Posts Tagged ‘gloss’

Tape Test for Unstable Walls

September 21, 2022

There can be reasons for unstable walls, mostly cheap or poor quality paint, dust, someone applied paint over dust, improper prep, incompatible layers inside the wall built up over years (oil based paint, latex paint, dust, gloss paint, joint compound, etc.).

These can cause problems with wallpaper, mostly with the layers delaminating (coming apart), which causes the wallpaper seams to come away from the wall. Sometimes sheets of wallpaper simply fall off the wall.

This isn’t so much a problem with paint, because it just sits on the surface. But wallpaper shrinks when the paste dries, or expands and contracts with humidity, and can put tension on the seams

Before wallpaper goes up, one way to test for such unstable surfaces is the tape test . Use a razor blade to cut an “X” into the wall, scoring through the paint and maybe into a few layers beneath. Place a strip of blue painters tape over the cut. Pull the tape off the wall.

If paint comes away from the wall along with the tape, or if layers inside the wall come apart, you know you have to do a lot of specialized prep to stabilize the wall before hanging / installing the wallpaper.

This example is an interesting twist. The homeowner used a piece of tape to hold up a wallpaper sample. Then used an ink pen to write notes on it. When removed, the tape took the paint off – in the shape of the writing!

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. VoilĂ !
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.

Paint Not Sticking to Wall

March 13, 2022
Here I’ve covered the wall (pale blue area) with wallpaper primer. Because I want to avoid the light wall from showing between the seams should the paper shrink as it dries, I’ve striped under the seam area with diluted dark paint from the hobby store.
But you can see there are areas where the paint is not adhering. What’s up?
The original surface was a gloss paint. My wallpaper primer will stick to gloss paint. But in this case, some small areas were missed when my paint roller passed over it.
Then when I swiped on the dark paint, it adhered well to the matt finish of my primer. But it could not grab ahold of the small areas of gloss paint peeking out from under my primer.
If this were a large area, I would be worried. Because wallpaper paste doesn’t like to stick to glossy surfaces, either.
But the areas of gloss not covered by my primer are minimal, and won’t interfere with adhesion of the new wallpaper.

Disguising a Plumbing Access Door

February 1, 2022
This is the trap door that leads to the plumbing for the tub on the other side of the wall. The homeowner didn’t like the big white blob in the middle of the wall. Wallpaper won’t stick to enamel or gloss surfaces, so I coated it with my Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime primer.
Even with the contoured molding uncovered, this door now blends into the wall much better.

