Posts Tagged ‘heat gun’

Out Smarting a Tough Corner

July 27, 2021

In the top photo, I am hanging a new strip of wallpaper, moving from right to left, about to turn around that outside corner and move on to the left.

The strip of wallpaper is going to land about 3/8″ from that corner. This is not good, particularly with this specific paper. That 3/8″ does not provide enough surface for the wallpaper to grab ahold of, to be stable as the strip continues around the corner. You are also likely to get wrinkles as the paper wraps around onto the new wall.

It would be much better to have a wider strip of paper turning the corner on that first wall. I figured out a way to do that, while still matching the pattern perfectly in the corner to the right.

Because the pattern repeats itself once horizontally on the strip, this means there are two of the “circle” motifs, and I can use either one for my new strip. (I know, kinda hard to explain.) I chose to use the option that involved slicing the strip in half vertically, which left me with a narrower strip that fell far away from that corner to the left (and closer to the inside corner to the right). In the second photo, the location of this seam is marked by the blue tape.

Because that strip was narrow, the next strip was wider – wide enough to cover the remaining part of the first wall to the left and then wrap around the outside corner, and then into the inside corner on the far left.

I will also note that this vinyl material was very thick and stiff and uncooperative. It helped a lot to use the heat gun to soften the vinyl so it would wrap more easily around the corner and hug it tightly.

This wallpaper is made by Katie Kime.

For the record, their Customer Service told me that, due to material shortages due to the pandemic, they can’t get their usual very nice non-woven substrate, so are temporarily printing on this heavy vinyl material.

Katie Kime – Tough Install Today

July 21, 2021
The Great Persuader

The previous wallpapers I’ve hung by Katie Kime have been on a non-woven substrate, a dependable synthetic material that has many positives going for it – light weight, breathable, stain-resistant, strips off the wall easily when redecorating, doesn’t expand when wet with paste so you can paste the wall as an alternative to pasting the paper, doesn’t expand so you can hang pasted strips immediately (no booking time), and your measurements will be accurate.

So I was surprised today by the weight of this material. And I could tell immediately that it was not their usual non-woven material.

Through a 20-minute Chat with their Customer Service (which is excellent, by the way), they told me that, due to the construction supply shortages related to the COVID pandemic, they are currently unable to get their usual materials, os have temporarily switched to a vinyl.

The backing looks like non-woven to me, but their instructions say to paste the paper and then book for 10 minutes, like a traditional paper. I suspect these instructions are outdated, but I followed them anyway.

This stuff was very thick and stiff … like working with a sheet of plastic. It was hard to press tightly into corners and to get tight cuts at ceiling and floor. I had to push really hard with a brand new blade to even slice through it.

I even had to use the heat gun to “melt” the material a bit so it would fit into and around inside and outside corners. This stuff would be the dickens to hang in a room with intricate cuts and turns.

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

May 5, 2021

In my previous post, the wall had the thick, knock-down texture that is typical in new tract homes in the Houston area. You can’t hang wallpaper on this texture, because it looks bad under the paper, and because it interferes with good adhesion.

The solution is to “skim-float” the walls with joint compound, a.k.a. “mud,” which is much like plaster. The mud needs time to dry. When the texture on the walls is super heavy, as in this home, I usually let the smoothing compound dry overnight. That does add an extra day – and an extra day’s cost – to the job.

To save these homeowners from paying for that extra day, we pulled out all the stops. In this photo, you see my two box fans and my heavy-duty black floor fan blasting away at the wall. In addition, we have the room’s ceiling fan. And, in the lower left corner, the homeowner added his yellow “squirrel cage” fan.

Once the wall got half-way dry, I used my heat gun – the yellow gizmo you see lying on the dropcloth, which I call “The Great Persuader” – to speed up the drying process in stubborn areas.

Still, it took a long time for the wall to completely dry. Next I had to sand the “mud” smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then apply a primer.

Start to finish, all that prep, plus hanging the paper – a whole 3.1 strips in 35 sq. ft. of space – took nearly eight hours.

