Posts Tagged ‘installer’

Counting Shadows On The Wall

June 15, 2018

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Here is a paper that has been in a master bathroom in a home in River Oaks for many years. This wall faces a wall of windows.

The dark areas you see in the photo are where a piece of art was removed from the wall, and, below that, where two towels had hung on towel racks (the rods have been removed and you are looking at the support brackets).

The picture and the towels kept sunlight away from the wallpaper, while the unprotected areas faded due to exposure to sunlight from the window.

Some wallpapers are dubbed “fade-resistant.” This one was not. This particular brand is printed on what we call pulp stock, which is usually a British product, and the inked layer has no coating, so it is not likely to hold up well against light or water or abrading or the likes.

I also think that the previous installer’s methods might have influenced the fading of the paper. The paper was hung directly on Sheetrock, with no primer. The drywall could have leeched into the wallpaper, causing discoloration. A primer would have prevented this.

The installer also used clay-based paste. This stuff is really sticky, but I think it’s icky – it is slimy and hard to wipe off woodwork, and it has a tan color that I have seen work its way through wallpapers, including grasscloth, many, many times.

If paste stains are bleeding through wallpaper, perhaps they are pulled more, or perhaps less, toward a source of light -and it could differ if it’s sunlight or a light bulb, too. And an obstacle such as a framed picture or a towel hanging from a bar a half an inch away from the paper block some of that light, and that could all have an effect, too.

And remember that towels are often damp, and that dampness hanging next to, or even touching, the wall, could cause changes to the paper and the paste and the surface below.

Just musings. When I look at existing wallpaper, or strip off some other installer’s work, I always am fascinated by the surface, the methods, etc.

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Same Run – But Color Difference

June 8, 2018


One of the first things the installer does before starting a wallpaper job is to check the run numbers, to be sure it is the same for all the bolts of paper. This means they were all printed at the same time with the same batch of ink, so they will all be uniform in color.

Both these bolts are from the same run. But look closely, and you will see that the blue lines on the strip to the right are darker and thicker than those on the left. If these two strips of paper were placed next to each other on the wall, the difference would be very visible.

I am glad I noticed this before I started cutting any strips. I set aside the errant bolt, and hopefully won’t have to use it (I always have my clients buy a little extra, for repairs later and in case of instances like this). If I do need to cut into this bolt, the bathroom has a lot of choppy areas that are on separate walls where the color difference won’t be noticeable.

Update for a Teen Aged Boy’s Bedroom

June 8, 2018


Stripes are safe, but they’re not very interesting. And the original border showed little children at play. Now that this young man is old enough to choose his own dĆ©cor, he wants something that reflected his interests – boating and the ocean.

You don’t see many borders these days, but the family liked the look. Also, because the installer who hung the original border used a rubbery paste that would not come off the wall, sealing it and hanging the new border over it is much easier than retexturing the walls. The new border is wider than the original, which works nicely to cover the old residue.

This nautical look wallpaper and border are by York, in their Sure Strip line. The job site is in Baytown, a suburb of Houston.

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. šŸ˜¦

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. šŸ™‚

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.

Mildew Found Behind Wallpaper

September 20, 2017

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I removed a strip of paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper from the wall over a shower in a room used by two teenagers.Ā  The type of paper (one of my least favorites), the humidity from the hot and heavy shower usage, theĀ  lack of primer used by the previous installer, and an exterior wall thatĀ most likely had some moisture problems,Ā all added up to a recipe for mildew.

I used bleach and then another mold / mildew product to kill and remove the mildew, thenĀ went over it with an oil-basedĀ stain-blocking sealer called KILZ.

Over the KILZ, I added a coat of wallpaper primer.Ā  The two primers that I use most are the large cans in the last photo, and they each are used for different circumstances.

