Posts Tagged ‘ink’

KILZ Stain Blocker to Cover Green Ink

October 26, 2019


See the green vertical line to the right of the paint can? The previous wallpaper installer probably had a little white wall showing at a seam, so used ink that matched the color of the wallpaper to disguise it.

Ink (along with other substances, like blood, rust, water stains, oil, tobacco, mildew, wood sap, and others) can bleed through joint compound, paint, and wallpaper. Sometimes it takes a few months or years.

So it’s important to discover these stains, and to treat them with a stain-blocking sealer. Water-borne products simply don’t work, no matter what the label claims. Shellac-based sealers like BIN are good. But I like KILZ Original, the oil-based version.

Farrow & Ball – Disappointing Quality

October 10, 2019


First three photos – Burnish marks from smoothing paint-coated paper to wall. Read below.

Last two photos – Fat seams caused by poor trimming and thick paper and paint. You man need to enlarge the photo to see clearly. Read below.

I’m disappointed in the quality of the Farrow & Ball paper I hung recently. (See my post from September 1st.) For a high-end brand, their quality-control is definitely lacking.

The seams are thick and dark, and many areas had to be repasted because they didn’t hold to the wall. As one of my highly-skilled, decades-long installer buddies put it: “This is a common problem caused by …… incompetence of factory trimming and poor choice of substrate. This substrate is thick and the trimming from F&B often gives us a “rounded” edge, for want of a better word.” Another installer described the seam edges as “scalloped.” You can never get a good, tight seam with thick paper and paint, and improper factory trimming.

Another disappointment was a sheen on the paper. F&B is proud of their paint, and, instead of using ink (like other successful manufacturers do), they coat their wallpaper with their paint. To get wallpaper stuck to the wall, to eliminate bubbles, and to set seams, you need to use tools, notably a smoothing brush (“sweep”) and/or a plastic smoothing tool.

No matter how gently I swiped with the brush, the paint burnished (left a sheen). Using the plastic smoother to try to coax the cantankerous seams to stay down left worse sheen along the length of each seam. I tried covering the smoother with soft T-shirt cloth, but that didn’t help. This sheen is caused by sensitivity of the paints. I hung three different F&B patterns, and had the same problem with each.
I worked as cleanly as possible, because trying to wipe even a small speck of paste off the surface left another shiny spot. The sheen was more noticeable when the paper was viewed from the side, with light hitting it at an angle.

If other manufacturers use inks that are designed to bond to paper, and that will withstand the light brushing and occasional wiping during the installation process, why does Farrow & Ball persist in using paint on their wallpaper??! Matt-finish paint is designed to be looked at, not rubbed or wiped or washed. And why use a thick, poor-performing substrate, when so many other companies have found wonderful papers to print on??

One solution for the sheen might be to coat the paper with a matt-finish varnish or other product that will even hide the shininess. As for the fat, noticeable seams, there is no solution. For now, we’re leaving everything as it is, because the client doesn’t see what I see, and she is delighted with her new wallpaper.

Farrow & Ball Feather Grass

September 1, 2019


Farrow & Ball is a long-established British company. Here is their very unique design “Feather Grass” which I hung in a master bedroom in the country. I love the look of this pattern as you gaze out the windows to the pastureland beyond.

Farrow & Ball includes their own powdered paste, which you mix up with water. To get a smooth mix, I prefer a hand-held blender to the old-fashioned stirrer stick. Not shown is the 1-gallon bucket of cellulose pasted all ready to go.

The company sends a mock-up of what their design will look like. (The image above is from a different pattern I hung in this same home.)

Because their paper is coated with their paint, rather than ink, there can be variations in color as the printer moves through the batch of paint. So the company labels each bolt in the sequence that it came off the printer, and you are instructed to use the bolts and strips in sequence, to minimize any color variations.

This pattern is something like a mural, and comes in panels with one design per panel, rather than strips with multiple repeats of the pattern. In the photo above, I am rolling the paper out on the floor, to get an understanding of how it is laid out and how it is packaged.

Each bolt contained three panels, all rolled up together. The panels are made to fit a wall as high as 12′, so I had to cut each panel from the bolt, then trim it down to fit the 7 1/2′ high walls.

Yes, there is a lot of waste with Feather Grass. In fact, it takes a full strip to go above and below the windows and doors, even though you are throwing away the entire middle part. So, again, incredible amount of waste – I carted home a whole lot of unusable paper to toss into the recycling bin!

Before shot.

