Posts Tagged ‘hurricane harvey’

Low End Wallpaper – Not So Bad This Time

October 12, 2018


I’ve said it before – these budget-friendly, pre-pasted, manila paper-baked solid vinyl wallpaper products are generally not good quality, and the Norwall brand is about at the bottom of the list. In fact, I often will decline to hang it. Do a Search here on those terms, or click the Page to the right “Stay Away From … ” for more info.

However, this homeowner, a Meyerland neighborhood (Houston) victim of the Hurricane Harvey flooding, and a client for whom I had worked back in the ’90’s, really loved the pattern, as well as the price-point. And she wanted her entry to look as it had before the flood ravaged her home.

I was pleasantly surprised. The paper went up OK, and the seams looked fine. It’s possible that the company has improved its product. But it’s more likely that my new installation method helped.

Instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions to run the paper through a water tray, which makes the material too wet and promotes bubbling, and instead of pasting the back of the paper, which turns it into a gummy mess, I tried something new. I used a spray bottle to lightly spritz fresh water onto the back; this activated the paste, but was not so much water that it would cause bubbling or seam curling or over-expansion of the material. I booked the paper and put it in a black trash bag to sit a few minutes.

Next I rolled paste onto the wall. I started out using a very faint coat, but found that a tad more worked better. I used a brush to cut the paste into the edges and around the floor and ceiling.

When I took the very slightly dampened paper to the wall and smoothed it against the lightly pasted surface, it adhered very nicely. It was pretty easy to smooth into position, although there was some twisting of some strips, which could have been a problem in a room that required more strips next to one another.

Usually these inexpensive vinyl papers grow bubbles, because, as they dry, there is nowhere for the moisture to go (because it can’t pass through the vinyl surface), so blisters form. But today was very little bubbling.

Best of all, the seams looked good. I didn’t get any of the raised edges that are so unattractive, and that allow moisture / humidity to penetrate and cause the backing to swell and pull away from the wall.

I am not saying that I was happy with this paper. But it was a lot better than I expected. And I hope that it will continue to look good for years to come.

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A Really Nice Textured Faux Grasscloth

September 27, 2018


I’m not a fan of grasscloth (read the page to the right), but there are wonderful alternatives – this product is about my favorite. The layers of string on the surface provide the texture that is so popular today, while the printed pattern mimics real grasscloth. Because the design is printed, it can be matched from strip to strip, so you don’t see the abrupt breaks between panels as you do with real grasscloth. It also has a bit of a protective coating, so it is more durable than the real stuff, too.

My only complaint is that this darker colorway tends to have some shading / paneling issues. In the fourth photo, you can see that the strip on the left is darker than the strip on the right. This happened on every strip, every bolt of paper, and some were worse than others; I had to discard two strips because of this. Interestingly enough, I have hung the lighter tan version of this material and did not have the shading issues.

I hung this in the hall bathroom of a home in the Meyerland area of Houston, that had been damaged by the flood from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The house is a veritable temple to Mid-Century Modern, and the homeowner wanted the wallpaper to be era-appropriate to the style of the home.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and is in the Grass Effects book. 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.

Large Silvery Metallic Damask in a Down-Sized Home’s Powder Room

September 22, 2018


Apologies for the bad pictures of a beautiful paper!

This couple lost their home in Kingwood (northeast Houston) to the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. They relocated to a new-but-smaller spec house in Somerset Green near central Houston, and are using interior designer Anthony Stransky of L Design Group to decorate their new home, while giving their traditional taste a tad more modern feel.

Damask wallpaper patterns are quite traditional, but the large scale and metallic sheen of this particular selection bring it into the modern age. And the over-sized pattern fills the walls nicely, in this sizeable powder room with 10′ high ceilings.

The pattern is in the Anna French collection by Thibaut Designs. It is printed on a thickish non-woven material. I usually prefer thin papers, but this was quite nice to work with. It didn’t crease like many N-W papers do, the seams were practically invisible, and, once pasted and softened, it was flexible and stretchable enough to accommodate some pretty un-straight and un-plumb walls.

This non-woven paper could have been hung using the paste-the-wall method. But I prefer the pliability that comes when the material itself is pasted. Plus, pasting the material definitely makes it easier when working around pedestal sinks and behind toilets.

The builder coated the walls of this large powder room with a bland dark tan paint. These homeowners had never used wallpaper before, but, once they went for the interior design team’s suggestion, there was no learning curve – They LOVE the newly papered powder room!