Repairing Damage from Remodeling

March 5, 2021

I hung this paper in a little boy’s bedroom about two years ago. Now a new baby is coming, so Son #1 is moving from the nursery to his “Big Boy’s Room” next door. In the process of the shuffle, the parents had the connecting Hollywood bathroom updated, and this involved moving a door – which meant messing up the wallpaper.

As you can see in the top photo, instead of taking the time and effort to remove the wallpaper, the workmen put their patching compound right on top of it. I don’t like hanging paper on top of paper, for many reasons. There are adhesion issues. And also, for one thing, it’s not good to have seams fall on top of seams. For another, because the new paper is somewhat thick, you would have a visible ridge from top to bottom along the edge of the new strip.

So I took a razor knife and cut roughly around the workmens’ patch. Then I stripped off the paper around it, up to the edge of the adjoining strip. I did this on both sides of the corner.

This wallpaper is of a non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. I was pretty disappointed that that turned out to not be the case.

On the other hand, I was happy that it didn’t. Stripping paper that way puts a lot of stress on the wall surface, and you can end up with delamination (coming apart) of various layers under the paper (primer, skim-float, paint, drywall).

So I used a more labor-intensive, but lower-impact method. Click my page to the right for more info on the process. I first stripped off the top, inked layer of paper. That left the white backing still adhering to the wall. I used a sponge to apply plenty of water to this backing. The idea is to reactivate the paste that is holding it to the wall. Once that paste was wet enough, the backing pulled off the all cleanly and easily.

I was really pleased that my primer from the original install held up perfectly under all this soaking and tugging. I had worried that it might “rewet” and pull away from the wall, which had been my experience with it before. I had used Gardz, a penetrating product designed to seal torn drywall. It’s also good at sealing new skim-coated walls. And wallpaper sticks to it nicely, so all the better!

One photo shows you the stripped off area next to the edge of the remaining strip. You can see the thickness of this existing strip. The new wallpaper will butt up against this, and there will be no ridge because the thicknesses of both strips are the same.

Another photo shows my stripped-off area next to the contractor’s patched area. There is a difference in height between the newly revealed wall and the patched area – and that will show as a ridge or bump under the new wallpaper.

To eliminate that difference in height, I skim-floated over the area. In one photo, you can see the wet (grey) smoothing compound. I set up a strong floor fan to assist in drying. My heat gun also came in handy.

Once it was dry, I sanded it smooth. Now you don’t see any transition between the newly exposed wall and slightly higher patched area. I applied Gardz to the all the newly patched areas. Set up the fan again. And once it was dry, I put up the replacement paper.

It’s a good thing the family had paper left over from the original install. If they had had to purchase new paper, it could have come from a new Run (slight difference in color shade), and that would have meant stripping off and replacing three walls.

We had barely enough paper. The corner was out of plumb by as much as 1/2″ from floor to wainscoting, on each side of the corner. That adds up to an inch out of whack. That one inch meant we needed a whole new strip of wallpaper, to get the paper on the wall to the left to match up with that on the wall to the right.

Long story short, the whole thing turned out great. There is a bit of a mis-match in that corner, but it’s not very noticeable at all.

The wallpaper is by the Scandinavian company Boras Tapeter.

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

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.

Bold Teal Color Wakes Up a Music Niche

May 20, 2020


This is a small niche that holds a stereo system and other music items. The homeowner wanted to bring some color to this corner of her living room, and fell in love with this “Helleborus” pattern by Farrow & Ball.

The bold teal color and large scaled pattern really demand your attention!

I have no idea why the two close-up shots are washed out. But you can see the detail of the design.

I papered over the box in the wall which had held a cable connection; look and you can see it’s ghost on the right side of the third photo.

The homeowner originally wanted to remove the electric outlet and paper over that, too. But electrical codes would not allow that. So I papered the plate cover, and that helps it blend into the wall. I hope she will take a dab of paint and disguise that white screw!

The wall originally had a heavy stipple texture, so I spent most of the day smoothing that – skim-floating over the texture, and then set my three fans to blast air – augmented by my great persuader / heat gun, to get it to dry. Sanded, primed, and then finally hung the three strips of paper.

