Posts Tagged ‘ink’

What’s Wrong With This Picture? My Table is Sacred!!

August 17, 2021

“Someone” (a.k.a. the homeowner) went and set something on my work table.

Folks, I can set things on my table. NO ONE ELSE can!!

Not even an innocent glass of water!

For one thing, it’s my work area, and I have all my needed tools and measurements and thought processes there. Outside items disrupt my thought process and the flow of installation.

But most important … the table has to stay CLEAN. As in PRISTINE. Any speck of grease, or ink, or oil or dirt can leave a stain that will transfer to the wallpaper. Sharp objects can cut it, and other objects can dent or scratch it.

My clients spend a lot of money for their wallpaper. Their investment shouldn’t be permanently marred because some electrician decided to dispose of his scratchy, sweat-stained wire clippings, or the wrapper from his hamburger, on the nearest surface – my work table.

The absolute worst was a homeowner himself, who walked by and casually set down a bowl from the backyard, full of GREASY CANNED DOG FOOD.

“Priming” Wall With Paste to Keep Seams Down Tight

August 3, 2021
Hard to see, but the slightly darker, shiny section of wall to the left of the wallpaper is a bit of paste that I have rolled onto the wall along where a seam will lie.
The paste has pulled the edges of the paper nice and tight to the wall. Never mind the slight pattern mis-match … this is a hand screen print, and it’s pretty common for these to be slightly off in printing and/or trimming. The pattern matched better above the door, then drifted off as the paper neared the bottom of the strip. You can also see that some of the edges are somewhat jagged and saw-dusty, due to trimming at the factory.

Some manufacturers use inks that fight with their substrates. The substrate absorbs moisture from the paste and expands, but the inked layer does not, so you end up with the bottom layer stretching and forcing the top layer to curl back, resulting in edges that curl and don’t stay tight to the wall.

Any time you smell ink that calls to mind mothballs, you can expect to deal with this issue. It’s pretty common with screen printed wallpapers.

One trick is to lightly sponge the surface with water before pasting the back. Another, which I have discussed here previously, is to paste the paper, fold and book it, and then dip the rolled-up edges into 1/4″ of clean water. Then place the rolled up strip into a plastic trash bag for the booking period. This helps to keep the edges from drying out while the paper books.

On many papers, I’ve found that it also helps to roll a light coat of paste onto the wall, just under where the seams will fall. This works amazingly well to grab the edges and hold them tightly against the wall.

Replacement Paper a Different Run ??

June 22, 2021
Ink smudge. One of many printing defects throughout all the rolls of wallpaper
Replacement paper came in the same run number as defective paper. Not good.
Despite the label, the replacement paper (on the right) must surely be a different run. Note the pattern mis-match, as well as color discrepancy between the two strips. The motifs on the left are lighter and yellower than those on the right.

When I originally set out to hang this Anderson Prints wallpaper in a northwest Houston powder room, there were too many printing defects to be acceptable. The homeowner had the store send it back, and we requested that the replacement paper be from a different run (printed at a different time and with a different batch of ink), to ensure that the new paper would be defect-free.

The replacement paper arrived with the label stating the same run number – Run 2. But I have to question that. I think they stuck the wrong labels on the new rolls.

For one thing, notice the pattern mis-match, between the original rolls (left) and the new paper (right). This indicates that the trimming rollers were set at different points in the design – and that can only happen when the presses are set up to print off a new batch / run of wallpaper. (I’m tossing in an educated guess on that one … Another scenario could be that the trimming wheels got wobbly and rolled out of “true.”)

Either way, these two bolts of paper were not printed and trimmed at the same time.

You will also notice a pretty obvious color difference between the original paper (left) and the replacement (right).

Again, it’s pretty certain that these rolls were not printed at the same time from the same batch of ink.

Run Numbers – Re Previous Post

May 15, 2021
Run numbers are important!

Re my previous post, before I visited, the homeowner had purchased 8 rolls (4 double roll bolts) of paper. This was just exactly enough (12 strips) for the headboard wall, but I told him to order 16 more to do the rest of the room. The new paper came in a different run. So we had Run 16 for the headboard accent wall, and Run 17 for the other walls.

(You can’t mix runs on the same wall, because different runs, printed at different times with different batches of ink, will be slightly different shades. This very slight color difference will show up on the wall as a striped or “paneled” effect.)

The wallpaper is by York. It is a non-woven material, comprised of synthetic fibers rather than wood and cotton. The synthetic material does not expand when wet with paste, which means the wallpaper can be hung via the paste-the-wall method, with no “booking” or “soaking” wait time needed.

Interestingly enough, Run 16 behaved differently from Run 17. I hung the accent wall with Run 16 quite successfully using the paste-the-wall method.

