Posts Tagged ‘humidity’

Slip Paper Behind Molding

January 26, 2023
It’s so nice when the trim carpenter leaves a little space between the molding and the wall. Rather than spending 20 minutes trimming around these multiple angles and protrusions, I will be able to merely slip the wallpaper behind the corbel (decorative molding).
Added bonuses are that there will be no worries about edges of wallpaper curling up or away from the wall .
I also believe this teeny gap is beneficial to give some ease, in the very common event of the walls shifting and moldings stretching or shrinking. All due to humidity and temperature and rain fall … and settlement of the home’s foundation, and more.

After 30 Years – Time for an Update!

December 16, 2022

The home in the West U . area of Houston was built in 1994. And – yes – the wallpaper screams ’90’s ! Oh, and … it’s PINK ! The homeowners are doing lots of other facelifts, and this powder room ‘s time has come.
The new wallpaper is also nature / floral themed, but it’s a crisper, more fun look.
It was really nice not having the toilet or sink in the room – made the installation much easier. And less damage to the paper due to not having to manipulate the somewhat delicate (crease-prone) material around a pedestal sink.
Pattern nicely centered on the sink wall. Light sconces will go where you see the holes on either side.
The pattern is called Wildwood and is by Rifle Paper (made by York ).
This is a non-woven material , also called paste the wall . It’s durable , stain-resistant , holds up under humidity , and will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate later. Perhaps another 30 years? : ) 🙂

Humidity Causes Curling Edges on Vinyl / Non-Woven Wallpaper

November 23, 2022
I hung this wallpaper about 10 years ago. It’s a main bathroom in a 1920’s home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The home has been remodeled including updated HVAC systems , but surely still suffering from issues of humidity and air circulation.
At some point, the very edges of the wallpaper started curling back at the seams. This is more pronounced at the upper portions of the wall than at the chair rail. Meaning, humidity from showering is rising into the air, collecting under the ceiling, and working its way into the seams.
Once humidity gets into the backing of the wallpaper, it can cause the backing to expand. When that happens, the paper has to go somewhere. So it pushes itself away from the wall. Hence the curling that you see here.
What’s odd to me is that this happened with a paper that’s on a non-woven backing. Non-wovens are 20% polyester, so pretty resistant to moisture and humidity. I’m guessing that this company used less than the industry standard of 20% polyester. The material was super thin and flexible, which is unlike most non-wovens I’ve worked with.
I was able to make this look pretty good again. I used a putty knife to gently lift the compromised edges away from the wall, and then I worked some of my regular wallpaper paste back behind there. (no super glue or heavy duty paste or contact cement )
Then I used my heat gun – set on Low – to gently warm up the vinyl surface of the wallpaper . The heat gun served several purposes … It helped speed the drying of the paste , so it got tacky and held more quickly and firmly. The heat gun also ” melted ” the vinyl surface a wee bit, so it would curl back in the opposite direction.
I used a 3″ stiff metal putty knife to push the two edges of wallpaper back down to the wall. The metal knife heated up, too, and helped to get the vinyl to conform.
Using the heat gun and the metal putty knife also helped the two edges from the two strips to meet up together … sort of like two mountain big horn sheep butting their heads together . Butted together this way is better than one lying on top of the other.
I was really pleased with how well this worked. Sorry – no pics!
The brand is Super Fresco Easy .

Apothecary’s Garden in Powder Room – Fairy Tale Floral

November 21, 2022
Deep green wainscoting at the bottom, and on the right is a 100 year old ” dry sink ” with coordinating colored tile backsplash turned into a vanity, with period-appropriate faucet .
Fresh and lively . But can you believe the design dates back about 100 years ? – same as the house!
Close up. Looks like watercolor paint . Birds , butterflies , plants , flowers , and grasshoppers !
C.F.A. Voysey is a male designer who worked around the turn of the last century, late 1800’s through about the 1920’s , and was part of the Arts & Crafts decorating movement . Most of his patterns are somewhat symmetrical , as well as whimsical and fanciful , with heavy emphasis on nature .
This is a non-woven material , can be hung via the paste the wall method , although I prefer the paste the paper installation . It has a 20% polyester content and is thus more resistant to stains and humidity than traditional papers . And it’s designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to your walls when you redecorate .
The brand name is Lord Twig and it comes from Finest Wallpaper , which is in Canada.
This went in the rear powder room of a beautifully renovated 1926 4-plex apartment that has been artfully converted into a single family home , in the Woodland Heights area of Houston .

