Posts Tagged ‘ladder’

Preventing Mars on the Wall & Fixtures

April 22, 2020

Digital ImageDigital ImageA step ladder, which is what I normally use, does not touch the wall, so there is no worry of marks or dents. But in this room, with it’s high ceilings and awkwardly placed tub, it was necessary to use my extension ladder, which works by leaning against the wall.

In the first photo, you see how a towel is used to protect the wall and woodwork from the ladder. In the second shot, the tub has been well-padded, before placing the ladder inside (the only way to access the walls above it).

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Tall Walls and Awkward Spaces

March 28, 2020


This home office in a new, contemporary home in the Sunset Terrace / West University neighborhood of Houston has walls that were nearly 11′ high. In addition, there were bookcases and desks that I had to lean over in order to reach much of the wallspace.

My solution was to bring my 6′ ladder in addition to my usual 5′ ladder. By placing the shorter ladder on top of the desk counter, I was able get close enough and high enough to do the wall behind the desk.

I’m not quite 100lbs, so my weight and its distribution on the counter was not a worry.

To reach the area over the bookcases to the left, I had to do a combination of balancing on the 5′ ladder, and stepping onto the very top of the 6′ ladder, then leaning precariously, and placing a foot onto the shelves – without putting too much weight, because they were not securely attached.

You can be sure that I had to keep mindful of my center of gravity, how close the ladder was to the edge of that counter, how far I had to reach, how much backward torque that placed on the ladder, how stable the ladder was on its surface, and a whole lot more – all while also concentrating on getting the paper straight, trimmed, and smooth on the wall.

Really High Walls

January 3, 2020


The walls in this bathroom are over 12′ high. I could not reach the ceiling – especially where I had to lean over the vanity and the linen cabinet – with my 5′ or 6′ ladders. So I had to bring in my 8′ ladder.

Even with the super-high ladder, it is still tricky and potentially dangerous to hang wallpaper here – especially reaching to the corners over the vanity and cabinet.

In addition, the bottom feet spread almost 5′ x 3′, which makes it difficult to maneuver in a small room like a bathroom. Not to mention that it’s heavy.

So while working so high up and on a tenuous structure, it’s crucial to pay attention to your reach, weight, weight distribution, torque / backward tension, pressure you’re putting on the wall while hanging the wallpaper, etc., as well as to have a very quiet and interruption-free setting, where you can concentrate on getting the wallpaper up and staying safe.

10″ Head Space – I Can Do It!

December 13, 2019


Not only was there only a mere 10″ of clearance between the cabinet and the ceiling, the niche was way deeper than the typical cabinet, because below it was a 36″ deep refrigerator. Even standing on the very top of my ladder (ya know – the step that OSHA says NOT to stand on!), and contorting my whole torso on top of the cabinet, it was difficult to reach the back wall. And even more difficult to maneuver my hands and tools.

I managed to skim-float the area, sand it smooth, and prime it. Today it was time to get paper onto it.

The fewer tasks I had to do, the easier (and safer) it would be to accomplish.

The first thing I did was to trim the paper horizontally at the point where I wanted it to meet the ceiling. This eliminated the need for me to squeeze in a straightedge and trimming blade and try to manipulate them in the deep, narrow space.

Likewise, I wanted to avoid having to trim in the last corner (on the right). So I measured carefully, and pre-trimmed my last piece to fit. It was 3 7/8″ at the top, but widened to 4″ at the bottom.

After the strip got pasted and booked, it expanded a tad, so I had to trim off a teeny bit from the right edge. And also a little more off the upper right, due to the wall being un-straight at that point.

I was able to get my plastic smoother and damp microfiber cloth into the space, to smooth the strips to the wall and wipe off any paste residue.

Accessing Walls Over a Bathtub

July 5, 2019


When I have to hang wallpaper in areas over “garden bathtubs” or similar, it can be difficult to reach the walls safely. I don’t want to fall, and I don’t want to scratch or damage the homeowner’s tub.

So I use this piece of plywood to cover the tub. The 2’x4′ size is sufficient to bridge most all tubs. And the 3/8″ thickness is enough to hold my weight (not quite 100lbs) and distribute it across the span of the board / tub. And it’s still light enough that I can carry it easily back and forth to my work truck.

I coated it with KILZ Original primer, so it looks better, and so it won’t leave marks on the homeowner’s tub or tile.

It’s hard to see, but I have placed some blue textured shelf-liner between the board and the tub/tile. This will cushion the weight and prevent scratches to the homeowner’s tub and tile. And it’s non-slip, so it makes the arrangement safe for me to climb up and move around on.

With my ladder on top of the plywood, I can easily and safely reach the walls over the tile.

While working, it is important to be aware of my weight distribution, and to not put my weight, nor the ladder’s legs, over that part of the board that is hanging over the tub.

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.

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.