But when I started the next wall using Run 17, bubbles and wrinkles developed. The paper was absorbing moisture from the paste and expanding on the wall, creating the small bubbles. Quite unexpected with a non-woven material.

The solution was to paste the back of the wallpaper, rather than the wall. This allows the material to absorb moisture and expand a tad before you get it to the wall, so it will behave itself once it is on that wall.

Unlike a traditional paper, this non-woven material did not need a lot of time to absorb moisture, but could be pasted and hung immediately. This greatly speeds up the installation process.

Pasting the paper has an additional advantage in that it renders the material more supple and pliable, which makes it much easier to work around corners or manipulate into position in tricky areas.

Weird Red & Blue Dots on Wallpaper Substrate

April 29, 2021
Red dot on back of wallpaper substrate.
Red dot shows through to front of wallpaper.
There were a few blue dots, too.
Being tucked among the foliage helps hide the dots.

This is the second time in recent weeks that I’ve had strange red and blue dots show up on the back of my strips of wallpaper. These are not flecks of wood fiber or string that can be picked out of the material.

They are either inherent to the material the substrate is made of. Or they could have come from substances splashing onto the wallpaper during manufacturing.

What’s upsetting is that they are capable of – and have – bled through to show up on the surface of the wallpaper.

Another fear is that ink bleeds and stains … do a Search here on my blog for more posts. In today’s case, I worry that these tiny dots will bleed and leech over time, and grow to larger stains on the surface of the paper.

This wallpaper is by Katie Kime. Their website says that they use “eco-friendly” inks. I hope this is true. Because water-based inks have less chance of bleeding through than do oil- or solvent-based substances.

II hung two test strips today. We’ll see tomorrow if any of these small dots have enlarged.

Printing Defects in Katie Kime Wallpaper

April 29, 2021
Splotches in between the tree and the drum, and above and to the right of the paddlewheeler steamship.
Smears / blotches right where my pencil is pointing.

These misguided daubs of ink are a result of the printing process. Excess ink probably got stuck to a print roller and dripped onto the wallpaper. These occurred throughout all the bolts of paper. A larger company (Thibaut, York) would not have let this pass.

But, really, once the whole room is papered with this busy and fun pattern, these little flecks of ink are not going to be a big deal.

I did check with the homeowner before hanging, and she OK’d it. I think she made the right decision.

‘Tis The Season – for Defects

December 11, 2020

This is the second time in a month that I have not been able to finish a job for a client, due to problems with the paper. In this case, it is not a defect in the paper itself, but rather, damage caused by improper storage – most likely at the vendor.

Look closely at the top photo and you will see slight light line along the far right edge. This is where ink has been pulled off the surface. There are also remnants of ink along the right edge of the backside of the wallpaper, as seen in the second and third photos.

What happened is, the bolts of wallpaper must have gotten a tad wet along one edge. Perhaps stored in a warehouse that had a water leak that accessed the wallpaper. Or the delivery guy spilled his Ozarka and a tiny splash found its way into the edge of the wallpaper.

Whatever happened, three of the five double roll bolts of paper were damaged.

What happened is, the wallpaper is pre-pasted, which means it has a thin layer of dry paste on the backside. When the spilled water reached the edge of the wallpaper bolt, it was absorbed, and the moisture re-activated the paste. The paste stuck the rolled-up layers of paper to themselves.

When I came along and started to unroll the wallpaper, the backside stuck to the printed front side, and pulled some of the ink off. Hence you see color missing from the surface, and color stuck to the back.

There is no way to know if this happened at the factory, or at one of the many middle-man vendors popping up on-line these days, or on the delivery guy’s truck.

This is a pretty minor flaw. Yet, once up on the wall, it would result in a faint, pale, vertical line from floor to ceiling, along each seam – every 27.”

I thought the homeowner deserved better, so I declined to hang it. She will have to reorder, making sure to get a different run number, which means the new paper will have been printed and shipped at a different time. Or, she may choose a whole different pattern altogether. Either way, it’s pretty sure that the new paper will not have encountered moisture that could cause this problem again.

The wallpaper is by Caitlin Wilson, and is made by York, in their SureStrip line – which is actually one of my favorite brands.

Fixing Weird Things That Happen To Wallpaper

December 6, 2020

The top photo shows a stain on the wallpaper that is probably related to a rain or hurricane event a few years ago.

Water stains (and also other substances, like rust, blood, ink, oil, tobacco, tar, cosmetics, and more) will bleed through wallpaper. So, before patching the area, it is imperative to use a stain blocker to seal the problem. My favorite is KILZ Original oil-based.

