Posts Tagged ‘gaps’

Sweetening an All-White Bathroom / Treating Trials

July 2, 2019



This homeowner was just trying to update her hall bathroom. She chose a new countertop, new tile, and new wallpaper. Unfortunately, some of the workmen who showed up for the job were less than stellar. I won’t say anything about the tile guys or the painters, but in the top photo, you can see how the “I can hang wallpaper” guy prepped the wall… which he proclaimed as “wallpaper-ready.”

I took down the light fixture, removed the remaining old wallpaper, and skim-floated the surface. Because the ridges in the original guy’s float job were so thick, I went there a few days early to get an initial layer of smoothing compound spread on the wall, so it would have time to dry. Then when I came back, I skim-floated the entire room. Because this second coat was thinner, it dried in a few hours (with fans, a space heater (to pull humidity from the air), and the home’s A/C unit cranking dry air through the room.)

I sanded smooth, vacuumed and wiped off the dust, and applied a coat of Gardz, which is my preferred primer for newly smoothed walls.

Mysterious tan dots worked their way through the smoothing compound and the Gardz. I didn’t know what they came from (mold, oil, tobacco, soft drink or food the workers splashed on the walls?), but I knew they would eventually bleed through the new wallpaper. So I rolled on BIN, a shellac-based stain-blocker made by Rust Oleum, to seal the wall.

This effectively sealed the stain, and the wall was nice and white after that.

A week later, I came back to hang the wallpaper. First I applied a coat of Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. For some reason, this product didn’t stick well to the BIN – which is surprising, because one reason I use this primer is because it sticks to anything, even glossy surfaces (the BIN was not particularly glossy). Look closely or enlarge the third photo, and you will see it sliding and dripping down the wall. Well, no fear. I brushed out the worst of the drips, and as the primer dried, it tightened up and clung flat and tight to the wall.

With the wall finally smooth and appropriately primed, I was ready to get that paper up on the wall. This was an old fashioned pulp paper, which the British companies were making before most of them switched to non-woven materials. I was looking forward to working with an authentic pulp paper, because it’s been a while since I’ve come across one.

But this one didn’t behave as most of them do… It was thicker and stiffer, which made trimming and intricate detail work difficult, and increased the potential for creasing (for instance, while fitting the paper into a corner at a ceiling line). And it sucked up paste and dried out way sooner than I could get a strip to the wall. So I ended up using a spray bottle to add extra moisture to the back of the paper while I was applying the paste. This did help a lot.

Some of the edges had been banged up during shipping, so some of the seams looked a little weathered. And the edges had not been cut perfectly straight at the factory, so we had a bit of what we call “gaps and overlaps.”

Still, the finished room looks great. With its sweet flowers and calming colors, the pattern reminds me of the Laura Ashley era. The blue really pops against the white woodwork and tile in the room, and the red roses are nothing short of romantic.

Such a happy turn-around, for a bathroom that started out full of trials and tribulations.

I’m not sure what the brand name is, but the label says “English Florals.” The homeowner found it on-line (free shipping!), and the cost was low – about $60 for a double roll bolt. The home is on the north side of Houston.

Fairytale Wonderland for Young Boy’s West U Bedroom

May 9, 2019


This young family in the West University Place neighborhood of Houston started out with another installation company that was not a good fit. They also started out with a wallpaper selection from a company that I find to be of poor quality (Hygge & West). I was honored that they let me take on the wallpaper install. AND that they listened to my suggestion to explore other manufactuers … the paper they chose is superior in quality, and is a far more charming and fitting design for their young son.

The walls originally had a light texture that I skim-floated over, then sanded smooth, and then primed with Gardz.

The new wallpaper is very similar in color to their original choice of palm leaves, so they could keep the trim and wainscot paint that had already been applied.

Whereas paper from the original manufacturer is known for curling and disappointing “pouches” at the seams, their final selection from Boras Tapeter (a Scandinavian company) is some of the most cooperative and best performing paper I have every worked with.

