Posts Tagged ‘laser level’

Dining Room Is Brightened and Warmed at the Same Time

September 11, 2021
Before. Walls are primed and ready for paper.
After
The homeowner raved about how the wallpaper made the room look so much brighter. And it coordinates so nicely with the color of the woodwork and wainscoting.
Detail. There is a slight raised-ink feel.
Using my laser level to get the first strip plumb, and the motifs centered vertically between the windows.
The pattern name “Kashmira” reflects the slight ethnic feel of this pattern. The manufacturer is Baker Lifestyle, in their Echo Collection.

Here’s a dining room in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston that feels both cheerful and snug at the same time.

The material was “non-woven” and could be hung using the paste-the-wall method. However, I prefer the flexibility and accuracy that comes with pasting the paper.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design, who works mostly in the Heights area of Houston.

Preventing White From Showing At The Seams

July 8, 2021
Chalk pastels for coloring the edges of the wallpaper. (Do NOT use oil pastels – they stain wallpaper.)
Craft paint from the hobby store used to stripe the wall where the wallpaper seams will fall. Note the red vertical line from my laser level, which serves as a guide. I use a small square of dampened sponge to wipe on the paint. Be sure to let it dry before hanging the paper.

Manufacturers have a bad habit of printing dark wallpapers on white substrates. Since wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and then shrinks as it dries, you have the potential for the white edges of the paper showing at the seams. There is also the possibility that the white wall behind the paper will be exposed, too.

To minimize these chances, I use chalk pastels to color the edges of the wallpaper, and diluted craft paint to stripe under where the seams will fall.

Candice Olson “Linden Flower” in Home Office

July 1, 2021
Before. Original chalkboard paint sealed off with KILZ Original to block any oil residue from chalk that might bleed through the wallpaper. Then primed with Roman 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer.
Finished. Airy, floral, fun place to work!
First strip goes up, lined up against the red light of my laser level. I measured and plotted the placement so that the center of that dominant black flower would drop along the vertical center line of the wall (about 8″ to the right of the laser line).
Detail. I like the shadows in the background.
Close-up shows pen & ink, and water color look of this design.
Manufacturer is York, one of my preferred brands. http://www.yorkwall.com

Working from home these days, the homeowner wanted an office that was bright and encouraged creativity. The black chalkboard paint scrawled with slogans and proverbs had to go!

Almost exactly a month ago, I prepped the walls and started to hang the paper – only to discover printing and trimming defects. See my post from May 26, 2021. The on-line vendor, Burke Decor, was quick to ship out replacement paper from a different run. The new paper was fine.

The new light sconce plays off the black and gold colors in the wallpaper.

This refreshing yet peaceful abstract floral pattern sets the perfect tone, when your office is in your home.

The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Realistic, Textured Faux Brick Wallpaper Accent Wall

April 8, 2021
Textured wall skim-floated smooth, primed, and ready for wallpaper.
Starting in center to balance off-level ceiling line.
Pretty realistic!
The material has a slight texture, although it’s not visible in this photo.

Originally, the homeowner, a single guy in the Houston Heights, had a sort of Asian theme in his master bedroom. But he was ready for something more guttural and free form. Mission accomplished!

The new look is a little bit Industrial Modern, and a little Back Alley. 🙂

He has a lot of sports memorabilia, and I think that would look great hung on this faux brick wall.

The ceiling line was not level at all, which means that you can expect the bricks to not line up perfectly straight across the wall at the ceiling. Bricks would be taller on one end and cut shorter at the other end.

And so I started hanging in the middle of the wall, butting my strip up against a plumb line from my laser level. Moving across the wall, as the ceiling line starts to track up or down, by starting in the middle, you even out any wobbling of the pattern at the ceiling by spreading half of it on the right side of the wall and half at the left side.

As it turned out, the bricks stayed perfectly straight across the ceiling line.

This is a lightly textured, embossed vinyl product by Akea, a British company. I was really expecting a non-woven paste-the-wall substrate. But this was on a paper backing, which you don’t see often these days, especially with the European manufacturers.

It was thin and flexible, the seams laid down nicely, and no bubbling (bubbles are pretty typical with paper-backed vinyl goods).

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

Digital Image

Digital Image


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

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


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