Anthony Stransky and founder Neal Leboeuf of L Design Group serve the entire Houston metropolitan area. They assist homeowners with interior design, new home buyers with all choices such as flooring, faucets, window coverings, fixtures, etc., and – when they get breathing room – they do events planning. Super guys, energetic and fun, with a look that’s modern and fun, with an urban edge. See them in a summer 2018 issue of Houston House & Home magazine – on the cover and in a story inside.

Coordinating Walls to Fixtures

September 21, 2018


This home between West University and the Medical Center was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Harvey a year ago in Houston. The homeowner loved her seafoam green toilet and pedestal sink in her powder room, and made sure to protect them during the renovation. She chose a wallpaper that coordinates nicely with the fixtures.

This faux finish wallpaper pattern is by American Beauty, by Brewster. It is a paper product with a slight texture from the raised-ink white sand-like specs on the surface. The pattern did have a match, and it was mighty hard to spot! Once on the wall, the seams were all but invisible. It will hold nice and tight to the wall for years to come.

This 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.

Incidentally, I hung the original paper in this home back in the ’90’s… all still in good condition. Except for the flood damage, that is. 😦

Silver Metallic Damask on Aqua on a Feature Wall in a Bedroom

July 26, 2018


Here’s a traditional damask wallpaper pattern done a little more modern by the use of silver metallic ink. It fills this accent wall beautifully.

I, the installer, would like to think that the wallpaper is the main focus of the bedroom. But, really, that fabulous chandelier steals the show.

No problem. It’s the overall effect of all the elements pulled together that makes the room.

This wallpaper is by Thibaut Designs, and was super to work with. I did not have the curling seams issues I have had with other brands’ metallic ink.

I hung this in a home in Friendswood, just south of Houston, which had been damaged by flooding during Hurricane Harvey last year.

The interior designer is Neal LeBoeuf of L Design Group.

View of the Day

July 25, 2018


I just did prep today, and that doesn’t make for very interesting photos or stories. So I thought I’d post a picture of the view out the windows in the rooms where I am working. Don’t I have a great job?!

This home in Friendswood south of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last year. I’m standing on the back deck, and you can see how high it is off the ground – about 5′. The water came that high, plus another foot deep in the house.

Nearly a year later, the homeowners are nearing completion of repairs to the home.

Contractors and Painters Should NOT Prep Walls for Wallpaper

July 14, 2018


This home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, and has been redone, and is now ready for final touches, like decorating, i.e. – wallpaper!

The first three photos show how the contractor left the walls. It’s hard to conceive how anyone could think these walls are “ready for wallpaper.”

What you are looking at is where the contractor ripped off the top, inked layer of the original wallpaper. Most of them don’t realize that there is a backing layer of paper that is left on the wall, that should be removed, too. Simply soaking this with a wet sponge will reactivate the paste and allow the paper to be removed easily, and with no damage to the wall (esp. if there is a good primer underneath the paper). Read my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper” to see how this should be done.

Instead, this contractor left the paper backing on the wall. Some of this porous backing is exposed. Other areas have been covered with the paint that was used on the woodwork. This solvent-based paint “raises the grain” of the surface it’s applied to – see all the hairy fibers from the wallpaper backing that have gotten stuck in the paint and raised up? Some of them are more than 1/4″ high. They create a gritty feeling on the surface, like really coarse sandpaper.

The surface is uneven, and the bumps will show under the new paper. The unevenness also means that areas of the paper will not be able to contact the wall, so there will be gaps and air bubbles and poor adhesion. The backing of the original wallpaper has been exposed, and when new, wet, pasted wallpaper gets placed on top of that thirsty paper backing, it will absorb moisture, expand, and bubble.

I had three missions. 1.) Seal the surface 2.) Smooth the surface 3.) Prime with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

I rolled on a coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz to seal the surface, so that my following treatments would not cause the paper backing to bubble. When that was dry, I skim-floated the wall with a coat of joint compound. In the areas where the hairs were 1/4″ high, the skim coat was pretty thick, and took a good while to dry. Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, then vacuumed the dust of off the floor, used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the walls, and then followed up with another coat of Gardz. It will soak into the joint compound and dry hard, forming a stable surface for the new paper to adhere to.

The last photo shows the wall once I finished.

Stretching Paper to Save a Seam

July 1, 2018


In this room, I was working from left to right. The last strip I hung ended under the air register, as you see in the top photo. By measuring and engineering, I knew that the way the next strip would fall would leave two seams in between the two doors on the right of the photo. (See last photo) But the width between those two doors was just a tad less than the width of two strips of paper, which would mean only one seam, so I really wanted to get away with that one seam, instead of two.

But if I hung just two strips between the doors, it would leave a 5″ gap over the left-hand door, between the strip on the left and the strip on the right. See top photo.

