Posts Tagged ‘houston’

A Nice Faux Grasscloth for Wet Areas – But A Little Difficult to Work With

February 17, 2019


OK, well my “after” shot didn’t turn out, so all I have for you are these close-ups … which do a fine job of showing the texture of this product. It’s made of vinyl, which allows the texture to be embossed into the surface.

In a bathroom, vinyl is a good alternative to real grasscloth, because water splashing on it will not stain it or cause inks to bleed. I run caulk along where the material meets the countertop / backsplash, so that if water pools up along the surface, it can’t be wicked up into the wallpaper (which could cause curling).

This is a fairly thick vinyl on a non-woven backing, and was somewhat difficult to manipulate into areas where it needed to bend – such as pressing tightly against the ceiling or moldings when I needed to trim off excess paper. It took a lot of strength and pushing in order to get a cut that was nice and close to the corner. I just did an accent wall with few obstacles, but this product would have been difficult to work with in a room that had multiple walls to turn around, and things to cut around – windows, cabinets, etc., or outside corners to get the paper to wrap around – you’d probably need to get out the heat gun and spend a bit of time on each such turn.

I used the chalk to color the edges of the dark wallcovering because it had been backed with white material, and also because the edges themselves were a bit burnished.

The faux grasscloth is by Thibaut, and I believe is in one of their new books highlighting textured materials. The home is in Oak Forest (Houston) and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. https://www.cokinosdesign.com/

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Sloppy, Lazy Painters

February 16, 2019


Here we are in the master bathroom of a brand newly built home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Before I put the charcoal-colored wallpaper up, this wall was originally painted white. Somewhere along the line, after the wall light sconces were put up, the painters came to add paint to the wall.

They didn’t bother to remove the sconces, or even to put protective blue painter’s tape around the metal base of the sconces. They also were not able to “cut a neat line” with their brush.

Consequentially, as you can see, they got paint slopped onto the bases of all four of these new-and-expensive light fixtures. Not shown, but the glass shades of the fixtures were dotted with scores of paint drips and splatters.

None of this was very noticeable while the wall was painted black. But now that the new dark wallpaper is in place, it’s very easy to see the white paint slopped around the light fixtures.

I hope the homeowners can live with the ring of white paint on the bases of their light sconces. If not, I’m just betting that any attempt made by these guys to clean or remove the paint from the light fixtures will result in damage to the new wallpaper.

Former Dorm Room Goes Farmhouse Modern

February 14, 2019

This large bedroom in an addition to a 1934 home in the West U neighborhood of Houston wasn’t actually a dormitory, but it was home to two boys throughout their childhood. Now that the boys are grown and gone, the homeowner wants to make this into a spare bedroom that feels snug, yet chic.

She’s going for something of the Farmhouse Modern look. Instead of shiplapped wood on the ceiling, she chose wallpaper that mimics the look – and is much more affordable.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Joanna Gaines “Magnolia” line. It is a pre-pasted light non-woven material in their SureStrip line, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. I like this product a lot. And today I appreciated its extra strength, because I did have to reposition the first two strips quite a bit.

I’m running the strips across the ceiling the short way, from right to left (see top photo). This means that the brown stripes that represent the gaps between the wood planks will run parallel to the long wall you see on the right of the photo.

Theoretically, I should have been able to line the paper up along that far wall. The problem became quickly apparent, though – that the two walls (all four walls, in fact) were woefully out of square with one another. That meant that if the paper was hung parallel to the far wall, the brown line would go off-track as it moved across the long wall on the right.

My first strip, hung parallel to the far wall, was so out of wack with the wall on the right, that I knew that if I continued, that brown line would march very off-parallel away from the wall on the right. That is a 34′ long wall, and very visible when you are standing in the room, so it was important to keep the brown line as parallel as possible. This would have been easy if my strips had been running parallel to the wall. But since I was running the paper in the other direction across the ceiling (perpendicular to the long wall), it was very difficult.

I pulled the first strip off the wall, repasted it lightly to keep the paste activated, put it in a plastic trash bag to keep it damp, and took a new tack.

The distance between the “boards” was 6″. I wanted the first row of boards to look as wide as the other boards, but I needed some play in order to accommodate irregularities in the wall on the right, as well as potential tracking off-kilter. So I decided to have the brown line fall 5″ away from the long wall. That left this row of “boards” only an inch narrower than they should have been, which would not be very noticeable to the eye.

