Posts Tagged ‘marred’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

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.