Posts Tagged ‘moisture’

Low End Wallpaper – Not So Bad This Time

October 12, 2018


I’ve said it before – these budget-friendly, pre-pasted, manila paper-baked solid vinyl wallpaper products are generally not good quality, and the Norwall brand is about at the bottom of the list. In fact, I often will decline to hang it. Do a Search here on those terms, or click the Page to the right “Stay Away From … ” for more info.

However, this homeowner, a Meyerland neighborhood (Houston) victim of the Hurricane Harvey flooding, and a client for whom I had worked back in the ’90’s, really loved the pattern, as well as the price-point. And she wanted her entry to look as it had before the flood ravaged her home.

I was pleasantly surprised. The paper went up OK, and the seams looked fine. It’s possible that the company has improved its product. But it’s more likely that my new installation method helped.

Instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions to run the paper through a water tray, which makes the material too wet and promotes bubbling, and instead of pasting the back of the paper, which turns it into a gummy mess, I tried something new. I used a spray bottle to lightly spritz fresh water onto the back; this activated the paste, but was not so much water that it would cause bubbling or seam curling or over-expansion of the material. I booked the paper and put it in a black trash bag to sit a few minutes.

Next I rolled paste onto the wall. I started out using a very faint coat, but found that a tad more worked better. I used a brush to cut the paste into the edges and around the floor and ceiling.

When I took the very slightly dampened paper to the wall and smoothed it against the lightly pasted surface, it adhered very nicely. It was pretty easy to smooth into position, although there was some twisting of some strips, which could have been a problem in a room that required more strips next to one another.

Usually these inexpensive vinyl papers grow bubbles, because, as they dry, there is nowhere for the moisture to go (because it can’t pass through the vinyl surface), so blisters form. But today was very little bubbling.

Best of all, the seams looked good. I didn’t get any of the raised edges that are so unattractive, and that allow moisture / humidity to penetrate and cause the backing to swell and pull away from the wall.

I am not saying that I was happy with this paper. But it was a lot better than I expected. And I hope that it will continue to look good for years to come.

Advertisements

Mildew on Wall Indicates Moisture Problem – Somewhere

October 9, 2018


I have just stripped off a solid vinyl wallcovering that had been up for at least 10 years, possibly twice that. The entire wall was covered with mildew. The mildew was present just on the exterior wall; not any of the walls that connected to interior areas of the home.

Mildew breeds when there is moisture. This indicates that there may be a leak in the home’s siding, or a leak in a window on an upper floor allowing water to get inside the wall and into the drywall. Another possibility is that plumbing inside the wall could have sprung a leak, and also caused the drywall to become wet.

Because the wallcovering was solid vinyl, it trapped the moisture between the wall and the wallpaper, and that allowed mildew to grow between the two surfaces. I’m rather surprised that the mildew didn’t penetrate through the wallpaper and show on the surface. The drywall didn’t appear to be soggy or rotted or compromised.

Another reason why I don’t like solid vinyl wallpapers.

Hoping to Rectify Failure (Humidity Causes Poor Seams)

August 24, 2018

Humidity is the great enemy of wallpaper. In addition, the lower-end, pre-pasted, solid-vinyl papers with the gritty manila paper backing are not a good choice, in my opinion, in any room, but particularly not humid rooms like bathrooms. This house on the beach with irregular climate control spelled double trouble.

This home on Pirate’s Beach on Galveston Island (south of Houston) was on the beach, so was exposed to lots of humidity. In addition, because the homeowners use it only sporadically, they turn the air conditioner off or set it to a run less while they are away. This means that the home fills up with humidity. And even when the A/C is running, air circulation in this room is poor.

Metal elements such as the light fixture and screws holding things into the walls were rusted. Mildew was found behind some sheets of wallpaper. And the wallpaper itself was curling at the seams – a result of the paper backing absorbing moisture from the air, expanding, and forcing the vinyl surface to curl backward at the seams. (Read more about this on the page to the right about vinyl wallcoverings.)

Another factor for the poor performance of the original vinyl wallpaper was that the walls had not been primed, but the installer put the vinyl paper on top of new drywall. And nothing was done around the shower to protect the paper from splashing water.

