Posts Tagged ‘houston’

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.

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Textured Walls Show Under Wallpaper

June 3, 2019


The powder room walls in this ’90’s home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston had a light texture. Wishing to conserve time, money, and mess, the homeowner chose to skip having the walls smoothed, and asked to have the wallpaper hung over the walls as they were.

The original wallpaper selection was thick and spongy and would have disguised the wall texture a bit. But the original choice was not available, and the alternate turned out to be thinner and smoother and glossier – all recipes for telegraphing the wall texture through to the surface of the wallpaper.

I admit, this does not look bad, and it is something that I probably notice more than the homeowners do.

But still, I don’t like the way it looks. Next time – even if it takes more time, costs more money, and results in a little dust – I will insist on smoothing the walls.

Tricky Twisting To Make Wonky Walls Look Straight

May 30, 2019


The townhouse where I worked today (Timber Grove area of Houston) had walls that were more like trapezoids than rectangles. Trapezoidal walls make wallpaper run off-kilter. With this rigid geometric print, that meant that the pattern would either mis-match badly in the corners, or start tracking (going downhill) badly along the ceiling line.

So I did this little trick, to keep the pattern straight and nicely matched in the corners. You’re looking at the strips laid out on my table; sorry, no shots of the paper up on the wall. But the pics will give an idea of the process. And it turned out perfect.

I split the strip of wallpaper in two vertically, using a straightedge and a fresh razor blade to follow along the pattern. When applying the paper to the wall, I was able to slightly overlap the left side of the second strip on top of the previous strip, with less overlap at the top and more at the bottom. This enabled me to keep the same design element in the corner to the right (not shown), all the way from the ceiling to the floor. When the next strip went up, the design matched perfectly.

Since the width of the overlap wasn’t more than 3/8″, the black lines of the design disguised any ridges that might be created by the overlap.

Overlapping like this caused some of the vertical lines to be closer to each other than they were supposed to be. See second photo. But the eye notices this much less than if the pattern were very broken up in the corners, which would effect both the horizontal and vertical elements.

Wallpaper in Flea Market Décor Magazine, June/July 2019

May 26, 2019


It’s always nice to see wallpaper featured in home décor magazines. What’s extra cool is that I hung that wild and bold floral pattern a year or two ago in a home in the Houston Heights that was featured on their home tour. It’s from Anthropologie.

Swirling Dragons and Swooshing Garments

May 25, 2019


OK, that’s a really dumb title. 😦 But every time I look at this restless dragon surrounded by roiling foliage and water, I think about the clothing tumbling in endless summer-saults in the washing machine in this room. Yes, this fun and mystical wallpaper is enhancing a laundry room.

The home is in the Rice University / Medical Center neighborhood of Houston. The wallpaper has bright shades of green-blue on a silver metallic background. It’s a non-woven material, and could be hung by the paste the wall method. Since this room had a lot of obstacles and weird angles and obstructions like non-removable shelving, I opted to paste-the-paper instead. This also rendered the material a lot more flexible and malleable, which was much appreciated, since the room had a lot of features that made it quite difficult to hang.

Normally, I wouldn’t be too crazy about wallpaper in a humid room like a laundry – especially since the air circulation is pretty poor. Humidity can cause wallpaper seams to let loose and curl. But because these newish non-wovens are made of natural and synthetic materials (such as fiberglass), they are more breathable, and thus shouldn’t present issues of curling seams or delaminating. They are also designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate.

This wallpaper is made by York, one of my favorite companies, in their Dwell Studio Line. 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.

Sophisticated Look With White-Washed Metallic Cork

May 24, 2019


I’ve hung lots of metallic cork wallpaper (do a search here), but this is the first time I’ve seen one with a white-wash over the surface, and that has a plaid / stripe sort of design worked in. It’s quite becoming!

