap between the two strips. (Photo 4) This gap isn’t visible from a distance, and it’s not visible if you look at the walls at an angle. But if you are standing three feet away and looking head-on, you will see the gap. I think it’s too much.

Oh, and, one more thing … the paper was easily marred if it was touched by any bit of metal. (Photo 5) Scissors, straight edge, trim guide, even the metal eraser housing on the end of my pencil would leave a grey mark if it happened to rub against the wallpaper. Most of these marks would wipe off, but not all of them. And wiping the paper leads to abrasion, so you want to avoid overdoing it. I worry about how the wallpaper might be marked up when the homeowners innocently go about hanging their art and mirror.

Considering what the homeowners paid for the wallpaper and installation, I think they should have a better outcome than this. This paper is manufactured by Thibaut. Thibaut makes many types of wallpaper, and most of them are lovely to work with, and they perform well. It makes you wonder why they would use this “heavyweight” stock, which produces a less-than-desireable outcome.

Light Fixtures With Small Bases Are Difficult To Work Around

August 30, 2017

Digital Image

On some light fixtures, the base is barely larger than¬†the electrical box or its¬†mounting plate, so it won’t cover any imperfections in the wall, and it’s essential that the wallpaper comes up exactly to the very edges of the mounting plate.¬† I often remove that mounting plate so the paper can go under it, which gives a neat look.

In this room, the light was changed from one fixture centered over the sink to two wall sconces.  The electrician had a hard time fitting the new boxes into the wall.  (It is much easier on new construction.)

There are a lot of things going on wrong with these sconce settings, but some are not visible and are difficult to explain.¬† It took me about an hour to figure out what was going on, and how to rectify a box that was cattywhompus in the wall – but that’s a different story.

Here you see a gap because the sconce base is too small to cover¬†the hole for the electrical junction¬†box.¬† This fixture had a larger (3/4″) gap on the other side that is not pictured.¬† ¬†In the next photo, the box is extra large, and extends out beyond the small sconce base.

I had to cover up those gaps to make a solid base for the wallpaper to hold on to.  In the case of the blue box, I had to smooth over the ridge caused by the thickness of the blue plastic against the wall (to prevent a ring from showing under the wallpaper, all around the fixture).

To bridge the gaps, I used a certain kind of paper, dunked in Gardz, a penetrating wall sealer that dries hard.  That essentially recreated the portion of wall that had been cut away.  Once that dried, I skim-floated over it with joint compound and then sanded smooth, to even everything out.

I used joint compound again to float all around the ridge on the blue box, and got a perfectly smooth wall.

Since I had been able to remove the mounting plate, I was able to get the wallpaper to fit under it, so no gaps showed around the base.  Then I reconnected the wires and rehung the sconces.

As you can see in the finished photo, it turned out great.