Posts Tagged ‘houston’

Smoothing a Textured Wall

November 18, 2017

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A lot of homes in the Houston area have some type of texture on the walls. In the suburbs, the tract home builders are using a fairly heavy texture, intended to lend a ‘rustic” feel to the home.

But when the homeowners want wallpaper, the texture has to be smoothed over, so the bumps won’t show under the new wallpaper, and so the new wallpaper has a flat, sound surface to hold on to.

In the first photo you see the texture of the walls in a new home in Fulshear (far west Houston). In the second photo, I have applied an initial coat of joint compound (smoothing compound). Once it is dry (tomorrow), I will go back and sand it smooth.

The next two photos show how much dust is generated by the sanding process. The plastic did a good job of containing it and keeping it off the homeowners’ floor.

In the last photo, you see how smooth the finished surface was.

Then the walls were wiped with a damp sponge to remove dust. Next came a primer. Once the primer is good and dry, it will be time to hang the new wallpaper.

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Grasscloth in a West Houston Study

November 17, 2017

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This couple wanted the textural look of grasscloth for their study, in a newish home near Cross Creek Ranch and Cinco Ranch, a bit southwest of Houston. The pattern they chose is a medium-fine grass in a pretty uniform color. With fine grass, you don’t notice as much the mis-match of the fibers at every seam.

The grass fibers have been sewn onto the front of the wallpaper. But the black backing is less homogenous, and exhibits variations in its color. These are the horizontal differences in color that you see in the pictures.

Some of these color variations spill onto the surface of the material, too. These can be especially evident as swathes of darker colored dye on the outer edges of the wallpaper. (See photo)

Overall, this product looks very good. People who like grasscloth love the texture of the natural material. And they like the “organic look” of visible seams, mis-matched pattern (there is no pattern to match!), and the color variations at the edges and within the strips.

I believe the manufacturer of this grasscloth is York.

Grasscloth Wallpaper on Un-Straight Outside Corner

November 16, 2017

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Outside corners are difficult, because they are virtually always off-plumb or un-straight. Thus, trying to wrap wallpaper around them can result in wrinkles within the strip, or an un-plumb or wavery edge, which is impossible for the next strip to butt up properly against.

Obtuse angles like this one are even more onerous for the framers. This outside corner ended up being quite irregular. I knew that it would be impossible to wrap stiff grasscloth around it without having gaps or wrinkles in the strip, and that the far edge of the new strip would be wavy and unsuited to butt another strip up against.

So I gave up the idea of trying to wrap the strip around the corner. I decided to end the first strip right at the edge of the obtuse angle. And then to start the next strip at the other side of this same angle / wall.

So I cut the width of my grasscloth strip an inch wider than the width of the wall. Then I hung the strip, then took a razor blade and trimmed off the excess the paper so the strip followed the contours of the outside of the obtuse angled corner.

For the next strip on the opposing side of the corner, I butted it up against a plumb line, which left an inch on the right side hanging over the obtuse angle corner. Then I used a new, sharp razor blade to trim off the excess, so that this strip, too, conformed to the undulations of the wall.

That’s what I’m doing in the first photo. It’s a lot more tricky than it looks, because you’ve got to cut so that the edges of the two strips butt together, without gaps or overlaps, or edges that got cut off too much, and without disturbing the lay of the grass fibers on the paper backing (meaning, without fraying the edges of the grasscloth or causing the fibers to run either up or down. (They should lie perfectly horizontal.)

The blue plastic tape is to keep paste off the surface of the other strip.

The finished corner is shown in the second photo. I think it turned out pretty nicely. And way better than having large wrinkles, or an edge that is too crooked to butt up against another strip of wallpaper.

I am hanging grasscloth in the home office / den / library of a new home in the Richmond / Fulshear area on the southwest side of Houston. The wallpaper is by York.

Palm Fronds in a Powder Room

November 7, 2017

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Just about everything in this house is expansive white – woodwork, walls, cabinets, appliances, even the floors are a whitewashed light grey. The house was just begging for some color and pattern somewhere …

This palm leaf wallpaper adds a lot of personality to the powder room, yet is understated and easy to live with. With only two colors and a fairly homogeneous pattern, it feels more like a texture than a pattern.

This attractive foliage wallpaper pattern is by Serena & Lily, and is called, simply, palm. The paper was nice to work with, and will stay nice and flat to the walls for decades to come. The house is in West University Place (Houston).