Wallpaper Coming Off – Delaminating Wall

January 14, 2022

An Unfortunate Situation

This Brooklyn Toile wallpaper by Flavor Paper on an accent wall in a nursery went up beautifully. The contractor had added new Sheetrock to one wall, and painted the other, old/original wall. I skim-floated both walls and sanded smooth, primed, and hung the wallpaper. Perfect! (Search here to see my original post.) But within less than a month, the homeowner contacted me and said that the wallpaper was ” coming off the wall .” It was a 1920’s bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. And therein lies the brunt of the problem.
The wallpaper itself is not ” coming off the wall .” What’s happening is that the wall surface itself is coming apart – or, delaminating . This is because multiple layers of paint and other substances on the wall may not be compatible. A probably scenario: In 1920 oil-based paint was used. Later someone rolled on a coat of latex paint. Then the homeowners redecorated and used gloss paint. Then some ” flippers ” who had watched too much HGTV slapped on more paint without bothering to de-gloss or prime first. And somewhere in the mix you’ve got cheap paint and dust and other incompatible materials.
Over time, and especially when stress is put on the wall surface, such as when wet wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks, this stress can tug at the wall and actually pull these layers apart. There are other contributing factors, too, such as humidity, temperature, and location. I find it interesting that the worst parts of the affected seams were toward the top of the wall. This speaks of heat, humidity, and forced air (either hot or cold) coming out of the air vent just to the right of this wall. This photo is of the area over a door, very close to the air vent.
See how thick that is? It’s not just the wallpaper. There are several layers of wall coming apart. Some layers are clinging to the back of the wallpaper, and some are staying stuck to the wall.
Multiple layers, many years of coatings on this wall.
Easy to see the many layers. The paper itself, my blue primer, my layer of smoothing compound, paint, more paint coming off the wall. Then multiple layers of paint and texture still clinging to the wall. This shot is just below the ceiling.
Same thing happening at the baseboard at the floor.
Layers of paint separating from the wall in chunks. Some pulled off easily, and some I had to chop off with my 3″ putty knife.
Most of the paint and unstable surface material clung to the back of the wallpaper. This pile is just three strips – only half the wall. But it’s thick and stiff and heavy because of the paint stuck to the back of the wallpaper. There was so much and it was so heavy and bulky that I had to carry it out to my van in two trips. When I got home, it totally filled my trash bin.
Here’s the wall once all the other layers came off. Brushing my hand over it revealed a layer of dust. No wonder the paint and other coatings wouldn’t stick. Nothing sticks to dust. It’s like flouring a cake pan… The paint or wallpaper will kinda stick – but won’t really stick. Paint on top may be fine. But add a little stress from drying / shrinking wallpaper, and you may end up with layers that pull apart.
Wiping the walls with a damp sponge removed a lot more dust. But the wall still felt chalky. Whatever type of paint this was, it was not holding together.
I had to stabilize this chalky surface. Enter Gardz, a wonderful product – Gardz is a thin, penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and binds substances together. It dries hard and creates an intact surface. The darker area in the picture is where I’ve rolled on a test area. Gardz is thin like water, and it runs and drips and splatters. It’s imperative that you cover floors, countertops, and baseboards, and roll carefully, and roll upward rather than downward, to minimize runs and drips. A microfiber roller holds the liquid well, and reduces drips.
Gardz is made by Zinsser.
No photo of the finished wall, but I was very pleased with the stability of the surface. No more chalk or dust. Now, there still could be unstable or incompatible layers deeper inside the wall. (Latex paint over oil without proper prep.) But for now I feel pretty confident that this wall is solid and will hold up to the next process in preparation for getting the new wallpaper up.

Don’t Use Adhesive Picture Hangers

January 6, 2022
Yes, they’re strong enough to hold a 50lb painting.
But removing them may well take layer(s) of paint along with! Here you see a bubble that has lifted from the wall, as well as a break in the paint that was torn off by the adhesive picture hanger.
Several layers of paint have been pulled away from the wall. This is called ” delaminating .”
One reason for this is because the original underlying surface may have been dusty – as in dust from construction, or from sanding new drywall joint compound. Nothing sticks to dust. Other reasons for delaminating walls are incompatible surfaces, such as, an older home that starts out with oil-based paint, then someone comes along and applies latex paint over it without proper prep, then someone adds a gloss paint, then a ” flipper ” buys the house and slaps on a coat of paint without deglossing, ,,, on and on, situations that can cause layers of paint to not stick to each other. End result is that the wallpaper may come away from the wall, too.

Danger Signs of an Unstable Wall Surface

October 13, 2021
These nails were holding picture hooks to the wall. The hooks had an adhesive backing. When they were removed from the wall, chunks of latex paint stuck to them and pulled away from the wall, revealing a crumbly sub-surface. This is bad news for wallpaper that might be hung on top of this.
Other spots. What happens is, this is a 90 year old house. Over the years, many coats of paint and other surface treatments have been applied to the walls of this dining room. These coatings are not necessarily compatible with each other. Plus they may have been applied without the proper surface preparation. Oil based paint, then latex, then someone rolls on a gloss paint, the next guy follows with latex but neglects to de-gloss the previous layer so the new layer doesn’t really stick well.
Somewhere along the line, something got chalky. Here you see I have wiped crumbly chalky substance from inside the wall. This is why the latex paint is not adhering well and pulled away so easily. Nothing sticks to dust or grit or chalk.
Gardz is cool stuff. It’s a penetrating sealer that soaks in and actually binds crumbly materials together, drying into a hard, solid mass. The problem here is, it won’t penetrate the paint that is on top of the unstable layer, so we’re still dealing with a wall that has potential to come apart (delaminate).
Gardz applied. You can see how it has soaked into the porous areas, but is sitting on top of the latex paint.

The problem with an unstable wall and wallpaper, is that, as wallpaper sits on a wall and the paste dries, the paper shrinks just a tad, and this shrinking puts tension / torque on the wall beneath it. Sometimes this is actually powerful enough to pull the layers inside the wall apart, resulting in seams that split open.

These are not “loose seams,” but the paper actually taking layers of paint and dust along with it. Really can’t be repaired.

So best to find a way to prevent it from happening in the first place. More on that later.

