Posts Tagged ‘moldings’

Busting a Myth – Dark Wallpaper Makes Rooms Look LARGER – Not Smaller

September 3, 2022
Everyone advised this homeowner not to put black in the dining room, that it would make the room too dark. But she had a vision and went with her gut. She was right – the room looks fabulous and elegant. And the texture and sheen on the walls visually expanded the space.
There is enough white molding in the room to play against the black. And the satiny drapes, along with the slight sheen of the grasscloth wallcovering bounce light around the room.
Accent wall in dining room. White swirls (look closely – they’re snakes!) add movement that make this wall lively, not closed-in.
In this master bedroom , everything’s dark – dark green walls , black ceiling , and black floral wallpaper .
If this accent wall had been left painted green , the room would have felt dark and lifeless . But the black against the green, along with the limited color pallet and the visual movement of the wallpaper pattern visually push the wall back and add depth .
This powder room started out all black. And it was a bit oppressive .
But add wallpaper with a little color and pattern , and now the room feels larger and alive with personality .
A powder room with black moldings and black wallpaper. Nothing claustrophobic here!
Another powder room that started out with black painted walls . Yes, it has an enclosed feeling.
Wallpaper with a black background and dark flora / fauna open up the space.
wallpaper installer houston

Protecting Woodwork from Paint Splatters

August 25, 2022
I hate seeing little speckles of paint on people’s floors or moldings . This happens when tiny splatters of paint fly off the roller cover . Sometimes the operator is just moving too fast , but some paints are thinner and prone to splatter than others. You can Search here to find pictures of what I’m talking about.
To prevent my wallpaper primer from landing on the floor , baseboards , backsplash , or, as in this case, wainscoting , I first cover the floor or vanity with dropcloths . Next I use these strips of thin , flexible , plastic-backed paper dropcloth material to cover anything that the dropcloths can’t reach.
I use push-pins to hold them in place.
I cut these strips from larger dropcloths. 8″-9″ wide seems to be about right to protect most baseboard heights and other surfaces , such as this chair rail wainscoting in a Houston Heights dining room .
Once I’ve rolled primer on the wall above, I remove the protective strips and use an angled trim brush to cut in the primer along the top edge of the molding .
wallpaper installer