The “grass” pattern is meant to appear at about 4 1/2′ from the floor. Since you start hanging wallpaper from the ceiling, I needed to know where to place the tops of the sheaves of grass. So I drew a horizontal line around the room at the 4 1/2′ height. (enlarge photo to see the faint pencil line) This way, from up on the ladder at the ceiling, I was able to see where the tops of the grass stalks were landing on the wall. It took a few trips up and down the ladder on each strip, but I was able to get all the stalks lined up perfectly.

Finished photos. It’s a subtle colorway, so you may need to enlarge the photo to see it well.

Isn’t the overall effect lovely, with the soft misty color of the grass showing against the view of nature outside the window?!

I hung this in the country home (Chappell Hill) of a family for whom I have worked previously in their River Oaks area home in Houston.

Same Run? Different Color?

July 18, 2019


Top photo. Look carefully. You are looking at the start of a printing run on two separate bolts of paper. On the bolt to the left, the color looks pretty uniform.

But on the bolt to the right, you can see a horizontal line where the background has been colored. It’s faint, so look closely. In addition, you can definitely see that the paper on the right is darker than the paper on the left.

If there were more fish present, you would also see that on the right, the greys are a little darker and the reds are a little stronger. There are also more brown speckles in the background of the grasscloth on the right.

What happened was, too little paper was ordered (a simple mix-up between rolls and yards), and so more had to be ordered, and then custom-printed.

The interior designer stressed to the manufacturer that the new paper had to be the same run number (all bolts printed at the same time out of the same batch of ink). The manufacturer’s reply was that their precision printing and ink-mixing was such that there would be virtually no difference in color between what we had already, and what they would print fresh and send to us.

As you can see, that is not the case. Although these differences are minor, if strips from these two bolts were placed next to one another on the wall, the color difference would be pretty noticeable.

So, accommodating for this color difference, we lost about three yards of (expensive) wallpaper.

Wall Prep – Missing Chair Rail and Stain Repair

March 31, 2019


What an unexpected surprise I got when I arrived at work to discover that the chair rail in this entry had been removed (top photo). Not only did I need to figure how to get enough paper to cover the additional wallspace, but I needed to smooth over the damaged wall area where the molding had been torn off. (See previous post)
I skim-floated the wall and sanded smooth. It looked great. But brown coloring from the torn Sheetrock had worked its way through the smoothing compound (second photo). Torn drywall is not something that I would normally worry about bleeding through wallpaper (you are concerned mostly with things like grease, ink, water, tobacco, rust, and the like), but this stuff was 60 years old, so who knows what its properties and characteristics were back then? And besides, it had already worked its way through a layer of joint compound – in just one night! No sense in taking the chance that it might bleed through this nearly-white grasscloth natural fiber wallpaper.

The Gardz penetrating primer / sealer (not pictured) I planned to use on the wall would be fine to hang wallpaper on, but could not guarantee that that brown stain would not work its way through the primer and through the wallpaper.

I applied the Gardz, because it’s a great penetrating substance that seals new smoothing compound, and also provides a good surface for hanging wallpaper on. Once that was dry, I followed that with a coat of KILZ Original, an excellent oil-base stain-blocker. But wallpaper paste will not stick to the new KILZ formula (required in order to comply with current EPA requirements.

A little 3″ width around the lower center of the room with wallpaper not sticking tightly to it probably would not be problematic. But you never know, and I didn’t want a “hula hoop” of delaminated wallpaper circling the room. So once the KILZ was dry, I followed up with a coat of a wallpaper-specific primer, Romans Ultra Prime Pro 977.

Now the room is ready for wallpaper, without fear of a band of tan bleeding through the new surface.

Stroheim Playful Geometric – A Tough Hang Today

March 24, 2019


This colorful and playful geometric pattern went in an elevated “nook” in an open play area in a new home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston. It wakes up an otherwise all-white house, and coordinates perfectly with bright artwork in the room.

The paper is by Stroheim, and was somewhat difficult to work with, especially in a room that presented the challenges it did – wide window, and four cubbyholes around three fixed built-in shelves.

First, the paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, a straight edge, and a razor blade. This is tedious and took about an hour to trim eight single rolls.

Second, any time you have wallpaper whose ink smells like mothballs, you know you are in for a tough day. The ink absorbs moisture from the paste at a slower rate than the substrate, so the paper backing puckers (called waffling or quilting). This doesn’t go away, even after booking and sitting in a closed plastic bag for several minutes – so you end up with wrinkles and blisters on the wall.

One thing that helps with this is lightly wetting the surface of the paper with a damp sponge. This allows the ink to absorb moisture, and relax at the same time the paper backing is expanding and relaxing.