Killing Mildew

November 2, 2017

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Yeowee … this wall has a lot of issues with torn Sheetrock (the dark brown areas), but more important – the black stuff that you see in the top photo is mildew.  Not good.  Mildew is a living organism, and it can grow and grow.  It’s powdery, and so as it spreads across the wall, it can separate from the wall (delaminate), which means that the wallpaper is at risk of falling off the wall.  Mildew can also travel right through wallpaper, creating a ghost-like shadow of dark – or sometime pink – discoloration.

Mildew is usually caused by moisture.  It’s not clear what caused the problem in this powder room in a 1957 home in the Tanglewood area of Houston.  It could be a leak in the wall (pipe, window, roof, lawn sprinkler outside hitting the wall).  Or it could be that the solid vinyl surface of the previous wallpaper prevented air from getting to the backing, and so that it could not dry out, and then it held dampness against the wall – which created the perfect breeding ground for mildew.

Getting rid of mildew requires a few steps.  First, it must be wiped and scrubbed with chlorine bleach, then rinsed clean.  Once the wall is dry, a coat of a quality stain-blocker is applied.  I like oil-based KILZ Original, but other options include Zinsser’s B-I-N stain blocker.

Once the stain blocker is dry, the wall can be coated in a wallpaper primer.

WILD Color For A Baby Girl’s Room

October 31, 2017

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No wimpy pastel pink for this soon-to-be-with-us baby girl … Her parents chose something wild and BOLD!

Both the scale and color of this bright wallpaper fill the wall with an eye-stopping blast of color and movement. Right now the remaining three walls are “vanilla.” But the homeowners will soon paint those three walls a coordinating color – either a baby blue or a soft aqua, either color to be drawn from the accent colors in the wallpaper.

This wallpaper was prepasted, and was easy to hang. However, as with other products I’ve hung by this company, there were issues with the seams that I was not happy with.

The seams were not cut perfectly straight, so we ended up with what we call “gaps and overlaps.” In addition, some of the factory-cut edges left a tiny bit of the white selvedge on the edge. This meant that when one strip butted against the next strip of wallpaper, that tiny bit of white would show. Even if it’s “only” 1/32″ of an inch, it shows.

The misprinting went further than that. As you can see in the photo, some of the pattern matched perfectly at the top of the wall, but fell into a mis-match as we got further down the wall. To minimize this, I was able to use craft paint (kept in my truck) to cover up some of the gaps at the seams, and to disguise some of the pattern mismatches.

This wallpaper came in the form of a 6-panel mural, which has a less repetitive pattern than a standard wallpaper pattern. In the top photo, three of those panels are rolled up and waiting to be pasted and then taken to the wall.

The mural was bought from AneWall, an on-line company. I hung it on one accent wall of a nursery in the north Heights (Heights) neighborhood of Timber Grove.

Hurricane Harvey Is Not Done With Houston

October 28, 2017

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It’s been two months since Hurricane Harvey swept across the South, wreaking destruction over much of the city of Houston (and countless communities to the west and east, along the Gulf Coast).

By now, many of the homes that were damage have been put 60% back together.

But many home owners are still struggling with the aftermath of the storm – sodden Sheetrock, wet studs, mold, warped floors, ruined doors and molding, on and on.

Across the street from where I worked today, ServiceMaster was putting a temporary patch on a roof, to keep out rain brought by the incoming cold front.

Adding Some Pizzazz To A Home Bar

October 26, 2017

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This home in Southside Place (near West University Place in Houston) has a number of significant arches. When you stand at the front door looking toward the back of the house, and there are several full-height arches that you look through, each with its own hanging lantern chandelier. Quite impressive. The arch theme is carried out in other areas of the house, and one is the view from the dining room into the adjoining bar (top photo).

Everything in this new home is white, and the homeowner wanted something to make the view through that arch ‘pop.’ She chose this silver cork wallpaper. It’s flashy but understated at the same time. It certainly adds the excitement she was seeking for the bar area, without overwhelming the calm feeling of the home’s white color scheme.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at below retail price from 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.

Flaw of the Day – Spots / Ink Drips

October 21, 2017

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See the black dots?  These are errant spots of ink that found their way onto the surface of the wallpaper.  They started out heavy, but worked their way down to annoyingly light-but-still-visible within a short time.

The spots ran through at least one entire double roll bolt, ruining it.  On some other bolts, the dots were lighter, and during installation, I was able to hide many of them.

I was also able to plot my room layout, so that when I reached a corner and had to cut the paper (slice vertically), I could plot it so that the part that was cut off was the part with the ink spots.