Grasscloth Engineering and Logistics – Technical Details Post

August 21, 2022
Grasscloth is a natural material that cannot be matched from strip to strip, so all the seams will be visible . In addition, there is usually a slight but noticeable color difference between strips / panels (called shading or paneling ) . So it’s important to plot the layout of the strips to give the most visually pleasing overall look. Usually this means balancing the width of strips so they are all equal , at least on the same wall . We call this engineering .
This wall presented particular challenges , due to the widths of the elements. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide . You can use your straightedge and a sharp razor blade and trim it down to any width you want.
The width of both the large wall spaces to the right and left of the bank of windows was 34.” The width of each window was about 35.” The width of the two spaces in between the windows was 7.”
So you’d think I could trim my panels on either side of the windows, and then over the windows, to about 34″-36″ – give or take a few inches (or fractions thereof).
But that would leave me with two 7″ wide strips between these 35″ panels. Although the look would be uniform and mirror-image from the center outward, moving from right to left you’d have: 35,” 35″, 7,” 35,” 7,” 35,” 35,” … those 7″ breaks were just not going to look right.
One option was to determine the width of the wall (189″) and make each strip an equal width. This worked out to six strips, each at 31.5″ Not good, because this would mean a seam down either far side. And since those sides were 34″ wide, that would mean a 31.5″ wide strip and a strip 2.5″ wide. Not attractive at all, and it would use up an extra strip of wallpaper.
This six strips @ 31.5″ wide scenario might also land with a seam smack in the middle of those 7″ wide interludes in between the windows. Not attractive at all.
So I decided to make the two outer strips 35″ wide. That left 119″ of wall space above the windows to be covered with wallpaper. Do some math and you get four panels of 29.75″ wide. This gave a balanced and uniform look to the area over the windows, and also prevented seams from landing between the windows.
Moving right to left, I cut and hung the full length outer strip first. Then I cut and hung the strip over the window on the right. Then I measured to find the centerpoint of the window in the middle. Turns out it was a bit less than 29.75″ away. So I trimmed that next over-window strip accordingly.
Once that was in place, I measured from that center point above the middle window out to where my left full-height panel would fall, 35″ out from the wall. Took the resulting measurement and divided by 2. Lo and behold, each of the next two panels over the window was going to be a bit wider than 30.” No problem. No one (but a paperhanger or maybe an engineer) is going to notice a 1/4″ or even a full 1″ difference in widths between this strips over the windows.
Another thing to point out … it’s important that I took measurements before cutting these strips for this second left-hand section. Because, since grasscloth comes at 36″ (and walls can be wonky), if my strips had been narrower (say, 28″), that last full-height panel on the left might have ended up needing to be 37″ wide – and that wouldn’t work because it only comes 36″ wide – plus you need at least 1/8″ to wrap around the corner.
Luckily I had the flexibility to be able to trim the panels over the windows to any width needed, to accommodate all this.
If you’ve followed all this so far, let me also toss in that we also need to figure how to get paper in between those windows. More on that below.
In this scenario, I’m moving from right to left.
Area beneath the windows needs to be treated in the same way, and preferably with widths that match what’s going on above the windows. In addition, it’s tricky because after you move across 12′ of wall space, the strips above and below the windows are going to twist and torque out of shape, so that last full-length panel on the far left might not butt up perfectly with the last strip under the windows.
The grasscloth is black , and my wallpaper primer is white . It’s common for teeny gaps to appear at the seams . In this case, it’s likely that white wall would peek out from those gaps. So I like to stripe under where the seams will fall with dark (diluted) paint . This takes measuring , plotting , and also a heat gun to get the paint to dry before the wallpaper hits it, to avoid staining. You can do a Search here to read more about this technique .
Now let’s talk about getting wallpaper in between those windows.
As you can see in the photo, if I hang a 30″ wide strip, a whole lot of paper is going to be cut off and thrown away. Also, a whole lot of sticky, pasted paper is going to bump against that window molding and maybe even the window glass. A lot to clean up! And unwieldy, to boot.
My solution was to stop the wallpaper just a little below the tops of the windows. Then I would patch in a 7″ wide strip in between the windows. This is trickier than it sounds, because, if it were a paper wallpaper, I could simply cut along a design motif and overlay the 7″ wide piece. But grasscloth is thick and overlaps don’t look good. Also grass has no design elements , and the reeds of grass don’t necessarily fall perfectly horizontal , and even if you cut everything perfectly true to square , if the window molding is a teeny bit off-plumb , then your edges won’t butt up perfectly.
So that’s a good reason for striping the black paint under where the butt join will occur.
Same thing for the sections under the windows. I measured and positioned the strips so that the top edge (which I had trimmed to be perfectly horizontal) fell between the narrowest part of the windowsill molding, for less visibility.
I admit, instead of butting the two pieces, here I did overlap the 7″ wide strip about 1/4″ onto the piece under the window, right at that narrow junction. It’s only about 3″ wide, and I figured no one is going to be examining it that closely, anyway. This saved me about a half an hour of measuring, trimming, testing, repeat, repeat.
This is my second window interlude, and by this time I had realized that it’s hard to trim stiff grasscloth around intricate moldings precisely . So I used paint to fill in the edges around the window molding, just in case there might be any gaps between the grasscloth and the molding, so you would see black instead of the white molding paint. I did this with a small sponge; if I had used an artist’s brush it would have been a bit neater and tighter to the conforms of the molding. But sometimes you’ve gotta relax and realize that no one’s going to be scrutinizing the insides of moldings below shin-level.
Area over windows finished, with drapes back in place.
Turns out this particular grasscloth is so uniform in color (quite unusual, I will add), that you can’t really see the panels , nor their equal widths , anyway. I’m still glad I took the time to do all this math and trimming.
Area below the windows, done. That last seam on the left bears some explanation, too. Moving across the top of the windows, I measured that that last strip – the full-length strip – would need to be exactly 35″ wide. It butted up nicely to the last strip above the windows.
