Posts Tagged ‘level’

Paint Stripes to Prevent White Wall Peeking Out

January 8, 2022
Sometimes (usually) wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste and then shrinks just a tad when it dries. This can result in hair-breadth gaps at the seams. Usually not a big deal. But when the paper is dark and the sub-surface is light, you can end up with white wall visible at the seams.
So sometimes I’ll paint a stripe of matching color behind where the seams will lie. Measure to plot where the seam will fall, then use a level and pencil, or a laser level, to indicate where, and then run a stripe of paint along that line. Make the stripe wide enough to accommodate slight variations in measurements and wallpaper expansion.
I use craft paint from the hobby store or Texas Art Supply. The photo shows an outdoor paint – not the best option, but it’s what I had in the truck. 🙂 I use a small rectangle of sponge dipped in water and then in the paint.
For extra assurance, on thick papers, dark surface printed on a white backing, you can also use artist’s chalk pastels (chalk only and NOT oil pastels) to color the edges of the seams. Do a Search here (upper right corner) to find previous posts about that.

Bold David Hicks Geometric in Garden Oaks Powder Room

December 18, 2021
This young family wanted some WOW! Factor for their new home’s plain-Jane powder room. It’s a 2-room set up, with the sink in one area and the toity around the corner in a more private area.
Looking through one room into the next – yes, really a WOW! Factor!
Looks fantastic with the burnished gold faucets, light sconces, and hand towel ring.
Opposite wall. I centered the pattern on the wall opposite the mirror, so that the design would work around the room evenly and the pattern would fall equally on these two walls. In other words, the pattern hits the tile wall on the left at exactly the same point as it does on the tile wall to the right. The sconces also land on the same element in the wallpaper. This gives a very symmetrical look as you face the mirror. One of those things no one can put his finger on, but it makes the whole room feel balanced and in sync.
Back wall connecting to right wall with door that leads to the entry hall.
The commode room is under the stairway, so has a strongly sloped ceiling – and tight working quarters. You can also see that the wall is bowed in the corner, resulting in a good pattern match at top and bottom, but some mis-alignment in the center. Pretty typical. No walls are perfectly plumb, no ceiling is perfectly level, and corners are just about always a bit wonky. Geometric designs like this are particularly difficult to make look perfect.
On close-up, you can see a slight raised ink texture. This surface printed wallpaper was not a crisp look – nothing wrong with that … it’s part of the hand-crafted look. The non-woven material is thick and stiff, and the seams were a bit more noticeable than on many other non-wovens. I also noted that where the gold ink hit the edges of the paper, there were ever-so-slight curls and overlaps. My guess is the gold ink reacted to the wet paste and expanded differently from the black and the background color. Never mind. From two feet away, you can’t notice it at all.
The David Hicks Collection by GP & J Baker contains several variations of this type of bold geometric pattern. Some of the vendors are calling this a “new” release … but I first hung one of these designs maybe 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten any better with the quality. Surprising, because GP&J Baker’s papers are usually very nice – I did one just a few months ago and loved it. Conversely, this one is quite stiff, and trying to work it into tight spots such as corners or behind a toilet or around a vanity or light fixture can result in creases. And the ink flakes off very easily. Here, just pressing the wallpaper against the baseboard so it could be trimmed caused the ink to chip off, and you can see little bits of it collected on top of the baseboard on the left. Luckily, this was at the floor and not very noticeable. I used some black chalk to cover the white areas. But at eye-level, this would have necessitated removing the whole strip and replacing with a new one.

Wallpaper installer Houston

Hallway Wallpaper Repair – Thibaut Honshu

December 11, 2021
This couple in the West University neighborhood of Houston loves color and avant garde – unexpected and fun! I hung this Honshu wallpaper by Thibaut in their small hallway at the beginning of the pandemic – April 2020. Since then, they decided to change the faucets and showerhead in the bathroom on the other side of this wall. To access the pipes, the plumber had to cut a hole in the drywall. The ‘guy’ that this couple uses did a fantastic job of cutting the drywall, preserving the wallpaper, and then patching the hole. You can even see that his cuts are perfectly level and plumb!
Slapping wallpaper patches over the two holes would have probably sufficed. But I wanted to make it better, so I stripped off and replaced the old wallpaper. This meant patching the guy’s drywall repairs. I didn’t get a photo, but I used drywall tape and joint compound to even out the areas. A heavy duty floor fan plus a heat gun helped get the smoothing compound to dry in a few hours. I sanded smooth and applied wallpaper primer, and ended up with what you see in the photo.
To conserve paper, instead of replacing the entire two strips from ceiling to floor, which could have caused some problems with matching the pattern on the left side, I patched in about one foot down from the ceiling line. To disguise the appliqued area, I used a scissors and trimmed around the wallpaper design, as you see here. This is less visible than a straight horizontal cut.
In this photo, the two strips have been put into place. You could never tell there was a hole (or two) !

Soft Look in Heights Powder Room

December 10, 2021
Before
Finished. I love the soft colors against the putty-colored woodwork and wainscoting.
The red beam from my laser level helps get that first strip centered and plumb.
Perfect!
From a distance.
Close up, you can see a very slight raised ink texture to this wallpaper.
The last corner ( kill point ) matched almost perfectly. This rarely happens, so it’s always a thrill when it looks this good all by itself.
The pattern is called Khotan and is by Zak & Fox. It’s a non-woven, paste-the-wall product. It was a bit thick and stiff to work with, and creased easily. But it went up nicely, and the seams were invisible. And, when it’s time to redecorate, this non-woven material will strip off the wall easily and in one piece, with minimal damage to the wall.