KILZ will seal off the stain all right. But wallpaper won’t stick to it. So, in the third photo, you see where I have primed over the KILZ with a wallpaper primer (tinted light blue, for visibility). It’s not necessary to prime the entire wall area to be patched, because this type of wallpaper will stick to itself with just plain old adhesive.

The striped pattern made for an easy repair. I took a straightedge and sharp razor blade and trimmed along the striped design, creating a long skinny patch. See fourth photo. You can also see the strip pasted and booked (folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side).

Once that sat and relaxed for a few minutes, I took it to the wall and appliquéd it over the damaged area, going the full height.

There was a very slight color difference between the paper that had been on the wall for 20 years and the paper that had been in a dark closet. Had I placed the white area of the patch next to the white area on the existing paper on the wall, the color difference would have been noticeable. But trimming along the blue stripe gave the eye a logical stopping point, and so the color difference is not detectable.

In the finished photo, you would never guess there had been anything amiss with this wall.

I used this same technique to patch over the bug-bite holes in yesterday’s post.

And another good reminder that it’s always best to order a little extra wallpaper, in case of the need for repairs later. Store the paper in a climate-controlled space … not the garage or attic.

The wallpaper is by Schumacher, and appeared to be an old-school pulp paper material.

Classic Chinoiserie Toile in Powder Room

October 30, 2020

The homeowner chose the rough marble tile backsplash wall in hopes that it would enliven the room. But with the other walls painted a bland taupe, the effect fell flat. She chose this classic 2-tone “Pillement Toile” by Scalamandre to add softness to the room and to bring out the tile wall. Mission accomplished!

This was not the easiest wallpaper to hang. For starters, like many higher-end papers, it comes with a selvage edge that had to be trimmed off by hand. (5th photo)

Also, as with many hand-screened prints that are made with “stinky inks” – the ink smells like mothballs – the ink, substrate, and moisture from the paste all fight each other, resulting in what we call curl. (4th photo) There was also some warping and stretching. It took quite a bit of time and effort to finesse that strip in the fourth photo to lie flat and tight to the wall.

Once the paper started to dry, the seams laid down tighter to the wall.

If you’re curious, that blue plastic tape in the fourth photo is placed on the edge of the wallpaper to prevent paste from getting onto the marble tile wall. Once the wallpaper is trimmed along that edge, the tape is removed. Voilà! No need to wipe paste off the stone!

The home is off Braeswood in Houston.

Farrow & Ball Difficult Paper – Taming the Beast

September 13, 2020


Farrow & Ball is not among my favorite wallpaper manufacturers. For starters, they coat their wallpaper with their paint, instead of ink like every other manufacturer in the world uses.

Paint is not a good substitute for ink. It flakes, it doesn’t apply evenly so if you are standing at the right angle, you can see unevenness in the ground (background color). Plus, it burnishes with even the lightest brush stroke across it. Do a Search here to read my previous posts about this.

Look at the first photo, and you will see what we call gaps and overlaps. This happens when the trimmer blades at the factory are wobbly and / or dull, resulting in edges that are not cut straight. Thus, when two strips are butted together, you end up with some areas gapping and some areas overlapping.

Also, the seams like to give argument to staying down tight against the wall. Again, so a Search for previous posts about this.

This “Lotus” install was a little less problematic than my experiences with other patterns. The gaps and overlaps due to poor factory cutting were still present.

But the burnishing was less of an issue, because this pattern has so much printed area that there was not a lot of ground exposed to my smoothing brush.

I also found a way to get the seams to lie down better. For starters, I used a bit more paste (their special brand of powdered cellulose paste), than usual, and that wetted the paper out better, which made it want to hug the wall better.

Next, I found that if, before hanging each strip, I rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall under where the seams would fall, the edges of each strip would grab the wall and lie down more tightly and uniformly.

In the second photo, you can see my laser level marking the vertical line where I will run my roller of paste.

Most British manufacturers are printing on the newish non-woven substrates, which offer many positive features. Farrow & Ball, however, continues to use the traditional British pulp. When coated with their paint (instead of ink), this stuff tends to be pretty thick and stiff. The thickness adds a bit to the visible seams as seen in the top photo.

Also, once the paper becomes wet with the company’s cellulose paste, it becomes quite flexible and delicate. Meaning that it can be difficult to cut, as it often drags along even a brand new razor blade, leaving jagged edges. It tears easily. And, while unbooking, it sure felt like some of the strips were so weak that they wanted to break in two.

All in all, this install went well. But I sure would prefer if F&B would get with the rest of the wallpaper world and print on a better substrate, as well as ditch the paint in favor of good, reliable ink. And outfit their factory with some straight and sharp trimming blades.