Posts Tagged ‘glossy’

Don’t Skip the Wallpaper Primer!

October 30, 2019


A primer is imperative for a good wallpaper installation – and I mean a primer designed to be used under wallpaper, not a generic primer or a paint primer.

A good primer will

seal porous surfaces
mitigate a glossy surface (paper won’t stick to gloss)
allow for “slip” and repositioning while installing the paper
provide “tooth” for the adhesive to grab ahold of
withstand the torque created when wallpaper dries and pulls taught,
preventing “popped seams”
protect the surface, making future removal of the paper easier while
preventing damage to the wall

Ultra Prime Pro 977 by Roman’s is my preferred primer.

But different situations call for different primers. When hanging on a thirsty surface like new drywall or a textured wall that has been skim-floated, I will use Gardz by Zinsser. Other primers could be called for in other situations.

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.

Trouble Brewing? Paint Not Adhering to Wall

June 26, 2019


Top photo: A small circle of paint had been pulled away from the wall. When I picked at it, I was able to easily detach more paint.

Second photo: When I removed the light switch plate, some paint had stuck to it, and pulling the switch plate off the wall took some of the paint underneath along with it.

The exposed wall underneath the paint was gritty and dusty. I could not tell if it was a layer of old paint, drywall, dust, residue from ancient wallpaper paste, or other. I had the feeling that if I had tried, I could have peeled all the paint off the dusty subsurface.

This is not good.

This is an old house, and many layers of paint and other treatments have been added to the walls over the decades (100 years!). Many of these substances are not compatible with each other, and especially not if the walls were not prepped properly before applying another coat of paint.

Latex paint won’t stick to oil based paint. New paint won’t stick to a glossy paint. Nothing sticks to a dusty surface.

All these various materials will adhere to one another – for a while. But when a stressor is added to the formula, there is the potential for the layers to delaminate (come apart). That’s what happened in the two areas above, when a bit of a tug was all it took to peel several layers of paint away from the wall.

The issue here is that wallpaper comes with its own stressors. Wallpaper gets wet when it’s pasted, expands a bit, and then when the paste dries, the paper shrinks a tad and puts tension on the walls. Over time, with changes in temperature and humidity, foundations shifting, and just plain old passage of time, this tension could cause the paint to give way from the walls – this usually manifests at along a seam.

I use a wallpaper-specific primer, and among its attributes is the ability to withstand this type of tension.

Let’s hope that over the years, the many layers of paint, the new coat of primer, and the wallpaper all work together to stay nice and tight to the wall.

Note: If I had known about the wall condition earlier, and if the homeowners’ budget had allowed, a liner would have been a good option in this case. A liner is a special type of paper that is applied to the primed wall the day before the paper goes up. It serves several purposes, but one is to distribute tension across the wall. Because the seams of the liner do not line up with the seams of the wallpaper, drying and shrinking wallpaper puts tension on the liner, and not onto the unstable wall itself, thus pretty well eliminating the chance that the wallpaper seams could cause the wall to delaminate.

The downside is that using a liner adds an extra day (or more) of labor, plus the cost of material.

Disguising a Utility Box

January 21, 2019


Look closely – VERY closely, and in the upper half of the photo, you’ll see a metal utility box that has been covered with wallpaper.

This is a box for a defunct and un-used security alarm system, about 18″ square. The homeowners tried to get the box off the wall – but, despite the use of various screwdriver bits and power tools, the box would not come off.

So they were going to be stuck with a grey metal blob in the middle of their beautiful wallpaper.

Well, I thought I could do something with it. I could make it fade into the background of the wallpaper pattern.

Wallpaper won’t stick to painted metal, because it’s glossy. So I took a bit of sandpaper to knock off the gloss, and my primer Roman’s 977 Ultra Prime and coated the service box.

Then I matched the wallpaper pattern to the paper already on the wall, and covered the box with corresponding wallpaper.

This is more tricky than it sounds, because the box is 5″ deep, which created discrepancies in the pattern match, depending on from which angle you are looking. I opted to keep the pattern matched at the corner junctions rather than matching it as it would be view from a distance on the wall. That all gets too complicated to try to explain here.

The box had been primed, so it provided a good base for the wallpaper paste to stick to. But on some areas, like the edges after an outside corner, I smeared on a bit of clear adhesive caulk, to be sure the paper would hold, even under conditions of stress such as wrapping around a corner.

This whole thing took me 45-60 minutes. I am pleased with the way it turned out. From the floor, you sure would never know there is a large box sticking out of the wall.