I took a ruler and measured 5″ out from the long wall on the right. Then I took a straightedge and drew a line connecting the marks, to give me a guide line that was parallel to the long wall. Because the long wall was not nearly straight, this line was not exactly 5″ from the wall in every spot. But it was good enough to serve as a guideline for where I wanted my brown line to fall.

Then I went and got that first strip of paper that had been cooling its heels in the plastic bag, along with Strip No. 2, and got them onto the wall. I used my pencil line as a guide to position that brown line. Since you can’t get a very accurate placement with just one 20.5″ wide strip of wallpaper, having the two strips together helped to ensure that the brown line was running along the pencil line. Still, I had to remove and reposition both strips several times, until I got them on my target.

All this is hard enough when you’re working on a wall, but on a ceiling, without the help of gravity holding your paper in place and keeping it free of twists and wrinkles, plus that same gravity trying to pull the paper down around your head, it was quite the feat.

But once I got those two initial strips properly positioned and smoothed, the subsequent strips followed nicely, and the brown line marched along the pencil line beautifully.

In the third photo, you’ll notice that only half the ceiling is done. This is because the homeowner had a little confusion between double and single rolls, and how this particular vendor describes its product, and consequently ended up ordering only half as much as was needed. 😦 I will have to come back and finish later. 😦

I don’t like stopping in the middle of a wall, because wallpaper goes up better when you put a wet strip next to a wet strip, and they can be manipulated together at the seams. But this is a large room, and I wanted to get as much done as possible, to shorten the time needed when I come back later to finish. The vendor promises that they will supply the same run number.

The next post on this room will show the finished ceiling, as well as a thin, tailored, textured woven fiber in chocolate brown that is going on the walls.

As a side note, I have worked in this home for this lovely family several times years ago. The last time I was here, their daughter was an infant. I asked how she was doing today, and was told that, “She’s out running errands, driving Mom’s car.” !!

Stripping Off What I Hung 20+ Years Ago

February 12, 2019


I hung this viny pattern back in the early 2000’s in dining room in the West U neighborhood of Houston. Now that it’s time for a change, I got to strip off what I had hung 20 years ago.

I was amazed at how easy it was, and at how there was NO damage to the walls.

The paper came away from the wall when I simply pulled it dry, but I was afraid of doing damage to the walls, especially at the seams. (When wallpaper dries, or over time with fluctuations in temperature and humidity, wallpaper can put stress on the seams, which can cause layers inside the wall to delaminate and come apart.)

To lessen the chance of putting stress on the seams, I used a sponge to put water on the surface of the paper. Because it was paper (not vinyl), water was able to penetrate, and reactivate the paste that was holding the paper to the wall. I made many trips around the room, soaking the paper each time. The more water that was able to soak into the paper, the softer the paste became, and the easier it was to pull the paper away from the wall.

Usually, the inked top layer of paper separates from the paper backing, and then you sponge water onto the backing layer, which reactivates the paste and then it comes away pretty easily. But in this case, the top and backing layers stayed together, and came off in one intact piece. This virtually never happens.

Note that I am pulling down, and not away from the wall. Pulling downwards minimizes stress on the wall. And I am pulling slowly and gently – not yanking.

What’s better – there was absolutely NO damage to the walls. Not one bit of primer pulled away from the surface, not one seam gave way, nothing to patch.

Why? Because when I prepped these walls 20 years ago, I did a proper job. I skim floated the textured walls to smooth them, removed all residual dust with a damp sponge, then primed with oil-based KILZ Original – great stuff, for many reasons. It holds tightly to the surface, it won’t rewet when water is sponged on the surface, it’s strong enough to resist double-cutting (strokes with a razor blade), it dries thin and smooth, and much more.

I wish I could still use KILZ Original. It was a superior primer for wallpaper (as well as stain-blocker). Unfortunately, EPA regulations have required manufacturers to make changes to their product, and wallpaper paste will no longer adhere to it.

I’m using alternatives now, and am pleased with the results. …Although I have not had experience stripping paper off these new products, so time will tell about that.

But these photographs of my experiences yesterday show what a superlative product the original KILZ Original was, and how important it is to take the time to prep a wall properly before hanging wallpaper.

From Fussy Victorian to Serene Home Office

February 10, 2019


Originally, this front bedroom in a 1925 bungalow in the Houston Heights was wallpapered in a dark green and red floral. It was lovely, and went beautifully with the home’s vintage vibe.