I stripped off the old vinyl wallpaper, washed the walls with bleach to kill the mildew, and primed with the penetrating sealer Gardz. Once the new paper was up, I ran caulk along the top of the vanity backsplash, and all along the shower and tub, to prevent splashed water from wicking up under the paper.

The new wallpaper is a thin non-woven material that is “breathable.” No wallpaper is going to hold up under very humid conditions. But this one has a much better chance of staying nice and flat for many years.

The new wallpaper is very similar in appearance to the original, and keeps with the beachy feel of the home. It is by Brewster, in their Chesapeake Bay collection, in the Easy Walls line, and is reasonably priced. It is a pre-pasted material. I did augment the manufacturer’s paste with a .

In the photos, the paper looks blotchy. That is because it is still wet; it will be nice and white when it’s finally dry. The drying time worries me, though, because after six hours, even some parts of the first strips were not dry. This is a real indicator that the room has some serious humidity and air circulation issues.

Stay Away from Low-End, Pre-Pasted, Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

June 6, 2018


Do a Search here, or read the page on the right entitled “Stay Away From … ” to read more.

For now, I’ll just say that I really dislike these papers, because the seams are always visible, and usually the paper is curled back a little at the seams.

The reason is because the gritty manila-type paper backing will absorb moisture from a humid room (think steamy showers), or will soak up water if they are splashed on (think bathtubs and kitchen sinks).

When the paper backing swells with moisture, it grows, and it can only go in one direction, which is to push away from the wall. That means that the printed / vinyl surface will bend backwards along with it. So now you have a curled seam.

Sometimes this goes a step further, with the bottom paper layer actually delaminating (separating from) the top vinyl layer, also resulting in a curled seam.

These are not “loose” seams. They cannot be simply glued back down. The curling and the delaminating are characteristic of a lower-end product made with paper on one side and vinyl on the other, reacting to humidity in the room.

It doesn’t have to be a humid room, either. Usually these seams never look good and flat, even when the paper has just been installed. See third photo.

Bottom line: Steer away from these products. Rather, choose a paper wallpaper, or a non-woven material, or other instead. Ask me to check your selection, before you make the purchase.

Please Don’t Buy Pre-Pasted, Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpaper – Bad Seams

March 4, 2018

I try to guide my clients to buy good quality wallpaper. But sometimes they don’t listen, or don’t understand, or they shop before they get my information packet, or they’re concerned about the price-point, or they just fall in love with a pattern and don’t pay attention to the quality.

In this case, the homeowner loves the color and design. Unfortunately, the paper is one of my LEAST favorite types – a pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid-vinyl. And it is living up to its (bad) reputation.

I tried several pasting techniques, but still the paper backing absorbs moisture from the paste and expands, which forces it to curl backward. The causes the seam to “pouch” up a little. I’ve tried every trick I know, but still the vinyl wants to curl back from the paper backing, leaving this curled seam.

I am hoping that, once this paper is dry, it will shrink nice and tight against the wall, and the seams will look better.

There is still the worry, though, that over time, moisture and humidity from this master bathroom will work its way into the seams, and cause the paper backing to expand, and allow the seams to “pouch” up again. If that happens, even with proper prep, this paper may not last more than a few years.

From Diagonal to Vertical

March 3, 2018


This home in Bellaire was (Houston) built in the ’90’s, and the original wallpaper (top photo) in this bathroom was outdated and had begun to curl at the seams. I stripped off the old paper and primed the walls with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that is a good base for wallpaper to adhere to. See second photo.

The new tone-on-tone blue striped wallpaper updates the room, and adds a softer look. The homeowner chose cherry red accessories to accent the room. These are toned down by navy blue rugs and towels that are a slightly duskier navy and red.

This paper is a pre-pasted solid vinyl on a paper backing. Despite the economical price-point, I don’t recommend these types of papers, especially in rooms that are prone to humidity, such as bathrooms.

For starters, it’s difficult to install, and the seams never really look good. Second, the paper backing tends to absorb moisture from the air and then expand, and that causes the seams to curl. The vinyl surface layer is known for delaminating (separating from that paper backing). This, again, results in curled seams. This is not something that can be pasted back. So you are either left with curled seams or faced with repapering the entire room.