The seams are invisible, the material doesn’t expand (no pattern distortion or screwed up measurements) and it doesn’t shrink (no gaps at the seams). There is no booking time, so each strip can be pasted and then hung immediately. It can also be hung via the paste-the-wall method. It hugs the wall tightly and turns corners nicely. It doesn’t crease easily, as many thicker non-wovens do. When it’s time to redecorate, this non-woven material is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the wall. And the surface is more washable than most, making it well suited to a young child’s room.

And best of all, the “Wonderland” design, with frolicking animals and whimsical foliage, is much better suited to a child’s room than the original palm leaf option.

This wallpaper pattern is by Boras Tapeter, and 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 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.

Before There Can Be Paper, There Shall Be Liner

March 13, 2019


Usually, a smooth wall coated with a good quality wallpaper-specific primer is the best surface on which to hang wallpaper.

But with certain papers, particularly high-end or delicate materials, or in certain room conditions (humidity), a liner paper is called for.

A liner is a thin paper, made of either non-woven or pulp, often called “blank stock,” which is hung on the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It has a couple of jobs…

– provide a smooth “velvety” look
– “lock” the seams down quickly and tightly
– help tame papers that want to “waffle” or “quilt” – do a Search here to learn more
– wick moisture from the paste away from the paper, helping to reduce the chance of staining or blushing – do a Search here to learn more
– absorb moisture in humid areas (bathrooms) and help prevent seams from curling

There are “bridging liners” which are supposed to cover cracks, gaps, bumps, ridges, and the like. In my experience, they do NOT live up to their hype. Once the paste dries, they pull tightly against the wall, and any bumps or grooves will still show. If the wall has imperfections, the best solution is to skim-float the wall and sand smooth.

Hanging on liner paper is different from hanging on a primed wall. The liner grabs the paper so quickly that you don’t have the opportunity to manipulate seams or fine-tune areas that need special attention. And you won’t be able to reposition a strip even five minutes later. It does help reduce bubbles or wrinkles.

A liner will increase the cost of the job, usually by more than double. There is the cost of the material itself, as well as the labor to install it. The liner has to dry overnight, so you are looking at at least one day’s additional labor, plus the cost of the liner.

Dark Surface / White Substrate

August 21, 2018


Re yesterday’s post, because it was a dark pattern printed on a white substrate, I worried that some of the white backing might show at the seams. This is especially pertinent with thick papers and with papers that may shrink as they dry.

To help prevent any white from peeking out at the seams, I used a mud-hued artists’ pastel chalk to color the edges of the paper. In the top photo, you can just barely make out the line of muddy grey chalk along the right edge of the wallpaper.

This trick worked great. The seams pretty much melted together and disappeared. However, as you see in the second photo, there were a few sections where seams shrank and opened up just a tad – a half a tad. If the paper had a white background, you would never notice. But with a strongly-colored choice such as this one, you have to be prepared to see minute gaps in between the seams.

Narrow Strip Coming Out of a Corner – Keeping It Straight & Plumb

March 31, 2018


OK, this is a little difficult to explain, but hopefully you can follow along. I have hung paper above this door from the right and am heading toward the left, and ended in the corner. The next strip will be 9′ high, and will be narrow, having only 3″ on the wall to the left of the corner, plus 4″ wrapping around to the right of the corner and ending up against the door molding.

The problem is, a narrow strip of paper like this, coming out of an inside corner, and especially in homes with un-plumb and un-straight walls (like this one), the left edge of that narrow strip of paper is likely to not fall straight. This will be a problem when trying to get the next strip of paper to butt up against it. I didn’t want any gaps or overlaps or white wall peeking through the seam.

So I pasted up both the narrow first strip, and also the full width second strip that was to go to the left. I positioned the narrow strip, but didn’t press it firmly against the wall. (This is called keeping it open.) Then I positioned the second strip next to it, matching up the pattern, but also not affixing it to the wall.

I used my laser level to shoot a vertical line along the left edge of that second strip of paper (the red line slightly visible in the photo). This ensured me that both strips were hanging plumb. I had to reposition the second strip a bit, to be sure it aligned with the laser’s plumb line. Then I took my smoothing brush and pressed it against the wall.