But, due to twisting , shifting , expansion , unlevel and unplumb walls and ceilings , and other factors, there is a really good chance that that last 35″ wide strip would not butt up perfectly with the last 30″ wide strip under the window . So I planned to splice these last two strips together.
Yeah, the drapes are hanging there, I coulda overlapped the two strips about 1/2″ and the drapes would have covered it. With a thin wallpaper, I probably would have done this. But grasscloth is thick, and an overlap would be visible , and also the adhesive / paste can’t be trusted to adhere as well to grass as it would to paper .
So I plotted for a splice. Instead of trimming my last strip under the window to 30″ (read above), I trimmed it to 32″ wide. That way, when I hung the last full-length strip to the left, which was 35″ wide, it overlapped the piece under the window by a few inches. Then I did a double cut and spliced the two pieces. See below for details about that technique.
Grasscloth is 36″ wide, and this wall area is wider than that. So two strips were needed. This means you’re going to have a seam, and since grasscloth seams are always visible, it looks best to plot to have the seam fall down the center. It uses more wallpaper to do this, but it looks much better than having, for example, a 36″ wide strip next to an 8″ wide strip.
As mentioned above, in case you get thin gaps at the seams, a dark stripe of diluted craft paint under where the seam will fall, will prevent white wall from showing through.
Rounded / bull-nosed edges and corners have been popular in new construction for at least 10 years. I wish they’d go away. They’re very difficult to trim around, and hard for the paper to conform to and adhere to.
It’s very hard to trim around that rounded edge, because the paper is hanging over and blocking your view, because grasscloth is thick and stiff and your fingers can’t feel through it, and because the edges aren’t necessarily true and plumb so a laser level or other level won’t help you much.
I use this little gadget as a trim guide. It’s actually a small section of the same corner bead material that drywallers use when they assemble these walls. Cut to about 1″ long and notched in different places where you might trim along the edge of the wall.
It’s intended that you place your trimming knife in one of the notches and slide the gizmo along the edge and make your cut. I find that awkward and also inaccurate. So I prefer to use the notches as a guide and mark where I plan to trim with a pencil. Since this wallpaper is black, I used this marking pencil from my home sewing kit instead. Chalk might work, but I was afraid it might now wipe off completely.
The pink pencil line was barely visible, but it was enough for me to use a scissors to trim along the grasscloth. I like this better than using a razor blade as I can see better, and also less chance of scoring into the primer or wall. Which raises its own set of issues – do a search here to find previous posts.
Inside view of the trim guide.
Finished arch. Note the four panels of equal width above the arch. And two flanking full-height panels also the same widths.
I was lucky that there was no pattern to match, so I was able to butt my two flanking strips right up to the edge of the bull-nosed corner. No trimming needed! Then I measured the remaining width between these two strips (the area over the arch), divided by four, and cut four strips of equal widths.
I hung the two on the left, and then one on the far right. This left one strip still to be positioned to the right of center. So the pieces are going to meet over the arch, rather than the last strip falling in a corner.
Same as the last strip under the window (discussed above), it’s really difficult to get your last piece to fit in here perfectly. I’ve done it, but it takes a lot of measuring, trimming, testing, retrimming, and often starting all over again.
So I did a double-cut / splice.
A double cut involves cutting each strip an inch or so wider than it should be, and overlapping the two. Then you take a straight edge and sharp razor blade and cut through both layers. This handy tool is a wonderful non-slip guide for this process. It was invented by an installer colleague in the Wallcovering Installers Association ( WIA ) and she has them fabricated in various lengths (along with other cool tools ) and sells them on-line. Contact me if you’re interested.
Anyway, it takes a lot of strength to cut through two layers of grasscloth, so somewhat difficult for lil’ ol’ me.
You also want to be sure to not cut / score into the wall, because the tension of drying wallpaper can tug at the wall and cause it to actually come apart, leaving an open seam that’s difficult to repair.
So you’ve got to put some padding under the wall where the cut will take place. I use special strips of polystyrene (hard but flexible plastic) to pad the wall. Also invented by a colleague in the WIA , who also sells other cool tools and supplies. Contact me if you’re interested.
This black grasscloth was printed on a white substrate. If the seams aren’t absolutely tight, there can be worries about the backing showing through to the front. So sometimes we’ll take a piece of chalk or pastel (never oil pastel or permanent markers because they bleed and stain ) and run it along the edge of the paper – from the back, and taking care to not get chalk on the surface.
I do this frequently with dark papers ( do a search here to see previous posts ) but opted not to do it with this grasscloth. It wasn’t necessary, and might have stained the porous reeds of the grass. It was beneficial, though, to have striped dark paint on the wall under the seams, as mentioned above.
Ugh. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide, and this section of wall is 38″ wide. It’s not visually pleasing, nor is it easy from an installation point of view, to have a 36″ wide strip next to a 2″ wide strip. Or to use scraps and put a 25″ wide strip next to a 13″ wide strip.
So best to plan two strips of equal widths. Two strips, each 19″ wide, with the seam down the middle.
Actually, the strip on the left was 19″ wide, but I trimmed the strip on the right to 21″, because I like the wallpaper to extend 2″ over the top of the door molding. This provides a more stable surface in case of shifting foundation or walls, and less likelihood (knock on wood) of the seam opening up should the house / drywall experience shifting.
Note that design “rules” caution against seams down the middle of spaces. But it would have been more visually distracting (and used up more paper) to have made three strips of each 12.75″ wide. And would have looked even dumber to have used scraps left from other walls and put together two strips of disparate widths.
So the homeowner and I discussed during our initial consultation , and she was happy with the center seam. Once it was all finished, this particular grasscloth was so even in tone that you barely see the seams, anyway. Win-win!
This did use up additional paper, though, as noted in a previous photo above.