Helping To Hide Seams

January 23, 2021

Like most wallpapers, this Sure Strip by York can be expected to expand a bit when it becomes wet with the paste. Once it’s on the wall, it will dry and give up moisture – and that results in a tad of shrinkage. That usually means you might see just a teeny bit of a gap at the seams.

Not usually a big deal. But when you have a dark or bold color such as this on a light background and also printed on a white backing, if the paper shrinks and gaps, you can end up with a hairline’s breadth of the underlying wall surface and / or of the white wallpaper substrate showing through.

Layman’s terms: You might have a slight white line showing at the seams.

To help ward this off, I did two things. One was that I used red chalk to lightly color the edges of the wallpaper. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture, but you can Search here to see previous jobs where I employed that method.

The other thing was to stripe red paint under where the seams would fall.

This is a bit more complicated than it sounds. Because wallpaper will stretch when it gets wet with paste, making it difficult to guestimate exactly where the seam will fall, and thus where to run your red stripe.

Once you plot that out, you need a level to guide you by creating a plumb line at the appropriate point. And then mix your paint with water and use a brush or small sponge to run along that plumb line, straddling it widely enough to catch the seam wherever the gap might end up actually falling.

Also, the red paint needs to be good and dry before you put wallpaper on top of it. So this means you run the red stripe down the wall, and then get fans or a heat gun, or employ some other method to get the paint to dry quickly.

Oh, and … wallpaper works best when it’s hung on a wallpaper primer. Primers specific to wallpaper are designed to resist the tension created when wet wallpaper dries and shrinks a tad, putting stress on the seam area.

By running paint on the wall along the seam line, now you’ve covered up the wallpaper primer. There is no way to know if that perfectly pigmented craft store paint will hold up over the long run and keep the wallpaper seams tight to the wall.

That’s one reason I used a fairly light mix of the paint. A full-strength concentration of red paint might not allow the wallpaper paste to grip onto it. And definitely do not use a glossy paint. Nothing sticks to gloss.

As you can guess, this process adds a significant amount of time to your install. But it’s worth it, because, in the red room I hung pictured in previous posts, the seams were virtually invisible. I know that if I had not colored the edges of the paper as well as the wall, white would have shown just a teensy bit at the seams.

Paint Must Be De-Glossed Before Adding A New Coat On Top

September 29, 2020


The original paint in both these photos was a gloss or semi-gloss. When it came time to update, someone applied a coat of new paint right on top. Then the floor guys came and stained the floor. To protect the new paint, they applied painter’s tape. Unfortunately, when the tape was removed, it took some of the new paint along with it.

Believe it or not, even something as relatively gentle as wiping wallpaper paste off the woodwork is enough to cause poorly-adhered paint to delaminate.

This happens because the new coat of paint was not given a sound surface to grab ahold of and adhere to.

To have properly prepared the original gloss paint to accept the new coat of white paint, the painter should have done one or more of the below:

1.) Sanded the paint to knock off the gloss. This leaves dust residue, so that dust will need to be wiped off with a damp rag or sponge (rinsed clean frequently) or a Tack Cloth.

2.) Wiped down with liquid chemical deglosser, such as Liquid Sandpaper.

3.) Primed with a bonding primer, formulated to stick to glossy surfaces, and also formulated to serve as an appropriate base for the new paint.

A primer is also not a bad idea to follow up in the case of 1.) and 2.) above.

Yes, all of this is a whole lot of work, and it creates dust and/or odors, takes more time, and adds cost.

But it’s a step well worth the investment, because properly prepped and painted surfaces will hold up and look professional for decades to come.

Paint Problem

May 30, 2020


Hard to see, but the paint on this wall is crackling. This is most likely because there are unstable and incompatible layers of paint underneath.

In an old house like this (1940’s), there will have been many treatments to the walls over the years. Original oil-based paint, covered by latex paint, gloss paint, dust, more colors and layers of paint. And virtually never does the workman prep the walls properly.

Latex doesn’t like to stick to oil, and most paints don’t like to stick to gloss, plus other factors. So what happens is that all these disparate layers rebel, and sometimes you end up with flaking or peeling.

If wallpaper is applied on top of these unstable walls, when it dries and pulls taught and puts tension on the wall surface, there is the potential for these layers to give way, and you can end up with a curled seam, under which are layers of delaminated wall.