Posts Tagged ‘installer’

Looks Like Real Tile

July 23, 2021

This cool look was created by another installer years ago in the home where I worked today. It’s wallpaper, but it sure looks like tile!

Pretty Pastoral Floral in Heights Bungalow Dining Room

May 20, 2021
Original yellow dining room wall color was light enough and cheery, yet the room looked dull and uninviting.
A lighter background brightens the whole room
Visual movement via the vertical floral pattern brings the room to life
The design looks hand-painted

This homeowner is a big gardener, so this lively floral pattern is perfect for her dining room. In fact, I hung another pretty floral wallpaper in her bathroom a few months ago. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2021/02/10/a-very-pretty-heights-house-renovation/

The hand painted coppery colored horizontal stripe in the crown molding really accentuates the colors in the wallpaper. We all agreed that the room would not be as stunning without that stripe.

The pattern is “Summer Harvest” #216496, and is by Sanderson. It is a non-woven type wallpaper, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method. Although I generally prefer to paste the paper.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

paperhanger, installer

Doing the Opposite Today – Removing Wallpaper

September 30, 2020


The large medallion on soft lavender on all walls of this large bedroom worked well for this gal for many years – but now that she’s an older teen, it was time for an update.

So instead of putting wallpaper up, today I took it down.

Most people think that stripping wallpaper is difficult. But if the walls were prepped properly, and if the paper was hung properly, and if the proper removal steps are followed, it should all go well, with minimal damage to the walls. See my link at right, on how to strip wallpaper.

The most important thing is to separate the top, inked layer of paper from the backing / substrate layer. I find that wetting this top layer with a sponge and plain water helps strengthen the fibers, so the top layer can be pulled off in larger strips.

In the second and third photos, you see how the purple layer has been stripped off, leaving the white backing attached to the wall. This top layer has to be removed, because it has an acrylic (or vinyl) coating, and will not allow water to pass through it.

The next step is to soak the backing with plain water and a sponge (see photo). No chemicals, no additives – just plain warm water. You will have to reapply water several times. The idea is to let water soak through this backing layer, to reactivate the paste underneath. Once that paste is good and wet, it should release from the wall. Sometimes you have to gently scrape the backing from the wall. But in my case today, once that paste was reactivated, the substrate layer came away from the wall in full, intact sheets. Easy peasy!

One photo shows my “dull” 3″ stiff putty knife. I call it “dull,” because it’s old and beaten up. But it’s really rather sharp. I use it to carefully get between the inked top layer of wallpaper and the bottom substrate layer. And then I use it to gently scrape wallpaper from the wall.

In my case today, the previous installer had done a superb job of hanging the wallpaper. He applied a primer before hanging the paper. That primer helped make this whole removal job go well, and it protected the walls from damage.

The family will need to apply a stain blocker to prevent any residual paste from causing the new paint from crackling or flaking off. Once that’s dry, the walls can be textured and / or painted. The room’s resident told me that she is planning to go all white.

This home is in the West University area of Houston.

Solid Vinyl Paper Pooching at Seams

May 15, 2020


Today I stripped off this paper. It was dark and dated. But also, it had started curling up a bit at the seams.

The homeowners said this started after Hurricane Harvey, when they were without power for two weeks, and the lack of air conditioning allowed humidity to permeate the house.

So here we have paper-backed, pre-pasted, solid-vinyl wallpaper doing what it does best – succumbing to humidity, by allowing moisture to wick in behind the seams, which causes the paper backing to swell, pushing the vinyl surface back in a curl. Sometimes, the paper backing actually delaminates (comes apart from) the vinyl layer.

My main reason why I encourage people to steer away from these materials. The price point is attractive, but the quality and longevity is not.

Interestingly as a side note, it looks like the previous installer did not pay attention to the pattern match. Well, no biggie. On this design, it is not very noticeable, and the homeowners have lived with it happily for 20 years or more.

Faces in Unexpected Places

January 26, 2020

How’s this for something no one else is gonna have?! The homeowner of this Galleria-area home in Houston is a big-personality gal, recently divorced, and she wants her new home to reflect who she is. Everything in the house that could have glitter, shimmer, mirror, or glitz does – including the dog bed and the kitchen backsplash.

