Posts Tagged ‘humidity’

Solid Vinyl Paper Pooching at Seams

May 15, 2020


Today I stripped off this paper. It was dark and dated. But also, it had started curling up a bit at the seams.

The homeowners said this started after Hurricane Harvey, when they were without power for two weeks, and the lack of air conditioning allowed humidity to permeate the house.

So here we have paper-backed, pre-pasted, solid-vinyl wallpaper doing what it does best – succumbing to humidity, by allowing moisture to wick in behind the seams, which causes the paper backing to swell, pushing the vinyl surface back in a curl. Sometimes, the paper backing actually delaminates (comes apart from) the vinyl layer.

My main reason why I encourage people to steer away from these materials. The price point is attractive, but the quality and longevity is not.

Interestingly as a side note, it looks like the previous installer did not pay attention to the pattern match. Well, no biggie. On this design, it is not very noticeable, and the homeowners have lived with it happily for 20 years or more.

Repair Needed – Stashed Wallpaper Not Usable

April 5, 2020


I’m about to do a repair to some wallpaper that was damaged flooding during Hurricane Harvey here in Houston. Unfortunately, the left over wallpaper from the original installation was also exposed to the water and humidity of the flood. There is a little bit of water stain and mildew on the back of the paper.

This rendered the paper unusable, because both water stains and mildew will work their way through wallpaper (and paint and other surfaces), and will eventually show up on the printed side.

Luckily, there was enough left over paper for me to discard this stained area and then use undamaged paper for the repair.

Weird Cracks

March 24, 2020


I have just finished stripping off wallpaper that I hung 12 years ago. The walls beneath are in perfect condition.

Except that, along just about the full height of just about every seam, I discovered these hairline cracks.

What is very odd is that the cracks have not made the wall unstable, and no material has pulled away from the wall (as often happens when you have layers of incompatible materials that will not adhere to each other – do a Search here on “delaminating”).

I believe that my original prep 12 years ago was to skim-float the walls and sand smooth. Then I wiped off the dust with a damp sponge, then followed with my favorite primer at the time, KILZ Original oil-based primer.

My thought is that the KILZ, or possibly the underlying joint compound, has separated due to tension put on it by the wallpaper seams, possibly shrinking and expanding over the years due to minute fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

Why that happened I don’t know.

This past year, I’ve had opportunity to remove wallpaper from several jobs that I hung as far back as 20+ years ago. All were over the very same original prep conditions. But none showed these little hairline cracks.

I always like to understand why something happens. That way, you have the potential to prevent it from happening in the future.

Not that I’m particularly concerned in this case. The tiny cracks have not created any problems, and the wall is not unstable.

I felt perfectly comfortable hanging the new paper right on these walls – however, I made very sure that no seams of the new paper landed exactly on top of those cracks. That would eliminate the chance of any stress put on the cracks by the new seams potentially causing them to weaken and pull away from the wall.

Sweet, Creamy Classic Toile in a NW Houston Kitchen

January 10, 2020


I hung this “American Landmarks” wallpaper (top photo) 12 years ago – and it was still in perfect condition. 🙂 But now the homeowner was ready for an update.

Her original choice was a large murky blue plaid, and it was a low-end, pre-pasted, paper-backed vinyl from a big box store. These types of vinyl papers generally have bad, visible seams, and very often curl at the seams or even delaminate (vinyl separates from paper backing), especially when there is humidity (read: Houston).

All the paper I hung in this home (several rooms) 12 years ago was paper (not vinyl), and has held up perfectly all this time. Luckily, the homeowner listened to me this time around, and nixed the vinyl and went shopping at my favorite source (below), and selected a paper wallpaper.

Both patterns are toiles (line drawings using just two colors). But the new design has a softer look, and the light yellow background adds a whole lot more warmth to the room.

Oh – and the new paper has dogs on it – a perfect choice because the homeowner is a big fan of her three pooches!

The new paper is pre-pasted (I added a little extra paste) and is a thin paper that hugs the walls tightly, and the seams are next to invisible.

The home is in near-northwest Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Reattaching Curling Seams on Vinyl

January 7, 2020


I hung this Bankun Raffia woven fabric-backed wallpaper a few years ago. Some of the edges along the tile and over the shower and below the window had begun to curl. This is mainly due to

` Not wanting to adhere to the porous tile grout
` Humidity from the shower
` Moisture inside the wall, or coming through the window frame

The few areas that had an inch of paper that was loose called for wallpaper paste. But for the very edges, my “secrete weapon” of clear silicone caulk was the solution. Caulk is tacky and grabs more quickly than wallpaper paste. And it will hold tighter against the aggressive curl of the vinyl.

That aggressive curl is a bit of a beast. But I have another “secrete weapon” that is up to taming the beast – a heat gun.

Be careful using it, and practice first, so as not to damage the vinyl. But judiciously applied heat will relax the vinyl just enough that it will release its curl and lie back neatly into it’s original position against the wall.

In the picture, the putty knife is for pulling the loose edges away from the wall so I can get paste and caulk behind the paper. The white smoother is for pushing the paper against the wall. The putty knife was also a good option here, because it withstood the heat of the heat gun better than the plastic smoother.

