Posts Tagged ‘hanging’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

From Dark and Dated to Light and Livable

December 17, 2022

Oh, my! – I hung lots of these chintz florals, ” satin ” look (the design of the dark green at the bottom of the wall), and dark colors back in the ’90’s . Sure enough – this home was built and wallpapered in 1994.
IIt’s still a good look, IMO, and the homeowner still likes it. But she’s just gotten tired of it. So – time for an update !
She also decided to eliminate the chair rail , so the new wallpaper will go ceiling to floor . Here you see some damage to the drywall where the chair rail molding was removed .
What a change! Now the room’s look is quiet and fresh .
The buffet , topped with a decorative mirror , will go on this wall . That’s why I centered the pattern in between the windows , so it will fall evenly on either side of the furnishings .
I also plotted so that a full “Moroccan lantern” (that’s what this style of trellis pattern is called), would balance out between the crown molding and the window molding. There were several of these 12.5″ high areas all around the room, so this placement of whole “lantern” motifs gave the room a pleasing look.
It also worked out that the lanterns were evenly placed and kept whole between the crown molding and the baseboard. See the second following photo to see what I’m talking about
As a note – just this one window wall took me about five hours to measure , calculate , and hang . Getting the pattern to go over, around, and under the two windows , and still line up and match correctly , took some time and futzing. The material was thick and stiff , and a bit tricky to fit into corners and trim around the decorative window molding .
In the foreground you see my work table area . The homeowner has let me put protective padding on her dining room table and then set my work table on that. This saves space and allows plenty of room for my ladder and other tools as I work around all four walls.
So that I could center the pattern on this wall , I had to start hanging my first strip in the middle of the wall. I was lucky this time, that the pattern was centered exactly on the edge of the wallpaper roll . Sometimes (as in the one I did yesterday – see previous post ) the center of the design motif is a to the right or left of the edge of the wallpaper . This, naturally, means you’ve got to do more measuring and plotting and double-checking , to be sure the center of the design falls down the center of the wall .
Back to the photo above … that dark block on the right side of my work table is my laser level. It’s shooting a perfectly plumb red line onto the wall. Here I’m lining up my first strip of paper butted against this red line .
Switch topics … Back in 1994, the original installer did a very nice job of hanging the wallpaper. But … he didn’t prime the new drywall first. That lack of primer / protective layer means that the wallpaper will actually bond to the drywall. I tried, but was unable to get the existing wallpaper off . Eventually, you need to factor in time , damage to the wall , paste residue left on the wall, and take a different tac if called for.
So I skim-floated over the seams , so they wouldn’t show under the new paper , and also floated over the damaged drywall where the chair rail had been removed . Sanded smooth , and then primed the patched areas as well as the original wallpaper, with Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 . This stuff will adhere to the light acrylic (slick) surface of the original wallpaper, as well as protect it from moisture from my paste on the new wallpaper. ( Moisture could cause the underlying original wallpaper to expand , creating bubbles that will look bad, or loose areas that will pull away from the wall, creating a bubble or pocket.)
My primer is also lightly pigmented, so it helps block out the dark color and busy pattern of the original wallpaper . This particular new wallpaper is quite opaque , but not all of them are, so a pigmented primer is important , IMO .

Left corner of the buffet wall. Here you can see how the lantern motifs are placed between ceiling and floor.
The background has a lightly mottled effect, that mimics grasscloth a bit, and also adds more depth and warmth than just a plain solid color .
Been havin’ more than a fair share of defects lately, especially this week. This paper had on both front and back sides, incidences of these black flecks . They seemed to be maybe charcoal , so I wasn’t too worried about their black bleeding through to the surface , like ink or any oil-based substance will do.
Most of them were embedded in the material itself, so could not be wiped off , nor dug out with a razor blade . Some I had to cut around and discard the affected paper. Others were so small as to not be noticeable once the paper was up on the wall and all the furniture and artwork was back in the room.
There was also one 3′ section of wallpaper that had an odd streak or arc running across it. It wasn’t ink . It was more like some kind of compromise to the substrate . I noticed it was I was pasting the back of the paper . I turned it over and, sure enough, you could see it a little on the surface. (see photo in previous post) It’s the kind of thing that was subtle, but would catch your eye when looking at the wall from a distance . It was minor , but I discarded that strip . Good thing I have the homeowners purchase a little extra wallpaper .
The manufacturer is Designer Wallcoverings , which is a good quality brand (aside from the printing defects I described earlier ). It was a non-woven / paste the wall material , which is pretty user-friendly . It will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate . Stain-resistant , and ” breathable ” in humid conditions .
The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston . Dining room installer