This wallpaper in the adjoining powder room (with a huge crystal chandelier!) fits right in with that new life.

This is a sort of mural, composed of rectangular panels about 3′ wide x 2′ high. It was bought on-line, and came with no information or installation instructions.

It was a paper substrate, and was meant to be butted at the seams, as opposed to overlapped, as many mural panels are. After experimenting, I found that a powdered wheat or cellulose paste hydrated the paper best, and that a little of my traditional wallpaper paste added to the mix helped hold the paper tightly to the wall and minimize shrinkage as the panels dried.

The paper curled badly when it was wet with the paste (see third photo), which made it difficult to paste it, book it, and then get it to the wall.

It also expanded a lot when it got wet – almost an inch in each direction. Uneven expansion meant that it developed large wrinkles and warps that were difficult to remove.

In addition, the walls were bowed and uneven in the corners, the walls were not plumb, the ceiling was not level, the crown molding was at different heights on different walls, and we didn’t have a lot of paper to play with.

It took a lot of work to keep the pattern matched as well as possible in the corners, to keep the pattern running at the right point below the crown molding, to eliminate the aforementioned wrinkles, to butt the panels, to minimize white showing at the seams due to the panels drying and shrinking, the paper getting saturated and tearing or dragging when I tried to trim it, and lots more challenges.

All this could have been easier if the manufacturer had chosen a better substrate to print on. But – well, hey, we’ve got a digital printer, so let’s just dig up some paper stock, print cool designs on it, and market it as wallpaper.

Actually, this material worked out pretty well in this small powder room. But I would not want to paper a large, wide wall with it.

Most companies who make murals like this, on this type of thin paper substrate, allow for the edges to be overlapped about 3/8″ at each seam. This allows the installer to make adjustments for wonky walls and ceilings, and it eliminates the gapping at seams as paper dries and shrinks. It does, however, leave a ridge along each seam where the edges are overlapped.

Overall, though, I was not unhappy with this product in this room. And working out all the challenges was mighty fun. I was glad to have a nice, quiet, empty house to do all this in. All in all, this medium-sized powder room that I had prepped the weekend before, took me nine hours to hang.

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.

Small Herringbone Pattern for Baby’s Accent Wall

July 25, 2019

The parents-to-be wanted a fun, yet subdued pattern for an accent wall in their new nursery. They fell in love with this herringbone pattern by Joanna Gaines, in her Magnolia Home collection.

It’s an economical alternative to the popular “Feather” pattern by Serena & Lily – which is lovely paper, by the way.

This expectant couple had originally considered hiring me, but my lead time was too long for them, with the baby coming and all. So they contracted with another installer. Unfortunately, the other installer became unresponsive, and the parents-to-be were needing to get the room decorated and done, so they could move on to other new-parent things.

So they contacted me. Happily, I had an unexpected opening pop up, and was able to get their baby’s wall done with months to spare before the arrival of the little one.

The manufacturer of this paper is York, and it’s in their Sure Strip line. I love this thin pre-pasted wallpaper. It is nice to work with, it hugs the wall tightly, and it will resist problems from humidity in a bathroom.

Brunschwig & Fils’s Bibliotheque in a Heights Library

July 14, 2019


Another installer hung the paper in the first photo. For some unknown reason, two half-walls were left unpapered. I was called in to finish those two areas.

Brunschwig & Fils is a French manufacturer, with a long history. Like many higher-end brands, this product came with a selvedge edge that I had to trim off by hand (see last photo), using a razor blade and a 6′ long straight edge (not shown).

And, like many higher-end brand papers that are printed with ink that smells like mothballs, once paste is applied to the back of the paper, the inked surface absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the back side. When the top inked layer expands at a different rate from the substrate, you get waffling, or quilting. Sorry, no photo, but you can do a Search here to see previous blogs on this topic. Essentially, it’s a wrinkly mess.

One way to deal with this is to even out the moisture differential by lightly sponging water onto the face (inked side) of the wallpaper. The front can then absorb moisture from the sponging at the same time that the substrate is absorbing moisture from the paste.