Another Example of Wall Surfaces (Paint) Delaminating

January 7, 2019


This is a picture of an air conditioner vent, where I have removed the louvered cover. Around the edges, you can see where some of the paint stuck to the cover and pulled away when the cover was removed.

Although this house is only 30 years old, the walls have been covered with many layers of paint (probably due to children of different ages and genders using the room over the years). None of this paint would have been oil-based, but you are still going to find disparate and incompatible layers applied on top of one another.

The biggest issues here would be paint applied over dusty walls, or paint applied over a glossy surface, such as semi-gloss paint. It’s not likely that the new coat of paint would be able to adhere really tightly to either dust or gloss.

So when the air vent cover came off, you can see that it pulled off several layers of paint, probably right down to the drywall. I had a feeling that, if I tried, I could work at that wall and peel off all those layers of paint pretty easily, right down to the drywall.

The lesson here is, walls should always be prepped properly before any treatment (paint, wallpaper, wood veneer paneling) is applied.

What is proper prep? Well, that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother discussion!

Patch Disguises Delaminated Wall

December 19, 2018

I hung this paper for a young couple in a cute 1930 bungalow in the Heights neighborhood of Houston a year or two ago. After a year or so, the wallpaper began to gap at the seams. Turns out this is not the wallpaper coming loose from the wall. What is happening is that the various layers of paint and etc. inside the wall are actually coming apart.

The wallpaper dried and shrank and put torque (tension) on the wall at the seams. Also factoring in is humidity in the air, poor air circulation in the air, and possibly a moisture problem inside this wall. Oh, and this wallpaper manufacturer, Hygge & West, is known for using inks that curl away from the wall at the points where they cross the seams.

But the real culprit is years’ worth of paint and other wall surfaces that are not compatible with one another. Back 80 years ago, you had oil-based paint. Cover that with latex paint, then do a project that creates dust that sifts onto the walls, add some gloss paint, roll on a coat of latex, then a layer of texture, then more paint … all without proper prep between.

Proper prep or not, most of these wall coatings are not prepared to adhere to one another, and when drying / shrinking wallpaper puts stress on the surface, the various layers can let go from one anther and “delaminate” – which means to come apart.

In the photo, you can see the thickness of the separating layers. Some layers of paint have held fast to the wall, but others have let go and curled back. Because there is dust and gloss and other factors underneath, it’s not guaranteed that anything will hold the layers back tight to the wall.

Adhesive silicone caulk was my glue of choice. It will stick to porous or glossy surfaces. I squeezed some carefully into the popped seams, spread it around, closed the seam back up, and then waited for the caulk to tack up and grab ahold of the layer above it.

Eventually the caulk dried enough and became tacky enough that it held the layers together. Not perfectly, but at least there was no gaping opening at the seam.

The gap and a slight “pouch” still showed, so I thought of covering them with a patch that would span the seam, holding both sides together.

So next I took some left over paper (ALWAYS save your left overs!) and cut out dark green palm leaves. I made sure to leave a wide section on either side that was cut along the individual fronds, so they would mimic the pattern on the wall, and so there would be a wide area to straddle the seam and add stability. The area I cut out between each front helped the patch blend in with the pattern that was on the existing paper on the wall.

The stupid camera ate my picture of the patch after it was cut and pasted, but before it was applied to the wall. Dang it, because that would have explained a lot of my process.

Anyway, I made several of these frond-leaved patches, pasted them, and then applied them to the wall, directly straddling the popped seams. Not only did this cover and hide the open edges of the seams, but the width of the patch helped strengthen the bond while at the same time lessening the possibility that a seam would open up again.

In the last photo,  at the top of the picture, you can see one appliqué patch applied, straddling the seam.  Moving down the wall, I would add two more similar patches over the seam.

From a distance – heck, even from up close, you could not see the repaired areas.

Pearlized Chinoiserie Blends Historic With Contemporary

February 11, 2018


Chinoiseries (Oriental-themed patterns) date back hundreds of years. But they can be adapted for modern tastes, too. The muted colors and pearlized shimmer of this design by Thibaut fit right in with this young couple’s furnishings and with the architecture of their Briargrove (Tanglewood) area home in Houston.

The largish powder room originally had a Venetian plaster type finish on the walls, and it was painted a glossy one-color grey. Suffice it to say, the room was downright unattractive.

I smoothed the walls and applied a primer. As the paper started to go up, the homeowner exclaimed, “I didn’t expect the wallpaper to make the room look bigger. But it DOES!” She also loved the pattern, and the oh-so-very-subtle pearly sheen.