But the new homeowners (who have lived here many years, but are just now getting around to decorating this room) want to use this room as a home office, and they wanted something lighter and more modern. In the top photo, you see me stripping off this floral paper.

They were considering grasscloth, but, after reading my warnings about that product (see the page link to the right), they decided to avoid the color variations, staining, and fragility of that material, and instead went with a sort of faux grasscloth – this textured vinyl in a silvery grey color.

The color of the new paper goes perfectly with the gray paint on the woodwork. The paper has vertical lines in a striped pattern, as well as subtle horizontal shading that mimic real grasscloth, but in a more controlled and pleasing way. The commercial-grage vinyl is thick and durable, and will withstand bumps, splashes, and stains way better than most other types of wallcoverings.

On my end, though, the vinyl material was very difficult to work with. It is thick and stiff, and it is on an Osnaburg woven fabric backing, which is much like canvas. It takes a really sharp razor blade and a lot of strength to cut through it.

And because it is so thick, it’s very difficult to get it pressed up tightly against woodwork – so when you trim against the ceiling, doors, or baseboard, it’s very likely to get a gap that lets the wall behind it show. I have a special trim guide that makes a “fat cut,” which helps eliminate that gap.

Because the wallcovering is made of vinyl, it traps moisture behind it, so when the paste behind it dries, there is nowhere for the moisture to go, so you get off gassing – which is a nice way of saying that the paper “burps” and creates bubbles. I had to continually go back and chase bubbles out of the drying paper.

The design has a textured raised vertical stripe pattern. I had cut my first several strips with the intention to start hanging. Then I started measuring the wall, plotting the layout, and counting stripes. They were not laying out properly across the wall. After studying the paper’s pattern for a while, I realized that the stripes on the ends of the paper would not be spaced correctly – unless paper was trimmed off the edges of the wallpaper strips.

By removing 2.5″ from the edge, the stripes would be spaced correctly. I could trim this 2.5″ off, using my work table, a ruler, and my 6′ straightedge.

But the manufacturer’s trimming roller had left a slight beveled edge where it cut the paper. Since my hand-cut edge would be straight up, you would see an odd junction where my straight cut met against the manufacturer’s beveled cut at each seam.

So the only option for a very smooth seam was for me to trim some off both edges of the wallpaper. This worked out to 1.5″ off one side and 1″ off the other. Which was complicated further by the fact that some of the bolts of wallpaper were 1/4″ – 1/2″ narrower than others. So much for quality control at the factory!

But what this meant to me was that I had to carefully measure the width of each bolt of paper, compare that to the rhythm of the stripes crossing the paper horizontally, and determine how much to trim off each edge, in order to have the stripes be spaced correctly across the room.

In real life, most people are not going to notice a spacing difference of 1/2,” or even 1.” Especially in a room with very dim lighting and tons of shadows, and a pattern that is difficult to see in the first place.

But since I had to trim the paper’s edges anyway, it just made sense to trim it so that the spacing of the stripes fell as perfectly spaced as possible.

Try as hard as you may, hand-trimming wallpaper, especially thick, heavy, fabric-backed vinyl, is not as accurate as what they do at the factory. Thus there is always the potential for slight gaps or overlaps at the seams. With a thin paper, it’s possible to stretch and manipulate the material to make a good seam. But with this thick vinyl, I expected to see these gaps and overlaps. However, I was amazed that the vinyl was more malleable than expected – every single seam melted together perfectly.

Although the specs said that the trimmed paper would be 25″ – 26″ wide, by the time both edges were trimmed off and the stripes spaced as they should be, the paper was actually only 24″ wide (give or take an extra 1/4″ or so). Lose 2″ on each of eight strips going across a wide wall … and that can screw up your engineering of the wall and your plans of the number of strips needed and how many bolts of paper will be required.

All of this fiddlin’ and futzin’ took a lot of time, and I was only able to trim and hang paper on two walls each day. So, with prepping the walls and hanging the paper in this … it was something like a 16 single roll room… it took me a full three days. Which is what I had planned on, so we stayed right on schedule.

There was no brand name, so I don’t know the manufacturer, but the label said “JL 8008.” This commercial-grade paper is available in the 27″ width (which is what I can work with) or the wider 54″ (which is more for commercial settings). It 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.

