Posts Tagged ‘mirror’

Geometric Pattern in a Powder Room – Flooded Home

May 20, 2018


This home in the Energy Corridor area of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August. A lower section of drywall had been cut out and replaced. The contractor’s wallpaper hanger put up this identical pattern. The homeowner wasn’t pleased with the job. To be honest, the installer did a pretty good job, in a room that was very difficult to hang. There were a few minor things that could have been done differently.

But what bothered the homeowner most was that the walls had not been smoothed properly before the paper went up. With that west-facing window blasting angled sunlight into the room, those irregular surface flaws were quite obvious. See the top two photos. (You may need to enlarge them.)

I stripped off the original paper and skim-floated the walls to make them as perfectly smooth as possible. I followed with a primer. (The previous installer had not primed the walls.) See third photo for walls that are ready to go.

This room was a major bugger bear to hang. For starters, there was a large metal mirror that protruded about 4″ from the wall, that could not be removed. This was directly over a pedestal sink. (The previous installer had the luxury of hanging the room before the sink was in place.) It’s hard to explain, but the logistics of winding wallpaper around these three-dimensional objects, preventing the paper from tearing, having the ridged and unforgiving pattern match on all planes, keeping the edges plumb, and keeping the edges straight so they would butt up with the next strip, all while fighting edges of the wallpaper that wanted to curl backwards, were extremely difficult.

In addition, the corners of the room were out of plumb, which pretty much guaranteed pattern mis-matches in all the corners. On a wild floral pattern, no one would notice. But with a geometric pattern like this trellis, the eye would catch even minor mis-matches.

Compounding all of that was the fact that nothing in the room was centered. The window was not in the center of the wall, nor was the toilet – and they were not aligned with each other, either. The sink was not centered on the mirror, the faucet was not in the center of the sink, and the spout was off-set from the handle. I finally decided to balance the trellis design on the mirror, and it did fall perfectly symmetrically on either side. The kicker is that the room is so narrow that you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate all my efforts. 😦

I probably spent 40 minutes plotting how to tackle the first wall, and then a full two hours hanging the first two strips (the ones around the mirror and sink) (sorry – the room was too small to get good pics). The longer I worked, the more appreciation I had for the previous installer and the job she had done.

In the end, the walls I had prepped were smooth, and there were no objectionable bumps or gouges showing under the paper. I pulled some tricks out of my hat and got the pattern to match in the corners pretty darned well.

That window with it’s danged strong light still was a foe, though. The wallpaper seams butted together just about perfectly. Yet because of the way the edges curled back when they got wet with paste, I fought to keep them down tight to the wall. Once dried, they were nice and flat. I was pretty content. But when the sun moved and light came through that window from a different angle – some of those seams looked positively horrid! The light was casting shadows and making it look like the seams were overlapped. Yet they were perfectly flat. The inclination is to go over and over the seams with various tools and try to “force” them to lie flatter – but this can burnish or otherwise damage the wallpaper or the underlying surface. The good news is that as the sun moved, and as the louvers on the shutters were adjusted, the shadows disappeared and the seams looked good.

Let’s hope that the homeowners see this room only in the most positive light. 🙂

This wallpaper is by York Wall, one of my favorite brands. Interestingly, the paper came with the correct label, but the instruction insert was for another line made by this same company. I’m glad that I was familiar with both products, and had the sense to disregard the info that was not relative.

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Wallpaper Repair – Always Save Your Leftovers

May 3, 2018


Here is damage to a wall behind a mirror in the powder room of a home in the Champions Forest neighborhood of northwest Houston.

Explaining this repair in detail would be pretty difficult, mostly due to how the original installer fiddled with the pattern to make it fit an odd space, and to what I had to do to work around that.

But the most important thing is that the homeowner saved all the wallpaper left over from the original installation back in the ’90’s, so I had what I needed to do this repair.

If you look closely, you might see some pattern mis-matches. But these are minimal because of some tricks I played, and because the pattern was forgiving. The mirror will cover everything, so any irregularities will be hidden.

But the bottom 3″ or so running along the backsplash and visible under the mirror are intact, so will look good when the mirror is replaced. This wall will also look good if a different mirror is used in the future.

Mirror Removed – Ready for Wallpaper? NOT!