Contractor Prepped Walls – But Left Dust

November 20, 2022
I usually insist on prepping the walls for wallpaper. But we had a time crunch here, and the homeowner asked her paint contractor to strip the old wallpaper and smooth the walls.
He did a good enough job of skim-floating and sanding the walls smooth.
Unfortunately, he neglected to wipe residual dust off the walls.
The problem is that nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. Over time, stress, humidity, and other factors can cause the wallpaper to expand and contract, which puts tension on the seams. This tension tugs at the seams , and if the wall surface underneath is unstable ( dusty ), the layers can pull apart ( delaminate ), and you end up with failing seams.
So I wiped down every square inch of wall, using a sponge and bucket of water. I rinsed the sponge frequently, to prevent build up of dust on the sponge.
Here’s drywall dust wiped off in just a few swipes. In the background, you can see tracks of my damp sponge along the wall. These damp areas will need to dry thoroughly before I can apply my wallpaper primer. A heat gun helps speed that process along.
One fear that I have is because, as you see in the photo, the contractor spray painted the woodwork, and in so doing, got a lot of overspray onto the wall. This can be painted over without much problem.
But, as mentioned above, putting wallpaper over this can open a can of worms.
Even with a good wallpaper primer underneath, the drying / shrinking wallpaper can put stress on the seams. If the wall underneath is dusty, the layers may let loose of one another and result in a popped seam .

Picasso Slept Here – Crazy Pattern in a Complicated Powder Room

November 11, 2022
This is a fairly large powder room with a sloped ceiling, as it is situated under the stairs. You can see a bit of the ceiling at the top of the photo. The room also had this odd recessed niche with “columns” on either side, and a door leading to a closet.
In addition, there were tons of the rounded / bull-nosed edges that have been common in new homes in the last 10 years or so. These are tricky to wrap wallpaper around, and equally difficult to trim wallpaper to the edge.
Here is the niche area done, with wallpaper wrapped around the columns, and cut neatly along the horizontal bull nosed edge above the entry.
Wrapping the wallpaper around this edge and onto the ceiling of the niche would have made the area way too busy and claustrophobic. Because these edges are never perfectly straight and level, it’s also quite likely that the wallpaper will go crooked, and you’ll end up with gaps or overlaps at the seams.
A better option is to paint that ceiling area. I suggested the murky green color that’s in the leaves on the wallpaper pattern.
Here’s the east wall of the room. The vanity and sink are at the bottom right.
Here it is finished. In this case, the fir-down underside was only about a foot deep, so less chance of the wallpaper going crooked, so I did wrap it around the rounded edge and underneath. Still, one of the wallpaper strips did twist askew, and there was a small gap at one seam. With this pattern, no biggie – I just cut out a leaf and pasted it over the gap.
I told you the room had crazy angles!
Note that in papering angled areas like this, you can match the pattern in some places, but there will be mis-matches in others, such as where the sloped ceiling meets the fir-down. This wild pattern is perfect for disguising any mis-matches!
Rolling the paper out on the floor, to get an idea of the pattern’s layout .
Closer look at the lemons and leaves . And angles .
It looks like a Picasso painting, don’t you think? The homeowner wanted something wild and fun , to set off the white minimalism in the rest of the home .
The pattern is called Citrus and is by A Street Prints . It’s a nice non-woven material , doesn’t expand , and can be hung by the paste the wall method , although I opted to paste the paper , as I usually do.
Non-wovens are designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece, with no / minimal damage to the wall when you redecorate . They’re usually a pleasure to install . They’re more stain resistant and more able to withstand humidity than many traditional wallpapers .
The home of this busy young family is in the West University area of Houston .

Tape Test for Unstable Walls

September 21, 2022

There can be reasons for unstable walls, mostly cheap or poor quality paint, dust, someone applied paint over dust, improper prep, incompatible layers inside the wall built up over years (oil based paint, latex paint, dust, gloss paint, joint compound, etc.).

These can cause problems with wallpaper, mostly with the layers delaminating (coming apart), which causes the wallpaper seams to come away from the wall. Sometimes sheets of wallpaper simply fall off the wall.

This isn’t so much a problem with paint, because it just sits on the surface. But wallpaper shrinks when the paste dries, or expands and contracts with humidity, and can put tension on the seams

Before wallpaper goes up, one way to test for such unstable surfaces is the tape test . Use a razor blade to cut an “X” into the wall, scoring through the paint and maybe into a few layers beneath. Place a strip of blue painters tape over the cut. Pull the tape off the wall.

If paint comes away from the wall along with the tape, or if layers inside the wall come apart, you know you have to do a lot of specialized prep to stabilize the wall before hanging / installing the wallpaper.

This example is an interesting twist. The homeowner used a piece of tape to hold up a wallpaper sample. Then used an ink pen to write notes on it. When removed, the tape took the paint off – in the shape of the writing!