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Keeping the Pattern Straight Going Around a Wide Window

November 17, 2021
Hanging wallpaper around windows is tricky. You’ve got to keep the pattern straight along the top and the bottom, and coming down the far side, and hope that the pattern will match up when those last pieces meet. That’s harder than it sounds, because ceiling lines and window frames and floors are never perfectly level, nor are walls perfectly plumb. And wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and twists out of shape, and does other contortions. The wider the window is, the more likely it is that things will get off kilter. And this window was 8′ wide! For the strips along the top, it was fairly easy to keep the pattern straight across the top of the window, as I used a ruler and made sure that a certain design motif was 3/4″ from the top of the window. Keeping this uniformity looks good to the eye. But just because it was the same height across the top of the window, it doesn’t mean it was level, or keeping equidistant from the design below the window. Like I said, patterns and walls and windows go off track. Still, it’s the best shot we’ve got.

Below the window, instead of using a ruler, I tried another trick. I measured the distance from the window molding that a certain design motif was to hit the wall, and drew a pencil line horizontally right at that measurement. Then I made sure that each strip I hung, the motif synced up with this line. In order to do this, I had to pull the design up or down a bit in some places, which meant some minor pattern mis-matches here and there.

I didn’t get pictures of my final strip coming around the right top side of the window, and how it met up with the pattern below the window. The pattern match was off a little, but not much. I was able to tweak one strip and fudge the pattern a bit. In another area I cut a strip in two vertically, following the contours of the design, and did a bit of overlapping.

All this disguised the minor pattern mis-match, while also keeping the right edge of the wallpaper nice and straight – which is important because the next strip of paper would need to butt up against it.

It did help that this material was a non-woven, which has a content of polyester / synthetic, and so is dimensionally stable – which is a fancy way of saying that it’s not supposed to expand (much) when it gets wet with paste.

IAll that sounds confusing, and it is. But I hope it has helped a bit to explain how this can be done.

Laser Level Plumb Line

September 29, 2021

That dark object on the right is my laser level – a cool gadget that shoots a red vertical line onto the wall. That line serves as a guide for placing a strip of wallpaper, and for ensuring that it hangs nice and plumb.

There are other uses, too. And some fancy (i.e. expensive) ones will shoot horizontal lines, multiple lines, lines onto the ceiling ….

Laser Level Line Up

August 24, 2021

I have engineered this first strip so that the stripe falls smack in the center of this accent wall. It will create a nice balance around the headboard of the little girl’s bed.

I am using the red light, vertical line of my laser level to ensure this first strip of wallpaper goes up nice and plumb.

Turning an Inside Corner With Wallpaper

August 15, 2021

When bringing wallpaper around an inside corner in a room, you virtually never should wrap a full sheet around the corner.

That’s because corners are never absolutely straight, walls are never perfectly plumb, wet wallpaper stretches and twists… Coming out of the corner, the outer edge of the paper will never be straight, so the next strip won’t butt up properly. And the strip could be thrown off-plumb, meaning that the design will start tracking up or down the wall. Oh, and you will probably get wrinkles and warps, too.

To prevent all this, you split the strip in two vertically, and allow just 1/16″ or 1/8″ to wrap around the corner. See top photo. This tiny bit of wrap is important, because, if you cut exactly into the corner, you would end up with a visible cut edge, plus gaps in the corner.

Your next strip is then overlapped on top of this narrow wrapped edge, as shown in the second photo.

Note that when you do this, you will cover up and lose some of the design.

To minimize this, I have my clients buy a little extra paper. Then I can use a fresh sheet to split vertically, while matching the pattern as perfectly as possible. Yes, it uses more paper and costs a bit more … but for a visually seamless transition from one wall to the next, that you will be enjoying for the next many years, it is a good pay-off.

This new strip that gets overlapped and hung coming out of the corner … It is important that it be hung plumb. Because if it’s not, then all subsequent strips will fall more and more off-track.

In the last photo, I am using the red line of my laser level to ensure that the right edge of this new wallpaper strip is perfectly level.

Often, this means you have to “adjust” the strip in the corner … and that often means that you will have to trim off some, in order to get it to lie nice and tight in the corner. And, yes, that means losing a bit more of the design.

This is inside corners, pretty much in a nutshell. Of course, there are a lot more details and nuances not covered here.

wrap

overlap

lose pattern

laser level to plumb up

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).

Crazy Unlevel Ceiling Line

January 14, 2021

OK, folks – you can’t keep the wallpaper looking straight as it runs along under the ceiling (meaning, keep the same motif at exactly the same distance from the ceiling), if the ceiling itself isn’t level or even straight.

When a surface is level, and you place a level against it, the bubble will be smack in the middle of the window. As you can see, in today’s room, the bubble wasn’t even trying to be in the center of the window.

Even crazier, these two photos were taken on the same wall, and just a foot apart.

That means that the ceiling line was more like a roller coaster than a nice, flat, level platform. Understandable in a 1935 house built on ever-shifting Houston “gumbo” soil.

How this applies to wallpaper is that, if you are trying to position a particular motif – let’s say it’s a sailboat – just under the ceiling, as subsequent strips of paper get hung, that sailboat motif is going to move up and down under the ceiling line. Sometimes that even means that the top part of the sailboat may get chopped off as the ceiling line moves downward.