Posts Tagged ‘off-gassing’

Soft Mattress Ticking Stripe in an All-White Bathroom

April 24, 2019


With just paint on the upper walls, this all-white bathroom was simply … too white. The addition of a soft stripe, in the shape of a classic mattress ticking pattern, was just enough to add some warmth and definition to the space.

While I like the pattern, I am not fond of the material, nor the brand. Norwall is one of the lowest-priced manufacturers out there, and … you get what you pay for. This is a solid vinyl wallpaper with a paper backing. The vinyl surface sounds attractive to homeowners, because it is a tad more stain resistant than other papers, and because it repels water.

The bad news is that humidity (such as when someone takes a shower, or splashes water on a seam) tends to find its way behind the seams and into the paper backing. That paper then swells and pushes away from the wall, causing the seams to curl.

Over time, the vinyl top layer can actually separate (delaminate) from the paper backing, leaving curled seams that cannot be reattached.

In addition, the seams are always a little “pouched” when the paper is installed, and never lie completely flat. It’s also common for this material to bubble or blister as it dries … I call it “burping” … or more properly termed off-gassing as the air released by the drying paste tries to find an escape but is trapped by the vinyl surface. So you have to keep going around the room chasing out bubbles. Really small ones usually disappear as paper dries.

Type in key words and use the Search feature here (upper right corner) to read my previous posts about these topics.

This was the first time I’ve encountered a Norwall solid vinyl paper-backed product that was not pre-pasted. Maybe the manufacturer has figured out what made it’s wallpaper so crap…py… er… disappointing. To be honest, the paper I worked with today (which had to have adhesive applied by hand/paint roller) went up with fewer problems than usual. There were still blisters, and still seams that were not as flat as they should have been. But overall, it was better than I expected.

Only time will tell how this product stands up to humidity in a family bathroom.

This is a new-but-classic-looking home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

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My Solution for Yesterday’s Cantankerous Wallpaper

June 27, 2018


Here’s what I ended up doing with the Norwall pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpaper that was featured in my previous post. This brand is known for curling seams, as well as seams that just don’t lie down nice and flat, but appear to be “pouched” just a tad. I experimented with several pasting techniques, hoping to get nice, flat seams.

… It didn’t do well when I pasted it with full strength paste, as it got gummy and dried out too quickly. And it didn’t do well when I pasted it with diluted paste. Nor was it happy when I ran it through a water tray as per mfgr’s instructions (and then rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall); it went up great and looked good … but look back at it after 10 minutes and discover that it has bubbled. What worked best was to wet it in the water tray and then unbook the strips and let them hang to dry out for 10-15 minutes or more. This left enough moisture for the paper to grab ahold of the paste I had rolled onto the wall, but eliminated the excess moisture that was causing the off-gassing and bubbles.

I wet a bunch of strips at a time… I had them hanging over the shower rod, on the towel bars, over the door, and the small ones got set on the toilet to dry.

Traditional to Traditional – Bold to Subdued

March 31, 2016
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The colorful botanical / bird original wallpaper is a classic design and color, but the homeowners had grown tired of it. Plus, as you see in the second photo, some of the seams had begun to curl. This is common with paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers, especially in humid rooms (like bathrooms) or rooms with no air vents (this bath had neither A/C vents nor an exhaust fan) and the big reason why I try to steer clients away from this material.

The next photos show the new wallpaper. Originally, the homeowner wanted a woven faux grasscloth, which she saw that I had installed in a friend’s bathroom. But she could not find a color that worked with the color of the tile in this Tanglewood area 1950’s ranch style home’s bathroom. This damask pattern turned out to coordinate perfectly! It also cloaks the walls in a little pattern, without being busy (because it contains only two soft colors), and adds more interest to the room than the faux grasscloth would have.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

This product was a paper-backed solid vinyl (read my comments above). It was thick and stiff and difficult to work with. The seams showed more than they should have, and there were edges of the paper that were warped by the plastic wrapper that never relaxed completely once the strip was pasted and applied to the wall, leaving slight waves at some seams. The material did not turn corners well, and I was never happy with any of the outside corners. There was also off-gassing, which is when a strip goes up and looks wonderful, but as it dries, moisture is trapped between the wall and the vinyl and has nowhere to go, so bubbles form under the paper.

Note to Self: Don’t let any other clients buy this product.

Vinyl Papers and Bubbling

June 25, 2014

Digital ImageIf you look closely to the left of the mirror, you can see little air bubbles under the wallpaper. This is called “off-gassing” – I just call it “burps.” 🙂

This happens mostly with pre-pasted paper-backed solid-vinyl wallpapers, and is a result of the wet backing trying to dry, but the moisture being trapped between the wall and the vinyl. Usually, small bubbles like those in the photo disappear as the paper dries.

But sometimes, like with this paper, very large, even fist-sized air pockets will develop. So I always go back over the room a few times, chasing these bubbles out with my smoothing brush or squeegee.

I usually recommend against these paper-backed solid-vinyl papers, and this is one reason why. Another reason is that, in humid rooms such as bathrooms, the backing tends to absorb moisture, which leads to curling at the seams, something that cannot be reglued or repaired.

Wallpaper, Off-Gassing, and a Lesson in Science

June 17, 2014

IMG_2550Here is a textured and patterned heavy vinyl wallpaper on a non-woven backing that I put on the back of a set of bookshelves in the home of a young family in Bellaire. The interior designer was Pamela O’Brien, of Pamela Hope Designs.

I did have some problems with bubbles developing in the material, but I smoothed them out, and everything was fine when I finished. But … a couple of weeks later, the designer’s secretary called to let me know that more bubbles had developed. I went over to the home today, to do what I could do to get rid of the bubbles.

Bubbles like this are caused by “off-gassing,” which means that, as the paste dries and moisture evaporates, air gets trapped between the thick, impermeable vinyl wallcovering and the wall, which in this case was probably wood painted with an enamel or schellac based paint (as opposed to drywall coated with latex paint), with my primer on top of that. In other words, no where for the air to go. So all those air molecules gathered together and pushed up bubbles under the wallpaper.

The representative from the wallpaper company said this in his reply to me, “I think you are right. The surface you hung on looks like an enameled coated wood or particle board. In either case the surface could not absorb moisture, as regular wallboard would, so the moisture would have no where to go, being that the vinyl is impervious. Putting on wall liner might have given enough air space to circulate and dry. Bookcases are very hard to hang anything on because binding to a hard surface is always difficult and all the more with a commercial vinyl.
“The vinyl is now formulated so there is very little off-gassing, and what there is comes off the front.”

OK, it’s good to know they are aware of the problem, and have developed a solution – a paper that “breathes” so as to allow the air to escape from the surface, rather than the back. But that didn’t help me much, since I still had to deal with this older version of the product, which was off-gassing from the back, and bubbling!

I revisited the home today, almost a month after I originally hung the paper. A few bubbles were visible. (I suspect that some evaporated and flattened out during preceeding weeks.) I was surprised to see that there was still a lot of wet paste under the paper, yes, even four weeks after it hand been hung. With a solid wall surface behind it, and a solid vinyl surface on front, there was simply no where for the moisture to go.

I was very happy that, for almost all of the bubbles, all I needed to do was prick a tiny hole and then push the air out. Since the paste was still active, the vinyl quickly stuck to the wall behind it. There was only one area where I had to cut a small slit in the paper and work some adhesive behind.

When I left, it was all nice and flat, and it looked great.

I do love it when I can get a little science lesson along with my wallpaper projects!