Posts Tagged ‘ladder’

World Map for a Worldly Little Boy

August 5, 2018


The five-year-old boy who has this bedroom in a newish house in the Heights neighborhood of Houston is “map crazy” – so says his mom. Interior designer Stacie Cokinos found this colorful map full of primary colors that kids relate to, and that will satisfy his wanderlust, too.

The mural came 12′ wide by a little more than 8′ tall, and came in four panels – two across the top, and two across the bottom. (see third photo) Since the wall was shorter than the map, we decided it was better to lose the excess paper from the bottom, which was mostly water; that saved the more interesting land and country portions for the more visible top section.

Those four panels turned out to be 6′ wide. But my wingspan is more like 3′. Yikes! How to handle these awkward panels? No problem – I ran home and grabbed my other ladder. By placing the two of them next to each other (see fourth photo), I was able to walk from one to the other, and could easily manipulate the 6′ wide material. It also helped that this product was a paste-the-wall installation.

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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.

Reaching High Spots

September 9, 2016

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These walls are over 12′ high. Even with my 6′ ladder, I couldn’t reach the walls over the bathroom vanity. So I had to get creative.

This isn’t as dangerous as it looks. First, before I actually put any weight on that ladder, I put non-slip padded foam shelf liner under the feet, to prevent slipping and to protect the granite. And, since granite is considered a somewhat fragile stone, and will not support a lot of weight, that is not a concern here, because, a.) I only weigh 100 pounds, and b.) the legs of the ladder distribute my weight to the outside of the vanity top, which is supported by the vanity frame and case (not just the granite).

Nonetheless, it takes care to work like this. I don’t have as much freedom of movement of my arms or my body as I can when I can set the ladder anywhere I want. And, you can’t see it, but, where I removed the light fixture, there is an electrical box with live wires (capped and safe, but, still, kinda scary) very close to where my left arm is moving and jostling.

So, I am mindful of many things: my weight distribution, my movements, my shifting weight, my arms relative to that electrical box, the task I am working on, and lots of other related things, like not dropping any tools from 12′ up, and I forgot to lock the bathroom door so I sure hope that no one decides to come in right now because the door will knock into my ladder and I sure don’t want to take a tumble from this high up! (Another reason why I love to work when I’m alone in the house.)

BTW – tomorrow, I am bringing my 8′ ladder. I just may be able to reach the wall without having to stand on the vanity top.

This Is How I Paper A Ceiling

August 16, 2016
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I don’t wallpaper many ceilings, and when I do, I try to stick to small powder rooms and the like. Larger and higher ceilings are much easier when you have scaffolding and / or a helper – and I have neither.

However, I did this ceiling recently, and used this method … Using two ladders facing one another, I can work on a section and then walk across to the next ladder and reach another section of ceiling. When I’ve done all I can reach, I use push pins to hold the folded paper to the ceiling, get down and move the ladders so I can reach the next 6′ or so.

Normally, pasted paper is “booked” in two folds, one being 1/3 the strip of paper and the other being 2/3 of the strip. In the second photo you can see the more numerous and shorter accordion folds that I use when papering a ceiling. This enables me to unbook only as much paper as I can position onto a section of ceiling. Then I get down and move the ladder, and then unbook another short section of paper. This is much easier than trying to wrestle with a 9′ long strip of pasted paper.

How I Hang Wallpaper On A Ceiling

August 13, 2016
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Ceilings are challenging to hang wallpaper on, and go better if you have scaffolding and a second set of hands. Because I work alone, I don’t take on a lot of large ceilings. But when I do, here is how I do it…

I’ll put my 5′ and my 6′ ladders next to each other, so I can smooth paper onto a section of ceiling, and then walk from one ladder to the other, positioning and smoothing more paper as I go.

Another big help is booking the wallpaper in accordion pleats of about 2′ each (instead of the 1/3 / 2/3 fold that is common for paper to be hung on a wall). In the second photo, you can see me unbooking paper that has been folded like an accordion, and then positioning it on the ceiling.

