Posts Tagged ‘gardz’

Contractors and Painters Should NOT Prep Walls for Wallpaper

July 14, 2018


This home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, and has been redone, and is now ready for final touches, like decorating, i.e. – wallpaper!

The first three photos show how the contractor left the walls. It’s hard to conceive how anyone could think these walls are “ready for wallpaper.”

What you are looking at is where the contractor ripped off the top, inked layer of the original wallpaper. Most of them don’t realize that there is a backing layer of paper that is left on the wall, that should be removed, too. Simply soaking this with a wet sponge will reactivate the paste and allow the paper to be removed easily, and with no damage to the wall (esp. if there is a good primer underneath the paper). Read my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper” to see how this should be done.

Instead, this contractor left the paper backing on the wall. Some of this porous backing is exposed. Other areas have been covered with the paint that was used on the woodwork. This solvent-based paint “raises the grain” of the surface it’s applied to – see all the hairy fibers from the wallpaper backing that have gotten stuck in the paint and raised up? Some of them are more than 1/4″ high. They create a gritty feeling on the surface, like really coarse sandpaper.

The surface is uneven, and the bumps will show under the new paper. The unevenness also means that areas of the paper will not be able to contact the wall, so there will be gaps and air bubbles and poor adhesion. The backing of the original wallpaper has been exposed, and when new, wet, pasted wallpaper gets placed on top of that thirsty paper backing, it will absorb moisture, expand, and bubble.

I had three missions. 1.) Seal the surface 2.) Smooth the surface 3.) Prime with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

I rolled on a coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz to seal the surface, so that my following treatments would not cause the paper backing to bubble. When that was dry, I skim-floated the wall with a coat of joint compound. In the areas where the hairs were 1/4″ high, the skim coat was pretty thick, and took a good while to dry. Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, then vacuumed the dust of off the floor, used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the walls, and then followed up with another coat of Gardz. It will soak into the joint compound and dry hard, forming a stable surface for the new paper to adhere to.

The last photo shows the wall once I finished.

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Smoothing Textured Walls

June 16, 2018


I like walls to be nice and smooth when the wallpaper goes up, first so the texture doesn’t show under the new paper, and second so the paper has an intact, flat surface to grab ahold of. When homes have textured walls, I skim float them with joint compound (which we calls mud) to smooth them.

To skim float, I use a trowel to spread the smoothing compound onto the walls. In the top photo, the upper portion of the wall has been skimmed, and you can see the compound drying around the edges and in high areas. It goes on grey, and when it’s dry, it will turn white. The second photo shows the box that the mud comes in, enclosed in a plastic bag, to retain its moisture.

To help speed the drying process along, I set fans up blowing on the walls, as you see in the second photo. I have three fans, and they will be positioned differently for maximum air blastage. Having the air conditioner cranking away and the house fan on also help to circulate air and pull humidity out of the air. In small powder rooms where the door can be closed and the climate supervised closely, I get a space heater going, which also helps pull humidity out of the air. For stubborn areas, I get out the heat gun – it’s like a hair dryer on steroids. 🙂

Once the mud is dry, I sand the walls smooth, then vacuum up the dust that falls to the floor, then wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then finally prime the walls. For this application, I use Gardz, a penetrating sealer which soaks into the joint compound and binds it together, and which is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on. Sorry, no photo of the Gardz or of the finished wall – but you can Search here to find previous posts.

Rubbery, Problematic Smoothing Compound

June 15, 2018


I was stripping wallpaper by peeling off the top vinyl layer and then soaking the paper backing to reactivate the paste so the paper could be removed from the wall – and ran into this.

It looks like the previous installer smoothed the wall (which is good), but used a latex spackling compound instead of the more typical joint compound. The latex became wet from the water I was using to soak off the wallpaper, and began to pull away from the wall.

This is all bad, because it leaves a bumpy mess on the wall that will show through the new paper. But worse is that it is an unstable surface for the new paper to try to hold on to. When wallpaper paste dries, the paper shrinks and puts tension on the surface below, particularly the seams. If the surface is not solid, the layers can actually come apart (delaminate) resulting in curled or gapping seams.

This is not “loose paper,” and cannot simply be glued back down. The different layers inside the wall are actually coming apart, and will require a lot of work to make the wall sound again.

