Posts Tagged ‘humidity’

Wallpaper Coming Off – Delaminating Wall

January 14, 2022

An Unfortunate Situation

This Brooklyn Toile wallpaper by Flavor Paper on an accent wall in a nursery went up beautifully. The contractor had added new Sheetrock to one wall, and painted the other, old/original wall. I skim-floated both walls and sanded smooth, primed, and hung the wallpaper. Perfect! (Search here to see my original post.) But within less than a month, the homeowner contacted me and said that the wallpaper was ” coming off the wall .” It was a 1920’s bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. And therein lies the brunt of the problem.
The wallpaper itself is not ” coming off the wall .” What’s happening is that the wall surface itself is coming apart – or, delaminating . This is because multiple layers of paint and other substances on the wall may not be compatible. A probably scenario: In 1920 oil-based paint was used. Later someone rolled on a coat of latex paint. Then the homeowners redecorated and used gloss paint. Then some ” flippers ” who had watched too much HGTV slapped on more paint without bothering to de-gloss or prime first. And somewhere in the mix you’ve got cheap paint and dust and other incompatible materials.
Over time, and especially when stress is put on the wall surface, such as when wet wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks, this stress can tug at the wall and actually pull these layers apart. There are other contributing factors, too, such as humidity, temperature, and location. I find it interesting that the worst parts of the affected seams were toward the top of the wall. This speaks of heat, humidity, and forced air (either hot or cold) coming out of the air vent just to the right of this wall. This photo is of the area over a door, very close to the air vent.
See how thick that is? It’s not just the wallpaper. There are several layers of wall coming apart. Some layers are clinging to the back of the wallpaper, and some are staying stuck to the wall.
Multiple layers, many years of coatings on this wall.
Easy to see the many layers. The paper itself, my blue primer, my layer of smoothing compound, paint, more paint coming off the wall. Then multiple layers of paint and texture still clinging to the wall. This shot is just below the ceiling.
Same thing happening at the baseboard at the floor.
Layers of paint separating from the wall in chunks. Some pulled off easily, and some I had to chop off with my 3″ putty knife.
Most of the paint and unstable surface material clung to the back of the wallpaper. This pile is just three strips – only half the wall. But it’s thick and stiff and heavy because of the paint stuck to the back of the wallpaper. There was so much and it was so heavy and bulky that I had to carry it out to my van in two trips. When I got home, it totally filled my trash bin.
Here’s the wall once all the other layers came off. Brushing my hand over it revealed a layer of dust. No wonder the paint and other coatings wouldn’t stick. Nothing sticks to dust. It’s like flouring a cake pan… The paint or wallpaper will kinda stick – but won’t really stick. Paint on top may be fine. But add a little stress from drying / shrinking wallpaper, and you may end up with layers that pull apart.
Wiping the walls with a damp sponge removed a lot more dust. But the wall still felt chalky. Whatever type of paint this was, it was not holding together.
I had to stabilize this chalky surface. Enter Gardz, a wonderful product – Gardz is a thin, penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and binds substances together. It dries hard and creates an intact surface. The darker area in the picture is where I’ve rolled on a test area. Gardz is thin like water, and it runs and drips and splatters. It’s imperative that you cover floors, countertops, and baseboards, and roll carefully, and roll upward rather than downward, to minimize runs and drips. A microfiber roller holds the liquid well, and reduces drips.
Gardz is made by Zinsser.
No photo of the finished wall, but I was very pleased with the stability of the surface. No more chalk or dust. Now, there still could be unstable or incompatible layers deeper inside the wall. (Latex paint over oil without proper prep.) But for now I feel pretty confident that this wall is solid and will hold up to the next process in preparation for getting the new wallpaper up.

Space Heater Speeds Drying Time

November 28, 2021

Whether drying smoothing compound ( drywall joint compound ), or primer, hot, dry, circulating air helps speed the process.

i love this old space heater that I got at a garage sale decades ago. It runs when you tell it to, for as long as you tell it to – without “safety” measures that trip other heaters off after a few minutes. (Don’t worry – I keep an attentive eye on everything!)

The hot air from the space heater helps pull humidity out of the air, which speeds drying time.

Works best in a small room like a powder room. Close the door and let the heat build up. Use fans to move air around the room. You will feel the humidity increase as moisture is drawn from the walls. Periodically open the door and use a fan to circulate moist air out of the room.

