Posts Tagged ‘installation’

How Wildly Colorful Can You Get? – Here It Is!

October 11, 2018

Just one accent wall (4 strips) in an entry in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston – but boy was it fun! This is one homeowner who is not afraid of color, that’s for sure!

The third photo shows me laying it out on the floor, to determine the pattern match and how I want to plot the design layout on the wall.

The designer is Manuel Canovas, and I believe the manufacturer or distributor is the British company Colefax & Fowler. It was a fairly thick non-woven material, and I used the paste-the-wall installation method. It is more durable and washable than most other types of paper.

Interestingly, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts had an exhibit earlier this year of art from India that looks a whole lot like this wallpaper.


Difficult Hang Today – Lots of Work to Get Good Seams

June 17, 2018

I don’t recall ever having seen a wallpaper product labeled “heavyweight paper” before. I wasn’t thrilled with this stuff. It was thick, and that made it difficult to work with. I prefer thin papers because they form to the walls better. This paper didn’t have any coating on it, so it is not any more durable than a thinner paper, so I don’t see the reason for the “heavyweight” treatment.

And any time you apply paste and the edges of the paper curl backward (Photo 1), you know you are in for a tough install.

The room was already prepped, and it was just 9 single rolls on an easy top of a dining room – no tricky moldings to trim around, no toilets to reach beind, no awkward spaces to situate the ladder in… It should have taken 5-6 hours. Instead I toiled for 12 hours.

I hung three strips, and wasn’t happy with the two seams between them. They pouched just a little and would not lie down flat. (Photo 2) With strong light coming in from the windows, the seams looked bad. There was no way of knowing how the seams would look once the paper was good and dry. But for now, I couldn’t stand the look, and I didn’t want to leave the homeowners with these pouchy seams.

I removed two of those strips, refreshed the paste, and kept them “open” by placing them in a plastic trash bag so they would remain useable (we didn’t have a lot of paper to spare). I ran to the truck and got supplies so I could double cut new seams (splice on the wall). I needed a special trim guide, and a special polystyrene padding strip to protect the wall so that the razor blade wouldn’t score into it (which could compromise the surface and lead to delamination of layers … too complicated to get into here, but you can do a Search and read previous posts on this subject).

From then on, instead of using the factory edges for seams, I double cut. Double cutting involves padding the wall behind where the seam will be, overlapping the new strip onto the old strip while carefully matching the pattern, and then using the handled straightedge and a sharp new razor blade to cut through both layers of paper. Then you peel back the paper at the newly cut seam and remove the two thin strips of excess paper that were just cut off. Then you remove the plastic padding strip.

Now you can put the edges of the freshly cut new seam back together. Because they were cut into each other, they will fit together perfectly. But because the padding strip has some thickness, the two newly cut edges are now a teeny tad wider than needed, so you’ll have to do some finessing to get the seam to butt together, instead of pouching up just a bit.

Because one strip of pasted paper overlapped onto another, once the excess paper strips are removed, there will be paste residue left on a 1″-2″ edge of one of the wallpaper drops. This has to be washed off with a damp microfiber rag, and you will have to rinse the rag and wash the wall several times to get all the residue off.

And all of this has to be done on a time frame, because while you’re working on one seam, the edges of the next are rapidly drying out, which is a whole new can of worms.

My finished double cut seams were perfect. (Photo 3)

But after I had worked my way around the room a bit, I looked back at the first wall, and saw that, as the paper dried, it shrank just a little. This left a visible gap between the two strips. (Photo 4) This gap isn’t visible from a distance, and it’s not visible if you look at the walls at an angle. But if you are standing three feet away and looking head-on, you will see the gap. I think it’s too much.

Oh, and, one more thing … the paper was easily marred if it was touched by any bit of metal. (Photo 5) Scissors, straight edge, trim guide, even the metal eraser housing on the end of my pencil would leave a grey mark if it happened to rub against the wallpaper. Most of these marks would wipe off, but not all of them. And wiping the paper leads to abrasion, so you want to avoid overdoing it. I worry about how the wallpaper might be marked up when the homeowners innocently go about hanging their art and mirror.

Considering what the homeowners paid for the wallpaper and installation, I think they should have a better outcome than this. This paper is manufactured by Thibaut. Thibaut makes many types of wallpaper, and most of them are lovely to work with, and they perform well. It makes you wonder why they would use this “heavyweight” stock, which produces a less-than-desireable outcome.

Modern Industrial Wallpaper with Graffiti

December 16, 2017

Well, here’s something different and fun. The Montrose area (Houston) home has a very earthy, eclectic feel, and this wallpaper pattern is the perfect compliment. The colors and texture are perfect with the bathroom tile and iron sconces, and the small scrawls of writing and numbers add just a touch of edginess.

This paper is by Carl Robinson, a British company that is distributed by Seabrook here in the U.S. It is a non-woven material and is intended to paste the wall for installation, but I chose to paste the paper, for various reasons, most of which had to do with the two light sconces that could not be removed from the wall. Made the job a little tricky.