March 20, 2018


A mirror had been glued to this wall with mastic adhesive (a tar-like substance). When the mirror was pulled off the wall, the adhesive pulled some of the drywall along with it, and in other places it left some of the tar on the wall. Then someone skimmed over the surface with joint compound.

The wet joint compound caused the torn areas of the drywall to absorb moisture and ripple, and the tar worked its way through the joint compound.

Both torn drywall and tar are problems under wallpaper. The ripples from the torn drywall will show under the new wallpaper. And moisture from the wallpaper paste is likely to make the bubbles larger. The black mastic (tar) will bleed through the wallpaper, creating black spots.

If I had been there when they removed the mirror, I would have taken a utility knife and cut the globs of mastic completely out of the wall. Removing it is preferable to trying to cover it up. Yes, this would have torn the drywall, opening it up to wrinkling when it gets wet with primer or paste.

But the penetrating sealer “Gardz” is designed to fix torn drywall. It dries hard and impermeable, so moisture cannot get through. No worries about bubbles or wrinkles! The cut areas could then be skim-floated over and then sanded smooth.

But since I didn’t get to prep from the beginning, I inherited this wall in the top photo, with torn, wrinkly areas, and with tar bleeding through the joint compound.

To prevent additional bubbling, I coated the wall with Gardz. Once that was dry, wanting to both smooth the wall and create an additional barrier to contain the mastic stains, I skim-floated the entire wall, let dry, sanded smooth, and sealed again with Gardz.

Gardz doesn’t protect against stains, though. So, to keep the mastic from bleeding through, I coated the wall with KILZ Original oil-based stain killer and blocker. This worked better having the joint compound under it, because when I’ve put KILZ directly on mastic adhesive, the two petroleum-based products simply melded into one another, and left us with the very real potential for bleeding through wallpaper (or paint, BTW).

So the KILZ should have effectively blocked any stains from the mastic. But the new problem is that wallpaper paste will not stick to modern, EPA-approved, oil-based products. Plus, I was worried that a little of the black tar might still find a way through.

So I skim-floated the wall again, creating yet another layer that would bury those tar stains. After that was sanded smooth and wiped free of dust, I applied another heavy coat of Gardz.

All this took a long time, but it’s good assurance that bubbles will not be seen under the new wallpaper, and that no black spots will grow on its surface.

Pearlized Chinoiserie + Stunning Mirror in a Powder Room

February 14, 2018


Here’s a photo of the Briargrove (Houston) powder room I did recently, with the light sconces up and the fantastic mirror taking center stage.

The wallpaper is by Thibaut.

Removing Mirror Rips Drywall

September 19, 2017

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This powder room in the Medical Center area of Houston had a mirror glued to the wall.  The homeowners want a different mirror, so had the original one removed.  The mirror was attached to the wall with a tar-like substance called mastic.  The glass guys use suction cups to clamp onto the mirror, then they pull it away from the wall.  Some globs of mastic will be left on the wall, and this is a problem, because these tar-like substance will bleed through the new wallpaper.

So, to prevent any mastic / tar residue from bleeding through the wallpaper, the handyman took a Stanley knife / box cutter and cut out the top paper layer of drywall that had any mastic on it.

To smooth over the uneven edges, the handyman skim-floated the area with joint compound.  The moisture in the joint compound caused the exposed paper inside the drywall to swell.

So what you are seeing in the top photo is a wrinkled section of drywall caused by moisture.  This will show under wallpaper.

So I took a Stanley knife and cut out the handyman’s patch, to remove the wrinkled drywall paper layer.  I sealed it with a penetrating primer called Gardz, which soaks in, binds surfaces together, and dries hard.

Once that was dry, I skim-floated over it (and the entire area), to get a smooth finish.  Once my skim-float layer was dry, I sanded it smooth, and then primed again with Gardz.

The Gardz did its job, and did not allow moisture to penetrate into the exposed drywall, so no more wrinkles developed.  See the second photo.  Now the wall is nicely prepared and ready for wallpaper.

Don’t Write in Ink on the Wallpaper – or the Wall!!

August 25, 2017

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The contactor added wall light sconces on either side of the sink, and he also hung the heavy mirror.  For some reason, he roughed in where these objects were to be placed by marking the walls with a Sharpie ink marker, or something similar.

Folks – NEVER write on the wall with ink.  Nor with crayon, ballpoint pen, or the like.  The substances will eventually work their way through the wallpaper (as well as paint, wall texture, or a myriad of other surfaces), and will end up looking like ghost shadows.

