Posts Tagged ‘material’

Paint Pulling Off Wall Where Tape Was Removed – Surface Stability Test

May 12, 2021
Paint pulling off wall where tape was removed.
Paint pulling off wall when painters tape was removed.
Paint pulled off wall and stuck to back of tape that was pulled off wall on new construction site.

It’s important to have a stable surface under wallpaper.

That’s because, when wallpaper gets wet with paste, absorbs moisture from the paste, and it expands. Then, as it dries, it lets go of the moisture and shrinks. When wallpaper dries and shrinks, it puts tension / torque on the walls.

If the surface under the wallpaper is not stable, the tension of the drying wallpaper can cause the underlying surface to pull away.

This photo is not showing the wallpaper pulling away from the wall. What is happening (usually) is that the paint (or whatever has been applied to the wall), has actually delaminated (come apart) from the wall.

This results in a “curled” seam, or a “popped” seam.

One way to test for this is to apply a strip of tape (blue painters tape, tan masking tape, clear Scotch tape, or other), let it sit a few minutes, and then yank it off. If the tape takes any paint along with it, you have a potential problem of the wallpaper not adhering correctly.

This is why it’s important to:

1, Before applying any coating, you must remove all dust from the wall, using a damp sponge, which must be rinsed frequently

2, Before hanging paper, a primer formulated specifically for wallpaper should be applied / rolled on and cut in to edges

A wallpaper-specific primer is designed to withstand the torque put on the wall as wallpaper dries. And it facilitates installation by allowing sufficient “slip” (maneuvering the paper) and “stick” (adhesion). The chemistry behind all this is fascinating – but too complicated to get into here.

If a wall is too “iffy,” and you don’t feel like the mess and expense of scraping off all the old paint, a liner can be applied before the actual wallpaper is hung.

A liner lessens the drying time of the wallpaper, which reduces the time there will be stress on the wall. A liner also redistributes stress on the wall, so much less chance of having seems detach from the wall.

A liner also adds additional cost to the job – for both material and labor, which may include an additional day(s).

Working Around Shading in Cork Wallpaper

February 16, 2021

The homeowners originally sought grasscloth for this accent wall in the home office. But I talked them out of it, due to the unpleasant shading and color variation issues (click on the page to the right to read more). I showed them a sample of this white-washed cork wallpaper, and they were immediately smitten.

The previous time I hung this, the material was very homogeneous in color.

But this time, it was immediately evident that there was a darker band running down the left half of the roll, and a lighter band along the right side. Note that this is not considered a defect (even though it is obviously a problem stemming from the factory). It is considered part of the “inherent beauty of these natural materials.” Meaning, you can’t return it and expect to get your money back.

Cutting strips as they come off the roll and hanging them next to each other will result in abrupt color differences between strips – as you see in the top photo. One way to minimize that is to hang every other strip upside down, so you are then putting the dark side next to it’s dark counterpart on the previously hung strip.

In this case, because the darker areas were so dark and wide, this would have resulted in the wall having a striped look. Not what the homeowners were shooting for.

The wall was exactly 12′ wide, and the material is 3′ wide, so we needed four strips to cover the width of the wall.

We had three double-roll bolts. Each 24′ long bolt will give you two 9′ strips. Thus we needed two double rolls to cover this wall. That left us with one bolt in excess.

That turned out to be a good thing – having extra paper. The color shading was bad in one bolt, noticeable in another bolt, and the third bolt was pretty homogeneous in color.

I rejected the bolt with the worst shading. Thank goodness the client ordered a little extra paper! The bolt with the second-worst shading, I discovered that if I rolled it backwards, the shading was less severe in the inner portion.

So I took two strips off this bolt from the inside-out.

So now that gave me two strips from the first roll that were pretty homogenous. Plus two strips from the second bolt that were passable.

How to keep the color as uniform a possible across the 12′ wide wall?

II knew I wanted to place the two strips from the first, “best” bolt in the center of the wall. If I hung one right-side-up, and the next one up-side-down, keeping the darker area toward the center, the color differences would be less noticeable.

But I still had to cover 3′ width on either side of those two center strips.

One strip equaled 3′ width. So one 3′ wide strip on either side of those two center strips.

One plan, I contemplated cutting each of those the two 3′ (36″) wide strips from the second bolt into 18″ widths. Hang one right-side-up and the other upside-down. That would break up any color variations into less noticeable panels.

Only problem was, then there would be two 36″ wide chunks of material in the middle, flanked by two 18″ wide chunks on either side. I thought that would be too inconsistant, visually.

It would look better to keep all the widths the same, at 36.”

The two strips I had taken off that second double roll bolt had some shading issues, with the left side being darker than the right side. I reasoned that it would be less noticeable if the darker, shaded area, was toward the outer corners – sort of as if sunlight or furniture or window shutters were casting shadows.

So I plotted to use a full 36″ wide strip on either side of the center strips. I would position them so that the lighter side of each strip was toward the center – toward those two originally-placed strips. This meant placing one right-side-up and the other one upside-down.

