Posts Tagged ‘heat gun’

Fixing Drywall Damage From Where Vanity Was Removed

January 20, 2022
The powder room in this 1990’s home in the Houston Heights is being updated, and that means replacing the wall-to-wall vanity. Here the vanity has been ripped out. The areas where the backsplash was adhered to the wall have pulled the top surface of the drywall off. In addition, the plumber had to cut out a section of drywall in order to gain access to the pipes, so he can install the new faucet and handles. You can see the connections roughed in.
You can’t hang wallpaper over this mess. First of all, it way too uneven – all those bumps will show under the new wallpaper. And the outline of the ” trapdoor ” will leave a big square ridge under the paper. Thankfully, the plumber secured the panel with drywall screws – most plumbers just leave you with a chunk of drywall floating in space, or even just an empty hole.
Back to patching issues … in addition, the torn areas of drywall will absorb moisture from the wallpaper primer and / or paste and expand, creating bubbles that will show under the new paper.
I needed to fill in dips and gouges, even out high areas, and prevent bubbling drywall.
Gardz by Zinsser to the rescue! This is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and then dries hard, binding them together and creating a stable surface, as well as resisting moisture from water-based top coatings.
This picture doesn’t look much different, but here the torn drywall is a little darker, indicating that the Gardz has soaked in and dried. The surface is now ready for a skim-coat.
But first, the trap door needs to be addressed. I covered the cut areas with four strips of self-adhesive mesh drywall tape (no photo).
Then I went over everything (wall to wall) with joint compound (commonly referred to as mud ) (no photo).
Because of the thickness of the high and low areas, this had to be a thick coat of smoothing compound, and would take a long time to dry. So I went to the jobsite two days ahead of our install date, to do these initial repairs.
And – no – you can’t use quick set or hot mud or 5 or 20 minute mud to do these repairs. These products are intended for repairs of small areas. Top coatings like primers, paint, and wallpaper paste do not stick well to them. Don’t let a contractor sweet-talk you into letting him use any of these to smooth a large area of wall.
Here is the wall after my first, heavy, coat of smoothing compound. I use Sheetrock brand’s Plus 3.
The bubbles you see just left of center show that Gardz didn’t 100% do its job of sealing out moisture, as a little expansion and blistering has occurred. Not a biggie. These will disappear when the surface is sanded. There is usually not a problem with these re-appearing.
When I got to work two days later, the smoothing compound had dried. I sanded pretty smooth. Then vacuumed up the dust on the floor, and then used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This is important, because no coating will stick to dust.
The wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth, so I did another skim-coat. This was much thinner, so didn’t need a lot of time to dry. I used a fan and my heat gun to speed things along.
Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, vacuumed and then wiped off all dust. Then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have the paint store (Murphy Brothers in central Houston) add a little blue tint, so I can see it when I apply it to the wall.
What a transformation! Now this wall is ready for wallpaper!

Contractor ‘Preps For Wallpaper’ – NOT!

December 19, 2021
These bumps and dents and wrinkles WILL show through the new wallpaper. In addition, the patching compound is porous and not compatible with (won’t stick to) wallpaper primers.
Surface is not smooth, gaps and irregular areas around edges at baseboard, countertop, and window molding.
I had to fill in this gap, and stand there with a heat gun blowing on it for an hour, getting it to dry way into the depths of the gap.
Another picture of the gap. Besides that it’s not smooth and thus bumps will show under the wallpaper, this “small” gap is an issue. Wallpaper needs something to adhere to, and especially so in corners and edges. If the surface is not solid, there is nothing for the wallpaper to hold on to, and so you can end up with curled edges and wallpaper “flapping in the breeze.” (Don’t mind the wrinkly fingers – they’re very adroit and adept.)
They also got paint splatters / speckles all over the hardwood floors. C’mon, guys – just put down a dropcloth!

It irks me no end when some contractor pockets the homeowner’s money and assures her that the walls are “ready for wallpaper.” The poor homeowner trusts her “guy” and doesn’t see the real mess. Or the steps and money needed to fix it.

This was a small area (6′ wide x 2′ high backsplash to a butler’s pantry), but it took more than two hours to smooth it and then get it primed.

Hallway Wallpaper Repair – Thibaut Honshu

December 11, 2021
This couple in the West University neighborhood of Houston loves color and avant garde – unexpected and fun! I hung this Honshu wallpaper by Thibaut in their small hallway at the beginning of the pandemic – April 2020. Since then, they decided to change the faucets and showerhead in the bathroom on the other side of this wall. To access the pipes, the plumber had to cut a hole in the drywall. The ‘guy’ that this couple uses did a fantastic job of cutting the drywall, preserving the wallpaper, and then patching the hole. You can even see that his cuts are perfectly level and plumb!
Slapping wallpaper patches over the two holes would have probably sufficed. But I wanted to make it better, so I stripped off and replaced the old wallpaper. This meant patching the guy’s drywall repairs. I didn’t get a photo, but I used drywall tape and joint compound to even out the areas. A heavy duty floor fan plus a heat gun helped get the smoothing compound to dry in a few hours. I sanded smooth and applied wallpaper primer, and ended up with what you see in the photo.
To conserve paper, instead of replacing the entire two strips from ceiling to floor, which could have caused some problems with matching the pattern on the left side, I patched in about one foot down from the ceiling line. To disguise the appliqued area, I used a scissors and trimmed around the wallpaper design, as you see here. This is less visible than a straight horizontal cut.
In this photo, the two strips have been put into place. You could never tell there was a hole (or two) !

Space Heater Speeds Drying Time

November 28, 2021

Whether drying smoothing compound ( drywall joint compound ), or primer, hot, dry, circulating air helps speed the process.

i love this old space heater that I got at a garage sale decades ago. It runs when you tell it to, for as long as you tell it to – without “safety” measures that trip other heaters off after a few minutes. (Don’t worry – I keep an attentive eye on everything!)

The hot air from the space heater helps pull humidity out of the air, which speeds drying time.

Works best in a small room like a powder room. Close the door and let the heat build up. Use fans to move air around the room. You will feel the humidity increase as moisture is drawn from the walls. Periodically open the door and use a fan to circulate moist air out of the room.

One thing to note – which I have learned the hard way – is that this gizmo pulls a lot of electricity. And so do some fans. I can use my two box fans while this heater is running. But if I run my more powerful floor fan while the heater is on, it will trip the electrical circuit. And double-ditto if I try to use my heat gun while the heater is on.

Covering Up an Uneven Edge

October 31, 2021
Someone painted over the wallpaper in this powder room. At this point, removing the paper would be a huge, messy undertaking, so I’m going to leave it in place and prime over it. There was a scroll-edged border at the top of the wall and below the crown molding. Here you can see the edge of that border visible under the paint. This will show under the new wallpaper.
To prevent the edge from ” telegraphing ” through the new wallpaper, I have skim-floated over it with joint compound (” mud “). Once it’s dry (I used my heat gun to speed things up!), I will sand it smooth, wipe off the dust, and then prime the entire wall surface. No no one will be able to detect it under the new paper.

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.