The paper was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

How the “Hot Mess” Turned Out

April 18, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

After I spent a day getting these walls into good shape (see previous post), came the fun part – hanging the paper.

This was a Moroccan lantern style geometric pattern, in yellow on grey. The homeowner loves geometric designs, and she searched hard to find something in this style that would compliment the granite countertop in that came with the powder room in her family’s new home.

This pattern does all that very nicely.

The home is in Fleetwood, in west Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by Brewster, in their A-Street Prints line. It is a non-woven material and is intended to be a paste-the-wall installation, but I find that pasting the material is a better method, for many reasons.

The paper was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

The Blow Fish Again – Second Time in One Week / Better Results!

February 1, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Last week, I wrestled with this same wallpaper (different color) and didn’t finish the job until 11:00 p.m. (Bless the homeowners who tolerated me working late, to get their powder room finished on schedule.) Today I had an easier powder room (shorter drops, fewer cuts, no pedestal sink to cut around, very little decorative molding), but I also tried a different installation technique. Instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions, which were to paste-the-wall, instead, I pasted the back of the paper. This made all the difference!

The paper relaxed and became much more malleable. The paper absorbed moisture from the paste and expanded and contracted on my table, not on the wall, so I had beautiful seams with no ‘gaps and overlaps.’ The second- and third-to-last photos are shots of the seams, showing that you can barely see them.

I hung this in a very nicely updated home of a young family in the Woodlands (north of Houston). This wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, a British import, and is called “Acquario.” It was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Water Color Flowers for a Little Girl’s Room

August 25, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

This is my second time to hang this mural wallpaper – and both times were for a little girl!

This mural is sweet, with subdued hues and watercolory transparancy, so it does not overwhelm the room. I hung it on one wall in a little girl’s room in the Briarpark neighborhood of Houston.

I said I hung this before, but, to be honest, I am not sure. I’ve been told that all you need to do is tweak a design a little – the tilt of a leaf, the shading on a petal – and you can get around copyright laws and call the design your own. I think that’s what is going on here.
Here is the one I did previously: If you look really closely, the flowers appear to be ever so slightly different. That tells me that one of them is a knock-off.

In fact, the one I did a few months ago was very expensive, and was on a non-woven substrate, and was a paste-the-wall product. I didn’t have any particular problems with the installation.

The one I hung today was less expensive, was printed on a thin paper substrate, and was a pre-pasted product. I had issues with seams that “gapped and overlapped” (butted perfectly in some places but overlapped in others), pattern mis-matched at the seams, paper twisting off-plumb, and the pattern not being printed at the right height at the top of each panel.

This almost caused a huge problem, as I was about to come up with a strip that was unexpectedly 2″ short at the top of the wall – but I was able to pull some tricks and rectify that.

Whichever is the “real” design and which is the knock-off, the pattern and colors are perfectly suited for this little girl’s room – in fact, she was toddling around the house in a matching pink top!

This wallpaper is described as a mural, and it came in a set of seven panels. It was custom ordered and sized to fit the wall. In the last photo, I have separated each panel and laid them out on the floor, to be sure the pattern matches, and to ensure the proper sequence for installation.

Murky Green Damask on Display Shelves

November 26, 2015
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

The red diamond pattern on the backs of these bookshelves was pretty, but the new owners of the home didn’t love it. There was wallpaper left over from when the adjoining dining room was papered, and so we used those scraps to paper the bookshelves in the living room.

It looked like there was a lot of paper to work with, but when you start talking about a 28.5″ wide bookshelf and 27″ wide wallpaper, syncing the pattern with that in the dining room, centering the pattern, matching the pattern, a 25″ pattern repeat, wrapping the sides, wrapping the top, and when you unroll the left over bolts and find that much of the material is not in one long strip but in multiple shorter strips – it becomes a game of math, logistics, plotting, and engineering.

In the end, though, there was enough to get ‘er done. And, I was able to place the dominant motif vertically down the center of the bookshelves, and balance it equally in either corner, as well as place the same motif at the bottom of the bookshelves as was at the top of the wainscoting in the adjoining dining room, so the two rooms were horizontally correlated, and match the pattern of the two header strips in each of the two shelf alcoves to the pattern on the back of the shelves below them.

Anyone looking at the shelves will no doubt focus on the pretty collectibles displayed within them. But I just thought I would give a little backstory on what went into applying the wallpaper that is the backdrop for those pretty white vessels.

I loved working with this paper. There were no labels or brand information, but it was a pulp paper product, which is often sourced from England. It sits flat and tight to the wall, and seams are nearly invisible. Once booked, there is no stretching or shrinking. It is not sealed, though, so you have to protect it from handling and from splashes, and have to take care to not overwork seams or abrade the material during installation.

Learning From 22 Year Old Installations

September 2, 2014

In a past post, I mentioned revisiting homes where I had installed wallpaper as long as 22 years ago.

I am pleased to say that virtually all of these jobs were still in perfect condition.

When there is an issue, though, I like to understand just what happened, because once you understand what went wrong, you have the chance to take steps to prevent it in the future.