Family Drop Off Point

September 27, 2022
I like hanging wallpaper in my stocking feet, so I leave this mat at the door to set my shoes on. It’s also handy for paste buckets and other things you don’t want to set directly on the client’s floor, until I get my dropcloths set up in the room where I’m working.
Today I walked in to see that the rest of the family finds this a handy resting spot for their shoes, too!

No Power

September 10, 2022
So here I am hanging wallpaper – and a storm rolled through. You got it – the power went off!
I’m in mid-strip … can’t see to finish this strip , plus I have another one booking and ready to hang .
With wallpaper , there’s a timing factor, because strips need to sit and absorb the paste for a period of time (booking) before being hung. And they can’t sit too long or they can over-expand and/or freeze (stick to itself and tear when you try to unbook it).
So if I couldn’t get this strip plus the next one to the right up soon, I would have to discard both of them. (Another reason to always buy a little extra .)
Luckily I have this strong battery-powered flashlight in the van , plus another smaller one in my toolbox . These both came from Sherwin-Williams , and were economically-priced. As you can see, they put out a LOT of light.
I was able to finish hanging this strip. Before I got to the next strip, the power came back on. Whew!
installer houston

Black Grasscloth in West U Dining Room

August 21, 2022
Window wall before. Due to the logistics of plotting and hanging grasscloth, this one wall took me six hours. More on that in a separate post.
Finished wall with drapes replaced. The drapes compliment the slight sheen of the grasscloth material. How elegant !
Below the windows.
Below the windows .
Rounded bull-nosed edges on this entry arch . The edges are always tricky to wallpaper .
Arch done.
East corner. I stripe the wall with dark paint to prevent the white wall primer from showing in case of tiny gaps at the seams .
The southwest corner had an odd angle in it, probably due to the powder room or stairs or maybe A/C ducts on the other side of the wall. The light hits that one angled wall differently.
This photo also nicely shows the fine texture of the grass material, and the subtle sheen .
Also note that the seams in grasscloth are always visible . So good installer will take care to plot so the panels are placed in the most pleasing manner – in this case, down the center of the wall to the left. This does eat up a little (or a lot) of extra paper – the rolled up scraps you see are leftovers from this process. They can’t be used anywhere else, so will be thrown away . Planning all this is another reason to have the installer figure how many rolls / bolts are needed. Purchasing based on square footage would result in an unbalanced panel layout .
Northwest corner.
Grasscloth often has shading or paneling ( color differences ) between strips. This particular grasscloth was amazingly homogeneous in color, and I was very pleased. In fact, over this entry to the home office was the only place where there was any noticeable color difference at all. (also visible in previous photo)
Unfortunately, I don’t know the brand . But I suspect that a lot of grasscloth and other such natural materials are made by the same manufacturer – just sold under different brand names .
The home is in the West University area of central Houston .