Leopards Prowl Inspired Powder Room

August 5, 2022
Vanity wall was originally textured and painted with a semi-gloss . Here it’s been skim-floated , sanded , and primed – ready for wallpaper.
Finished. There’s a cool light-up mirror that will hang on the brackets under the light fixture .
Opposite corner before.
Finished. This room wouldn’t have half the impact without the black moldings and ceiling. The homeowner said she envisioned a jewel box – all tufted and lined with velvet . Well, I’d say she nailed the look!
As the dark and mysterious wallpaper moved from left to right, the room began to take on a mood . I love the juxtaposition between a clad wall and a bare wall.
Close-up.
Detail.
The husband is handy, and I really appreciate that he removed the vanity and sink . This made it a lot faster and easier for me, and ensured better adhesion of the wallpaper around the plumbing pipes . And also eliminated stress and creases on the paper that can happen when bending and folding to work it around obstacles.
Here is the modern looking vanity that will go into the powder room .
To keep white primer from showing at the seams , I striped black paint on the wall under where each seam would fall. Do a Search here to read previous posts about this technique.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store , a scrap of sponge , and a bottle cap full of water . Do a Search here to read previous posts about the process and materials .
I also run chalk along the edges of the wallpaper, to cover up the white substrate , to ensure there will be no white peeking out at the seams . Again, do a Search on key words to learn more about this technique .
Dang it! I forgot to take a picture of the label! But this wallpaper is by York and is called On The Prowl .
It’s vinyl on a non-woven backing . The instructions said you could paste the wall for installation . But I pasted the paper, and I think with this product it’s better, because it did seem to want to expand a bit. If you paste the wall and then the paper stretches, you’ll end up with buckles at the seams or bubbles within the strips .
The material was fairly flexible , which was nice because it allowed me to “mush” the paper to conform to some pretty un-plumb walls.
Although York is one of my favorite brands , I wasn’t real crazy about this particular wallpaper. Still, it seamed up nicely, didn’t shrink, has a vinyl surface that will resist splashes and fingerprints , and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate .
This is a townhome in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

