Posts Tagged ‘heat gun’

This House is NOT Ready for Wallpaper

December 20, 2022


Two weeks before a job is to start, I send my clients a “check list” so they know how to prepare for Install Day.  It includes things like check to be sure it’s the right wallpaper pattern, how I can get into the house if the homeowner is away, how much space I need for my set-up, etc.

It also says quite clearly that all construction work has to be completed, and there needs to be electricity, light, nearby running water, and no workmen coming in while I’m working, and no workmen coming in later who might mess up the paper.

This ensures that I will have optimum working conditions (I need lights so I can see what I’m doing. I need water so I can keep your paper clean.)  And you don’t want Bubba coming to hook up a light fixture and put his sweaty hands all over the new wallpaper in the process.  Or a painter coming to touch up, who decides to “protect” the new wallpaper by putting blue tape on it.  Of course, when he removes the tape, the surface ink or  the wallpaper itself will come along with it.

Yet you would not believe how many people – innocently or desperately – tell me they are “ready” when they really are not.  Here is an example of a house that is not ready for wallpaper.  It is very likely that the paper will be damaged by tradesmen who come to “finish up.”

Baseboard is not in place.  When positioning the baseboard, it’s likely the carpenter will bang into the wallpaper.  When painting, you can bet the painter will get paint onto the new wallpaper.  Or, as mentioned above, he will use tape that, when he goes to remove it, will pull the inked surface and / or the paper itself off the wall.

Door molding is not in place.  Same issues as above.

No electrical outlet in the room.  What if I need to use a fan or heat gun?  And wallpaper will sit tighter to the wall if I can put the plate cover in place immediately.

The electrician is not finished.  This switch sticking out of the wall is just plain dangerous.  In addition, when he time comes to finish whatever it is he’s working on, he will probably put his greasy hands on the wallpaper, or lean his scratchy tool belt against the paper.

My checklist says I need clean, running water in the immediate area.  It specifically says NOT a hose in the yard.  Yet look where I had to get my water.  (I was working on the THIRD floor.)  This house had no faucets, no drains, and not even a working toilet.

Humidity Causes Curling Edges on Vinyl / Non-Woven Wallpaper

November 23, 2022
I hung this wallpaper about 10 years ago. It’s a main bathroom in a 1920’s home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The home has been remodeled including updated HVAC systems , but surely still suffering from issues of humidity and air circulation.
At some point, the very edges of the wallpaper started curling back at the seams. This is more pronounced at the upper portions of the wall than at the chair rail. Meaning, humidity from showering is rising into the air, collecting under the ceiling, and working its way into the seams.
Once humidity gets into the backing of the wallpaper, it can cause the backing to expand. When that happens, the paper has to go somewhere. So it pushes itself away from the wall. Hence the curling that you see here.
What’s odd to me is that this happened with a paper that’s on a non-woven backing. Non-wovens are 20% polyester, so pretty resistant to moisture and humidity. I’m guessing that this company used less than the industry standard of 20% polyester. The material was super thin and flexible, which is unlike most non-wovens I’ve worked with.
I was able to make this look pretty good again. I used a putty knife to gently lift the compromised edges away from the wall, and then I worked some of my regular wallpaper paste back behind there. (no super glue or heavy duty paste or contact cement )
Then I used my heat gun – set on Low – to gently warm up the vinyl surface of the wallpaper . The heat gun served several purposes … It helped speed the drying of the paste , so it got tacky and held more quickly and firmly. The heat gun also ” melted ” the vinyl surface a wee bit, so it would curl back in the opposite direction.
I used a 3″ stiff metal putty knife to push the two edges of wallpaper back down to the wall. The metal knife heated up, too, and helped to get the vinyl to conform.
Using the heat gun and the metal putty knife also helped the two edges from the two strips to meet up together … sort of like two mountain big horn sheep butting their heads together . Butted together this way is better than one lying on top of the other.
I was really pleased with how well this worked. Sorry – no pics!
The brand is Super Fresco Easy .

