Posts Tagged ‘hanging wallpaper’

Stripping Wallpaper – Unprimed Drywall: The Underlying Surface Makes A Difference

January 23, 2016

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When stripping off old wallpaper, you never know what you will be getting into. Some people say, “It all came off so easily!” And others will spend days on one room, damage their Sheetrock, and endanger their marriage. 🙂

Several factors come into play, some being: the surface below the wallpaper, the type of wallpaper, the technique used by the person attempting to remove the wallpaper – and his patience level. 🙂

And it’s helpful to understand the process of how homes are put together.

Shot in a corner, under a window, and above a toilet with the cover removed, this photo illustrates the first factor. First of all, the previous installer did not prime the Sheetrock before hanging the paper, and that is a big no-no. A primer will make installation of the new wallpaper easier, help it cling to the wall better, and will protect the wall from damage when the paper is removed later.

But you are not just looking at unprimed drywall.

Above the toilet tank, the grey area is drywall. There are some darker grey areas where the drywall has absorbed water used in the removal process. Wallpaper will stick to bare drywall like its life was staked on it, and, depending on the type of wallpaper and the paste used, can be the Devil to get off. If you are lucky, the wallpaper will release from the drywall easily. But more likely, the wallpaper will stick tight, and will take careful persuasion from a stiff putty knife to scrape it off the wall. It’s very easy and common during this process to tear the top layer of the drywall, and that is very bad, because the inner layer will bubble when new wallpaper or latex paint is put on top of it, and you will also see a visible dent or bump or ridges under the new surface.

To the left of the toilet, in the corner, the white area is joint compound (“mud”). Joint compound is a smoothing agent (like plaster) and has many uses, the main one being to smooth over seams in sheets of drywall. But it is also used to cover nails or screws, patch holes, or to smooth out uneven or textured areas. When it has not been sealed or primed, it is dry and porous and thirsty, and will suck the paste right off the wallpaper. Meaning, that wallpaper will “kind of” adhere to this surface, but will release very easily. Sometimes, all it takes is a little water to reactivate the paste and then the wallpaper will come off easily and cleanly. Other times, the wallpaper will never really stick well at all, and will kind of hover over the mudded areas, and can sometimes even cause a bubble in the wallpaper.

At the top of the photo, under the window molding, you are looking at another white area. This is paint – overspray from when the painters sprayed enamel onto the woodwork. The good thing about paint is that it protects the drywall and will prevent tears when removing the wallpaper. Also, the wallpaper sticks to paint much better than it sticks to joint compound, but not as aggressively as it sticks to bare drywall. So, usually, all you need to do to remove the old wallpaper is soak the backing sufficiently and then use a stiff putty knife to scrape the backing away from the paint. If you are careful, there will be no damage to the drywall. The bad thing about enamel or any gloss-finish paint, is that, contrary to what I just said, wallpaper will not stick to it, because it is glossy and slick – kind of like Colorforms, so it will “kind of” stick, but when stressed by torque or humidity or other factors, can curl at the seams, or even give way entirely.

Bottom line: When hanging wallpaper, always use the proper primer. It will save you a lot of grief down the road.

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View of the Day – Working on the Beach

December 31, 2015
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To brighten up this gloomy December day, here is a post I drafted a couple of weeks ago…

Well, O.K., I am not exactly working on the beach. But the home in Galveston where I am working today is just a few minute’s walk away. It was a beautiful day – uncharacteristically bright and clear, and even though I spent the day hanging wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom, I had an open window to look out, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The amusement park is Galveston’s Pleasure Pier, built after Hurricane Ike destroyed other facilities, and the grand building is the historic Galvez Hotel, which has withstood two hurricanes and is still lovely and going strong.

Disguising a Bowed Wall

October 4, 2015
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When hanging wallpaper, you (generally) never wrap a full-width strip of paper around an inside corner. Instead, you cut the piece into two strips, measuring and trimming carefully so the first strip will wrap about 1/16″ around the corner, and then you butt the second strip into the corner, overlapping that little bit that is wrapped around the corner.

One thing that can throw the pattern match off is if the wall is bowed. Then a differing amount of the pattern could wrap the corner at the top of the wall, compared to what appears at the bottom of the wall. That is what happened here. The pattern matches perfectly in the corner for the first 7.5 feet (not shown), but begins to gap as you get close to the floor.

Twisting the paper to conform is not an option, because it causes wrinkles, creates torque, and distorts the opposite edge, making it difficult for the next strip of wallpaper to butt up correctly.

