Posts Tagged ‘laser level’

Farrow & Ball Difficult Paper – Taming the Beast

September 13, 2020


Farrow & Ball is not among my favorite wallpaper manufacturers. For starters, they coat their wallpaper with their paint, instead of ink like every other manufacturer in the world uses.

Paint is not a good substitute for ink. It flakes, it doesn’t apply evenly so if you are standing at the right angle, you can see unevenness in the ground (background color). Plus, it burnishes with even the lightest brush stroke across it. Do a Search here to read my previous posts about this.

Look at the first photo, and you will see what we call gaps and overlaps. This happens when the trimmer blades at the factory are wobbly and / or dull, resulting in edges that are not cut straight. Thus, when two strips are butted together, you end up with some areas gapping and some areas overlapping.

Also, the seams like to give argument to staying down tight against the wall. Again, so a Search for previous posts about this.

This “Lotus” install was a little less problematic than my experiences with other patterns. The gaps and overlaps due to poor factory cutting were still present.

But the burnishing was less of an issue, because this pattern has so much printed area that there was not a lot of ground exposed to my smoothing brush.

I also found a way to get the seams to lie down better. For starters, I used a bit more paste (their special brand of powdered cellulose paste), than usual, and that wetted the paper out better, which made it want to hug the wall better.

Next, I found that if, before hanging each strip, I rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall under where the seams would fall, the edges of each strip would grab the wall and lie down more tightly and uniformly.

In the second photo, you can see my laser level marking the vertical line where I will run my roller of paste.

Most British manufacturers are printing on the newish non-woven substrates, which offer many positive features. Farrow & Ball, however, continues to use the traditional British pulp. When coated with their paint (instead of ink), this stuff tends to be pretty thick and stiff. The thickness adds a bit to the visible seams as seen in the top photo.

Also, once the paper becomes wet with the company’s cellulose paste, it becomes quite flexible and delicate. Meaning that it can be difficult to cut, as it often drags along even a brand new razor blade, leaving jagged edges. It tears easily. And, while unbooking, it sure felt like some of the strips were so weak that they wanted to break in two.

All in all, this install went well. But I sure would prefer if F&B would get with the rest of the wallpaper world and print on a better substrate, as well as ditch the paint in favor of good, reliable ink. And outfit their factory with some straight and sharp trimming blades.

Butting Up To The Red Line

April 13, 2020

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Here I am using my laser level to align my first strip of wallpaper, to ensure that it hangs straight and true-to-plumb.

Making a Geometric Wallpaper Pattern LOOK Straight in a Room with Crooked Walls

April 8, 2020

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Geometric wallpaper patterns are popular right now, but they are rigid and inflexible, and the eye sees any imperfection, so they are demanding to hang, especially in rooms where walls are not plumb and floors and ceilings are not level. This powder room in Fleetwood (far west Houston) really put me to the test.

Visually, it’s more important to keep the pattern intact, than to keep it running straight along the ceiling and floor lines. On the various walls and elevations in this room, I called a lot of tricks into play to keep the pattern looking straight – but here we’ll focus on this one corner.

In the top photo, the corner looks straight, but if you could see the full height of the wall, you would see that the wallpaper pattern moves to the left as it drops down the corner. I’m happy that all of the “lanterns” are intact. But as more strips are hung to the right of this corner, the lantern motif will start to travel up the wall and be cut off at the ceiling line.

To keep this from happening, I had to pull the pattern back into plumb. The second photo shows what the design should look like, and it’s my goal to keep the pattern intact, and all the lanterns looking like this.

In the third photo, I am hanging the first strip to the right of the corner. Because the corner is off-plumb, this strip of wallpaper would hang off-plumb, too. To keep that from happening, I hung the left side of the strip off-plumb, but then hung the right side of the strip plumb, lining it up against my laser level, a you see in the photo.

How did I do that? I took a sharp scissors, a good pair of close-up eyeglasses, a whole lot of patience, and even more time, and carefully cut around the left edge of the lantern motifs from floor to ceiling. You can pretty well see this loose edge in the third photo.

Then I pulled the right edge of the wallpaper to line up against the red line from my laser level, making it nice and plumb. This created an overlap of the left edge of the lantern motifs onto the right edge of left side of the wallpaper strip that had been cut in half. Got that? 🙂

This one corner took me about 45 minutes.