The white paint tones down the sheen of the dark gold metallic inks, so you get a bit of glam, but are not overwhelmed. And the crosshatching effect brings a whole new dimension to the look, adding texture and warmth – sort of like a man’s suit fabric.

I was afraid the striped effect would be very evident, but it’s really very subtle and pleasing. And it did a good job of disguising the seams, so there is virtually no paneling or shading like you would have with most natural material wallcoverings.

Of course, this accent wall has only two full-height seams, and the product could look quite different if you had it spread across a larger wall or room. Still, I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

This is on one wall of a living room in a 1939 house in the Rice University / Medical Center area of Houston. It is by Brewster, 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.

Do Bubbles Mean Trouble?

May 20, 2019

The walls in this dining room in a historic house in the Houston Heights had received many coats of paint over its 100 years. The latest was a coat of what appeared to be flat latex paint. Since this is not a suitable surface for wallpaper, I applied a wallpaper-specific primer.

I was surprised to see that, a few minutes after I rolled on my water-based wallpaper primer, blisters appeared.

I thought they would disappear as the primer dried, but they did not.

Obviously, the moisture in the primer was soaking into some of the layers below it, and causing something to expand and “off-gas”, which created the bubbles.

I switched from my wallpaper primer to a penetrating sealer called Gardz (also water-based) – and the same thing happened. (The Gardz dried so glossy that I feared the wallpaper would not stick to it, so I went back to my original Ultra Prime by Roman’s.)

Once the primer was good and dry, I used a stiff putty knife to knock off the high points of the blisters. The areas were not perfectly smooth, but they were OK for use under this particular wallpaper.

I’m doing some research, and am hoping to gain insight as to why this blistering happened, so I’ll know how to prevent it in the future.

Quiet Glitter and Glamor for the Grandparents’ Guest Bedroom

May 17, 2019


No “Before” picture, because the wall started out just a boring white.

This is the fourth accent wall I did in a very contemporary new-build in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, and it has the least amount of color. So it fits the all-white theme in the home, and it lends a very soothing feel to this guest bedroom, which is used by the grandparents when they visit.

This wallpaper features a textured, embossed vinyl surface, with jagged stripes alternating between white and cream. Silver glitter worms its way along the stripes, lending just a tad of dazzle.

This was a paste-the-paper material, and there was no pattern match, so there was virtually no waste.

The paper is by Zambaiti, an Italian manufacturer. 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.

Shimmer and Glimmer in a River Oaks New Build

May 15, 2019


Here is a brand-new, very contemporary home in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston. The lady of the house definitely has a streak of glam, because there are touches of glitter, shimmer, gilt, mirror, crystal, pearl, and more throughout the house.

This textured, shiny gold wallpaper fits right in! I hung this on one wall in the entry of the home.

The material is an embossed vinyl on a non-woven backing, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method or the paste-the-paper method (which is what I did). The instructions say that if you follow the directions in prepping the wall and hanging the paper, it will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This design is by Deiter Larger, and is made by Marburg, a German company, and distributed by Sancar in New York City. 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.

Blue Faux Grass on Bookshelves

May 12, 2019


Awwwk… my “before” photo didn’t turn out. Oh well … just know that originally the shelves and the back of the shelves were a bland white paint.

To prep, I primed the glossy white paint with Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, which will stick to the enamel and which is formulated to provide a good surface for the wallpaper to adhere to.

The wallpaper is an embossed vinyl faux grasscloth by Thibaut, from their new Texture Resource book. This man-made product avoids the color variations and very visible seams that are common with real grasscloth, so it’s a good option.

The material comes 27″ wide, and the bookshelves were 28″ wide. So I had to use two 14″ wide strips of paper for each cubicle and put a seam down the middle.

Isn’t the blue color gorgeous as a backdrop for the contents of the shelves?!

This was a work desk area off the large kitchen in a home in West U (Houston).

The interior designer this job are Danna Smith and Pamela O’Brien, of Pamela Hope Designs.