One thing to note – which I have learned the hard way – is that this gizmo pulls a lot of electricity. And so do some fans. I can use my two box fans while this heater is running. But if I run my more powerful floor fan while the heater is on, it will trip the electrical circuit. And double-ditto if I try to use my heat gun while the heater is on.

Brightened Bathroom

November 12, 2021
Original vinyl wallpaper in this bathroom was peeling badly, due to humidity and poor ventilation. The design was dated, too. And, gee – borders are pretty much a thing of the past. Time for an update.
Old paper has been stripped off, wall has been primed. Ready for the new stuff!
What a pretty and cheery pattern! The window looks out to a lush and green backyard, and this foliage-themed wallpaper helps pull the feeling inside.
I was losing natural daylight, so the pretty blue and lime tones are not showing up well.
The colors are a little more true here. This almost looks like a water color painting!
A Street Prints is the manufacturer. This is non-woven material, also called paste-the-wall. It went up very nicely. And, because there is no vinyl and because the substrate has a higher polyester content and less paper, this should hold up much better in the humid bathroom. Nonetheless, I did lecture the homeowner to run the exhaust fan and to keep the bathroom door open for air circulation.

The home is in the League City subdivision south of Houston.

Paste Stains on Wallpaper and Woodwork

November 6, 2021
This wallpaper has been up for nearly 30 years. Over time, ” shadows ” of wallpaper paste have begun to show.
The stains are most common at the seams. During installation, it’s typical for paste to ooze out at the seams, and for the installer to wipe the paste off with a damp sponge or cloth. If he doesn’t get it all, then, over time, the paste can manifest, as you see here. There are also darker blotches to the right of the seam.
Paste caught in the lightly textured surface, and probably spread around by the installer’s wiping.
Seam opening up, probably due to humidity and / or improper wall prep.
Stains showing over a window. I don’t believe the room looked like this when the installation was completed years ago. I believe that time and humidity and other factors caused the paste to darken and show itself on the surface. I also have a hunch that clay-based paste was used. I don’t like that stuff, particularly for this reason.
One sad thing is that this room didn’t have to look like this. Note this section “before.”
Here is the same section “after.” All I did was wipe with clean water and a sponge and the stains came off easily.
Here are stains from paste that was not completely wiped off the woodwork.
Here is the same woodwork after I wiped for just a half a minute with a damp cloth.

I hate that the homeowner lived for 30 years with gradually worsening staining like this. I guess that if someone had gotten industrious, he could have taken a bucket of clean water (refreshed frequently) and a rag, and spent an afternoon washing down the walls and woodwork, and a few spots on the ceiling.

Even better would be if the original installer had ” worked clean ” – meaning, working carefully so as not to get any paste on the surface of the paper in the first place. And being more fastidious in removing any paste that did get onto the wallpaper or woodwork.

Don’t Use Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Wallpaper in a Bathroom

November 4, 2021

You are looking at seams in a bathroom that are curling and opening up. This is due to a combination of things.

1, Probably the walls were not prepped properly. Wallpaper should be hung over smooth walls primed with a product designed to be used under wallpaper. Not paint primer and not bare Sheetrock and not glossy paint overspray around the woodwork.

2, Humidity is the great enemy of wallpaper. Especially in a small enclosed bathroom with poor ventilation. If your home has this environment, make sure to run the exhaust fan while showering, and leave the bathroom door open for ventilation, so the humid air can circulate out and fresh, dry air can venture in.

3, Manufacturers tout solid vinyl wallpaper as ” bathroom ” paper because splashed water will run off it. But this is misleading. What’s also going to happen is that humidity will find its way in between the wallpaper seams and then into the gritty manila-type paper backing. Once that backing absorbs moisture, it will expand. When that happens, it will push away from the surface, creating the curled seams you see here.

Taking it a step further, often this paper backing will actually delaminate from the decorative vinyl layer.

Tjhis is not a ” loose seam ” and cannot be glued back down. Your bet bet is to strip off all the wallpaper, properly prep the walls, and hang new paper.

Stay away from the low-end pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid-vinyl papers. A better option would be a thin acrylic-coated paper (not vinyl) or one of the newish non-woven (part polyester) papers.

DFor more information and details, read my page on the right https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/stay-away-from-pre-pasted-paper-backed-solid-vinyl-wallpapers/

Humidity Damage to Vinyl Wallpaper

June 15, 2021

As I like to say, Humidity Is The Great Enemy Of Wallpaper.