You will also notice in the photo that the edges of the paper are curling toward the front. This is, again, the result of uneven absorption of moisture from the paste. Unfortunately, this continues once the paper is on the wall. I had to keep going over the seams to make sure they were down and that edges were not coming away from the wall. No matter how much paste I put under the seams, or how tacky I let the paste get, it didn’t seem to want to grab those edges.

Once the paper is good and dry, though, usually the seams lie down nice and flat, and any blisters or wrinkles will disappear.

Clay-based paste has less moisture content, and could possibly help reduce the waffling. I hate clay paste, though, because it’s hard to wipe off woodwork and off the surface of the wallpaper, and because it works its way through the paper and casts a tan tinge on the paper.

One thing that will help with issues like these is a liner paper. A liner is a plain paper of a special material that is applied to the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It’s job is to absorb moisture from the paste, which causes the paper to dry more quickly, and to “lock down” the seams quickly. So a liner has its place, but it does add an extra day of labor, plus the cost of the liner material.

Interestingly, the Stroheim instructions did not spec a liner; only a good quality wallpaper primer (which I did use). They also did not spec clay-based paste, but recommended three different types of clear pastes (vinyl, wheat, or cellulose), each of which is distinctly different and contains different moisture contents. I would think wheat or cellulose to be too thin and weak to adequately adhere this particular material.

I’ve hung plenty of their products and had no problems with waffling or curling seams; it’s clear that the company has a blanket set of instructions that they stuff into every roll, with no regard to the substrate it’s printed on or the type of ink that was used.

The other thing is, most of the time, you don’t know what you’re going to be working with until you show up at the job site. Even if you research the brand and pattern number ahead of time, there will likely be no mention of the type of substrate or the “mothball” smelling ink. If I had known, I would probably have suggested that this homeowner use a liner. Beyond that, it’s good to have your truck stocked with a variety of primers and adhesives.

Back to the difficult room … I always say that a window like that is easy for you to look at, but very difficult for me to get paper around, at least while keeping the pattern straight and properly lined up. That’s because papers stretch and twist when they get wet with paste, and can contort out of whack. And the wider the obstacle you are working around, the more the paper can go off-kilter. So you can start perfectly lined up on the left of the window, but by the time you get to the right side, the strip coming down from the top of the wall may not line up with the pattern coming across horizontally below, and the two edges may not butt up perfectly, either.

It didn’t help that the pattern had an irregular hand-drawn look, so I couldn’t use a ruler to make sure every horizontal line was equidistant from the window molding. So that window wall took about two hours in itself.

Then there was the wall on the right, with the four cubbyholes in between the three shelves. I had to get two strips of paper on the backs of each of those cubbies, keep the seams from curling, and keep the pattern straight, continuing to four more strips on the wall to the right (the inside side of the wall you see on the right of the photo next to the door molding), so that all four of those strips would line up with one long piece coming down from the ceiling. Oh, and did I mention the extremely unlevel ceiling? This wall in itself took about three hours.

Actually, the irregular hand-drawn look of the pattern helped immensely, because the pattern didn’t have to line up exactly perfectly. Also, the way it was printed on the paper, the design motifs didn’t cross a seam, so that allowed me to raise or lower a strip slightly, to keep the pattern where I wanted it, without disrupting the look of the design. In fact, it was possible to not follow the correct pattern match, and the eye really couldn’t detect it. I could also cut strips vertically to narrower widths, to suit the area I was working in.

There were a few other tricks I pulled out of my hat, in lining up the design after coming around the window and shelf walls, to plumb up the pattern after turning a corner, and to disguise the very unlevel ceiling. The kill point (last strip meets up with first strip) turned out amazingly undetectable, with very little tweaking from me.

In the end, the nook turned out fantastic, and is ready to host children’s performances, reading marathons, or just gazing out the window.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and on whole-house remodels, and is a great resource for finding and coordinating all the details – tile, plumbing and light fixtures, rugs, furniture, lamps, accessories, paint colors, and, of course – wallpaper. 🙂

Love Letters Left Under the Paper

March 21, 2019


I showed up to hang wallpaper in this powder room in a newly constructed home and found the walls just as I had asked them to be – smooth and with just the barest, thin coat of primer over the new drywall.

I was getting ready to apply my wallpaper primer… and saw walls covered with the likes of this.

I guess the homeowner had thrown a housewarming / engagement party, and his friends had wished him well by writing their sentiments where they would remain forever – under the wallpaper.

Everything was written fairly lightly, and in pencil, so I was happy. (Dark writing could show through a thin wallpaper. And ink or marker will bleed through wallpaper and eventually appear on the surface.)

This is not the first time I’ve seen this, and, really, its a sweet idea – to have loving and encouraging thoughts from special people in your home forever.