Thus, we ended up with this slightly mis-matched pattern in the corner near the bottom of the wall. (Photo I) To keep this mis-match from jarring the eye, I dug into my trusty stash of craft paint, found my tiniest paint brush, and filled in the gaps. (Photo III)

A Wonderful Brand of Waxed Paper

August 18, 2015
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There are a number of uses for waxed paper when hanging wallpaper, mostly cut into 2″ strips for keeping paste off the ceiling or adjacent walls of wallpaper, or other porous surfaces. I found this brand at the dollar store, used it once, and loved it immediately!

Unlike the brand in the familiar red and blue box, this one does not disintegrate when it gets wet with paste, so it has a longer working time, and is easy to remove once the strip of wallpaper has been trimmed.

Puffy Drop Cloth – Tamed

August 16, 2015

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I bought a drop cloth at a garage sale for 25c, and positively LOVED it. It was paper on one side (absorbent) and plastic on the other (leak proof), laid flat and didn’t tangle with the legs of my ladder, and was non-slip. But eventually it got grungy looking, and I had to trash it. Ever since, I have been searching for one.

Finally I found some at Home Depot (and Lowe’s, too). I was thrilled. The first time I used it, it was great, just like my original find. But when I tried to fold it up and store it in my van, it was impossible. The danged thing simply would not fold or flatten. It got puffier and puffier, and took up too much room in my van, plus it would not lie flat on the floor and it was dangerously tangly under my feet and my ladder’s feet.

Well, I figured out a way to tame the beast. I realized that I didn’t need an unwieldy 9′ x 12′ drop cloth. So I cut it into 3′ x 12′ strips. These are much more useable for protecting the floor along the walls where I am hanging wallpaper. In addition, the narrower material lies flat, reducing the chance of an accident due to tangling, and it folds relatively flat and fits nicely into my van.

Finally, a Workman Who Does a Good Job

July 22, 2014

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Digital ImageWhere I was hanging wallpaper / grasscloth today, a workman was patching a cut-out in a wall. At first (top photo), I thought, “Geeze, this patch looks like crap, surely he doesn’t think that’s ready to be painted!”

But a little later, he came back and did a little sanding, then refloated the patch, and, I have to say, his work looks fantastic. And he’s not done. He still has to texture the patch – and it’s a skilled craftsman who can match new texture to the texture already on the rest of the wall.

This man used what we call 20-minute mud – joint compound that is formulated to dry in 20 minutes, much more quickly than the regular kind (which is what I use when I’m smoothing textured walls). Since he was working in several areas in the house, he could spend 20 minutes on another project, then come back and fine-tune this patch.

Clever Way to Close a Gap

February 22, 2014

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Digital ImageHanging wallpaper around windows is tricky. You can put a strip above a window, and then put a strip of the exact same width under the same window, but when you hang the next strip, which will go from the ceiling to the floor, butting up with the two previous strips, you often discover that, no matter how meticulously plumb you kept the paper, or how much you twisted and maneuvered it, there is either an overlap or a gap.

In this case, there was a 3/16″ gap. The wallpaper was on a non-woven substrate backing, which is not very flexible or malleable, so I was not able to work it into place. Instead, I chose to trim a fresh piece and patch it in.

With this busy snake-skin pattern, you never even notice!

This thick, textured faux snake skin wallpaper is by Rasch, a German company. Pattern #42350.

This is Shocking!

August 23, 2013

Digital ImageThis is a timely post, because my NGPP buddies (National Guild of Professional Paperhangers) have been discussing on Facebook about dealing with dogs in clients homes. Where I’m hanging wallpaper this week, they have three pretty big dogs, and they can get rambunctious at times.

When I get to a job, I usually kick my shoes off at the door … it helps protect the client’s floor, and I work better in stocking feet. It’s just my way. 🙂

So this morning I was going out to the van to get more supplies, and my right foot started tingling. I thought I must have kinked up a muscle or nerve in there or something. But it kept tingling, and – dang it – it felt like an electrical shock. But that was pretty weird, because how the heck would you get a shock in your feet standing inside the front door of a nice home in West University Place?

I went to the van, got what I needed, and came back inside. There, at my feet, lay the answer to my tingly feet… This funny looking mat was on the floor just outside the home office. I looked closer and saw that it had wires running through it and was hooked up to a battery pack.  (Look closely … it’s clear and somewhat hard to see.)

It’s a mat designed to keep dogs out of rooms where you don’t want them to go. When stepped on, it delivers a tiny tingly shock. Not enough to hurt, but definitely enough to discourage a canine from going where he’s not supposed to.

Most people are not bothered by the mat, because most people wear shoes in the house. I, in my stocking feet, unwittingly stepped on the mat and got the shocking revelation.

Incidentally, the household pooches had learned to outsmart the zapper mat. I watched the spaniel deftly step on tiny spaces that were not electrified, and he walked right into that room as if it were his personal home office.