Posts Tagged ‘metal’

Serena & Lily “Feather” In Boy’s Bedroom

March 20, 2020


I like Serena & Lily papers, and their “Feather” is one of their most popular. Here it is in navy in the bedroom of a young boy in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

The room presented some challenges, but the pattern was accommodating. It took a whole lot of time, but when I finished, it looked great.

The 4-square house was built about 1920. In the ensuing years, the house has shifted. Which is a nice way of saying that the floors and ceilings are not level, and the walls are not plumb.

I started to center the pattern on a plumb line between the two windows. But a plumb line is plumb, and the window moldings were not, so the wallpaper pattern would have started going crooked along the windows and ceilings. So instead of lining my first strip up against a plumb line, I carefully placed it to straddle an area equidistant between the two windows.

This took a lot of measuring, a lot of repositioning, and a lot of trips up and down the ladder. And, yes, I even had the strip in place, trimmed, and done – and then realized that it was a tad off. So I pulled it off the wall and moved it over by a scant 3/16 of an inch. The effort paid off, because, as you can see in the first photo, the design is perfectly centered between the two windows, from ceiling to floor.

The next full strip hung to the right of the window on the right (no photo). This wall was way off-plumb, and was shaped more like a trapezoid than a rectangle. My job was to keep the pattern looking straight along the window frame on its left, as well as straight along the door frame to its right.

The only way I could do this was to slice the strip apart vertically, cutting along the vertical “stripes” in the design. Then I aligned the pattern to the left and right moldings. In between, I overlapped the “stripes,” distributing the discrepancy in widths between the sections. In this way, I accommodated for more than an inch of difference in width between the top and bottom of the wall. This did create a slight vertical ridge under the stripes, but it was disguised by the stripes themselves. And a little difference in thickness of the wallpaper looks a whole lot better than a crooked pattern.

To the right of that was a wide closet door. I hung the three strips over the door, and the pattern was placed perfectly. Yet when I stepped back and looked at it, the design looked horribly crooked.

I finally figured out that the ceiling and door moldings were not perfectly perpendicular to each other. In fact, there was a full 3/4″ difference in height between the left and right side of the area. This trapezoid shape was causing the strips to look crooked, even if they were not.

Again, my solution was to cut the paper apart vertically along the “stripes,” and overlap as needed, to make my strips look plumb.

I employed this trick as needed in other areas of the room.

The design itself was very helpful. The vertical “stripes” were not straight, so nothing had to be exactly-dactly straight or plumb. And the “V”s at the top of the wall were also irregular, as were the positioning of the diagonal lines, so I had flexibility in how high or low to place my pattern.

Throwing another wrench into the works was the fact that we had two different runs to work with (do a Search here to learn about that), plus one double roll bolt that was defective and could not be used, which meant I had to figure out how to make 10 rolls cover 12 rolls’ worth of wall space.

Another obstacle was placing the wallpaper against the stained shiplap wall – without getting paste onto the rough, un-cleanable wood. And let’s not forget to mention the “industrial” metal pipe that hung 1/2″ from the wall I was papering.

I used two tricks for this. One was using my Boggess blue cut tape to protect the wooden wall. The other again involved using the trim-along-the-stripe-and-overlap-new-strip-as-needed technique. Too intricate to explain, especially without photos. But it was a good trick and the perfect solution to ending the paper at the wooden wall.

Sounds complicated. It WAS! It took me 10 hours (3+ hours per wall) to get these 10 single rolls up.

When all was said and done, though, the room looked fantastic. All ready for the young boy to move in!

Other parts of the room have a heavy “industrial modern” look – exposed pipe, weathered metal light fixtures, unpainted original shiplap wood. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Preventing Scratches on the Light Fixtures

June 21, 2019


I’m getting ready to remove this over-the-mirror light fixture, so I can get wallpaper behind it. The screw caps were on too tightly for me to turn by hand, so I had to get a pliers to help turn them.

If the metal pliers rubs against the silver canopy of the light fixture, it’s likely to scratch the surface. Also, the teeth in the pliers could mar the round metal screw caps.

So I put blue tape on the base of the light fixture, as well as on the screw caps, to prevent the pliers from coming into contact with any scratchable surfaces.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Metal Light Fixtures

June 7, 2019


This is the same bathroom that showed the curling / delaminating wallpaper seams, probably caused by humidity.

This photo is of the base of an over-the-mirror light fixture. See the little dots? I believe these are specs of rust starting to work their way out through the finish. Most likely also caused by humidity.

Keep heat and A/C systems running, limit steamy showers, keep the exhaust fans on, and keep doors open!

Disguising a Utility Box

January 21, 2019


Look closely – VERY closely, and in the upper half of the photo, you’ll see a metal utility box that has been covered with wallpaper.

This is a box for a defunct and un-used security alarm system, about 18″ square. The homeowners tried to get the box off the wall – but, despite the use of various screwdriver bits and power tools, the box would not come off.

So they were going to be stuck with a grey metal blob in the middle of their beautiful wallpaper.

Well, I thought I could do something with it. I could make it fade into the background of the wallpaper pattern.

Wallpaper won’t stick to painted metal, because it’s glossy. So I took a bit of sandpaper to knock off the gloss, and my primer Roman’s 977 Ultra Prime and coated the service box.

Then I matched the wallpaper pattern to the paper already on the wall, and covered the box with corresponding wallpaper.

This is more tricky than it sounds, because the box is 5″ deep, which created discrepancies in the pattern match, depending on from which angle you are looking. I opted to keep the pattern matched at the corner junctions rather than matching it as it would be view from a distance on the wall. That all gets too complicated to try to explain here.

The box had been primed, so it provided a good base for the wallpaper paste to stick to. But on some areas, like the edges after an outside corner, I smeared on a bit of clear adhesive caulk, to be sure the paper would hold, even under conditions of stress such as wrapping around a corner.

This whole thing took me 45-60 minutes. I am pleased with the way it turned out. From the floor, you sure would never know there is a large box sticking out of the wall.

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.

Metal Leaves Marks on Wallpaper

July 31, 2017

Digital Image


There are some wallpapers that can be marred by metal… In the photo, I have purposely run a metal trim guide over the surface, so you can see how it looks.

The bad news is, we paperhangers use a lot of metal items – scissors, trim guide, smoother, and even things like a ring or bracelet could leave a mark, and even my expensive magnesium straightedge, which I bought because magnesium supposedly will not leave marks on paper, will, in fact, leave grey marks where it moves against the paper.

The good news is that most of the time, these marks will wipe off the surface with gentle rubbing with a damp cloth. Of course, you don’t want to overdo that.

The other good news is that, with some extra attention, it is possible to avoid most of these blemishes. Leave your jewelry at home. Blue painter’s tape will seal off the ends of the straightedge, and plastic trim guides can be substituted for metal for some tasks. And care should be taken when using scissors and other equipment to not slide it across the surface of the paper.