David Hicks’s “Hexagon” in a Master Bathroom – Note the Freestanding Bathtub

March 15, 2019


David Hicks’s “Hexagon” pattern by Cole & Son is a well-loved design. I’ve hung it a number of times. Here it is in a large master bathroom in a very Mid-Century Modern home in the Piney Point (Villages) neighborhood of Houston.

Just this bathtub alcove, along with two small mirror walls over the his-and-hers vanities, received wallpaper.

Just the tub alcove by itself took me over six hours to hang (six single rolls). The complicating issues were unplumb walls, unlevel ceiling and soffit, a geometric pattern that the eye wants to see marching evenly across the walls, thick stiff paper that is hard to manipulate, ink that wants to crack and flake off the paper, complicated room lay-out, and … squeezing behind that tub to put wallpaper on the walls around it!

There are some spots where the pattern match is off a bit, and some areas where the crookedness of the walls is very evident (meaning that the pattern goes off-kilter). But overall, the room turned out great.

The design is called “Hexagon,” and is by David Hicks, designer for Cole & Son, a British company who has been manufacturing wallpaper for way more than a hundred years.

It’s a non-woven material that can be hung by the paste-the-wall method, but I chose to paste the paper, which made it more pliable, and which made it easier to get paste where it needed to be when going around the window areas and behind the tub.

Don’t Let Your Toddler Handle a Sharpie!

February 11, 2019


So the little girl was innocently playing with an ink Sharpie, and, well, the wall along the bottom of the stairway just happened to get marked up. (Unfortunately, my “before’ photo got lost somewhere.) This is very expensive wallpaper, and, unfortunately, was the first thing you see when you enter this West University home.

I was there to hang paper in the nearby powder room. But every time I walked past this stairwell, the ink marks just kept bothering me.

So, with the homeowners’ go-ahead, I decided to fix it.

First, we checked to be sure there was enough left-over wallpaper. Thank goodness for boxes stashed in the garage apartment!

I didn’t want to strip off the original wallpaper, for fear of scoring the wall and causing seams to lift. So the original wallpaper was left intact.

Then the ink had to be covered with a stain blocker, to prevent them from bleeding through the new wallpaper. I used oil-based KILZ Original. Two coats.

Next, because wallpaper paste will no longer stick to oil-based products, (due to EPA-required changes to the formulas), I primed the whole area with Gardz.

Because it’s not a good idea to have a seam fall on top of a seam, at this time, I placed a strip of seam tape (special stuff made by a colleague of mine) so that it bridged the gap between the two seams of the original wallpaper. The Gardz sealer / primer melded everything together.

Then I took the left-over wallpaper and found the corresponding pattern to match the pattern on the wall. I used a scissors to cut around this design. Because this repair fell on a seam, it required two strips of paper, one on either side of the seam.

Then I pasted the wallpaper patches, allowed to book and sit, then appliquéd them to the wall.

I was surprised at how stretchy and wrinkly the wet wallpaper was. I was glad that I was only doing two 18” high patches – I felt sorry for the guy who had hung a whole 2-story staircase and hallway of this stuff.

Bottom line – the finished patch looked fantastic. You could not tell that there had been any errant marks on the wall.

Here is a link to the wallpaper pattern. It is called Zumba ZigZag. https://www.fschumacher.com/item/5003300

Different Runs

February 8, 2019


Look at the center of the photo. See that slight color difference between the strip on the left and the strip on the right? This is most likely due to the two strips coming from two different run numbers. These can also be called batch numbers or dye lots.

This means that all paper that is printed from one batch of ink is given a run number. Three months later, when the manufacturer is ready to print another lot of wallpaper, a new pot of ink is mixed up. Chances are that that new kettle of ink won’t be exactly-dactly the very same shade as what was used previously.

This means that the two batches of wallpaper will be ever so slightly different in color. If strips of paper from the two different runs are put on the wall next to each other, you will notice the color difference. So each batch of ink, and the paper that is printed with it, is given a run number.

That way, the installer can be sure that all the wallpaper for his job will be printed at the same time, of the same run number, and all the same shade.

Checking for run number is the first thing every installer should do, before starting to hang wallpaper. In fact, in my “how to prepare for install day” info pack, I ask my clients to check to be sure all bolts are of the same run number. That way, if there is a problem, there will be time to return the bolts and get new paper that is all of the same dye lot.

If you end up with a broken run (two or more different run numbers), it is possible to use the paper, but you have to keep the different runs on separate walls… your eye will not notice a subtle color difference if the papers are on different walls. But this uses up a lot more paper.