Then I went back to that still-open narrow strip to the right, and maneuvered it around until the pattern matched and the two edges butted together nicely. I smoothed the 3 inches into place on the wall to the left of the corner, and then did the same with the 4 inches that fell to the right of the corner and met up with the door molding.

Beautiful!

It was actually a little more intricate than that, because of having to keep the pattern matched to the piece already in place above the door, and due to stretching of the paper as it was pulled away from the wall several times, and the shiny surface being prone to blemishes if it got creased or overworked.

It was worth the trouble, though, because keeping the edges straight meant that the seam butted together perfectly, with no gaps and no overlaps. And keeping the paper plumb meant that the whale motif at the top of the wall stayed where I wanted it. (If paper goes off-plumb, a design motif will start moving up or down the ceiling line.)

This fun swimmy pattern is called Melville and is a non-woven, paste-the-wall product, made by Cole & Son.

Curved Walls, Bull Nosed Edges

December 23, 2017


This is a beautiful entry to a new home in Sugarland. But to a wallpaper hanger, it presents many challenges.

First are the bull-nosed, or rounded, corners. When wallpaper ends on one of these corners, it’s very hard to get straight, neat cuts, because, with the paper hanging over the corner, it’s impossible to see where you are cutting. The walls were far from plumb, so I couldn’t use a level or shoot a line with my laser level. I have a tool that helps as a guide, but it slips and is not 100% accurate. And my pencil line on the dark paper was almost impossible to see.

It’s also hard for the wallpaper to grab and hold tight when it has to turn around a round corner. And double so because, while I smoothed the walls, I was unable to smooth them to the exact vertical line along the rounded corners where the wallpaper would end. That means that the wallpaper was left to adhere to 1/8″ or so of fairly heavily textured wall surface. That leaves less area for the paper to stick to, meaning that there may be some visual gaps, and also the worries that the paper may let go and curl back down the road, as well as some bumps showing under the paper.

The rounded walls made for difficulty, too. It’s fairly easy to make flat walls perfectly flat. But even highly skilled drywallers have a hard time making walls perfectly even all the way around. If you paint the walls, it’s no problem, because paint will go anywhere. But wallpaper wants to fall straight, and won’t conform to walls that have bows or bulges or womps or the like. You can end up with wrinkles or areas that won’t lie flat or edges that warp out of shape.

All this was compounded by the height of the walls – 12′. The greater the wall height, the more chance the walls will be bowed or out of plumb or have other issues.

Regular paper can be stretched a little to accommodate these irregularities, but there’s a chance it will pull apart and gap a tad at the seams when it dries. This particular paper was a non-woven material, which is even less pliable. It was supposed to be a paste-the-wall procedure, but I opted to paste the paper, which wet it more and gave it more flexibility. Sill, I did notice a teeny bit of gapping at the seams as it dried. It will take several days to dry completely, so we will have to wait and see how it holds up.

In case of gapping at the seams, to minimize any of the white wall showing, I striped black paint behind where the seams would fall, as you see in the top photo. That’s a good trick, but it is testy, too, because paint is designed to look pretty, and does not have the type of surface that wallpaper is formulated to grab ahold of. So far, though, my paint is sticking to the wall, and the paper is staying down nice and flat.

Another thing with a circular room is – where is the end point? If there are no corners, where do you end the pattern? I was lucky on this one, because I had about 8′ linear of wall that was only 12″ high. And because the paper was dark and the pattern was pretty small and crazy and hard to see. So on that 12″ high area, I just brought the left side of the paper around the room to meet up with the right side, and overlapped the two last strips and spliced them together. The pattern doesn’t match, but there’s no way anyone could ever see – not from 12′ down on the ground.

This wallpaper is by Eijffinger, and is made to order in the Netherlands and takes several weeks to arrive. It was very nice to work with. I hope that next time I encounter this brand, it will be on a nice, flat, predictable wall. It 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.

WILD Color For A Baby Girl’s Room

October 31, 2017

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No wimpy pastel pink for this soon-to-be-with-us baby girl … Her parents chose something wild and BOLD!