Wall Prep Ahead of Wall Re-Do

July 20, 2022
This wallpaper in a Houston Heights townhome’s breakfast area was hung by “the contractor’s guy ” and he ran into some problems. First, I suspect the wall had not been adequately coated with a primer designed for use under wallpaper . This may be a large part of why the paper has come loose from the wall in places, and shrunk and gaps at the seams.
The wallpaper is an old-fashioned British pulp material , which is quite different from the non-woven material that this company usually prints on. If the installer was not familiar with hanging a pulp, yes, he can have a tough time of it.
There are other issues that the homeowner is unhappy with, such as tears, slices, patches, and, of course, these un-stuck seams. I’ve posted more pics previously, if you can Search to find them.
My task is to get the paper off and then prep the wall for hanging new material.
Most of the paper pulled off the wall easily. But there were areas where the guy had used a stronger adhesive to try to hold the edges down. Those would not come off the wall without causing damage to the wall. So I pulled off the top, inked layer and left the paper backing on the wall.
This stuff is porous and will bubble when coated with a water-borne primer , and with wallpaper wet with paste.
So I sealed these areas – I sealed the entire wall, in fact – with Gardz (by Zinsser ). This stuff is pretty incredible. It’s a thin, watery primer / sealer that soaks into the surface and binds loose components together, then dries hard and solid .
Latex paints and other water-based products (usually) won’t penetrate it, so won’t cause the underlying material to re-wet, expand , and bubble .
Just a note … due to pandemic and other supply chain related shortages , Gardz has become difficult to find. This can was about 1/4 full and I had it sitting behind my trash can, intending for weeks to toss it out. Now I’m glad that I procrastinated!
Once the Gardz sealer was dry, I skim-floated over it with joint compound , a.k.a. ” mud .” In most areas of the wall, my skim coat was as thin as possible, but I did have to make it much thicker over the areas with the paper backing stuck to the wall.
I set up three fans , and also used my heat gun , to get the smoothing compound to dry. I like the Plus 3 version made by the Sheetrock company. It sands easily and doesn’t make too much air-borne dust.
It took a couple of hours to dry. Then I sanded it smooth , vacuumed up the dust with my Shop Vac , used a damp sponge to get residual dust off the wall , and then let the wall dry once again.
Finally I applied a coat of my favorite wallpaper primer, Pro 977 Ultra Prime by Roman. I used a paint roller to roll it on to the main areas, and an angled trim brush to cut in around the ceiling and moldings.
Here is the wall all smoothed and primed .
Originally I had planned to strip , prep , and hang this half-wall all in one day. But ended up the prep took more time than I anticipated (about 8 hours ) , so we’ll let the primer dry overnight and save the wallpaper installation for another day.
The wallpaper pattern is called Strawberry Thief and is by the famous William Morris designer from the very early 1900’s . I’m sure seeing a surge in interest in his patterns, particularly this one. Do a Search to see other jobs I’ve done with it.

Don’t Assume the Width

June 30, 2022
Here’s a finished map / mural on an accent wall in a child’s room in the Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston.
It’s made by Rebel Walls ( rebelwalls.com ), one of my favorite mural companies, and was custom-sized to fit this wall.
The mural came in a set of nine panels. The instructions above explain how the mural should be hung.
Careful measurements are important, both before ordering (note: Always let the wallpaper installer calculate rollage and mural dimensions before your order ) and then before you start hanging the mural.
This one large roll was cut apart into nine panels. You see them rolled up at the top of the photo.
Each of those panels was 19.75″ wide. So based on that, you might start measuring and calculating and plotting where to position your panels on the wall.
STOP!
Just because the manufacturer’s stock comes 19.75″ wide doesn’t mean that the printed part of each panel fills that full width.
The mural was custom-sized to fit the wall, right? The width of the wall is not an exact multiple of 19.75″. That means that the printed portion of the last panel will be narrower than the others. As you can see in the last photo, that narrow portion turned out to be just 2.5″ wide.
So it’s important that you unroll every strip / panel and take careful measurements of both the wall and the wallpaper , before cutting anything and definitely before pasting anything to the wall.
One more thing, while we’re on the topic of murals. Please don’t order until the paperhanger has measured and figured . It’s very important that the mural NOT be printed to the exact dimensions of the wall. FOUR INCHES of ” bleed ” are necessary to be added to EACH DIMENSION (meaning, four inches added to both width and height ). This will allow for trimming at floor and ceiling , and will accommodate walls / ceilings / floors that are not perfectly level or plumb.