Adjoining Hall Bathroom Gets Complimentary Wallpaper

December 23, 2019


Right next to the bedroom of my previous post is this hall bath. The homeowner chose a wallpaper with a pattern and color that compliment not just the tile and granite countertop in the bathroom, but also coordinates with the paper in the bedroom.

The paper was equally nice to work with. In addition, because it is paper (and not vinyl), it will stay nice and flat even if this bathroom sees bouts of humidity. It, like most papers, is not particularly stain-resistant. But the homeowners have already received my care “lecture,” and I’m sure they will keep fingers and glass cleaners and air fresheners away from the wallpaper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, 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.

Small Herringbone Pattern for Baby’s Accent Wall

July 25, 2019

The parents-to-be wanted a fun, yet subdued pattern for an accent wall in their new nursery. They fell in love with this herringbone pattern by Joanna Gaines, in her Magnolia Home collection.

It’s an economical alternative to the popular “Feather” pattern by Serena & Lily – which is lovely paper, by the way.

This expectant couple had originally considered hiring me, but my lead time was too long for them, with the baby coming and all. So they contracted with another installer. Unfortunately, the other installer became unresponsive, and the parents-to-be were needing to get the room decorated and done, so they could move on to other new-parent things.

So they contacted me. Happily, I had an unexpected opening pop up, and was able to get their baby’s wall done with months to spare before the arrival of the little one.

The manufacturer of this paper is York, and it’s in their Sure Strip line. I love this thin pre-pasted wallpaper. It is nice to work with, it hugs the wall tightly, and it will resist problems from humidity in a bathroom.

Warming Up a Heights Family Room

July 10, 2019

Originally, this family room in a recently and beautifully renovated and enlarged home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston wasn’t exactly “all white” – but the ecru colored walls were pretty close. The home owner wanted to warm up the walls, as well as tie this room to the blue Tartan plaid wallpaper used in the living room. Additionally, she noted that since three rooms in the front of the home had beautiful wall treatments (meaning, of course – wallpaper! 🙂 ), with the white kitchen and pale family room, the house felt “top heavy.” It was time for some counterbalance in the back of the home!

Originally she considered grasscloth. But after I explained about the noticeable seams and drastic color variations between strips, she took my suggestion and checked out this Bankun Raffia, a fabric-backed vinyl product that is embossed with a basket-weave texture, and has a pleasing glazed-wash finish effect. And … the color is quite uniform, so you don’t see seams or panels, as with real grasscloth.

Unlike most wallpapers, this product is very durable and washable, and it even strips off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. Thanks to the fabric backing (instead of the more common, lower-end paper backing) it’s one of the few vinyl products that will hold up to humidity in a bathroom.

Another benefit is that the beautiful woodwork in this room is no longer lost in a sea of white, but stands out against the dark wallpaper. The color is navy, but because the room has a lot of white woodwork, as well as two walls of 8′ high windows, the room still feels open and airy.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Potential Trouble Brewing

July 7, 2019


What you see here is a bit of rubbery latex paint and texture that has peeled away from the wall in this powder room. The surface underneath it felt gritty and dusty and porous. I had the feeling that if I had tried, I could have peeled all the paint off the wall.

This is not good.

This paint is probably peeling because of a combination of poor quality materials (cheap paint), improperly prepared surface (inappropriate or no primer, not removing dust from the wall, incompatible coatings (latex over oil based, not sanding or deglossing a gloss paint before repainting), climate fluctuations (humidity, temperature), stress on the wall (pulling off a piece of tape), or more.

All this is not so bad under paint, because paint just kinda sits there on the surface. But wallpaper actually puts stress on the surface beneath it, as it dries and pulls taught. Over time, fluctuations in humidity and temperature can exacerbate that, causing the paper to expand and contract ever so slightly, and then put tension on the wall where the seams fall.

This can result in not just the seams coming loose, but in the various layers inside the wall actually delaminating and coming apart from themselves.

Light-Hued Geometric Updates a Hollywood Bath in West U

June 8, 2019



The kids are grown and gone, so it’s time for an update to this bathroom. The original black & white floral wasn’t bad, but perhaps a bit outdated. And most of the seams had succumbed the curling and pouching that happens when you use the lower-end pre-pasted paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers in humid rooms – like two teenaged girls showering. 🙂 Besides all that, Mom wanted a fresh new look for her empty nest.

I stripped the paper and prepped the walls – both of which took a lot more work than expected, and way more detail than you want to read here. The install also took a long time … Let’s just say it was way after dark when I finished and went home.

The room had its share of complicated elements. But also working with a geometric print requires a lot of extra steps, to keep the design elements plumb and aligned with the ceiling and woodwork (which are not necessarily plumb), and to keep the pattern matched up as it turns corners – most of which are wonky.

Also, it took a certain amount of plotting and measuring to have the pattern look uninterrupted as it played out above and then below the chair rail.

This paper is in the SureStrip line by York, and is one of my favorites to work with. It is a thin non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the walls when it’s time to redecorate. It’s pre-pasted, which means that there is a thin layer of dry adhesive on the back, that is activated by water – you can use several methods to do this. SureStrip is always a nice, cooperative paper to hang, and on the wall, it performs well over time.