Once the paper was off and the wall was good and dry, the layers seemed to adhere to each other better, and the wall felt more solid. The way I treated it was to roll on a coat of Gardz, which is a penetrating sealer that binds things together. It did a good job. Then I skim-floated over that with joint compound, which, when sanded, would leave a nice, smooth surface.

One more coat of Gardz on top of that, and the wall was sound and ready for wallpaper.

Mildew, Bleach, KILZ

June 7, 2018


Whooah! I stripped off wallpaper from this wall around a window in a home that had some water damage from Hurricane Harvey, to find this black powdery stuff – mildew. You don’t want to put wallpaper over a wall that has mildew, because the black stuff will continue to grow. And because it’s chalky / powdery, it the wallpaper will not stick to it. And it will also work its way through the wallpaper and create a stain on the surface.

I use bleach to kill the mildew and remove it from the wall. Once dry, I use KILZ Original oil-based stain blocker to seal the surface. In this case, I also skim-coated the wall, to make it nice and smooth. I will follow that with a coat of Gardz, a penetrating sealer that is also a good product to hang wallpaper on.

Torn Drywall – Gardz Cures All

May 17, 2018

Wallpaper - Torn Drywall Repaired
When the wallpaper was stripped off the wall, some of the top layer of drywall came off with it. This is bad, because the inner layer that has been revealed will bubble when wet paint or wallpaper paste gets on it. Which, of course, looks bad under the new paint or wallpaper.

Gardz is a penetrating sealer that will soak into the surface, and then dry hard and impenetrable, allowing you to paint, paper, or, as in this case, skim-float over it with smoothing compound, without worries of bubbles or an unstable surface.

Gardz looks milky-white in the can, but dries clear. It is very thin and runny, so be sure to cover the floor and baseboards. In the photo, it has been applied to the lower left corner of the torn area.

The second photo shows the wall after it has been Gardz’ed, skim-floated, sanded, and re-Gardz’ed.

Mid Century Modern Bookshelves Get Grasscloth on Back

May 6, 2018


This 1960 ranch style home in the Westbury neighborhood of Houston is like a time capsule of Mid Century Modern design. The doors, windows, moldings, cabinetry, and even most of the bathrooms are original – and in mint condition. The homeowners love the look, and wanted to honor that, while updating some of the rooms. Grasscloth was all the rage in the ’60’s, so it was the perfect choice for the backs of these bookshelves in the family room.

I have to tell ya, covering this beautiful, original, perfectly maintained 1960 wood paneling with mud and a primer just about killed me. But since the wallcovering choice was grasscloth, the new look would be in keeping with the original feel of the house.

I don’t usually like grasscloth, because of the color variations (and many more reasons – do a Search – upper right corner) – But I was pleased with today’s product. The color was very uniform, and the material was very soft and pliable, as well as thin. It turned corners nicely and hugged the wall tightly.

This particular grasscloth has a bit more of a “nubby” texture than those with straight reeds, and this one had a nice sheen, too.

I wanted to avoid getting paste on that pristine wood, because I was afraid it might not wipe off without leaving residue, and also because I didn’t want to run a damp rag along the grasscloth, for fear of staining or bleeding. So I used my craft store cutting mat and a couple of different straightedges, to pre-trim the pieces to perfect right angels, so they would fit into the bookshelf alcoves, and also butt up against one another precisely.

I also used blue plastic tape (not shown) on the edges of certain pieces, to keep paste off the wood bookcase.

This grasscloth wallpaper is by Phillip Jeffries, a higher-end brand, 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.

You Can’t Just Slap Wallpaper on Top of Paneling

May 5, 2018

Today I am hanging grasscloth on wood paneling. You can’t just slap wallpaper on top of wooden paneling. Even old wood has resins, and these can bleed through wallpaper. So the paneling had to be treated with a stain blocker. I used KILZ Original (their water-based version is not as dependable), a wonderful oil-based primer that seals off a multitude of problems – wood sap, water stains, tobacco, rust, blood, grease, ink, etc.

In addition, the grooves in the paneling had to be filled in, to prevent the wallpaper from drying, pulling taught, and sucking down into the grooves, revealing a visible vertical line. So once the KILZ was dry, I skim floated the paneling, both to bridge the grooves, and to fill in the light wood grain, and, to add a second buffer layer to seal off any wood resins. This was sanded smooth and followed by a coat of a penetrating primer called Gardz.