More William Morris Strawberry Thief in Houston Heights Hall Bathroom

June 24, 2022
Because I feared unstable walls in this 1920’s bungalow in this neighborhood (do a Search for previous posts), before hanging the decorative wallpaper, first I hung a non-woven liner paper on all the walls. That’s the white material you see in the photo.
The liner was hung horizontally so its seams can’t line up with the decorative paper. The idea is to disperse tension from drying wallpaper and changes due to humidity and etc., so as to deflect tension away from sketchy wall surfaces, and thus prevent delamination of multiple unstable layers deep inside the wall. Again, do a Search here to learn more.
Finished vanity area, with pattern centered on the light fixture.
Corner shot.
This colorful and symmetrical pattern is quite popular; I’ve hung it a number of times just this year.
Englishman William Morris designed wallpaper and fabrics during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The styles then were Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts. This design reflects a bit of each.
Wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and then can shrink just a tad as it dries. The liner helps prevent that, but you can still end up with teeny gaps at some seams.
To prevent the white backing from showing through, I run a stripe of dark paint under where each seam will fall.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store, diluted with a little water (in the orange bottle cap) and smeared on the wall with a scrap of sponge. Use a ruler or level and a pencil to mark where you want to stripe the dark paint.
Remember to allow for that expansion as the paper absorbs moisture from the paste. Meaning, if the paper is 20.5″ wide, and expands 1/2″, you’ll want to run your line at about 21.” And make sure that your painted swath is about an inch wide.
I also run a bit of dark chalk along the edges of each strip, to prevent the white substrate from showing at the seams (no photo).
Morris & Co. makes this iconic Strawberry Thief.
Interestingly enough, most times when I’ve hung a Morris paper, it’s been a non-woven paste-the-wall material.
Today’s option was a surprise – a traditional British pulp . This is a pretty basic and somewhat old-fashioned type of substrate . Sort of like construction paper, or the pages of an old family Bible .
The paper is very fragile , and can tear easily. You have to keep using new razor / trimming blades, because the material dulls blades quickly, and when dull they will drag and tear the paper.
Pulp papers also require a soaking / booking time after pasting , to allow time for the material to absorb the paste , soften a bit, and expand . The edges of the strips like to dry out , so I’ve learned to dip about 1/4″ of the booked ends ( booked means the pasted side of the wallpaper strip is folded onto itself, bottom edge folded up and top edge folded down to meet in the middle), into a bucket of clean water.
Then it goes into a black plastic trash bag to soak and relax for a few minutes before hanging. I use this opportunity to paste the next strip.
Non-woven wallpapers have advantages, because they do not expand when wet, and therefor you can get accurate measurements. They also can be pasted and hung immediately, with no waiting time. Alternately, you can paste the wall .

Sweet Thank You Note DRAFT

June 9, 2022
After I spent 12 hours smoothing walls and hanging wallpaper in a Spring Branch (Houston) powder room, I was packing to leave and the young daughter walked up and shyly handed me this. !! While I was working, she had spent the evening in her room creating this.
It’s large … it takes up most of my refrigerator door. If you look closely, you can see the amazing craftsmanship and skill … look at the perfect spacing between the dots and dashes running along the green curly lines. A perfect heart without pencil guide lines. And bold strokes making letters of even size and thickness.
This was a first for me! And I have to say, it sure made me feel good!

Hanging House of Hackney 4-Panel Mural

April 23, 2022
Not all wallpapers come as traditional goods with a repeating pattern in a straight or drop match.
Companies like House of Hackney (here) or Milton & King (search to find my previous posts), often package their patterns as 4-panel sets, or A & B rolls.
These take a little more thought and engineering than just pulling strips off a bolt and slapping them on the wall.
You’ve got to keep the 1-2-3-4’s in order, and parlay that into whether you’re moving to the right or the left. In this scenario, I started in the corner, so was moving in both directions. 1, 2, 3, 4. Then 4, 3, 2, 1.
In the photo, I’ve measured, cut, and laid out my strips in the order in which they’ll be applied to the two walls.
Believe me – I checked everything twice – no, thrice! – before pasting and hanging.
Another thing about murals and 4-panel sets,,, you only get one chance to get it right. There are no additional strips sitting around to be called in in case of a goof.
Here is the manufacturer’s instruction sheet.