Contractor Prepped Walls – But Left Dust

November 20, 2022
I usually insist on prepping the walls for wallpaper. But we had a time crunch here, and the homeowner asked her paint contractor to strip the old wallpaper and smooth the walls.
He did a good enough job of skim-floating and sanding the walls smooth.
Unfortunately, he neglected to wipe residual dust off the walls.
The problem is that nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. Over time, stress, humidity, and other factors can cause the wallpaper to expand and contract, which puts tension on the seams. This tension tugs at the seams , and if the wall surface underneath is unstable ( dusty ), the layers can pull apart ( delaminate ), and you end up with failing seams.
So I wiped down every square inch of wall, using a sponge and bucket of water. I rinsed the sponge frequently, to prevent build up of dust on the sponge.
Here’s drywall dust wiped off in just a few swipes. In the background, you can see tracks of my damp sponge along the wall. These damp areas will need to dry thoroughly before I can apply my wallpaper primer. A heat gun helps speed that process along.
One fear that I have is because, as you see in the photo, the contractor spray painted the woodwork, and in so doing, got a lot of overspray onto the wall. This can be painted over without much problem.
But, as mentioned above, putting wallpaper over this can open a can of worms.
Even with a good wallpaper primer underneath, the drying / shrinking wallpaper can put stress on the seams. If the wall underneath is dusty, the layers may let loose of one another and result in a popped seam .

Smoothing Over Holes and Bumps

October 8, 2022
The artwork and hanger have been removed, but this wall anchor remains in the drywall . It will leave a bump under the new wallpaper . I removed it from the wall. That left a hole that will leave an indention under the new paper .
Here I’ve collected a bit of joint compound (we call it mud ), a plaster -like substance that’s used for installing drywall , as well as for patching holes and smoothing textured walls (called skim-floating or skim-coating )
Here it is applied over the hole.
To speed the drying process, I use my heat gun .
Using a sanding sponge to smooth it.
Wiping dust off with a damp sponge . Important, because neither primer nor wallpaper paste will adhere to dust .
After this dried , I primed over this area and the whole wall with wallpaper primer . I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .
Now the wall is ready for wallpaper, with no worries that bumps or dips will show through .

Using Heat To Bend Vinyl

September 3, 2022
I will be wrapping a stiff , thick , embossed textured vinyl wallpaper around the inside of this window return . This 90* angle is called an outside corner . This is tricky enough.
But the real feat will be wrapping the material around that bend , and getting it to adhere to that little lip on the bottom next to the wainscoting – which is only about 1/4″ deep . That doesn’t give much for the paper to grab hold of, especially since it is stiff and will want to retain it’s flat position .
Heat gun to the rescue! Heat will cause the vinyl to soften and allow it to bend . This is my test piece. I’m experimenting with how much heat is needed and the delicate balance between bending and melting or burning .
Also how much time is required for the vinyl to cool and how well it will retain its new shape , and how firmly it will adhere to that little narrow 1/4″ lip .
Because I can’t safely put my hands in front of the heat gun, and my plastic smoother tool would not hold up, I use this ” Euni Plate ” of stainless steel , which was invented and manufactured and sold by a colleague of mine in the Wallcovering Installers Association WIA .
Here’s another view. The plate has angles and rolled edges for various uses. The damp cloth is to quickly cool the vinyl, in hopes to keep it in the bent shape .
Another trick is to use a straightedge and razor blade to gently and lightly score the vinyl along the outside of the corner fold , to break the surface a little and allow it to bend . You’ve got to be careful, because cut too deeply and you’ll end up with a sliced edge that’s unattractive and also may delaminate ( come apart ).
Finished – with nice tightly wrapped edges that are staying in place .
wallcovering installer houston installation

A Shocking Event

September 2, 2022
When I take a bathroom light fixture down, I still need light, so I often use an elastic hairband to hang an extension cord with a light bulb from the exhaust fan or air vent. That’s what you see in the photo, a close up.
Well, I was working on the strip over the door and my chin bumped into the extension cord. ZAP!!
So what you’re also looking at in the photo is a section of extension cord that got frayed or, from the looks of it, maybe melted by my heat gun nozzle being placed on it somehow. However it happened, enough of the copper wire was exposed to give me a resounding shock!
Luckily I didn’t drop anything or mess up the strip of wallpaper I was working on.
An unexpected but good reason to carry electrical tape in my toolbox .
Here’s the patched wire. As you can see, it’s not the first repair this cord has seen.
wallpaper installer houston