Mirror Removed – Ready for Wallpaper? NOT!

March 20, 2018


A mirror had been glued to this wall with mastic adhesive (a tar-like substance). When the mirror was pulled off the wall, the adhesive pulled some of the drywall along with it, and in other places it left some of the tar on the wall. Then someone skimmed over the surface with joint compound.

The wet joint compound caused the torn areas of the drywall to absorb moisture and ripple, and the tar worked its way through the joint compound.

Both torn drywall and tar are problems under wallpaper. The ripples from the torn drywall will show under the new wallpaper. And moisture from the wallpaper paste is likely to make the bubbles larger. The black mastic (tar) will bleed through the wallpaper, creating black spots.

If I had been there when they removed the mirror, I would have taken a utility knife and cut the globs of mastic completely out of the wall. Removing it is preferable to trying to cover it up. Yes, this would have torn the drywall, opening it up to wrinkling when it gets wet with primer or paste.

But the penetrating sealer “Gardz” is designed to fix torn drywall. It dries hard and impermeable, so moisture cannot get through. No worries about bubbles or wrinkles! The cut areas could then be skim-floated over and then sanded smooth.

But since I didn’t get to prep from the beginning, I inherited this wall in the top photo, with torn, wrinkly areas, and with tar bleeding through the joint compound.

To prevent additional bubbling, I coated the wall with Gardz. Once that was dry, wanting to both smooth the wall and create an additional barrier to contain the mastic stains, I skim-floated the entire wall, let dry, sanded smooth, and sealed again with Gardz.

Gardz doesn’t protect against stains, though. So, to keep the mastic from bleeding through, I coated the wall with KILZ Original oil-based stain killer and blocker. This worked better having the joint compound under it, because when I’ve put KILZ directly on mastic adhesive, the two petroleum-based products simply melded into one another, and left us with the very real potential for bleeding through wallpaper (or paint, BTW).

So the KILZ should have effectively blocked any stains from the mastic. But the new problem is that wallpaper paste will not stick to modern, EPA-approved, oil-based products. Plus, I was worried that a little of the black tar might still find a way through.

So I skim-floated the wall again, creating yet another layer that would bury those tar stains. After that was sanded smooth and wiped free of dust, I applied another heavy coat of Gardz.

All this took a long time, but it’s good assurance that bubbles will not be seen under the new wallpaper, and that no black spots will grow on its surface.

Swirly, Cheery, Leafy, and Fun!

March 17, 2018


With drab murky blue paint and not much more, this powder room near the backdoor of a ’70’s era ranch style home in Candlelight Plaza (Houston) was serving its purpose. But the homeowner knew it could live much larger.

I skim-floated the moderately textured walls to smooth them, and then primed with a penetrating sealer called Gardz, which is also a good primer for wallpaper (see first photo).

The wallpaper pattern is called “Priano,” and is by Serena & Lily, and can be bought on-line. The design has a fun circular movement, and an organic leafy motif.

From Diagonal to Vertical

March 3, 2018


This home in Bellaire was (Houston) built in the ’90’s, and the original wallpaper (top photo) in this bathroom was outdated and had begun to curl at the seams. I stripped off the old paper and primed the walls with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that is a good base for wallpaper to adhere to. See second photo.

The new tone-on-tone blue striped wallpaper updates the room, and adds a softer look. The homeowner chose cherry red accessories to accent the room. These are toned down by navy blue rugs and towels that are a slightly duskier navy and red.

This paper is a pre-pasted solid vinyl on a paper backing. Despite the economical price-point, I don’t recommend these types of papers, especially in rooms that are prone to humidity, such as bathrooms.

For starters, it’s difficult to install, and the seams never really look good. Second, the paper backing tends to absorb moisture from the air and then expand, and that causes the seams to curl. The vinyl surface layer is known for delaminating (separating from that paper backing). This, again, results in curled seams. This is not something that can be pasted back. So you are either left with curled seams or faced with repapering the entire room.

The best way to (hopefully) avoid this is to properly prep the walls, and to keep humidity to a minimum (avoid steamy showers, keep the A/C / heating vents open, run the exhaust fan, keep the door open).

Better yet, avoid purchasing paper-backed solid vinyl wallcoverings. If you shop at my favorite place (see the page on the right), you will be steered to beautiful papers of a better quality, while still at affordable prices.