Posts Tagged ‘gaps and overlaps’

From Fussy Victorian to Serene Home Office

February 10, 2019

Originally, this front bedroom in a 1925 bungalow in the Houston Heights was wallpapered in a dark green and red floral. It was lovely, and went beautifully with the home’s vintage vibe.

But the new homeowners (who have lived here many years, but are just now getting around to decorating this room) want to use this room as a home office, and they wanted something lighter and more modern. In the top photo, you see me stripping off this floral paper.

They were considering grasscloth, but, after reading my warnings about that product (see the page link to the right), they decided to avoid the color variations, staining, and fragility of that material, and instead went with a sort of faux grasscloth – this textured vinyl in a silvery grey color.

The color of the new paper goes perfectly with the gray paint on the woodwork. The paper has vertical lines in a striped pattern, as well as subtle horizontal shading that mimic real grasscloth, but in a more controlled and pleasing way. The commercial-grage vinyl is thick and durable, and will withstand bumps, splashes, and stains way better than most other types of wallcoverings.

On my end, though, the vinyl material was very difficult to work with. It is thick and stiff, and it is on an Osnaburg woven fabric backing, which is much like canvas. It takes a really sharp razor blade and a lot of strength to cut through it.

And because it is so thick, it’s very difficult to get it pressed up tightly against woodwork – so when you trim against the ceiling, doors, or baseboard, it’s very likely to get a gap that lets the wall behind it show. I have a special trim guide that makes a “fat cut,” which helps eliminate that gap.

Because the wallcovering is made of vinyl, it traps moisture behind it, so when the paste behind it dries, there is nowhere for the moisture to go, so you get off gassing – which is a nice way of saying that the paper “burps” and creates bubbles. I had to continually go back and chase bubbles out of the drying paper.

The design has a textured raised vertical stripe pattern. I had cut my first several strips with the intention to start hanging. Then I started measuring the wall, plotting the layout, and counting stripes. They were not laying out properly across the wall. After studying the paper’s pattern for a while, I realized that the stripes on the ends of the paper would not be spaced correctly – unless paper was trimmed off the edges of the wallpaper strips.

By removing 2.5″ from the edge, the stripes would be spaced correctly. I could trim this 2.5″ off, using my work table, a ruler, and my 6′ straightedge.

But the manufacturer’s trimming roller had left a slight beveled edge where it cut the paper. Since my hand-cut edge would be straight up, you would see an odd junction where my straight cut met against the manufacturer’s beveled cut at each seam.

So the only option for a very smooth seam was for me to trim some off both edges of the wallpaper. This worked out to 1.5″ off one side and 1″ off the other. Which was complicated further by the fact that some of the bolts of wallpaper were 1/4″ – 1/2″ narrower than others. So much for quality control at the factory!

But what this meant to me was that I had to carefully measure the width of each bolt of paper, compare that to the rhythm of the stripes crossing the paper horizontally, and determine how much to trim off each edge, in order to have the stripes be spaced correctly across the room.

In real life, most people are not going to notice a spacing difference of 1/2,” or even 1.” Especially in a room with very dim lighting and tons of shadows, and a pattern that is difficult to see in the first place.

But since I had to trim the paper’s edges anyway, it just made sense to trim it so that the spacing of the stripes fell as perfectly spaced as possible.

Try as hard as you may, hand-trimming wallpaper, especially thick, heavy, fabric-backed vinyl, is not as accurate as what they do at the factory. Thus there is always the potential for slight gaps or overlaps at the seams. With a thin paper, it’s possible to stretch and manipulate the material to make a good seam. But with this thick vinyl, I expected to see these gaps and overlaps. However, I was amazed that the vinyl was more malleable than expected – every single seam melted together perfectly.

Although the specs said that the trimmed paper would be 25″ – 26″ wide, by the time both edges were trimmed off and the stripes spaced as they should be, the paper was actually only 24″ wide (give or take an extra 1/4″ or so). Lose 2″ on each of eight strips going across a wide wall … and that can screw up your engineering of the wall and your plans of the number of strips needed and how many bolts of paper will be required.

All of this fiddlin’ and futzin’ took a lot of time, and I was only able to trim and hang paper on two walls each day. So, with prepping the walls and hanging the paper in this … it was something like a 16 single roll room… it took me a full three days. Which is what I had planned on, so we stayed right on schedule.

There was no brand name, so I don’t know the manufacturer, but the label said “JL 8008.” This commercial-grade paper is available in the 27″ width (which is what I can work with) or the wider 54″ (which is more for commercial settings). It 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 She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Dark Alligator Out – Bright Trellis In

July 30, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

In the powder room of this home in the Woodlands (Houston), this dark brown faux alligator textured vinyl wallcovering probably looked good with the previous homeowner’s mirror and accessories, but it made the room cave-like, and was not at all in sync with the lifestyle of the new homeowners, a young family with pre-school age children.

They chose this classic trellis design in cream on tan and, boy – did it brighten and open up the room!