Dwunk Cwitters – Dark Seams

July 29, 2022
Re my previous post , it’s very common for wallpaper to shrink just a tad when the paste dries, and this can leave you with teeny gaps at the seams. So when hanging a dark paper like this, I like to stripe a band of black paint under where the seams will fall. This way, if the paper does gap at the seams, you will see dark, and not the white wallpaper primer .
I measure and plot where each seam will fall and then run a stripe of diluted water-based craft paint (from Michael’s or Texas Art Supply) under where the seam will be. I wet a scrap of sponge and dip it in the paint, adding water as needed. Don’t make it too thick or dark. Because you want the wallpaper adhering to the wallpaper primer underneath all this.
On top of the wallpaper primer, the craft paint dries pretty quickly. But I use a heat gun to be sure the paint is good and dry before hanging each strip.
Don’t paint more than one or two stripes at a time, because wallpaper stretches and expands when it gets wet with paste , and it’s difficult to predict exactly where each seam will fall. For the same reason, be sure your stripes are at least 1/2″ wide, if not a full inch.
Additionally, I’ll take a pastel chalk (NOT an oil pastel – oil stains wallpaper) and run it from the backside along the white edges of the wallpaper, to prevent any white edges from showing at the seams. Do a Search here to see previous posts about that trick .

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.

Preventing White From Showing At The Seams

March 10, 2022
When wallpaper gets wet with paste, it expands a bit. And when it dries, it can shrink just a tad. That teeny gap at the seams can expose the wall underneath it. This can happen even with the non-woven materials, which are supposed to be dimensionally stable.
In addition, manufacturers usually print on a white substrate, so sometimes you see the edges of the paper at the seams, too.
All this is much more noticeable on a dark paper, such as here.
One thing I do to prevent / minimize this is to strip the wall with dark paint under where the seams will fall. So even if a seam opens up a bit, you’ll see dark, not white.
Since non-woven wallpapers don’t expand (much), it’s easy to measure the width of your strips and plot where the seams will fall, use a level, and then apply the paint.
I use plain old craft paint from the hobby store. I use a scrap of sponge and dip that in water (in my orange bottle cap) then into the paint, and then run my stripe down the plumb line I’ve drawn on the wall or used my laser level to shoot a vertical line.
It’s important to not get the paint too heavy or thick, because the wallpaper paste may not want to grab ahold of paint like it wants to hold on to a wallpaper primer. And definitely don’t use a gloss paint.
Be sure that it’s good and dry before you hang the wallpaper. A heat gun will speed things along if needed.
Not pictured, but you can look up other posts here … I also take a bit of chalk of a corresponding color and run it along the edge of the wallpaper to cover up that white edge. It’s important to apply the chalk from the back, to avoid getting any on the front of the wallpaper. Some colleagues use water markers, pencils, or gouache paint. Whatever you use, do not use anything with oil-based inks or colors. These will bleed and stain your wallpaper.
Chalking the edges is more important than striping the wall, IMO.
This pattern is called Allure and is by Graham & Brown , a brand I like a lot.

Preventing White Wall From Showing

January 23, 2022
Wallpaper expands a bit when it gets wet with wallpaper paste (3/8″ in this case), and then shrinks when it dries. This can result in the white edges of the paper showing, or the wall behind peeking out from teeny gaps. With a dark paper like this, it can be noticeable. I ran a piece of black chalk along both edges of the paper to cover the white substrate (no photo). It’s important to use chalk and not oil pastel, as oil will stain wallpaper.
Then, to keep the the wall from peeping through, I striped the area on the wall under where the seams would fall with black paint. Not shown, I used my heat gun to speed along the drying of this stripe. I don’t make the paint too thick, because you want the wallpaper seams sticking to the wallpaper primer, not to the paint.
All this takes a good bit of time. Also, it’s tricky to plot ahead, because, due to the expansion factor, it’s difficult to know exactly where the seams are going to fall. Non-woven materials don’t expand, but papers like this one will.
I use paint from the hobby store or Texas Art Supply, run along the wall with a small chunk of sponge, dipped in water.