Never fear – I figured a way to bridge that gap – without screwing up the pattern match or horizontal repeat.

I found a piece of scrap paper with an appropriate design. I trimmed it so it would butt up against the strip on the left, and then overlap onto the strip on the right, with a bit of tree branch and flowers to disguise the area. Voilà! No gap! (See third photo)

This would not have worked on a full-height wall, and maybe not even on a 1′ high area over a door. But since we are talking about only 4″ or so of height, the eye never notices that the pattern is not exactly what it should be. And the rhythm of the design as it moves across the ceiling line is undisrupted – Your eye never notices that it is 5″ off.

This beautiful wallpaper is by Bradbury & Bradbury, in their new ’20’s Vintage line. I hung it in the master bedroom of a home in Bellaire (Houston), that was flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

By the way, the homeowners were talking about painting that air register a softer color to match the woodwork and blend with the wallpaper. The register had been stuck to the wall with caulk and paint, and was not removable. That blue tape is on there with a note to tell the painters to NOT put any tape on the wallpaper. Painter’s tape will pull the inked layer right off that beautiful new wallpaper. Actually, after I explained that to the homeowners, and also told them how the register would have to be deglossed with chemicals or by sanding, and then painted with paint specially formulated for metal and to withstand the condensation that happens around those air ducts, they decided to forgo painting it, and were happy to live with the color as it is. Whew!

Beautiful Bradbury Birds

June 29, 2018


Bradbury & Bradbury is a well-established company based in California that produces wallpaper patterns in the style of by-gone eras – Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Oriental and more. I have their Raspberry Bramble, from the Victorian collection, in my own master bathroom. Do a Search here to see pics.

Bradbury has unveiled some new genres recently, including the ’50’s Atomic Age and the ’20’s Vintage. These new products are digitally-printed, which is a little different from their other papers, most of which are screen-printed.

Today I hung half of a master bedroom with their 2D-103. Those numbers are not very interesting, but the pattern is – see it in the photos above. It’s a lovely, cheery, and easy-to-live-with birds, branches, and flowers, on a soft yellow background.

Bradbury wallpapers come with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand, using a razor blade and straight edge (not shown). This takes precision and a lot of sharp new razor blades – I spent two hours trimming paper for these two walls (with more to come tomorrow for the remaining two walls).

Once all that tedious trimming was over, the paper was a delight to work with. The seams melted together and were next to invisible. The paper hugged the wall nicely with no curling at the edges. Other companies with cantankerous papers could take a lesson from Bradbury.

This home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston, and was partially destroyed in the flooding after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The homeowners love the vintage vibe of their older home, and when the house was rebuilt after the flood, they took great care to recreate the look of the original home … woodwork, flooring, kitchen cabinets, kitchen appliances… all are true to the home’s original look.

Dark Paper Bringing Brightness to a Harvey Hurricane Flooded Home

June 28, 2018


This home in the Bellaire subdivision of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017. Everything below the 4′ high water mark had to be cut out and thrown out. The homeowners loved the Mid-Century Modern vibe of their 1952 home, so, as the structure was put back together, they re-created everything as accurately as they could – baseboards, doors, cabinets, flooring – they even found a funky green refrigerator designed in the style of what I can only describe as an old Studebaker sedan.

When it came to wallpaper, they wanted something to reflect the vintage vibe. After much research, they agreed on two papers from the Bradbury & Bradbury Vintage ’20’s collection. This colorful bird-flowers-and-foliage-on-black pattern went in their sun room, which can also be called the piano room.

The ’20’s Vintage wallpaper collection is pretty new from Bradbury and Bradbury, which is out in California. This company produces historic-styled patterns from eras such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Victorian, Asian, and more, right on through into the new offerings based on designs from the “Modern Age.”

Like many higher-end or specialty and / or “boutique” wallpaper brands, this paper came with a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand (by me!). The manufacturer’s trim guidelines were spot-on, and so the edges were nice and straight, and the pattern design matched from strip to strip perfectly.

This pattern is digitally-printed on a paper substrate with a somewhat shiny surface. I found that it accepted the paste (clay paste is recommended, to mesh with the paper which is printed on a clay-coated substrate) with no protests, and, after appropriate booking time, the paper handled nicely and the seams laid down nice and flat. That slightly shiny surface also allowed me to wipe any stray spots of paste off the surface.

Because the paper was black, I did take the extra step of using a piece of black chalk to color the edges of the strips, to keep the white substrate from peeking out at the seams.

This room holds a grand piano, and is in the back of the house, where it looks out onto the patio and backyard. It gets a lot of sunlight in the daytime, and the colors in the wallpaper will really stand out, and will bring a lot of light into this very deserving home.