Wall Prep Ahead of Wall Re-Do

July 20, 2022
This wallpaper in a Houston Heights townhome’s breakfast area was hung by “the contractor’s guy ” and he ran into some problems. First, I suspect the wall had not been adequately coated with a primer designed for use under wallpaper . This may be a large part of why the paper has come loose from the wall in places, and shrunk and gaps at the seams.
The wallpaper is an old-fashioned British pulp material , which is quite different from the non-woven material that this company usually prints on. If the installer was not familiar with hanging a pulp, yes, he can have a tough time of it.
There are other issues that the homeowner is unhappy with, such as tears, slices, patches, and, of course, these un-stuck seams. I’ve posted more pics previously, if you can Search to find them.
My task is to get the paper off and then prep the wall for hanging new material.
Most of the paper pulled off the wall easily. But there were areas where the guy had used a stronger adhesive to try to hold the edges down. Those would not come off the wall without causing damage to the wall. So I pulled off the top, inked layer and left the paper backing on the wall.
This stuff is porous and will bubble when coated with a water-borne primer , and with wallpaper wet with paste.
So I sealed these areas – I sealed the entire wall, in fact – with Gardz (by Zinsser ). This stuff is pretty incredible. It’s a thin, watery primer / sealer that soaks into the surface and binds loose components together, then dries hard and solid .
Latex paints and other water-based products (usually) won’t penetrate it, so won’t cause the underlying material to re-wet, expand , and bubble .
Just a note … due to pandemic and other supply chain related shortages , Gardz has become difficult to find. This can was about 1/4 full and I had it sitting behind my trash can, intending for weeks to toss it out. Now I’m glad that I procrastinated!
Once the Gardz sealer was dry, I skim-floated over it with joint compound , a.k.a. ” mud .” In most areas of the wall, my skim coat was as thin as possible, but I did have to make it much thicker over the areas with the paper backing stuck to the wall.
I set up three fans , and also used my heat gun , to get the smoothing compound to dry. I like the Plus 3 version made by the Sheetrock company. It sands easily and doesn’t make too much air-borne dust.
It took a couple of hours to dry. Then I sanded it smooth , vacuumed up the dust with my Shop Vac , used a damp sponge to get residual dust off the wall , and then let the wall dry once again.
Finally I applied a coat of my favorite wallpaper primer, Pro 977 Ultra Prime by Roman. I used a paint roller to roll it on to the main areas, and an angled trim brush to cut in around the ceiling and moldings.
Here is the wall all smoothed and primed .
Originally I had planned to strip , prep , and hang this half-wall all in one day. But ended up the prep took more time than I anticipated (about 8 hours ) , so we’ll let the primer dry overnight and save the wallpaper installation for another day.
The wallpaper pattern is called Strawberry Thief and is by the famous William Morris designer from the very early 1900’s . I’m sure seeing a surge in interest in his patterns, particularly this one. Do a Search to see other jobs I’ve done with it.

Sandberg Raphael in Heights Powder Room

June 22, 2022
Vanity area primed and ready for wallpaper.
Finished. The soft murky blues meld so nicely with the carrera marble countertop.
Opposite wall before.
The pattern has a strong upward movement, as well as lush fullness from the leafy areas.
Rear window wall. This room had a number of intricate moldings to trim around.
Close up.
Detail.
Raphael is a very popular pattern. Do a Search here (upper right corner) to see my previous installations of this wallpaper.
The material is called non-woven , and can be hung by pasting-the-wall or pasting the paper. I prefer to paste the paper, as it makes the material more pliable, and also gets paste to difficult-to-access areas, such as behind the toilet.
One big advantage of non-wovens is they don’t expand when wet with paste, and so you can get accurate measurements. And also there is no booking time, so you can paste and head straight to the wall to hang each strip.
Houston wallpaper installer

Dogs Have Their Own Room – Complete With Wallpaper!