It was worth it. Once I smoothed the overlapped pieces into place, you really don’t notice that the lanterns are a little closer together at that one section than they should be. See third photo. This area is near the floor, across from the toilet, and not any place anyone is going to be studying the width of wallpaper motifs. 🙂 And it looks a whole lot better than chopped-off lanterns at the ceiling.

In this whole 10 single-roll powder room, I’d say that I spent a full two hours just on tweaking the pattern to keep it looking straight. That’s in addition to five hours regular labor to hang the paper. Plus the entire day before to prep the walls.

It was well worth it. The homeowners had originally tackled this wallpaper job themselves, but became overwhelmed. They had invested the better part of a year in getting the room into shape. In the end, the room looks great, it is MUCH brighter than when they started out (original paper was a dark teal faux finish), and it suits the wife’s love of all things geometric.

This wallpaper pattern is by Brewster, in their A-Street Prints line, and was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Finishing Touch to an Exercise Room Remodel

April 3, 2020


This is a detached room with separate entrance adjoining a home in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston. It could be use as a home office, but the lady of the house has claimed it as her private space, complete with exercise equipment and large TV. 🙂

She was originally looking at a Farrow & Ball pattern, but after I explained my disappointments with the quality of that brand (do a Search here), I was pleased that she changed to this design by a more reliable company.

This pattern is called “Bananas,” and is by Graham & Brown. They are one of the first companies to start using a non-woven substrate, which they put their vinyl top layer onto. They’ve created a really nice product.

The substrate has a lot of fiberglass, rendering it dimensionally-stable, meaning that it won’t expand when wet with paste nor shrink when it dries. It will also strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

In this case, I used the paste-the-wall method, which you can do with the non-wovens, and which saved me lugging in my huge work table.

In the third photo, I have cut my strips and placed them along the wall in the odd-even order in which they will be hung. Before I start, I will re-roll the strips backwards, so the backing is facing out. This helps reduce the “curl” or “memory” of the paper that wants to retain it’s rolled-up shape. And it helps keep the surface of the paper from bopping into the pasted wall. I secured the rolled-up strips with elastic hairbands from the dollar store.

Pasting the wall is a very clean way to work, because no paste gets onto the moldings or ceiling, and no paste sticks to the excess paper that is trimmed off at the ceiling and floor – less mess to clean up.

In the fourth photo, I have positioned my first strip with the design centered in the middle of the wall, using my red light laser level as a guide to keep the strip plumb.

Trimming Along Bull-Nosed Edged Walls

March 10, 2020


A whole lot of new homes these days have rounded bull-nosed edges on their walls’ outside corners. These might be up to date and pleasing to the eye, but they are bugger-bears to trim wallpaper on.

For one thing, the paper is hanging over the edge, so you can’t see what you are doing or where you are trimming. Next, it’s impossible to get a correctly-positioned or straight cut – especially since you can’t see where you are cutting.

A solution to that is to use a laser level to draw a straight line that you can trim against. The problem with that is that it’s highly unlikely that the wall edge will be perfectly plumb. So if you follow a plumb laser line placed against a wall edge that is slightly off-plumb … Well, you see where we are heading.

Wallcovering Installers Association to the rescue … one of my colleagues in a distant city invented this ingenious device. It is made from the very same “bead” molding that drywall guys use when installing these walls.

I cut one to a size that’s comfortable to fit my hand. Then I cut out notches at various places. Once the gizmo is placed straddling the rounded corner, I choose the notch that corresponds to the position that I want my cut to hit.

The inventor puts a trimming knife in the notch, and then trims along the edge of the wallpaper. But I find that maneuver to be awkward. And I fear that either the gizmo or my blade will slip, resulting in a crooked cut.

So I stick a pencil point into the notch and use that to draw a line along where the cut should be made. Then I remove the guide tool and then use a straightege and razor blade to trim along my pencil line. I have the flexibility to tweak things if anything should get off-kilter.

Playful Jungle Animals for Baby Girl’s Nursery Accent Wall

October 29, 2019




No pink flowers or butterflies for this baby girl… Her parents chose a jungle-themed wallpaper pattern with cartoon-like animals and plants, in a predominately green colorway.

The pattern is called “Animal Kingdom” and is by Milton & King. It is a non-woven material, and I hung it by the paste-the-wall method.

Original painted wall
My preferred wallpaper primer
Fan to dry the primer faster
Initial strip hung alongside red line from laser level
Finished wall
Detail
Label

Bold Green Gives Way to Serene

August 9, 2019


The bold green “raw silk” look paint was put up by a skilled faux-finisher about 15 years ago. It was a beautiful look in this dining room for all those years. But it was time for an update, and the homeowner wanted to go with a cleaner, quieter look.