Pencil is OK, and so is a light snap from a chalk line.  These materials won’t bleed through the new top layer of wallpaper.

Bright Chinoiserie in a Heights Powder Room

August 3, 2017

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This homeowner loves wallpaper, but their newish house in the Houston Heights had none. Her first venture into the world of wallpaper was in the downstairs powder room – a room that you can get pretty dramatic with, because the door is closed most of the time and because you don’t spend a whole lot of time in there.

The color of the new wallpaper is bold, but the overall effect is not overwhelming, because the pattern is very traditional and because the scale and contrast are fairly subdued. In other words – you COULD spend a lot of time in this room, quite comfortably.

The pattern is called a Chinoiserie, a classic theme that includes Asian figures in various scenes from daily life.

It was a difficult room to hang, because of various fixed features that don’t show up on these photos (pedestal sink, over-and-under window, mirror attached to the wall, eight points of decorative molding to cut around)… let’s just say that the wall with the mirror and sink took two full hours.

The finished room turned out beautiful, and the client is happy beyond words. Where previously there was a bland beige room, now there is color, life, movement, and a happy feeling, plus some color contrast that showcases the beautiful wood trim.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, called “Fishing Village,” and has what I call a “satiny feel.” The seams are invisible, it is fairly washable, and it will stay flat and bright for years to come. It was a positive delight to work with. That pretty well makes up for the difficulty of working around the room’s many challenging features.

The paper 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.

Towel Bars & Light Fixtures … Homeowner Input

July 13, 2017

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Before I start a job, I ask the homeowner if she is going to use the same towel bars, toilet paper holder, mirror, light fixtures, etc., or if she plans to replace them. Then I know if I should save the mounting hardware and replace the fixtures, or if I should remove these things and fill in the holes in the wall.

This homeowner was away from the house when I arrived, so she left good instructions as to what she wanted done. She marked the fixtures she plans to reuse, and she also marked the mirror hangers that are not to be reused. She used Sticky Notes, which will not damage the wall, and which will not cause marks that will bleed through the new wallpaper (like ink or a Sharpie will). She also arranged to have the mirror removed, because it was too heavy for me to handle. (Isn’t it nice to have a husband and a teenaged son around the house? 🙂 )

Glass Bead Wallpaper in a Powder Room

May 21, 2017

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So, O.K., it’s a hard room to photograph. All I can show you is the papered wall behind the beautiful light fixture and the really cool mirror.

This wallpaper is embedded with tiny glass beads, which give it dimension, texture and sparkle. In the 2nd photo, you can see how the beads shimmer when the light hits them.

This wallpaper is by Antonia Vella, for York Wallcoverings. It is a non-woven material and is a paste-the-wall product. It is very thick and stiff, and difficult to manipulate, and very hard to cut through, especially the beads. Used lots of razor blades today.

I hung it in a powder room in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope designs.

Mirror “Tar” Will Bleed Through Wallpaper – Prevention

May 17, 2017

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Originally, this powder room in a newish townhome in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston had a mirror that was glued to the wall. Removing it left globs of mastic (tar-like adhesive) stuck to the wall. See Photo 1.

Mastic is petroleum-based, and it, like other similar substances such as grease, oil, and crayon, as well as other compounds like blood, rust, water, tobacco tar, and others, will work their way from behind the wallpaper up through it and then onto the surface, causing an unsightly stain.

KILZ Original oil-based primer and stain blocker is a superb product for sealing these substances. However, I feel more confident if the suspect material is removed entirely.

The best way to do this is to take a Stanley knife (utility knife / box cutter) and cut around the stain and into the wall. Then you can use a stiff 3″ putty knife to peel up the top layer of drywall, taking the staining material with it.

This leaves a patch of Sheetrock without its protective top layer. See Photo 3. These layers of torn Sheetrock will absorb moisture from anything you put on top (paint, primer, joint compound, etc.), and will swell, creating ugly bubbles that will mar the finished job.

So I brushed on Gardz, a penetrating sealer / primer by Zinsser. This is cool stuff, because it soaks into the surface and then dries hard, binding everything together.

In Photo 4, I have skim-floated over the areas where I have cut out the mastic. To skim-float, I trowel on a smoothing material called joint compound. Once that is dry, I will go back and sand it smooth, creating a perfectly smooth surface ready to accept the new wallpaper.