Posts Tagged ‘mud’

Smoothing Textured Walls

June 16, 2018


I like walls to be nice and smooth when the wallpaper goes up, first so the texture doesn’t show under the new paper, and second so the paper has an intact, flat surface to grab ahold of. When homes have textured walls, I skim float them with joint compound (which we calls mud) to smooth them.

To skim float, I use a trowel to spread the smoothing compound onto the walls. In the top photo, the upper portion of the wall has been skimmed, and you can see the compound drying around the edges and in high areas. It goes on grey, and when it’s dry, it will turn white. The second photo shows the box that the mud comes in, enclosed in a plastic bag, to retain its moisture.

To help speed the drying process along, I set fans up blowing on the walls, as you see in the second photo. I have three fans, and they will be positioned differently for maximum air blastage. Having the air conditioner cranking away and the house fan on also help to circulate air and pull humidity out of the air. In small powder rooms where the door can be closed and the climate supervised closely, I get a space heater going, which also helps pull humidity out of the air. For stubborn areas, I get out the heat gun – it’s like a hair dryer on steroids. 🙂

Once the mud is dry, I sand the walls smooth, then vacuum up the dust that falls to the floor, then wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then finally prime the walls. For this application, I use Gardz, a penetrating sealer which soaks into the joint compound and binds it together, and which is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on. Sorry, no photo of the Gardz or of the finished wall – but you can Search here to find previous posts.

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Air Bubbles from Latex Paint

June 13, 2018

The walls had a light texture covered with latex paint, so I skim floated over the walls to smooth them. When the wet smoothing compound got onto the wall, the latex paint absorbed moisture, expanded, and created these bubbles. It’s called “off gassing.”

After the mud dried and was sanded, most of the bubbles disappeared, but some rings were still visible. When I primed with Gardz, a water-borne penetrating sealer, many of the bubbles raised their heads again.

I will have to see if they dry flat over night, or if I will have to use my putty knife to knock them off in the morning. I don’t want bumps showing under the new wallpaper!

Prepping Walls When Existing Wallpaper Won’t Come Off

July 18, 2017

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Almost always, when homeowners are switching from an outdated wallpaper to a new pattern, I am able to get the old paper off the wall. But twice this week I have run into papers that would not come off the wall – at least, not without causing significant damage to the Sheetrock or creating other problems. Sometimes it’s because they were installed improperly in the first place. And other times it’s just the nature of the beast.

Either way, it is possible to hang wallpaper over old existing wallpaper – IF the walls are prepared correctly.

In these two rooms, I used joint compound (“mud”) to skim float over the seams in the original wallpaper, to ensure that they would not telegraph through and show up as vertical lines under the new wallpaper. These are the white stripes and patches you see in the photos.

Then I sanded the mud smooth, making sure that the edges were feathered out, so the joint compound patch would not be detectable under the new wallpaper. I used a damp sponge to wipe dust off the sanded areas.

The next step was to seal the walls with a penetrating sealer called Gardz (by Zinsser). Gardz is a thin liquid sealer that soaks into the surface and binds it together. It dries hard, and prevents moisture from passing through.

In other words, you can hang wallpaper that is wet with paste on top of this primer, and not worry about moisture passing through and causing the original paste to loosen, or the original paper to swell and bubble away from the wall.

In addition, Gardz dries with a crystalized molecular surface that is ideal for wallpaper and its paste to “bite into” and “get a hold of.”

Bottom line – Gardz is a super fixer of problem walls, it’s a wonderful sealer, and it is a great primer for using under wallpaper.

I’m Scared Of This Blue Dot

June 8, 2017

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I am going to hang grasscloth in this large master bedroom in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston. To smooth the textured walls, I skim-floated the walls with “mud” (joint compound). As I was sanding the compound smooth, I discovered this small blue spot. It might be ink. Or maybe some cleaning solution, or a cosmetic or perfume, or some other agent. SOMEthing was on the wall before I applied the smoothing compound, and bled through.

Whatever it is, it worked its way through the smoothing compound and up onto the wall surface. If a substance works its way through the wall surfaces, you can be sure that it will also work its way through the new wallpaper.

To prevent this, there are a couple of options. One is to cover the area with a stain-blocking sealer. I love oil-based KILZ Original. Another product is BIN by Zinsser, or 123 also by Zinsser.

But in this case, since it is just a tiny dot, I decided to use a Stanley knife to dig out the stain. Gone. Done. No worries about anything bleeding through the wallpaper.

If the new wallpaper had a smooth surface, I would patch over the hole and sand the area smooth, and spot-prime. But since the new wallpaper is a rough-textured grasscloth, this 1/4″ dent in the wall will not be noticeable, so I’m going to leave it as it is. Tomorrow, before hanging paper, I will double check to be sure no additional blue stain has worked its way out from hiding.

Fixing a “Hot Mess”

April 18, 2017

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The homeowners of this house in Fleetwood (west Houston) tried to remove the wallpaper from their powder room on their own. They did a reasonably good job at the start, but soon realized that they were in over their heads.

In the top photo, they have removed the top layer of wallpaper from the wall on the left. The problem came when trying to take off the white backing layer. Their efforts resulted in torn drywall (second photo). Torn drywall is very bad, because it will leave uneven areas under the new wallpaper / paint. Worse, it will bubble when the moisture from the wallpaper paste or latex paint touches it, and that will leave bubbles under the new wallpaper / paint.

These homeowners were smart enough to stop before more damage was done, and called in the pros (me).

I finished stripping off the old wallpaper, using methods that caused less damage to the drywall. There was one patch of original wallpaper, a foil-type that dated back to the build date of 1976, that would not come off without a lot of damage to the wall. I left that section on the wall.

