Posts Tagged ‘not plumb’

Helping Crooked Walls Look Straight. Geometric Pattern

March 27, 2019

Geometric patterns are very popular right now. But one of the things I hate about them is that your eye expects to see the pattern motif march straight across the ceiling and walls … But ceilings are never perfectly level and walls are never perfectly plumb. And wallpaper itself will expand when it gets wet with paste, and can stretch out of shape, causing it to go off-kilter.

In the top photo, the wallpaper was hung butted straight up against the most visible corner, the left edge (not shown). But since that corner was not absolutely perpendicular to the corner to the right of it, this tight geometric pattern started to track off-kilter. As you see in the photo, the black line at the far right is wider at the bottom of the wall, and tapers off to nothing by the time it gets to the top of the wall.

With a geometric design, your eye wants to see that black line reproduced rhythmically all the way along the wall.

With a thin paper, I might have been able to cut vertically along the design and pull the paper into alignment with the wall on the right, overlapping the excess paper as it moved to the top of the wall. But such an overlap would have been very noticeable on this thick non-woven wallpaper material.

So I did something else. I took some scrap paper and cut appliqués of the black line design that were the same dimensions of the lines at the bottom of the wall. I then pasted them onto the corresponding spot on the right edge of the wall.

As I mentioned, this as a thick non-woven material, and an appliqué would be pretty noticeable. So I fiddled with the paper a bit, and pulled the thick backing away from the inked layer of the front. In the second photo, you see the white backing discarded on the left side of the photo.

Once the appliqués were measured, cut, pasted, and applied to the proper spot on the wall, you don’t notice that anything is not plumb. All you see is a consistent row of black lines marching vertically along the right edge of the wall.

Note that by doing this, I have moved the black line closer than it’s supposed to be to it’s parallel partner to the left of it. But the eye notices this much less than it would a fading away line on the right edge of the wall.

I’m glad that I spent the extra 45 minutes to do this to both vanity walls in this master bathroom in a nicely renovated Mid-Century Modern home in the Piney Point (the Villages) neighborhood of Houston.

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Extra Paper Makes for Extra Nice Corners

June 7, 2018


When you go around a corner, you (usually) never wrap the full wallpaper strip around a corner. Instead, you split your strip horizontally so it will wrap around the corner a teeny bit (1/16” – 1/8” ). See top photo.

The next piece overlaps that by a hair. This means that you naturally lose a smidgeon of the pattern.

In this room, the walls were not plumb (which is true in virtually every house in Houston). So at the top of the wall, the amount of overlap was a negligible 1/16”. But by the time you got to eye level, the overlap was more like 3/8”. That’s enough to throw the pattern match off significantly. See second photo. And this was in a very noticeable corner, next to the vanity.

If I have an extra bolt of paper, I will have a few extra strips. Then I can cut a brand new strip, split it vertically, and make the pattern match pretty close to perfectly. (Sorry, no pic of the finished corner, which, BTW, did look perfect. 🙂 )

Playful World Map With Fun Animals for Baby’s Nursery

August 8, 2017

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Couples love this mural for their new baby – I’m betting it’s all over HOUZZ and Pintrest, and that’s where web surfers are finding it. This is the third time I’ve hung it, each time in a different color. The seams were much better this time, having been cut straight so there were not gaps of overlaps, and lying down better. (Search to read my previous posts.)

The mural came from Portugal, and was custom-sized to fit this accent wall in the nursery. The homeowner did the measuring, and he did a good job (as opposed to a prior install – read previous post), and the manufacturer also added a little around all the edges, to allow for trimming at the side walls, floor, and ceiling.

Now, if the homeowner had called me before he ordered that mural, I would have had him get it a little larger. The manufacturer’s guidelines allowed for a scant 1″ at the ceiling and baseboard. In a perfect world, this would be fine.

But in this room (in a beautifully renovated 1940 bungalow in the Houston Heights), the walls were not plumb, and the ceiling was not level. If I had hung the mural true-to-plumb, it would have started tracking off-kilter along the ceiling and floor lines, quickly eating up that 1″ allowance, and quite possibly ending up running out of paper at the top of the wall or at the baseboard. The same thing could happen at the corners, too. (That did happen on one of my other installs.)

Before I pasted a piece, I did a lot of measuring and plotting, to be sure I could position the mural so it would cover the entire height and width of the wall space. Much too complicated to explain. But, in a nutshell, what I did was to hang the mural off-plumb, but parallel with the un-level ceiling.

I started with the center panel, to minimize any tracking on either the left or right sides. I also made sure that the strips falling on either side of that center piece would be wide enough to reach the two wall corners, even if they hung crooked.

My strategy worked, and I ended up trimming off 1 1/4″ from the top, and 3/4″ from the bottom, on each strip. This meant that the mural was running parallel with the ceiling and floor, which was more important than being perfectly plumb. (Note: Usually you’re trimming off 2″ at both top and bottom, so today we were really cutting it close.)

Another complicating factor to this install was that, while most wallpaper widths are 20.5″, 27″, or 36,” these three mural panels were each 4′ wide. I’m 5’3″ tall, and my arm stretch is probably not a full 4,’ so handling, positioning, manipulating the pasted 9′ long strips was very difficult.

Additionally, it was important to “work clean,” because the surface is textured and it’s not easy to remove any paste that might get on the front of the wallpaper.

There’s more: My work table is 33″ wide, so pasting and booking the 48″ wide x 9′ long strips was a challenge. And the pasted strips, which I booked in accordion folds, were heavy and unwieldy.

All that mental plotting and physical gymnastics were worth it, though, because the finished mural looked fantastic, and the mom-and-dad-to-be loved it.

I have a pretty long lead time (4 months), but this couple called at the moment when another job had just postponed due to construction delays, so I had an open day and could get them done right away. That’s really good, because the baby’s coming, and the parents want to get the room furnished and decorated and ready.

I’m glad I was able to help them. 🙂