 

Stripping Wallpaper Today

October 28, 2016

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This poor homeowner has been waiting TWO YEARS to get her powder room redone. Every couple of months, some facet of the project gets completed. About two years ago, someone ripped off the red vinyl layer of the existing wallpaper – so they have been living with gritty tan manila paper walls since then. Most recently, the pretty new countertop you see went in. The faucet still needs to be installed. But the room is ready for wallpaper, so here I am …

The red vinyl layer has already been stripped from the wall, so what you are looking at is its tan paper backing that has remained on the wall. This usually comes off pretty easily (depending on the underlying surface) simply by soaking with plain water. The dark tan areas are where I have wet the paper, using the sponge and bucket of warm water in the foreground.

Once that tan paper backing came off, lo and behold – the previous installer hung his red wallpaper over the original floral wallpaper. It’s usually best to remove wallpaper, and not hang over it, but sometimes there are reasons why you can’t, and it looks like this guy did a good job of prepping the surface to accept new wallpaper. The cloudy white you see is his primer, which is a good thing.

I didn’t try to remove that original floral layer, either, knowing that it might well open a whole can of worms that would require a lot of work to repair. It was all adhering tightly to the wall, so I skim-floated over it, sanded smooth, and primed it with the penetrating sealer Gardz, by Zinsser.

By tomorrow, everything will be nice and smooth and sealed, and ready for the new wallpaper. Keep posted!

Crinkly Paint Caused by Paste Residue

July 12, 2016

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Hard to discern, but the red / brown at the top of the photo is wallpaper, on the vertical side of a soffit around the top of a dining room. The greenish area is the bottom of the soffit.

The craggly looking stuff at the junction is crackling paint. Why is this paint getting crackly and crumbly?

Wallpaper paste will cause paint to crackle. The original installer must have left a teensy bit of adhesive on the wall (which is easy to do), and, over time, a reaction occurred, and a very small strip of paint began to crack and flake.

This was only about 2″ long, and 1/16″ wide, and 10′ up in the air, so, not anything anyone is really going to notice. And, over a decade and a half, nobody ever did. Only me, when it was time to strip off the old paper.

I do find these little things interesting, though, because they help me be aware of things that can happen, and help me to take measures to prevent them when I am installing a wallpaper job.

Stripping Wallpaper, Damaged Sheetrock

December 29, 2015
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These days, I am hanging wallpaper in lots of new homes, which have never had wallpaper before. So today, when I had to strip off existing paper before I could hang the new, it was like a step back in time. And, since the first installer had skipped an essential step, it was a long step!

The navy-blue-on-white savoy pattern (Photo 1) was a nice paper that had been hung, unfortunately, directly on new Sheetrock, without a wallcovering primer, nor even a coat of paint. In this setting, most wallpapers will bond with the drywall, and can be very difficult to get off. Going too fast, or trying to force the paper to succumb to you, can severely damage the walls. To avoid this, I do it in steps.

The first step is to wet all the wallpaper with a damp sponge. That seems to strengthen the top layer of paper. Second, I strip off the top, inked / colored layer of paper. This leaves the backing / substrate – which in my photos today is a white paper. This white backing layer must then be soaked with a wet sponge. Unlike the top, colored layer of paper, which has a thin vinyl coating, this white backing layer can be penetrated by water. Once the water soaks in, the paste beneath it is reactivated. And once enough time has gone by and that paste is wet enough, the wallpaper can be removed.

If you are lucky, it will peel away easily. More likely, you will have to use a stiff 3″ putty knife to carefully scrape every inch of wallpaper backing away from the wall.

If you are lucky, it will come away with no damage to the Sheetrock. More typically, you will have some tears, and will have to do some repair work to the drywall.

The second photo is a wonderful shot of the various surfaces you might find when stripping old wallpaper. First is the layer with the pattern and color. When that has been removed, you see the white (or sometimes yellow) paper backing. Once that backing has been removed, you are left with other sub-surfaces. In the photo, the white is the areas that have been spread with “mud,” or joint compound, which is used over the tape that spans joints in the drywall. Another surface under the old wallpaper that is not shown in the photographs is paint, which you find where it has been oversprayed along the ceiling or next to where the woodwork was painted. The grey area is the top layer of the Sheetrock.