Thus the darker edge of the strips would be situated toward the corners of the wall – a logical place for shadows and light to play tricks on the eye.

That’s what I ended up doing. And the finished wall does really look very homogeneous!

Yes, I am quite guilty of over-thinking way more than I should. But I think the client deserves the best look possible. And, to be honest, all this plotting and engineering is a big part of the fun of hanging wallpaper!

Softening A Heights Dining Room; Wonderful Faux Grasscloth

November 21, 2020

The original dark paint was bold and beautiful. But the homeowners wanted something softer and textured. They listened to my “rant” about color variations in grasscloth (see link at right), and chose this embossed vinyl replica instead.

They couldn’t have chosen better!

We were worried about the usual very visible vertical seams in grasscloth, and how they would juxtapose with the vertical boards in the wainscoting at the bottom portion of the walls. The spacing between the boards did not sync at all with the width of the wallpaper. If the seams in the paper were visible and did not coordinate with the vertical elements below, it would have ended up a very visually confusing room.

Luckily, and very surprisingly, this material turned out to be wonderfully homogeneous, and the seams are virtually invisible.

What you do see is the is the very soft, muted texture and warm color that envelope the room. I like to say that this sort of pattern emulates a finely tailored man’s suit.

That last photo is distorted a bit, so ignore those wavy, swirly lines.

This wallcovering is by Warner, in their Textures VII, Grasscloth Resource book, on page 32, a lightly embossed (textured) vinyl on a scrim (woven fabric) backing, and is a random / reverse pattern match (meaning, there is no pattern to match).

It comes either 26″ wide or 52″/54″ wide. Lil’ ol’ me can’t wrangle that extra-wide stuff, so I asked the homeowners to buy the 26″ option.

This type of vinyl is way more resistant to dings and stains than most traditional wallpapers. The scrim backing also makes it easy to strip off the wall later, and with minimal damage to the wall. The embossing adds just a touch of texture.

Best of all, because it is man-made instead of a natural material, there is none of the displeasing shading and color variations that are so prevalent in real grasscloth.

The home is a relatively new build in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Nubby Grasscloth / Not-So-Nubby Grasscloth

January 21, 2020


Grasscloth is made from natural fibers, and you never know quite exactly what you will get from bolt to bolt, and even from strip to strip.

In the first photo, you see a lot of “nubs” or knots – where the individual grass fibers have been tied together. You also see a seam, and see how uniform this particular material is. Quite often, the seams are a lot more visible. (see previous posts)

Back to nubs … In the second photo, a strip taken from the same bolt, there are far fewer knots.

Nothing right or wrong with either scenario – just showing how the material can change in appearance, even within the same bolt.

Personally, me, I prefer the more nubby texture.

Just an aside – most of this stuff is made in China. It is made by hand. And there really are workers who harvest tall reeds of grass, lay them in the sun to dry, and then come the little ladies who sit all day and grab handsfull of the grass and knot the reeds together, so these can then be sewn onto the paper backing and turned into wallcovering.

A Good Reason Not to Double-Cut

April 10, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image


A double-cut is a paperhanger’s term for splicing two strips of wallpaper together. The edges of the strips are overlapped about 1″ on the wall, and then, bracing against a straightedge, a sharp razor blade and plenty of pressure are used to cut through both layers of wallpaper. Remove excess paper from both layers, and you have a perfectly butted seam.

The only problem is that it’s virtually impossible to do this without scoring into the wall, slicing through the top layer (or more). This cut makes the surface unstable, and when the new wallpaper dries, it shrinks and puts tension (torque) on the wall’s surface. This shrinking and tension can cause the wall to split and curl back, leaving a gap or a gaping wallpaper seam.

This is what you see in the photo.

To remedy this, I wanted to bridge the gap with something that would move with any shifting in the drywall, and that would not cause ridges under the new paper.

The new wallpaper was a thick, textured material, so I was not overly worried about ridges from the patch telegraphing through it.

I used strips from the paper backing of the old wallpaper / grasscloth I had just stripped off the wall to cover the cut wall areas. I tore the patches, rather than cutting, because the “feathered” edges of the torn paper would be less noticeable under the new paper than a sharp, straight edge would be.

The strips were wet from having been stripped off the wall with water, and the wall’s surface had damp paste residue remaining on it, so the patching strips adhered nicely to the wall surface.

But, to be sure, I brushed on Gardz, a penetrating sealer and “problem wall solver.” It soaked in, bound the surfaces together, dried, and made a taught, strong surface for the new wallpaper to go over.

Still, I made sure that my seams did not fall in the same exact spots as these compromised areas of wall. That greatly reduces the possibility of seams in the new wallpaper from curling back or pulling away from the wall.

As it turns out, because of the way I engineered the wall and various other factors, I did end up doing a double cut splice over this door. But I made sure it was not in the same place as the compromised wall surface. In addition, I protected the wall by putting a thin polystyrene (plastic) strip under the wallpaper before I cut, so that when I pressed my razor blade hard to cut through the two layers of cork, it did not damage the wall. Sorry, no pics, but there are other photos of that process on my blog, if you want to do a Search.