More William Morris Strawberry Thief in Houston Heights Hall Bathroom

June 24, 2022
Because I feared unstable walls in this 1920’s bungalow in this neighborhood (do a Search for previous posts), before hanging the decorative wallpaper, first I hung a non-woven liner paper on all the walls. That’s the white material you see in the photo.
The liner was hung horizontally so its seams can’t line up with the decorative paper. The idea is to disperse tension from drying wallpaper and changes due to humidity and etc., so as to deflect tension away from sketchy wall surfaces, and thus prevent delamination of multiple unstable layers deep inside the wall. Again, do a Search here to learn more.
Finished vanity area, with pattern centered on the light fixture.
Corner shot.
This colorful and symmetrical pattern is quite popular; I’ve hung it a number of times just this year.
Englishman William Morris designed wallpaper and fabrics during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The styles then were Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts. This design reflects a bit of each.
Wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and then can shrink just a tad as it dries. The liner helps prevent that, but you can still end up with teeny gaps at some seams.
To prevent the white backing from showing through, I run a stripe of dark paint under where each seam will fall.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store, diluted with a little water (in the orange bottle cap) and smeared on the wall with a scrap of sponge. Use a ruler or level and a pencil to mark where you want to stripe the dark paint.
Remember to allow for that expansion as the paper absorbs moisture from the paste. Meaning, if the paper is 20.5″ wide, and expands 1/2″, you’ll want to run your line at about 21.” And make sure that your painted swath is about an inch wide.
I also run a bit of dark chalk along the edges of each strip, to prevent the white substrate from showing at the seams (no photo).
Morris & Co. makes this iconic Strawberry Thief.
Interestingly enough, most times when I’ve hung a Morris paper, it’s been a non-woven paste-the-wall material.
Today’s option was a surprise – a traditional British pulp . This is a pretty basic and somewhat old-fashioned type of substrate . Sort of like construction paper, or the pages of an old family Bible .
The paper is very fragile , and can tear easily. You have to keep using new razor / trimming blades, because the material dulls blades quickly, and when dull they will drag and tear the paper.
Pulp papers also require a soaking / booking time after pasting , to allow time for the material to absorb the paste , soften a bit, and expand . The edges of the strips like to dry out , so I’ve learned to dip about 1/4″ of the booked ends ( booked means the pasted side of the wallpaper strip is folded onto itself, bottom edge folded up and top edge folded down to meet in the middle), into a bucket of clean water.
Then it goes into a black plastic trash bag to soak and relax for a few minutes before hanging. I use this opportunity to paste the next strip.
Non-woven wallpapers have advantages, because they do not expand when wet, and therefor you can get accurate measurements. They also can be pasted and hung immediately, with no waiting time. Alternately, you can paste the wall .

Wallpaper Woes in Chinese Restaurant

April 10, 2022
While waiting for my order to be ready, I couldn’t help but notice problems ….
Wallpaper starting to curl at the seams.
Wallpaper twisting in corners as the building shifts and drywall moves. This is pretty common in Houston.
Other signs of poorly maintained building and/or climate control issues.
Seam curling back. I believe this to be a lower-end solid vinyl wallpaper on a gritty paper backing – one of my least preferred types.
When the walls are not prepared correctly, and the paper is not hung properly, and when there is a lot of humidity (door left open, steam from kitchen getting into waiting area, A/C not running or turned off at night), humidity can enter into the seams and be wicked up by the paper backing. The paper expands and pushes away from the wall, causing the edges of the wallpaper to curl back.
The next step is that the vinyl surface can actually delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing. This is pretty impossible to repair.
At the very bottom, you can see the vinyl separating from the paper backing.
The wallpaper has been wrapped around this outside corner, and a new piece of paper overlapped on top of it. When this is done, with vinyl material, you’re supposed to use special vinyl-over-vinyl ( VOV ) adhesive, because regular wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to vinyl / plastic .
But even if the installer had used the correct adhesive, under humid conditions or with improper wall prep, the odds are that this wallpaper job will start to fail.
Also note dirt along the ceiling, and along the chair rail in the previous photo. General lack of maintenance and I am really suspecting lack of climate control.
The black smudges appear to be mildew coming from underneath the paper. Again, probably related to humidity.
Vinyl wallpaper is a sheet of plastic, and moisture can be trapped behind it. That can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
So why use vinyl wallpaper? Mainly because the surface is much more washable than most other types of wallpaper. In a business, washability is attractive.
But these property owners chose a low-end vinyl product, most likely skipped proper wall prep such as a wallpaper primer, and have not provided a hospitable environment for the paper.
There are other vinyl wallcoverings that would have held up better. For instance, vinyl on a scrim ( woven fabric ) backing, or the newer backing called non-woven , which has a 20% polyester content, and therefore less likely to wick up humidity.

From 20 Years of Red to Sweet Light Floral

February 5, 2022
Red is a classic dining room color, and painted walls served well since the late ’90’s. This homeowner has classic taste – note the elegant moldings below the chair rail and around the windows.
The update is lighter and brighter and opens up the room, making it feel larger.
Note the wallpaper around the corner on the right.
This is the paper in the adjoining hallway, which has been in place for decades. The new pattern coordinates beautifully in theme and color!
Close-up. Roses and script.
Norwall is a very economical brand (something like $25 per double roll on sale). Not my favorite quality, because the gritty paper backing can absorb humidity and separate from the thick vinyl surface, plus the seams tend to “pouch” a bit and don’t look great. But I’ve discovered that rolling a bit of wallpaper paste onto the wall under the seam areas will help to “suck down” the edges, creating better seams. I also do believe that the manufacturer has improved the substrate.
I was pleased with the way the seams looked on this install. You’re looking at a very close-up picture. Once the paper is dried and from two feet away, these seams will be invisible. In fact, the homeowner kept walking around the room remarking how she couldn’t even find a seam. Note the slightly textured surface.

The home is in the far west area of Houston.