’90’s Check to Magnolia Buffalo Check

February 2, 2019


The differences in the before and after photos are subtle, so look carefully!

This laundry room in a far-north neighborhood of Houston (Louetta & I-45 area) happily sported it’s black & white checkered pattern for many years. The wallpaper dated to the ’90’s, but still looked fresh, and the homeowner loved it.

But an unfortunate water leak caused damage to the window wall, and a poor repair job left a very visible pattern mis-match over the window. Then another water leak required new drywall to be patched in behind the washer and dryer (see top photo). So once the repairs were made, the homeowner wanted to redo the room, and do a little updating along the way.

I stripped the old wallpaper, performed necessary patching and prep, primed the walls with Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 wallcovering primer, and came back the next day to hang the new paper.

The new pattern is also a black & white checkered design, but it’s larger-scaled, and is just large enough to be called a “buffalo check.”

It’s also a freer design – meaning that the wavy edges of the vertical and horizontal pattern, along with the watercolor features of the ink, afforded me some breathing room while dealing with walls and ceiling that were not perfectly plumb and level.

This pattern is in the Magnolia Home collection (Joanna Gaines) by York Wall. It 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.

“Fantasia” in a West U Playroom

January 31, 2019

“Fantasia” is a fanciful – yet soft – pattern for this toddlers’ playroom in the West University neighborhood of Houston. The homeowners decided to have this put on just one wall, but the tone-on-tone hue is soft enough that it would work well on all four walls without being overwhelming.

This wallpaper pattern is by Boras Tapeter, a Scandinavian company that features a lot of whimsical designs. It was a non-woven material, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method … although I think it would have worked a bit better if I had pasted the material.

It 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.

Powder Room ReDo SameDo

January 30, 2019

I hung this same paper in this same under-the-stairs powder room in a Galleria-area townhome (Houston) in April 2014. A few months ago, the toilet seal sprang a leak, and water ruined the floors, drywall, and wallpaper.

We were able to save the wallpaper on two walls, but the drywall in the remaining three walls had to be cut out and replaced. So the wallpaper on those walls had to be replaced, too.

Here are a few pics of how the new paper looks. I would call this design fluid, swoopy, and looking like flames, in a silver metallic finish.

The manufacturer is York, and it 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.

Longing for the Big Apple

January 20, 2019


Originally living in the heart of New York City, these homeowners “got a better offer” and moved to Houston. In a nicely updated 1925 bungalow in the Woodland Heights, life for these two has changed for the better – but the wife still reminisces over the view she had out her skyscraper office window back in NYC.

She found this really cool wallpaper design, which depicts hundreds and hundreds of New York buildings, from tall to gigantic, from the 1800’s to the 2000’s, with many styles of architecture tossed into the mix.

Where did this cool and sentimental wallpaper go? … In the laundry alcove. But it’s not tucked away in the rear of the house … this laundry room is in the main hall leading through the house – which means that this fun and sentimental wallpaper is on view every time anyone walks through the house.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Sure Strip line. It is a thin, easy to manipulate non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage, when it’s time to redecorate. This is one of my favorite brands, because it’s easy to work with, doesn’t tear or crease, it doesn’t shrink and gap at the seams, it’s easy to remove, and it will stand up to humidity, such as will exist in a laundry room.

White “Woods” Wallpaper Wakes Up A Dark, Dated Powder Room

January 19, 2019

OK, so my original whole-room photo of the “before” powder room didn’t take. But in the top photo here, at least you can see the dark color that the windowless room was covered with. Actually, this faux-finish pattern and dark color was a good look for back in the ’90’s when this townhome in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston was built.

But the homeowner now wanted a brighter room; she was leaning heavily toward black & white, with some hits of red tossed in.

I stripped off the old vinyl wallpaper (those photos didn’t turn out, either! 😦 ), then patched areas where the old paper had pulled paint off the wall, sanded smooth, and then primed all surfaces with Gardz.

The homeowner is completely in love with the new paper and the new, bright powder room. She will accent with a mirror in a wide black frame, and with some custom-painted artwork that will incorporate touches of black, white, and red.

This wallpaper is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is a very popular pattern called “Woods.” It’s on a non-woven substrate, which has a fiberglass component to strengthen it; it is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the wall, when it’s time to redecorate It is a little more cleanable than a paper-wallpaper.

It 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.