This small bathroom with no A/C vent has more problems with moisture than most, as evidenced by the stains and flaking paint on the ceiling.

But let’s focus on the wallpaper. Back some decades, just about all you could find were these pre-pasted paper-backed solid vinyl papers. I have never been fond of them. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/stay-away-from-pre-pasted-paper-backed-solid-vinyl-wallpapers/

the paper backing seems to absorb humidity through the seams. As it sucks up moisture, the paper expands, and that causes the paper to push away from the wall, creating the curled seams you see in the photo. It advances past that, to where the paper backing actually delaminates from the vinyl coating and from the wall. The surfaces come apart, and cannot be “glued down.”

A small part of this problem could have to do with improper surface prep, such as a good wallpaper-specific primer. But the brunt of the issue lies with too much humidity. An air duct in the room would help bring in fresh, dry, air-conditioned or heated air. And keeping the door open would have given humidity a way to exit.

But best of all would have been to avoid this low-end plastic / paper combination wall covering in the first place. A paper wallpaper, or one of the newer non-woven (synthetic fiber) materials would resist humidity much better.

Crumbly / Unstable Wall Issues

June 2, 2021
Starting to strip wallpaper. You see the top, inked layer, the tan backing layer, and the white skim-floated wall beneath.
Wall surfaces delaminating at seams
Gardz, a penetrating sealer that binds surfaces together and dries hard.
My first idea was to just Gardz the lifted areas. The sealer is newly applied and still wet in this photo.
Gardz’ing the whole wall created a more stable surface. This doesn’t look much different from the photo above. But in actuality, the the Gardz has sealed and “locked down” the surface, as well as soaked into the material and sealed the inner layers as well.
Applying a skim-coat to even out the surface levels.
Once this skim-coat is dry, it will be sanded smooth.

The installer of the original paper did a good job of skim-floating the wall and creating a smooth surface. But he didn’t apply a sealer or primer. Thus, when I used water to strip off the old wallpaper, the moisture soaked into his skim-coat (drywall joint compound, a plaster-like substance, which we also refer to as “mud”). Some of the skim-coat came away from the wall,,, particularly in areas of stress, such as where the wallpaper seams had lain.

In fact, long (years) before I began stripping the wallpaper, many of the seams had started to pull away from the wall, taking inner layers of the wall along with them. This is because wallpaper shrinks as it dries, and that creates tension on the wall. If the wall surface is unstable, these layers can delaminate (come apart), and the result is an open seam with chunks of wall material stuck to it.

This can also happen over time, as temperature and humidity changes can cause the wallpaper and / or wall surface to absorb and then let go of moisture. All this puts stress on those wallpaper seams and on the layers inside the wall.

Besides these seam areas that let go, I had one wall where the entire surface came apart in a mottled effect.

Another factor is that the original skim-coat had been applied over a glossy paint. It’s hard for anything to stick to gloss. The guy probably should have rolled on a “bonding primer” before applying his skim-coat.

Of course, all that increases the time and materials needed, and ups the cost to the homeowner.

Gardz is a wonderful product that is designed to soak into surfaces and “bind them together.” It dries hard and is pretty water-resistant. It was originally intended to “lock down” torn drywall. But workmen quickly discovered that it would fix a whole lot of other surfaces – such as my delaminating skim-coated walls.

At first I thought I would just Gardz (we use it as a noun and as a verb!) the areas that were lifting. Once it dried, I intended to skim-float over these areas, sand smooth, and then prime the entire room with my usual wallpaper primer – Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

But I realized that, even after I wiped down the walls with a damp sponge, they were still covered with powder or grit. This was powder from the layer of skim-coat, as well as residue from wallpaper paste. Neither my primer not wallpaper will stick securely to powder.

So I decided to roll Gardz on to all the walls, ceiling to floor.

Fifth photo – I was really pleased with the way the Gardz soaked in and drew all those layers together. There was no more power on the surface, and the inner layers of the walls were all pulled together.

To even over these vacant areas, and to create a pristine new surface, I skim-floated over the entire wall surface – all walls, floor to ceiling. See last photo.

Once that is dry, tomorrow morning, I will sand everything smooth. Next I’ll apply my 977 primer.

Then walls will be stable, and the surface will be ready to take on the new wallpaper.

From Drab to Spa-Like

April 17, 2021
Before: Semi-gloss paint on bad texture job.
Virtually the same color, but texture and pattern add a warm and calm feel.
Before: Khaki paint
After: Serene, even Zen-like.
Close-up shows pattern that can be matched so seams are disguised, as well as string fibers that add texture and dimension.