This wallpaper is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, was printed on a non-woven substrate, was hung in a powder room in the Houston Heights neighborhood.

 

Metallic Cork Married With Earthy Cork Breathes New Life Into A ’70’s Living Room

October 13, 2017

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This 1967 home in a unique neighborhood in Pasadena (Houston) is like a time capsule. It’s a little larger and nicer than the typical ranch-style houses of that era. And just about everything in it was original when my clients bought it … terrazzo floors, dental crown molding, upholstered wall panels in the dining room, diamond paned windows, French Provincial painted iron stairway railing, heavy pleated drapes, and much more.

The homeowners love the look and want to preserve as much as possible. But they also want the home to live a little more modern, and they want it to work with the lifestyle of their young – and very busy – family. They’ve already done a fabulous redo of the kitchen that still respects the era and feel of the home’s bones.

Now it’s time to update the living room. Enter – wallpaper! They used the same grey-brown, wood-look floor tile that they put in the kitchen. They kept the chair rail molding that runs around the room. A sliding barn-style door was custom made to divide the living room from the dining room, and it immediately became the focal point of the room.

Wallpaper was the next element … The couple wanted something earthy, yet elegant, and it had to meld with the vintage theme of the house.

They fell in love with a dark brown cork wallcovering enhanced with metallic accents called Enchanted Woods, by Phillip Jeffries. Whoops! – that brand is crazy expensive! My source (below) found them something nearly identical, but at a much more reasonable price. This dark brown material was used on the bottom 1/3 of the walls, below the chair rail. I was able to railroad this product (run it horizontally, instead of vertically), which eliminated seams. (Sorry, I did not get any photos of this.)

For the upper 2/3 of the wall space, they went with a silver metallic cork wallpaper embellished with a classic damask pattern in white. This is a classy, traditional look jazzed up by a luscious shimmery sheen.

The husband was worried that the dark cork at the bottom of the walls would visually occlude the barn door. At first, I tended to agree with him. But once the cork went up, it was clear that the door still stood out as a dominant feature in the room. Furthermore, it was apparent that the dark band of brown cork was needed all around the room, to balance the visual heft of that massive sliding barn door and to bring continuity to the remaining three walls.

As for the upper 2/3 of the walls, there is no question that the barn door stands out against the silver and white damask cork wallpaper. In addition, the natural texture of the cork coordinates nicely with the stained wood of the door.

Cork wallpaper, especially the metallic colors, is pretty popular right now, and I’ve hung a fair amount of it. But this room was the most challenging. Cork is thick and stiff, and does not want to turn corners (In fact, the instructions say you should not attempt to turn outside corners, but should, instead, cover the corners with wooden molding.), nor is it easy to fit around intricate moldings, and it will give a lot of argument when you try to bend it into a small, tight spot. This room had many of those features!

There was one wall that had two trim-less windows that had reveals (and outside corners) to be covered with the cork material, plus four points of wainscoting trim to cut around, as well as two sections of drapery valances to manipulate the stiff material up and under and into. This wall alone took me 4 1/2 hours to paper!

The rest of the room was easier, but still had its challenges. The cork material is thick and stiff and won’t push tightly against moldings or into corners, which means you have to work extra hard and make several cuts before it will sit snugly against the molding or corner. When trimming around intricate moldings (like the edges of the chair rail), you can’t see or feel where the cuts should be made, so you have to inch your way along, taking a bit here and a sliver there. I estimate that each of the six chair rail edges took me at least 15 minutes – each.

The metallic sheen made it difficult to see the pattern, so it took longer than usual to plot and cut strips.

Cork wallcovering is pretty thick, and you have to expect that the seams will show, just as they do with other natural materials, such as grasscloth. Depending on where you stand in the room, the seams on this product are either invisible, or fairly noticeable. I think the seams could have been better – I have a feeling that the manufacturer’s trimming blade was set at a bit of an angle, making a beveled cut. A perfectly straight cut, or even a slightly reversed-bevel, would perhaps have been less noticeable. Still, this is part of the look of the natural material, and not considered a defect. To be honest, unless you’re looking at a particular seam from just a certain angle, you won’t even see a thing – except the beautiful pattern, color, and shimmer.

The dark brown cork is by Monarque, and the upper cork in the silvery damask pattern is by Thibaut. Both papers were bought at below retail price from 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.

Over the last few years, I have papered three other rooms for this family. Now that the wallpaper in the living room is up, they are on to other things – furniture, drapes – and then on to update / decorate other rooms. As I left tonight, the mom assured me that I would be back at some point, to paper another room.