One home had a tiny little bit of curling where the wallpaper hit the top of the sink backsplash. I did that job before I learned a little trick … Nowadays, once I finish a job in a kitchen or bathroom, I always run a bead of clear caulk around any edge that will come in contact with water. That prevents any water that may puddle up on the ledge from wicking into the paper, which could cause curling over time.

In another home, the wallpaper was still in good shape, but there were a few seams that showed some minor curling. This is most common problem with solid vinyl papers, and is exactly the reason I try to steer people away from these papers. Yes, they are “water resistant” when water splashes on the surface, and yes, you can “scrub” them if a something splashes on them. But they are the MOST likely to curl at the seams, almost always due to humidity in the room. And where do you have humidity? In bathrooms! Manufacturers try to sell these solid vinyls as “bathroom papers,” but, at least down here in the Humid South, in my opinion, they are NOT suited. In fact, I am so passionate about this topic, that I give prospective clients a hand-out explaining my point of view.

Squeezing Every Spare Inch

June 4, 2011

This week, I had a close call. We “almost” ran out of paper. To be more accurate, we DID run out of paper.

But, by saving scraps, splicing, plotting – and a little sweating – I managed to finish the room.

(Disclaimer here – the family had measured and ordered the paper on their own, before I ever saw the job. If I had done the measuring, I would have suggested buying an extra double roll.)

It was a typical small bathroom in a cute mid-century (1954) ranch style home. They had chosen a delightful Cole & Son paper in a sort of trapazoid / diamond pattern.

As I got further into the job, I started feeling there wasn’t going to be enough paper. I plotted the pattern match, counted strips, and realized that I was running out of paper. I would be short one 4′ length, plus one 1′ long strip needed to fill the space over the door.

The plotting began in earnest. Because walls are never straight, normally you don’t wrap a strip of wallpaper around an outside corner. Indeed, this corner bowed out a little at the top. But if I wanted to get maximum use out of the strip, I HAD to wrap it around the corner.

To solve the problem of the paper twisting and warping due to the bowed corner edge, I cut a slit that went from the ceiling down about 6″, to below the level of the bowed corner. This allowed the right edge of the paper to hang straight, so the next strip would abutt it correctly with no gapping or overlapping.

But, this strip was the length of the space over the shower, but it fell short of the length of the wall it was now wrapped around to. I needed about 10″ more paper, and it had to match the pattern, too.

I never throw any paper away until I have finished a job. I solved the problem of this short strip by taking a piece I had on my discard-later pile. It had come from over the window, and I had split the strip in two, using the left side over the window, and saving the right side “just in case.”

Well, it happened to be just long enough, and to contain just the right pattern match, to fit the short area on the new wall. Since the pattern was an angular geometric, it was a simple matter of splicing in along the jagged edges of the diamond pattern. This disguised the splice much better than if I had cut it straight across.

Now, what to do about the the missing short strip over the door? I had one strip the proper length, but needed a piece the same length, but about 10″ wide.

What I did was, the next strip to be hung, which would abutt the one I had wrapped around the corner, would hang over the space heater built into the wall. The space heater was a little taller than the length needed to finish the area over the door.

So I pasted the strip, placed it on the wall, and carefully cut away the paper that was hanging over the space heater. This piece would normally be discarded, but I knew it was just what I needed to finish the room.

I made sure to not let any dust, rust, or grit from the hole where the space heater was in the wall get onto the back of the paper – grit causes bumps under the paper, and dirt and rust can bleed through, staining the new paper. I folded (booked) the piece pasted-side-to-pasted-side to keep it wet, and set it aside while I hung the next two strips.

When I finally got to the final strip over the door, the right edge of the strip that had come from the space heater area matched perfectly with the left edge of the strip over the door.

Room finished – and not a scrap to spare! I’m serious – there was only about 9″ left on the last roll of wallpaper, and that didn’t include even one full pattern repeat.

The homeowners were very pleased, and I was quite proud.

Taking Your Lumps – Pt II

March 4, 2011

Coincidental to my previous post, I bid a job this weekend in a room that had an extremely nasty texture on the walls. The homeowner had gotten a quote from (Large Wallpaper Retailer) that included the wallpaper and installation, and it sounded pretty reasonable.

The only thing is, just like the other Large Chain Wallpaper Retailer, this company did not include a price for prep. Now, how can you price a job without knowing what type of prep is involved?!

What these guys typically do is, give a price that sounds wonderful, then show up to do the work and either don’t do any prep at all, which could result in a bad looking job, or one that looks good initially but doesn’t stay on the wall for long, OR they arrive at the home and suddenly inform the homeowner that more work is going to be involved and, by the way, it’s going to be ($XXX) more. In one story that I heard, the price jumped from a very reasonable $300 to $1800 !!

To me, that’s leading the customer on, misleading her, and pulling the old Bait And Switch.

That’s another reason why I always insist on seeing the job ahead of time, and why I spend time talking to the homeowner to explain what I plan to do to get a good look and a lasting installation. Hopefully, with this explanation, the client will understand why there may be a cost difference, and value the extra work required to ensure a good job.