Once all the paper was off that would come off, I sealed the torn drywall and other unstable surface areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer. Once that was dry, I skim-floated the entire room with “mud,” (joint compound). When that was dry, I sanded the surface smooth. Then I vacuumed up the dust, then wiped any residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge.

Lastly, I rolled on another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. It will dry hard and tight, preventing the torn drywall from bubbling, and holding all the loose or unstable areas together. It is also a good primer for wallpaper, so tomorrow the walls will be prepped and ready for their new décor! See last photo.

Using 20-Minute “Mud” to Repair Sheetrock Damage

March 31, 2017

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When the homeowners had their powder room vanity top replaced, the shorter new backsplash left a 1″ area of torn drywall around the top of the new backsplash. There was a height difference between the drywall and the wall (which was covered with at least two layers of old wallpaper). This needed to be evened out before the new wallpaper could go up.

Because torn drywall will bubble when it gets wet, I used a penetrating sealer called Gardz to prevent this by sealing the raw area. Once that was dry, I used 20-minute joint compound to “float” over the damaged areas.

The bag says “5” (see photo), but that is misleading. What they mean is that you have five minutes to mix the powdered material with water, stir smooth, and then work with the stuff, before it gets stiff and hard. The actual drying time is more like 10-20 minutes, and sometimes longer.

Once it’s dry, it can be sanded smooth. Wipe off the dust with damp sponge, let dry again. Then it can be sealed with a primer, and I like the penetrating sealer Gardz, once again, to seal this porous joint compound material.

Wallpaper Wants To Sit On A Smooth Wall

February 8, 2017
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The walls in this powder room were way too heavily textured (Photo 1) to even think about putting wallpaper on them. For one thing, those ugly bumps would show under the paper – and might even poke holes through the surface. For another, the wallpaper would not have a smooth, intact surface to cling to, resulting in poor adhesion.

So I smoothed the walls. To do this, I trowled on joint compound, (we nick name it mud), which is a plaster-like substance used mostly for drywall installations. The initial layer was thick, and had to dry overnight.

In the morning, the surface was dried, as you see in Photo 2. Dry, but way unacceptable for wallpaper … All of those ridges and uneven surfaces would show under the paper.

I sanded this surface down, and it was much better – but still not acceptable for wallpaper.

So I skim floated again, with a very thin layer of mud. Once that was dry, I sanded one more time. And ended up with the perfectly smooth walls you see in the 3rd photo.

In the last photo, you see the wallpaper on the wall, perfectly smooth, and with no signs of bumps or texture or ridges or uneven areas.

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

August 30, 2016

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Here in Houston, many homes have textured walls. Texture prevents good adhesion of the wallpaper, and it looks, well, it looks cheesy under the wallpaper. So I do a lot of what we call “skim floating,” to smooth the wall. This involves skimming the wall with a plaster-like substance (joint compound, also referred to as “mud”).

Nothing can progress until that mud is dry. It will dry overnight, but then the homeowner would have to pay for a second day of labor. So I try to speed the process so that everything can be done in one day. Here you see my two box fans and one heavy duty fan, all aimed at this one short accent wall. The texture was heavy, and so it took a longer than usual time for the joint compound to dry.

Turning the air conditioner down (or the heat up) and having the house fan set to “on” also helps to circulate dry air through the room and pull moisture out of the wall. In a small room like a powder room, I use a space heater and close the door to keep in the heat. I also have a heat gun that can be used to spot dry stubborn areas.

Note that the black fan and the heaters all pull a lot of power, so they cannot be used at the same time or they might trip the circuit breaker. So it becomes a juggling match of turning something on and off, moving the fans to different positions, opening the door to let hot humid air out, etc.

Once the smoothing compound is dry, I sand it, then vacuum up the dust, then wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, rinsing it frequently. Then the wall has to dry again briefly, and then the primer gets rolled on. That needs to dry for about an hour, and then the wall is finally ready for wallpaper.

Drying Walls

July 7, 2016

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These walls have a thick texture that needed to be smoothed before I could hang the new wallpaper. In the photo, I have finished skim floating the walls with mud (joint compound). Now they need to dry, before I can sand them smooth.

The homeowner has the air conditioning cranking away, which helps to pull humidity and moisture out of the smoothing compound. In addition, I have set up fans to move air around the walls. Two box fans are affixed to the shelves on ladders (secured with bungee cords), and one very powerful fan is sitting on the floor aimed up at the wall.

Sometimes the joint compound can be induced to dry in an hour or two this way. But in this case, because the texture was so thick, and because the semi-gloss paint beneath the smoothing compound slows drying, I needed to let this set-up run for a few hours. The fans sped up the drying process, and once they were turned off, the walls were left overnight to dry further.

Come morning, I was able to proceed with sanding and the rest of the prep and installation of the new wallpaper.

My Commute ….

March 16, 2016
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I just spent several days hanging wallpaper in a new home on family farm land in Carmine (near Round Top and La Grange), Texas, about 90 miles northwest of Houston. Of course, it rained buckets this week. Here are shots of my commute from my van to the house. Luckily, the homeowner advised me ahead of time to bring boots!

The mud you are looking it is slippery and sloshy and deep. On my first day, it was thick and sticky and bonded itself to my boots with a vengeance. Imagine hauling a 7′ long, 30lb work table, or a 50lb bucket of wallpaper paste back and forth through this!

Driving shoes off and boots on to walk through the mud. Boots off to walk through the house. Boots back on to walk back to the truck. Boots off and clean driving shoes on before getting into the truck. Repeat many times per day.