Posts Tagged ‘moth balls’

Stinky Ink = Curling Seams

March 25, 2018


Some higher-end wallpapers are screen-printed with an ink that smells like moth balls. We call this stinky ink. And it’s a stinker to work with – because the edges curl badly. The inked surface of the paper absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the backing, so the backing swells and expands, pushing the inked surface away… resulting in curled edges. The top photo shows the edges curling on the pasted and booked strip, and the second photo shows the edges curling on the wall. I tried a lot of tacts, but could not get the seam to lie down.

This paper has a selvedge edge that is to be trimmed off by the installer(straight edge and razor blade and a steady hand). When I tried this standard technique, the seams curled and would not lie flat.

So I tried another approach. I put the pasted but un-trimmed paper on the wall, and then used the double-cut technique. A double cut is essentially a splice – you position one strip, then position the next strip, overlapping an inch or so of the second strip vertically over the edge of the first strip, all while lining up the pattern.

More clearly, you’re overlapping the left edge of the new strip onto the right edge of the existing strip.

Then, using the custom-made trim guide tool seen in the photo, and with a strip of 3″ wide heavy polystyrene plastic (called a Boggess strip, after the guy who invented and sells it) on the wall to protect it from being scored, I used a new single-edged razor blade to carefully cut through both layers of wallpaper.

In the third-to-last photo, I am removing the excess paper left at the seams after this trimming. In the second-to-last photo, I am smoothing the paper back into place. It’s also important to wipe off all paste residue left on the surface of the paper.

Who knows why, but this technique results in nice, flat, tight seams, with edges that do not curl.

Same paper, same paste, same wall – but no curl. Go figure.

Double-cutting takes more time, patience, material, and equipment. But when it’s called for, it might be the salvation for a contrary paper.

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New Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Bathroom

May 3, 2016
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Last week, I stripped off a decade-old botanical and bird wallpaper pattern from my master bathroom, and replaced it with this “Raspberry Bramble,” by Bradbury & Bradbury (http://bradbury.com/), a California-based company that specializes in patterns true to the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts and Victorian periods, along with some Mid-Century Modern and other designs.

This B&B wallpaper was a little tricky to work with. For starters, it has to be hand-trimmed (see photo) to remove the selvedge edge. My go-to pre-mixed adhesive is not a good choice for this material, so I chose a potato-starch paste available from Bradbury, that comes powdered and is mixed with water on-site.

This particular pattern has a lot of ink (smells like moth balls!) on the surface, and, when paste is applied to the back, the backing absorbs paste and swells at a different rate than the inked surface, resulting in wrinkles and bubbles and twists, plus the curled edges you see in the photo, which can prevent the seams from lying down properly. The moisture differential can cause the paper to continue to swell on the wall, causing wired (overlapped or puckered) seams.

I’ve hung a good amount of Bradbury & Bradbury papers, but had never encountered the degree of bubbling and curling as with this paper.

The solution to all this is to mist or damp-sponge the surface of the paper, which puts moisture on the front, and allows the front and back (wet by the paste) to absorb moisture more evenly. Then the paper is folded loosely (booked), and also rolled up like a newspaper. This helps push the curled edges back down. Then the strip of wallpaper is placed in a plastic trash bag to sit for 10-15 minutes, much longer than the booking time for most papers.

All of this took more time, but it resulted in smooth paper with flat seams.

My plan for this room is to achieve a 1700’s French chateau look, so I am also darkening and stenciling my vanity, which has a new “Noche” travertine countertop, will be hanging some frilly antique wall clocks, period artwork, a beautiful chandelier, and adding other features.