Posts Tagged ‘hurricane harvey’

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.

Advertisements

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.

Geometric Pattern in a Powder Room – Flooded Home

May 20, 2018


This home in the Energy Corridor area of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August. A lower section of drywall had been cut out and replaced. The contractor’s wallpaper hanger put up this identical pattern. The homeowner wasn’t pleased with the job. To be honest, the installer did a pretty good job, in a room that was very difficult to hang. There were a few minor things that could have been done differently.

But what bothered the homeowner most was that the walls had not been smoothed properly before the paper went up. With that west-facing window blasting angled sunlight into the room, those irregular surface flaws were quite obvious. See the top two photos. (You may need to enlarge them.)

I stripped off the original paper and skim-floated the walls to make them as perfectly smooth as possible. I followed with a primer. (The previous installer had not primed the walls.) See third photo for walls that are ready to go.

This room was a major bugger bear to hang. For starters, there was a large metal mirror that protruded about 4″ from the wall, that could not be removed. This was directly over a pedestal sink. (The previous installer had the luxury of hanging the room before the sink was in place.) It’s hard to explain, but the logistics of winding wallpaper around these three-dimensional objects, preventing the paper from tearing, having the ridged and unforgiving pattern match on all planes, keeping the edges plumb, and keeping the edges straight so they would butt up with the next strip, all while fighting edges of the wallpaper that wanted to curl backwards, were extremely difficult.

In addition, the corners of the room were out of plumb, which pretty much guaranteed pattern mis-matches in all the corners. On a wild floral pattern, no one would notice. But with a geometric pattern like this trellis, the eye would catch even minor mis-matches.

Compounding all of that was the fact that nothing in the room was centered. The window was not in the center of the wall, nor was the toilet – and they were not aligned with each other, either. The sink was not centered on the mirror, the faucet was not in the center of the sink, and the spout was off-set from the handle. I finally decided to balance the trellis design on the mirror, and it did fall perfectly symmetrically on either side. The kicker is that the room is so narrow that you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate all my efforts. 😦

I probably spent 40 minutes plotting how to tackle the first wall, and then a full two hours hanging the first two strips (the ones around the mirror and sink) (sorry – the room was too small to get good pics). The longer I worked, the more appreciation I had for the previous installer and the job she had done.

In the end, the walls I had prepped were smooth, and there were no objectionable bumps or gouges showing under the paper. I pulled some tricks out of my hat and got the pattern to match in the corners pretty darned well.

That window with it’s danged strong light still was a foe, though. The wallpaper seams butted together just about perfectly. Yet because of the way the edges curled back when they got wet with paste, I fought to keep them down tight to the wall. Once dried, they were nice and flat. I was pretty content. But when the sun moved and light came through that window from a different angle – some of those seams looked positively horrid! The light was casting shadows and making it look like the seams were overlapped. Yet they were perfectly flat. The inclination is to go over and over the seams with various tools and try to “force” them to lie flatter – but this can burnish or otherwise damage the wallpaper or the underlying surface. The good news is that as the sun moved, and as the louvers on the shutters were adjusted, the shadows disappeared and the seams looked good.

Let’s hope that the homeowners see this room only in the most positive light. 🙂

This wallpaper is by York Wall, one of my favorite brands. Interestingly, the paper came with the correct label, but the instruction insert was for another line made by this same company. I’m glad that I was familiar with both products, and had the sense to disregard the info that was not relative.

Store Leftover Wallpaper in the House (Not Garage or Attic)

March 27, 2018


These homeowners had damage from Hurricane Harvey and needed to replace two strips of grasscloth. They brought the box of leftover paper in from the garage – and discovered that paper was ruined. Water had gotten onto the garage floor, soaked the box (which was sitting on the floor) and wicked up into the ends of the paper. Some of it was even mildewed.

Moral: Always store left over paper in the house, under climate-controlled conditions. Never the garage or attic.

Grasscloth Repair

March 18, 2018


These homeowners in the Rice Village area of Houston suffered a window leak during Hurricane Harvey. Water stained the seam between two strips of grasscloth. Both strips had to be removed and replaced.

The strip to the left worked it’s way around the window and over the top. To replace this entire strip would have used an 8′ length of paper, and required removing the window valance. I wanted to use shorter scraps left from the original install, and also sure didn’t want to mess with taking down the curtains.

The grass portion pulled off easily, leaving the paper backing on the wall. I used a sponge and bucket of water to wet this backing, which reactivated the paste, and the backing came off easily, with no damage to the wall. (2nd photo)

I cut the grasscloth horizontally just to the left of the window sill. That way, I only had to replace the bottom portion. I pulled off a few of the strands of grass, leaving the black paper backing on the wall. (3rd photo)

Then I cut a new strip and placed it on the wall, and trimmed along the top of one strand of grass, so that it laid over the black paper backing on the wall, and met up with the other grass strands on the upper portion of the wall. (4th photo)

Except for a teeny extra thickness due to the black paper underneath, the join is invisible. (5th photo) At the factory, the grass fibers are held to the backing by sewing them in place with thread. There are a few loose threads where the material was cut, but that’s just going to happen, and it’s barely noticeable.

A Small Repair Today – Plumbing Issue

March 15, 2018


This couple had water damage from Hurricane Harvey, and I repapered their powder room a month or two ago. Well, recently a pipe burst, and, long story short, they had to replumb the whole house. To run the new pipes, the plumbers had to cut holes in the drywall.

The top photo shows where the plumber patched a hole with a scrap of drywall. He left some irregular areas and rough edges that would show under the wallpaper. So I skim-floated over these areas and then sanded smooth, as you see in the second photo.

There was precious little paper left, so a patch was called for (rather than replacing the whole wall). From leftover paper that matched the pattern around the drywall patch, I cut along the pattern design (third photo). This would be less visible than if I cut a square patch with straight edges.

Once I put the patch into place, lining it up with the pattern on the wall, the repair was invisible. (The gap at the bottom will be caulked.)

Another Reason to Buy (and Keep) Extra Wallpaper – Repair Water Leak

March 14, 2018


Having extra wallpaper is a good thing. Keep it wrapped up with its label, and stored in a climate-controlled closet. You never know when you will need to pull it out to make repairs.

This home was damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Repairs were made, and I hung beautiful new wallpaper in the powder room just a month or two ago. Well, the poor homeowners suffered another water issue – a leaky pipe. Yes, this would be one of the new pipes in their new powder room.

Fixing the leak required cutting a two holes out of the drywall. The plumber did a decent job of patching the holes. The next step is covering that drywall with some wallpaper.

It’s such a good thing that the homeowners have scraps left from the install.

1950’s Bathroom Revisited – and Updated

February 17, 2018


This hall bathroom in a 1955 home in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston suffered damaged during Hurricane Harvey. The wallpaper had to be replaced. The homeowner chose the aqua trellis paper, thinking it would compliment the original sea-foam colored tile (which I happen to love, BTW). The contractor let his painter hang the new wallpaper. Both these decisions turned out to be mistakes.

I was called in to remove the trellis paper, prep and prime the walls, and then hang this beautiful and bold paisley pattern. Some of the photos are washed out, but in the good ones you can see the rich hues of this fun pattern. And it coordinates perfectly with the tile.

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.