As I worked with the paper, I discovered that it wanted to dry out quickly. So it helped a lot to also use a sponge to get a little moisture onto the back side of the wallpaper strip, before pasting.

Other tricks to slow drying out are to 1.) Book the paper (fold pasted side to pasted side and then roll up loosely like a newspaper) and then dunk the ends into a bucket of clean water. 2.) Place the booked strip into a black trash bag, which will prevent evaporation during the time the paper books. 3.) When the wait time is up, gently unbook the paper and lightly spritz the back with clean water from a spray bottle. Alternately, you could sponge the surface once again. The idea is to introduce a little more moisture, to loosen up the paste and to make the paper more malleable.

I had been told that this paper was difficult to work with, and that the seams wanted to curl. I had the opposite experience – I thought it was lovely to work with. The seams laid nice and flat, and the paper was easy to manipulate, and it clung tightly to the wall. Applying moisture to the surface and back got rid of the waffling, and any that did remain (there were small puckers in the white horizontal “shelf board” areas) disappeared as the wallpaper dried.

This home is in the Houston Heights neighborhood, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

Three-Dimensional Square “Dots” on Pale Neutral Grasscloth

April 2, 2019


Thibaut’s “Union Square” wallpaper pattern is a response to the popular Phillip Jeffries’s “Rivets.” Thibaut’s looser design and pattern placement make it much easier to align with the walls and woodwork – including rooms that are out of square and out of plumb. Which is just about every house in every neighborhood in every state.

The 3-D squares are made of some kind of plastic stuff, and are virtually impossible to cut through with a razor blade or a scissors (such as when trimming at the ceiling door or window moldings). I was able to engineer the room so that I did not have to cut through any of those rivets! Because the PJ pattern is much tighter, this would have been virtually impossible.

Also, I found that my soft short-bristled smoothing brush worked well enough to press the material against the wall while skimming over the 3/8″ high square bumps (sorry, for some reason, the photo did not turn out). But my beloved plastic trapezoidal squeegee smoother was just about useless, because it would not accommodate the 3-D “rivets.” So I had to adjust my install tactics a bit, and figure how to get along without the plastic smoother.

This wallcovering is made of grasscloth, which provides the subtle texture that homeowners are loving these days. But because grasscloth is made of natural fibers, there can be a lot of variations between bolts, and even between strips off the same bolt.

For that reason, Thibaut not only notes the run number of a bolt of wallpaper, but also the sequence in which the material was produced (see photo). The idea is that if you hang strips sequentially, you will see less shading or paneling (difference in color between two strips of wallcovering). Thibaut’s insert also includes a LOT of jargon about the color differences inherent to natural products, and the admonishment to use the bolts and strips sequentially.

I used three double rolls / bolts of grasscloth for this entry. Two of the bolts (the first two in the sequence) were pretty homogenous in color. The room was small and had low ceilings, and so I was able to keep the three strips needed for the longest wall all from the same bolt (#1).

I cut my other full-length strips from the second bolt (#2). That left the third bolt (#3) for the many short pieces needed to go over the four doorways in the room. As you can see from the last two photos, even though it was the same run number and printed at the same time, this third bolt was noticeably different in color from the previous two. The background color is the same, but there is a lot – a LOT – more dark brown fibrous material that got worked into the woven grass material.

Keeping these darker strips over the doors was a good way to minimize this color difference. The strips were only 9″ high. If these strips had been placed side-by-side on an 8′ high wall, the color difference would have been abruptly noticeable.

Color variations are to be expected with grasscloth, or any natural product. But helpful labeling by the manufacturer, and careful plotting by the installer, can minimize these differences.

This ’60’s-era ranch-style home in the Briargrove neighborhood of Houston is very much a “sea of tranquility,” as the whole house is entwined in off-whites, creams, and tans, with various textures like rough wood, sisal, and this grasscloth, used to pull in depth and warmth.

The interior designer on this project is Layne Ogden, of Layne Torsch Interiors.

Counting Shadows On The Wall

June 15, 2018

Digital Image

Digital Image


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.