But wait – what is holding the paper to the ceiling? Wallpaper adhesive will ultimately secure the paper to the surface. But until that dries, when you get down to move the ladder so you can position the next couple of feet of wallpaper, the strip can peel itself off the wall. The whole strip. 😦

So a good trick is to use push-pins to hold the booked paper in place, until you have moved your ladder and are ready to unfold the paper and work with your brush and smoother to get it into place.

The push pins will leave holes, true, but they can be minimized. So be sure to put the pins into an element of the pattern design, rather than into “blank” space.

Wallpapering A Ceiling With Just One Person

June 6, 2016

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I don’t wallpaper a lot of ceilings, and when I do, I prefer small areas that are not too high. Here I am papering the ceiling in a closet that has 9′ ceilings. I am using two ladders that are placed close to each other, so I can work off one and position the paper on the ceiling above it, and then step to the other ladder and paper another few feet.

The problem is, once you step down off the ladder to move forward, if you don’t have some way to hold the wallpaper to the ceiling, it’s all going to come pulling off.

Working alone, my trick is to use push-pins to hold the paper to the ceiling while I climb down and move the ladder.

Ever Wonder What’s In the Back of the Wallpaper Lady’s Van?

October 31, 2015
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It’s like a traveling hardware store! But everything I use on a regular basis is easily accessible from the rear (first two photos) or side (third photo) doors. Once you step inside (remaining photos), there is a whole lot more tools and equipment!

I got this van from Dave Cory Motors (highly recommended!) in Houston in April. It is larger than my previous three Chevy Astro Vans, and I am enjoying the extra room. I put carpeting on all the walls, and also padding and carpeting on the floor, cab and cargo area. I added a lip to prevent my 50lb buckets of paste from sliding out the side door, and built a drawer unit and a shelf unit for specific items. I had custom shelving installed on one side.

I usually only carry one ladder, but when needed, the 10′ bed will easily accommodate my extension ladder (two ladders are pictured here, stacked on top of one another). Other tools and equipment stashed in here include: up to four 5-gallon buckets of paste, boxes of joint compound, 1-gallon cans of four different types of primer, tool box, paperhanging tools, work table and folding legs, drop cloths & towels, two box fans and a floor fan, space heater, 2’x4′ sheet of plywood for setting ladder on top of bathtubs, rolls of plastic sheeting, extension cords, heat gun, craft paint, specialty tools, sponges, sanding sponges, caulk, spare scissors, trimmers, straight edges, roller covers, switch plate covers, screw & wall anchors, broom and dustpan, and all sorts of other tools and equipment and gadgets you never thought you would need – but just might. 😉

Plus gym bag, and the satchels I bring when I consult with clients.

And, as you can see, it is proudly neat and organized. I call it a “girl truck.”
Because the guys tend to toss their tools into an empty 5-gallon bucket, and then throw all their equipment willy-nilly into the back of their van – or even a pick-up truck, open to the rain, for Pete’s sake!

Repasting Seams

January 21, 2015

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I hung this subdued trellis design wallpaper several years ago in a master bathroom in West University, and am embarrassed to see that several strips have come loose from the wall. This happened only in the tub + shower room, but not in the water closet (a European term that simply means a tiny room for just the toilet 🙂 ). So you can figure that humidity is a factor.

I simply climbed up on my ladder and repasted the loose areas, and everything should hold up fine.

Ladder Tray for My Tools

December 18, 2014

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Most of my friends us belt pouches to hold their wallpaper tools. I find that cumbersome, to be fumbling around in a stiff leather pouch behind your back. Instead, I have crafted a tray that fits on the top of my ladder, that holds just about everything I need. Besides tools, it will hold a paint roller tray or a gallon bucket of water, so I can use it for hanging paper, priming walls, or stripping paper. For water resistance, it is covered with clear Contact Paper (which is peeling).

This is made from 1″x12″ lumber cut to fit the top of the ladder, and it’s framed with yardsticks, which offer just enough of a lip to keep items from sliding off.

This is my 5′ ladder, which I use the most often, and the tool tray is fairly old. I have a 6′ ladder with a new tray, and it’s sealed with Danish Oil, and is affixed to the ladder’s top with bolts and wing nuts, so it can be removed when not needed.