Both the scale and color of this bright wallpaper fill the wall with an eye-stopping blast of color and movement. Right now the remaining three walls are “vanilla.” But the homeowners will soon paint those three walls a coordinating color – either a baby blue or a soft aqua, either color to be drawn from the accent colors in the wallpaper.

This wallpaper was prepasted, and was easy to hang. However, as with other products I’ve hung by this company, there were issues with the seams that I was not happy with.

The seams were not cut perfectly straight, so we ended up with what we call “gaps and overlaps.” In addition, some of the factory-cut edges left a tiny bit of the white selvedge on the edge. This meant that when one strip butted against the next strip of wallpaper, that tiny bit of white would show. Even if it’s “only” 1/32″ of an inch, it shows.

The misprinting went further than that. As you can see in the photo, some of the pattern matched perfectly at the top of the wall, but fell into a mis-match as we got further down the wall. To minimize this, I was able to use craft paint (kept in my truck) to cover up some of the gaps at the seams, and to disguise some of the pattern mismatches.

This wallpaper came in the form of a 6-panel mural, which has a less repetitive pattern than a standard wallpaper pattern. In the top photo, three of those panels are rolled up and waiting to be pasted and then taken to the wall.

The mural was bought from AneWall, an on-line company. I hung it on one accent wall of a nursery in the north Heights (Heights) neighborhood of Timber Grove.

Over-Zealous Installer Scored into the Wall

August 16, 2017

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Windows without trim molding like these have surfaces inside the opening that need to be covered with wallpaper. They are always a little tricky, because you need to paper both the top and the sides, but the strip of wallpaper will fold over to cover only one of these surfaces. So you need to come up with paper to cover the other surface.

The previous installer chose to splice in the additional paper he needed, which is what we call a double cut, and it’s a fine way to get these windows papered. He lapped a new piece of paper over the existing piece and then cut through both layers, removed excess, and had a perfect splice.

The problem is that he pressed so hard that he cut not just through the two layers of paper, but down into the wall – quite deeply, in fact. Then, as the paper dries and gets taught, and years go by, and especially in this case where the exterior wall had a leak and water damaged the drywall all around the window, the layers of drywall split apart a bit, and that’s why you see these gaps and curled edges.

When I double cut, I put a strip of polystyrene plastic under the area to be cut, to prevent the razor blade from digging into the wall.

This type of damage is difficult to fix, because the integrity of the wall itself has been compromised. Even if you repair the surface, the underlying layers may come apart again and create another crack on the surface.

What I did was to use repair tape to bridge over the cut areas, and then joint compound to float over and smooth the area. This way, if the wall should move or try to open up again, hopefully the tape will prevent any gap from showing.

Water Color-y Pink Floral for Little Girl’s Room

June 29, 2017

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Here is a sweet pattern that really charmed up a little girl’s room in the Briar Meadows neighborhood of Houston. I hung it on one accent wall behind the bed’s headboard. In the first three photos (before, during, & after), the vertical shadows on the wall are from the dangling crystals on the chandelier. There is also a little splotchiness because the paper is still wet – the spots will disappear when it dries.

This pre-pasted wallpaper is by Jolie, and was bought on-line. It is a mural, meaning that the paper comes in panels, instead of rolls, and the pattern does not repeat itself nearly as frequently as a regular wallpaper pattern does. It is popular with moms who have little girls, and I have hung it several times. (Do a Search here.)

Just like the other times, I was disappointed in the quality of this paper. (Do a Search here.) Actually, the quality of the paper itself is fine. It is the manufacturer’s inattention to detail that is the stumbling block.

Photo #4 shows a mis-match in the pattern. These were relatively few and relatively minor, though, and really weren’t a big deal.

Other issues, however, were more noticeable and less satisfactory. Photos #5 & #6 show where the trimming blades at the factory got off-kilter, and created curved cuts. This is the exact same shape of bad cuts I have had with my other installs of this product. (Do a Search here.)

When the edges of wallpaper are not cut straight, it’s impossible to butt them together perfectly. So with this material, you are left with “gaps and overlaps,” which you can see see in Photo #7…I know the photo is crummy, but if you enlarge it and look closely, you see three distinct and rather wide gaps, all within about a 6″ length of seam.