I usually love this brand, but today there was a bit of shading – color was darker on one side of the strip than it was on the other, which you can see in the second-to-last photo and in the head-on shot of the sink, and also some “gaps and overlaps” at the seams. Both of these issues were relatively minor and not very noticeable.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Classic Geometric in a Breakfast Area

August 27, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Geometric patterns are all the rage these days, but this one is less trendy and much more classic. Indeed, it is by Farrow & Ball, a British company, and who can be more traditional and classic than the Brits? 🙂

The kitchen in this 1960’s home in the Briarpark neighborhood of Houston has been very nicely remodeled. But the wife knew that plain paint in the breakfast nook wasn’t the vision she had for her home … Mixing modern and traditional, she chose this sculpted trellis by Farrow & Ball, in a grey-on-grey color scheme that coordinates really nicely with the paint on the kitchen cabinets, and with the décor in the rest of the house.

F&B also makes paint, and the company is known for using paint, instead of the more expected ink, on it’s wallpaper. The paint has a beautiful matt finish, and the printed areas display a lovely “raised ink” texture. I have also seen these painted wallpapers change color over time. And, the F&B papers are known for their seams that show “gaps and overlaps.” I didn’t get a picture, but today was no exception.

“Iconic” Martinique Banana Leaf Wallpaper

August 20, 2016




This “Martinique” (French island in the Caribbean), wallpaper pattern is the exact same as was used in the ’40’s in the Beverly Hills Hotel – and on TV shows like Friends and the Golden Girls, and in celebrities’ homes, and on a Mariah Carey album cover, to name a few. I have hung it several times – it is retro, it is timeless, and people love it.

It is also expensive. And thus there are knock-offs. Most of the knock-offs are easier to hang. This one was not.

While most wallpapers these days come pre-trimmed by the factory, this paper came with a selvedge edge, which I had to trim off by hand with a 6′ straight edge and plenty of sharp razor blades. I spent maybe an hour and a half just trimming the edges off six strips of wallpaper. And the trim mark arrows printed by the manufacturer were not distinct, so it was hard to tell exactly where to cut, which means it was easy to get an edge that was not perfectly straight. That means you can get perfectly butted seams, but also what we call “gaps and overlaps.” In addition, the pattern was not perfectly matched by the manufacturer, so there were some slight mis-matches once on the wall. Luckily, the pattern is busy enough that these are pretty disguised.

The paper had a thick vinyl coating that was difficult to cut. The thick manila paper backing sucked up paste, leaving little to hold the paper to the wall. The paper backing opposed the vinyl surface, causing curling at the seams. I added extra paste, I added more moisture, I striped the wall behind seams with paste, but I still had seams that wanted to curl up a little. Usually, once the paper is good and dry, the seams give up their moisture and that causes them to shrink, and then they pull tight to the wall. By the time I left, most of the seams were tight and flat.

In the end, the finished wall looks fantastic, and the homeowner loves it.

I put this bright and bold “Martinique” wallpaper pattern on an accent (headboard) wall in a guest bedroom in a new home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

Hits & Misses – Gaps & Overlaps

October 12, 2015
Digital Image

Digital Image

You have to click the image to see it enlarged, to see the seam I am talking about.  Also, the bumps are from paste, and will disappear as it dries.

This is a nice brand of wallpaper (Ecochic by Wallquest). But there are issues with factory trimming the manufacturer should rectify … Obviously, the edges of the paper have not been cut absolutely straight, because you can see areas where the seam butts together perfectly, and then you see small gaps, and then you see sections that minutely overlap. We call these “gaps and overlaps,” or “hit and miss” seams. Even though this particular paper was quite pliable, no matter how I manipulated or worked the seams, I could not achieve absolutely perfect seams.

The good news is that, from a couple of feet away from the wall, you don’t notice any of this, and the overall look is perfectly fine.

Fudging the Match / Fooling the Eye

June 19, 2015
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Wallpaper patterns are designed to match, when one strip is hung next to another. Usually, there is no wiggle room, and each strip has to be hung in sequential order. But this particular pattern (called Chaiva Segrete, by Cole & Son, in their Fornasetti line), is free-form enough that it can be tweaked, when need be. I used this to my advantage in three corners of this guest bathroom.

You never wrap wallpaper around an inside corner. Instead, you wrap a fraction of an inch around the corner, then cut the paper vertically, and then overlap the “new” strip on top of the existing strip, in the corner. But if that “new” strip chances to be very narrow, there is a large possibility that it will hang crooked, causing problems like gapping and overlapping with each subsequent strip that has to hang next to it on that wall. But if you don’t butt the next strip up to this narrow, crooked strip, the pattern match will be off.

In another scenario, I wanted to avoid cutting against the shower’s tile grout, which can cause an irregular, un-straight cut (in addition to devouring my razor blades), so I wanted to hang a fresh strip butted against the tile and then work back to the previously-hung corner.

What to do?!

My solution was to create a new piece that looked like it matched, even if it didn’t. I found a place in the pattern that had only leaves, making sure that no motifs (the keys) would be cut up. I carefully cut around the leaf motifs, creating an irregular edge to the strip of wallpaper. (Photo 2) Then I hung the strip of wallpaper, allowing the irregular edge to wrap around the corner, overlapping the previous strip of wallpaper. Once it was smoothed into place, you would not see that this was not the intended pattern match. (Photo 3)

In another area (no photo), I used the same technique to bring a narrow 6″ strip along the side of a closet door up to meet (but not perfectly match) the wallpaper over the door.

With the right pattern, this trick works well. It saves paper, saves time, and eliminates gaps and overlaps.

In fact, in the last photo, in an entirely different corner, floor to ceiling, I have employed the same technique – and I’ll bet you cannot spot the area that is not the factory match!