Wallpaper will stick to all these materials differently – It sticks to paint “kind of,” but can be removed with no damage to the walls; it sticks to joint compound not really well at all, but removes easily also with no damage to the walls, but leaving a thirsty porous surface beneath; and when it comes to raw drywall, wallpaper actually bonds to the surface, and can be a bugger bear to remove.

Usually, as in this case, pulling off the old wallpaper causes hairs on the unprimed drywall to pull up, so you end up with a gritty surface, which can leave bumps under the new wallpaper. Worse is when the top grey surface of the drywall de-laminates and pulls off, leaving the torn brown paper layer you see in the third photo. This is really bad, because, when hit with wet primer or wallpaper paste, this layer swells and likes to bubble up, leaving ugly bumps under the new wallpaper.

The cure for this torn Sheetrock is to seal it with Gardz or a similar penetrating sealer / primer. Then the area needs to be “skim floated” with joint compound (similar to plaster), sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, and sealed again.

All this takes a lot of time, eats up materials, makes a mess, and costs money.

As you can see, it would be much better if the builder and / or original wallpaper installer would prime the walls before hanging the paper. Or, at the very least, not ideal, but at least it would protect the walls, if they would slap on a quick coat of paint. And, when it’s time to redecorate, it would sure make removing the paper a whole lot easier.

Why Bother to Smooth the Wall?

July 11, 2015
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The wallpaper in the top photo was hung by another installer. They hung the paper right over the slight “orange peel” texture of the wall. It doesn’t look horrible, but I definitely do not like seeing the bumps showing under the paper. In addition, when wallpaper does not have a smooth surface to hold on to, it does not adhere as well as it should. In fact, this paper did have some loose seams.

I hung the paper in the bottom photo, after spending several hours troweling on smoothing compound, sanding, vacuuming, wiping, and priming the wall. There are no unattractive bumps showing under my wallpaper. (The paper is freshly hung in this photo, so there are minor uneven areas from the wet paste.)

While I was finishing up, the homeowner came in and asked, “Is it necessary to smooth the wall before putting up the paper?” I said, “Well, just go look at that other room, and then come back and look at the wall I just did.”

Enough said.

Good-Bye ’70’s!

January 24, 2015

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This wallpaper (and the built-in whole house intercom) screams ’70’s. Actually, the wallpaper pattern is not that bad, and I, and the homeowner as well, kind of like it, and it’s such a novel theme that it doesn’t really look dated. Nonetheless, the homeowner has chosen a pretty blue-and-white pattern that will update this breakfast room in an early ’60’s home in South Houston.

The pastel floral wallpaper was hung over the original green-and-gold paper. I’m always amazed when I see how well the job held up over the years, because the installer did not seal the old paper, and that means it’s likely to absorb moisture from the paste on the new paper, and that leads to bubbling. However, his job looked great, no bubbles, and it has stuck to the wall for about 40 years.

Anyway, in the third photo, where I have removed one strip, you can see the original paper beneath. Some of it must have been loose, and the previous installer removed those areas and sanded them smooth. Neither these jagged areas nor the seams of the original paper showed under the pastel paper.

The pastel paper stripped off the wall quite easily. The green-and-gold wallpaper could not be persuaded to come off, though, so I floated over some of the thicker jagged areas, sanded, and then primed the walls with Gardz. Gardz is perfect for this situation, because it soaks in to porous surfaces such as the original un-coated wallpaper and the joint compound patches, bonds everything to the wall, and seals it so that wet paste from the new wallpaper will not cause bubbling. Gardz also makes it easier to remove the new wallpaper in the future, without damage to the walls.

Gardz dries clear. I would prefer it to be white, but pigment interferes with the soaking-in qualities of the product, so, if you really need a white primed wall, you can Gardz first, and then follow up with your choice of pigmented wallpaper (not paint) primer.