Besides gaps, badly cut seams will result in overlaps. Photo #8 shows an overlap of about 1/8″. I hate overlaps more than gaps. I’ll take a gap over an overlap any day. But I’d rather not have either, because both look bad, in my opinion – and a conscientious manufacturer will ensure that his product is not cut like this.

Most people would not have even noticed the gaps or overlaps. But they were bugging me, and I thought I could give these homeowners a little better.

So, on some of the worst overlaps, I took a straightedge and a brand new, very sharp razor blade, and trimmed off the excess, which amounted to 1/8″ of an inch in some areas, and down to about 1/32″ in others. When dealing with these minuscule widths, this procedure is tedious and exacting, and it doesn’t always result in perfect results. Before cutting, you have to pad the wall to protect it, and then work carefully so your razor blade cuts only the two layers of paper, but not into the wall. (Scoring the wall can cause delaminating (the wall coming apart and the wallpaper seams curling) down the road.) There are a lot more factors that complicate the trimming process. But the end result, although imperfect, looked much better and was worth the time and effort.

And, from a distance, and with the furniture back in place and the shade down and my 100 watt light bulb out of the room, the wall looks fantastically feminine is perfectly suited to this young daughter.

Water Color-y Mural In a Baby Girl’s Nursery – Accent Wall

February 17, 2017
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Here’s a delightful, softly colorful wall treatment for a soon-to-be-born baby girl. I love the way the flowers look fluid, as if they were brush strokes of water color. It is a mural, made up of six panels, rather than a typical wallpaper with a repeating design motif.

I hung this on one accent wall for behind the crib in a nursery of a newish home in Pearland. The wallpaper was bought on-line, and it came with no label, no instructions, no nothing. The homeowner told me name of the website, but – dang it! – I forgot the site and the brand name. 😦 I suspect that this may be a knock-off of a very similar pattern. Read on.

I have hung this pattern before, with pleasing results:

https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/water-color-ful-wall-for-a-baby-girl/

and with slightly lesser-than-happy results:

https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/water-color-flowers-for-a-little-girls-room/

Anyway, back to hanging the mural. First I smoothed the new suburban home typically heavyish textured wall, and primed with Gardz. (No photos, but similar to the previous two posts.)

In the 4th photo, I have laid out each strip, to be sure of which way is up, of the sequence to be placed on the wall, and to get exact measurements so I can compare them to the wall.

As for getting the paper onto the wall, I followed the protocol for pre-pasted papers, which is to run each strip through a water tray. I added a light coat of supplemental paste to the wall and at the edges (ceiling, baseboard, corners).

Similar to my last experience with this paper, I had what we call “overlaps and gaps” at the seams. See photos 5 and 6. In the 7th picture, you can clearly see that the paper has not been cut straight. Look closely just below the pink flower petal, and you will see that the seam butts perfectly, then jogs to the left in an overlap, then comes back to the right in a perfect butt.

When the manufacturer provides crooked seams, it’s impossible to make them butt together perfectly.

In addition, every seam had pattern mis-matches. In fact, none of the pattern matched perfectly across the 9′ height of the mural. The photo with the dark green leaf shows an example of this. You might think, “Just pull one strip up a little.” But then other elements of the design at other points along the seam would not match up. (Not pictured.)

The paper is simply poorly trimmed and poorly printed.

From a distance, you don’t notice any of this at all, and even close up, most homeowners don’t see it. But this mother-to-be was envisioning a perfect room for her first baby, and she paid a lot of money for the mural and installation – and she spotted the irregularities immediately.

With some of the overlapped seams, I was able to carefully trim off the lower layer, so they butted together better. And as the paper dried, I was able to push some of the seams together, as well as pull apart some of the overlaps. And I used my trusty No. 2 graphite pencil to fill in some of the mis-matched design at the seams.

In the end, the homeowner was happy with the room.

The crib and other baby’s furniture are white, and will look sweet and peaceful against this accent wall.

Why do I have no photos of the finished room? All this furniture is in the garage, still in boxes, waiting to be assembled.

Hmmm… Guess how this young couple is going to spend the weekend? 🙂