Nearly a full 100 years old, this cottage in the Norhill neighborhood of the Houston Heights has seen many updates and treatments. The master bath suffered from various dubious renovation attempts, as well as the aftermath of acts of nature, such as shifting foundation, leaky windows, humidity. The whole room just had a sort of “last chance” look about it.

Most of the room’s ails could be solved by ripping everything out down to the studs and then starting anew. But on most budgets – that ain’t agonna happen!

So I skim-floated the walls and sanded smooth. Just having smooth walls free of the drab khaki paint color helped left the pervasive glum feeling.

The homeowner chose this faux grasscloth, which is a stringcloth product made by Walquest, in their EcoChic line. I like this because, being a man-made material, the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, so you do not notice the seams like you do with a natural fiber material like real grasscloth. Also, the vertical strings on the wallpaper give texture and dimension, which is a look that many homeowners are craving these days.

The label insert tells you straight off that this material is not washable (they say you can gently vacuum it occasionally). Yet it is still more resistant to stains than true grasscloth.

This wallpaper was purchased from Ted at the Shade & Drape Shop on Kirby at Richmond. (They have another location on Voss near San Felipe.)

Abstract Desert Mural for Baby Boy

April 4, 2021

Original textured wall skim-floated smooth, primed, and ready to hang.
Ready for the crib!
Close-up showing watercolor-like effect.
Rolling panels out on the floor, to check sequence, pattern match, measurements, layout, etc.

No teddy bears or rubber duckies for this baby-boy-to-be. His parents wanted a more earthy theme and color scheme, as well as a pattern that would grow with him.

This mural went on an accent wall. The crib will sit in front of it. The remaining three walls will be painted a light, earthy grey, which will make the whole room feel unified and snug.

It’s uncommon to have a door on an accent wall, and note that that 3′ wide door ate up a good chunk of the 12 1/2′ wide mural. I debated putting paper on that 1 3/4″ wide strip to the right of the door. But I’m glad I did, because it sets the door off and, most important, it provides visual continuity of the sand dunes and mesas moving across the wall.

That narrow piece took about 45 minutes. It felt really good that that was one of the first things the homeowners commented on when they came in to view the finished wall.

Anewall is the manufacturer. I really like most of their products. I had the homeowners avoid the vinyl version, in favor of this thin, pre-pasted option. You simply need to use water to activate the paste on the back, let book a few minutes, and it’s ready to hang. I always augment with a little extra paste, which this time I rolled onto the wall, especially under the seams. This will help prevent shrinking and gapping at the seams as the wallpaper dries.

The thin paper will hug the wall more tightly and be more resistant to humidity (curling seams) than the vinyl option. It’s not particularly soil-resistant, though, so the parents will have to make sure that little hands stay far away from the wall.

Although not printed on the label, I believe the actual manufacturer of this is York Wallcoverings, in their SureStrip line. I like just about everything this company makes.

The townhome is in the Rice Military area of close-in Houston.

Dark & Mysterious Witch & Watchman Wallpaper

January 29, 2021

This small powder room in the Rice University neighborhood of Houston was buried under at least four layers of old wallpaper. The homeowners intended to DIY new wallpaper. In the top photo, they have partially removed some of the layers. But not too far into the project they realized that the prep required was over their heads. Enter the Wallpaper Lady. 🙂

I won’t go into all the details of getting these walls into shape. But I will say that it took a day and a half, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the end result. But sometimes you can’t surmount what was done over prior decades. I brought the wall to a good state for hanging the new paper.

And what a perfect choice they made! The original wallpaper was a beige faux-finish sort of design that was popular in the ’90’s. The couple wasn’t sure what they wanted, but, on our initial consultation, I showed them a sample of this that I had hung previously https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/birds-on-black-wallpaper-by-witch-and-watchman/ , and they were instantly mesmerized. On the company’s website, they zeroed in on a slightly different pattern with equal drama.

The wallpaper is on a non-woven substrate, and can be hung via the paste-the-wall method. In bathrooms, with sinks and toilets and windows and other things to cut around, I find it better to paste the paper. It went up nicely, and should perform well for years, even being more resistant to splashes and stains than many papers. The non-woven substrate should resist curling at the seams caused by humidity – important, since this 100 year old home has no A/C vent in the powder room.