It’s very hard to see in these photos, but this wallpaper has a subtle pattern, comprised of squares of varying widths, with some of them having smaller white squares inside them. All of these squares work together to form a wide striped pattern that plays itself out horizontally every 54″ across the wall. For the whole pattern to be visible, you need wallspace of 108″ (9′). Scroll to enlarge the photos, and hopefully you can see something of the pattern.

It’s interesting to note that you get this effect by reversing every other strip. In other words, hanging one strip right-side-up, and the next one upside-down. That way, the same edge of the paper is next to itself, so the pattern repeats as a mirror image of itself as it crosses the seam. In other words, on the first seam, the white squares are next to each other. On the next seam, the tan squares are next to each other.

I rolled the bolts out on the floor, side-by-side, so I could get an idea of how the pattern would work on the client’s walls. I decided the pattern would give the most impact if the white area was centered on each section of wall. There were six of these sections, each one a different width, separated by five windows and doorways of varying widths.

But centering the pattern on each section of wall, instead of hanging each strip sequentially as is typically done, meant that the pattern would fall out of sequence over the doors. Ah … but that’s a topic for the next blog post.

Back to this current post … So I found the center of each wall space, and used my laser level as a guide to hang the first two strips with the white squares butting the red laser line. The crown molding was not level, so the ceiling line wavered a little. But, the chair rail is more important because it’s closer to eye-level, and it was amazingly level. My squares marched perfectly across it with no tracking up or down, all the way around the room.

This wallpaper is a non-woven material. This stuff has a high fiberglass and synthetic composition, and does not need to sit (book), so it can be hung immediately after pasting. It also is dimensionally-stable, meaning that moisture from the paste will not cause the paper to expand. Thee factors made it a little easier and quicker, and kept measurements more accurate, in this room.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Ethnic-Looking Pattern in River Oaks Master Bedroom

May 19, 2019


First picture: Boring white walls

Second picture: Using the laser level to get the first strip nice and plumb, and with the pattern centered in the middle of the wall.

Third picture: Finished accent wall.

Fourth picture: Close up of the pattern. To me, it has a strong ethnic feel.

Fifth picture: This paper is by Cole & Son, a British company. It has a pearlized sheen to the surface. The backing is a non-woven material, so it can be hung by pasting the wall or pasting the material. (I prefer pasting the material.) It is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate.

This wallpaper pattern was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

MC Escher-ish Wallpaper Pattern in a Mid Century Modern Home

July 7, 2018


This couple scored a cool, mint-condition authentic Mid-Century Modern home in the Reliant Stadium / Medical Center area of Houston. They have some wonderful authentic period furnishings, and wanted to add a little “pop” as an accent, but not so much as to overwhelm the home. Well, you’ve gotta admit – this pattern really delivers!

This design is in the feel of the artist MC Escher, who bent minds back in in the Art Deco and Modern periods (’20’s-’50’s) with his “never ending stairways” type drawings. It’s by York, and is a non-woven material, and can be installed by either paste-the-wall or paste-the-paper (I prefer the paste-the-paper method). It is dimensionally-stable (doesn’t expand when it gets wet with paste), and is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

It was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. 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 ceiling in this entryway was way off-level, so I knew that the motif I placed at the top of the wall would start going off-track as it moved across the wall. So I started in the middle of the wall, so that any pattern distortion would be visually lessened by being split across the width of the wall evenly from the center. In the second photo, I’m using my laser level to get a plumb starting point for my first strip.

The blue you see at the top of the second photo is plastic tape I use to keep paste off the ceiling.  It can be used around woodwork and other surfaces, too.   You can also see how the bottom section of the strip of paper is “booked” (folded back on itself).  This shortens the strip of paper, thus making it easier to handle, and also keeps the pasted side from bumping against the wall, which could cause paste stains and also make the paper stick to the wall where I don’t want it to.

And, most important, with standard papers that need to absorb moisture from the paste, then expand and relax before hanging, booking helps keep the paper from drying out.  Note:  This is a non-woven material, so no waiting period is required, but I still booked the paper to make it easier to handle.)

Centering and Plumbing Grasscloth Seam

May 15, 2018


Re my previous posts, here I am using my laser level to help get the seam aligned with the light sconce, as well as ensure that it hangs level. The laser level is the small dark object in the lower center of the photo.