The best way to (hopefully) avoid this is to properly prep the walls, and to keep humidity to a minimum (avoid steamy showers, keep the A/C / heating vents open, run the exhaust fan, keep the door open).

Better yet, avoid purchasing paper-backed solid vinyl wallcoverings. If you shop at my favorite place (see the page on the right), you will be steered to beautiful papers of a better quality, while still at affordable prices.

Whoops – Somebody Painted Over Old Wallpaper – And It’s Peeling Up

February 23, 2018


This wallpaper is in the potty room of a Hollywood bathroom in a newish home in Bellaire (Houston). Instead of stripping off the original wallpaper, someone decided to just paint over it.

It’s not clear if they painted over the inked, vinyl / acrylic – coated surface, or if they peeled off that surface coat and then painted over the remaining paper backing.

Not that it would make a lot of difference, but they probably did not prime or seal the surface, either.

Either way, as you can see, the various layers failed, and the wallpaper seam let go of the underlying surface, resulting in the “popped” seam you see in the photo.

This probably has to do with a lot of factors, including an improperly prepped surface (read above), latex paint adding moisture that could cause the underlying surface to expand and swell, and humidity from the shower and the window allowing moisture to enter the edges of the wallpaper.

Once humidity enters the edges of wallpaper, it can cause the paper to expand and then pull away from the underlying surface. This can result in curled seams.

This is what you see in the photo above.

Stay Away From Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

February 21, 2018

Wallpaper - Curlinig Seam, Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl, Mylar
Paper-backed solid vinyl papers are about my least favorite of all papers. The main reason is that they tend to curl at the seams, especially when there is humidity present.

The issue is that, IMO, the gritty manila-type paper backing is porous, and so it will pull moisture and humidity out of the air when the room is under humid conditions (teenagers taking long hot showers). Once this happens, humidity / moisture can enter the seam and soak into the paper backing, the vinyl surface can delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing, causing the surface to curl away from the substrate / backing. This is what you see in the photo.

Because the two layers of the wallpaper have actually come apart, it is also very difficult to paste back against the wall. It would be far better to remove all the wallpaper, properly prep the surface (smooth, primer), and then hang the new wallpaper.

Mildew!

December 13, 2017


You can clearly see the mildew on the wall that was revealed when I removed the wallpaper. It shows up as the black rings / circles.

The mildew was caused by moisture trapped in the wall by both a leak in the roof or siding, and a leak from a bathroom that crept under the floor – compounded by being trapped inside the wall by a solid vinyl wallpaper that would not breathe or allow air to pass through. Another reason to avoid paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper.

Note: This issue was with mildew. Mildew is not nearly as dangerous as mold. Still, the homeowner took the contractor’s advice and had the drywall completely removed and replaced.

Killing Mildew

November 2, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Yeowee … this wall has a lot of issues with torn Sheetrock (the dark brown areas), but more important – the black stuff that you see in the top photo is mildew.  Not good.  Mildew is a living organism, and it can grow and grow.  It’s powdery, and so as it spreads across the wall, it can separate from the wall (delaminate), which means that the wallpaper is at risk of falling off the wall.  Mildew can also travel right through wallpaper, creating a ghost-like shadow of dark – or sometime pink – discoloration.

Mildew is usually caused by moisture.  It’s not clear what caused the problem in this powder room in a 1957 home in the Tanglewood area of Houston.  It could be a leak in the wall (pipe, window, roof, lawn sprinkler outside hitting the wall).  Or it could be that the solid vinyl surface of the previous wallpaper prevented air from getting to the backing, and so that it could not dry out, and then it held dampness against the wall – which created the perfect breeding ground for mildew.

Getting rid of mildew requires a few steps.  First, it must be wiped and scrubbed with chlorine bleach, then rinsed clean.  Once the wall is dry, a coat of a quality stain-blocker is applied.  I like oil-based KILZ Original, but other options include Zinsser’s B-I-N stain blocker.

Once the stain blocker is dry, the wall can be coated in a wallpaper primer.