Posts Tagged ‘heat gun’

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.

Getting Smoothing Compound To Dry

June 13, 2019


The walls in this powder room were textured. (see top photo) To ensure that the new wallpaper looks good, and that it has a solid surface to cling to, the walls need to be smoothed. This is called floating, or skim coating, and I do a lot of it here in Houston. To do that, I trowel on a plaster-like substance, let it dry, then sand it, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then prime.

What takes the most time is waiting for the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound, which we also call “mud”) to dry. If the texture is heavy, often it has to dry overnight. The downside of this is that it adds an extra day of labor and expense. But when the texture is lighter, the drying can be speeded along.

In the second photo, you see some of the ways I get mud to dry more quickly. On the counter* you see two box fans, and on the floor is a much stronger fan. On the counter is also a space heater. Hot air in the room absorbs moisture, sucking it out of the wet smoothing compound. I let the room heat up, and then I have to open the door and let the moist air out – over and over again.

The yellow objet on the floor is a heat gun. A heat gun acts like a hair dryer on steroids, and can get small stubborn areas to dry pretty quickly.

A few other things help speed drying … Walls coated with flat paint will dry more quickly than with glossy paint. And having the air conditioning and / or heat cranking away will help, because, while regulating the temperature, these climate-control systems also pull humidity out of the air. I also like to turn the HVAC system’s fan from “Auto” to “On,” so that air is circulating continuously, which also pulls humidity out of the air and helps the walls to dry.

*I normally keep a dropcloth on the vanity counter. But the vibrating fans can cause the dropcloths to slip, and you don’t want anything crashing down on the homeowner’s countertop. I do have lengths of self-grip shelf liner that help keep the fans from moving around too much.

Washable, Kick-Proof Wallpaper

March 10, 2019


The builder of this contemporary styled home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston included two large islands with seating areas – but neglected to address the issue of people scuffing the flat white paint with their shoes, or the pets splashing water and food onto the wall.

The homeowners needed something durable that would stand up to dings and that would be washable, too.

To the rescue is this heavy, solid-vinyl wallcovering in a sort of faux grasscloth design in a silver metallic color. It has a slight horizontal texture to it. The substrate is non-woven (not the cheapie paper backing that can be problematic in humid areas).

The paper went up beautifully on the flat backs of the island kick-area, and on the inside corners (required some vertical cuts to allow the paper to bend in the corner). But wrapping the thick, stiff material around the outside corners (see top photo) was not going well. The material simply was too thick to lie down tightly to the corners.

So I called in the Great Persuader – my trusty heat gun. With a little heat applied to both sides of the corners, and working it with my plastic smoothing tool, the vinyl conformed quickly and laid down neatly and tightly.

This is one of the few papers that is actually durable, resistant to dings, and washable. It will hold up well against human kicks and sloppy pets.

This vinyl wallpaper is by York Wall, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Heat Gun – The Great Persuader

December 30, 2018


Today I was trying to lay some scrim backed textured vinyl (the Thibaut’s Bankun Raffia, same as yesterday’s post) around an outside corner that ended on a 3/8″ return. That 3/8” did not give the paper much to grab ahold of. In addition, the thick vinyl was very argumentative about wrapping that corner. Even though I augmented the wallpaper adhesive with my “secret favorite stick-um” – clear adhesive caulk), the vinyl was not sticking. Scoring the material vertically along the edge of the corner didn’t help.
So I called in the big guns – my heat gun that is (and an extension cord). Low heat, run for just a second or two over the vinyl where it was sitting on the corner, was all that was needed to get the thick vinyl to wrap and lie down.

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry – Fast

August 23, 2017

Digital Image

Many homes here in Houston have textured walls.  The texture will show through wallpaper and look bad, and it also prevents good adherence to the wall (because the paper wants to stick to a smooth, flat surface, not to the tops of bumps on the wall).  So I smooth the wall by troweling on a smoothing compound (drywall joint compound), which is similar to plaster.

Once it’s dry, it can be sanded smooth, then sealed and primed, and then it’s ready for wallpaper.

The trick is getting the compound to dry as quickly as possible.  Here I have three fans blowing full force on the wall.  These really speed things up.

Helpful, too, is having a ceiling fan.  And very important is having the air conditioning cranked down cold, and the house fan set from “Auto” to “On,” meaning that it will be constantly circulating that dry, air-conditioned air through the room.  It’s pulling moisture out of the wall and pulling humidity out of the air, and helping the wall to dry.

Stubborn spots can be hit with the heat gun.