Farrow & Ball is a British company that makes home goods. Instead of traditional inks, they use their paint on their wallpaper. I am not fond of this method (do a Search here to read previous experiences), but today’s install went nicely.

The home is in the Oak Forest / Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

Teal and Peach for 5-Year Old Girl’s Room

May 18, 2020

For a 5-year old girl, you can’t beat the color combination in this room! .. .. Peach walls, a floral wallpaper in teal and peach on an accent wall, and other accents not pictured, like twin teal shelves and chest of drawers, and a turquoise scrolled-metal headboard.

She can live with this pattern and these colors well into her teen years.

In the first photo, I have skim-floated to smooth over the textured walls. My three fans (plus the ceiling fan and the home’s A/C system) are working hard to dry the smoothing compound. I also engaged the services of my heat gun, to speed drying along.

This wallpaper is by Eijffinger, a Scandinavian company. It is a non-woven material, with a high fiberglass content, and won’t expand when wet with paste. Also, it is designed to strip off the wall easily and cleanly when it’s time to redecorate.

These qualities mean that it was possible to hang it using the paste-the-wall method. That made me happy, because I did not have to lug in my heavy and cumbersome trimming / pasting table.

The home is a newish townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of central Houston.

Dented Vinyl

February 15, 2020


This embossed, textured heavy vinyl wallpaper got a couple of wrinkles in the middle of the bolt as it was being rolled up at the factory. I thought that as paste soaked into the fabric backing, and then as the strip was adhered to the wall and the paste dried, that the wrinkle would go away.

But I couldn’t count on that, so I rearranged my layout of the wall so that this strip would end up with the wrinkle low on the wall and behind the large headboard of the bed.

I’m glad I did that – because the wrinkles did NOT dry out or shrink or disappear entirely as I had hoped.

I also did some experimenting with the heat gun. The heat gun may help vinyl wrap around corners, but it didn’t do much of anything for the wrinkles.

Reattaching Curling Seams on Vinyl

January 7, 2020


I hung this Bankun Raffia woven fabric-backed wallpaper a few years ago. Some of the edges along the tile and over the shower and below the window had begun to curl. This is mainly due to

` Not wanting to adhere to the porous tile grout
` Humidity from the shower
` Moisture inside the wall, or coming through the window frame

The few areas that had an inch of paper that was loose called for wallpaper paste. But for the very edges, my “secrete weapon” of clear silicone caulk was the solution. Caulk is tacky and grabs more quickly than wallpaper paste. And it will hold tighter against the aggressive curl of the vinyl.

That aggressive curl is a bit of a beast. But I have another “secrete weapon” that is up to taming the beast – a heat gun.

Be careful using it, and practice first, so as not to damage the vinyl. But judiciously applied heat will relax the vinyl just enough that it will release its curl and lie back neatly into it’s original position against the wall.

In the picture, the putty knife is for pulling the loose edges away from the wall so I can get paste and caulk behind the paper. The white smoother is for pushing the paper against the wall. The putty knife was also a good option here, because it withstood the heat of the heat gun better than the plastic smoother.

Patching Gap Around Light Fixture

November 8, 2019

The original light fixture had a rectangular base. The new one had a base that was barely larger than the electrical box. The electrician ended up with a slight gap on the left side of the box.

The wallpaper would most likely bridge that gap and look just fine. But since there was a slight difference in height between the wall and the base of the fixture, I wanted to close the gap to minimize chances of a visible pooch or bubble around the fixture.

I bought some drywall repair kits, and ended up using the one that had a thin aluminum mesh patch. I cut it to fit around the electrical box, using a few scraps to fill in gaps.

I then used drywall joint compound (“mud”) to smooth over the area. It took two of these skim coats, and a lot of time holding my heat gun to get everything to dry. Once sanded, it was nice and smooth.

A coat of Gardz penetrating sealer / primer, and the patched area was ready for wallpaper.

Elapsed time: Two hours.

This saved the homeowner having to hire “a guy” to do the repairs – and most likely, I would have had to “fine tune” whatever he did, anyway.