May 24, 2022
Here’s an unusual but clever use of under-the-stairs space. It’s a series of three rooms, pretty much intended for storage / closet area. The height of the walls gets shorter / lower as you move further under the stairs.
The homeowners decided to use the outer / taller room as a lounge for their dogs.
As you can see, plain old tile floors and wall paint don’t quite cut it … These pooches get their own room, complete with wallpaper !
Looking from taller, outer room into middle and then into the inner, smallest room.
Only the outer, taller room gets wallpaper.
Lots of angles, under the stairs.
2 1/2″ wide space between door moldings.
I had fun choosing which part of the design to slip into this narrow area, to ensure we’d see the most dogs and with the least parts cut off.
Design is called Doggies and is by Milton and King . They make really nice wallpaper , although some patterns can be tricky to measure for, so consult your installer before ordering.
This is a non-woven product, and can be hung via the paste-the-wall method of by pasting the paper.

Adventurous, Fanciful Punch of Color and Theme

April 30, 2022
The homeowners are into comics and fantasy art. While I hung a calm crocodile hide textured wallpaper in the home office, the couple chose this wild and boldly hued zebra pattern for the adjoining bathroom.
I just love the way the bright orange pops out against the white vanity, countertop, toilet, floor, shower tile, and moldings.
This pattern is called Lost World and is by Clarke & Clarke . It’s a nice non-woven material, was easy to work with, and will hold up well, even under humid conditions if the shower in this bathroom is used.

Stuff Doesn’t Wanna Stick To Slick

March 23, 2022
Tomorrow this breakfast area wall will get wallpaper. Today is prep day.
The wall has a very heavy texture, plus some issues with previous patches in areas, probably due to drywall cracks. I need to skim-float over all this to smooth the surface.
In addition, the current paint is quite glossy – and this can present a problem for the smoothing compound to adhere to it properly.
So I want to prime over this gloss paint before I skim-coat the walls. The primer has to both stick to the gloss paint and provide a base that the smoothing compound will adhere to.
Another issue is that I won’t be using this every day, so keeping it shaken up and useable was a consideration. I looked high and low for an appropriate primer. Finally I snapped that the Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 that I use under my wallpaper jobs checks off all the boxes … It sticks to just about anything, and it dries nice and flat / matt so any topcoat (wallpaper or smoothing compound) can grab ahold and stick, I have it in my van all the time, and I use it frequently enough that it’s always mixed up and ready to use. To top it all off, it dries in less than an hour. VoilĂ !
This stuff can be tricky to find. Sherwin-Williams used to stock it for me, but became unreliable. Now Murphy Brothers on Bissonnet (Houston) gets it just for me.
Besides dropcloths on the floor, here I’ve tacked strips of thin paper dropcloth material along the wainscoting (I also do this along baseboards) to keep any drops or roller splatters from marring the homeowners’ floor and moldings.
Here it is applied. Since my goal is to cover and eliminate the glossy paint, and then provide a base for the smoothing compound, this coat doesn’t need to be opaque or cover the wall evenly.
Tomorrow we’ll see how the wallpaper turns out!
Fast-forward … I’ve floated the wall and sanded it smooth. Compare the smoothness to the “before” picture at the top.

Blue Rose Floral in Laundry Room

March 17, 2022
A few months ago, I papered the adjoining powder room in this same watercolor -y wallpaper pattern. Now that the homeowner’s new custom cabinetry has been installed in the laundry room, I’m papering that area, too. Here’s the before picture.
The homeowner made the point that, after all the money they spent on the carpentry, everything was swallowed up by the all-white walls. Well, a little color and pattern from wallpaper changes all that! Besides being beautiful, note how the wallpaper makes the moldings and cabinets stand out.
Here the roses look purple … they’re actually more navy blue in color.
Close up. The design looks like real watercolor brush strokes.
Note there’s a slight pattern mis-match at the seam. This is a very close-up shot. From three feet away, you don’t notice it.
Tomorrow I’m hanging another room with the same pattern but from a different run … Let’s see if the pattern matches better in the new run.
The pattern is by Caitlin Wilson and is in the Sure Strip line, made by York , one of my favorite manufacturers.
This is a unique pre-pasted material, as it’s designed to strip off the wall easily when you redecorate. I like Sure Strip a lot.
Do a Search here to read about my install techniques with these.
This is a nicely renovated and updated home in the energy corridor / Memorial area of west Houston.