Posts Tagged ‘off-plumb’

Crooked Walls – Mismatch in the Corners, or at the Ceiling?

November 2, 2019

When turning an inside corner with wallpaper, you cut the strip in two vertically, so that just 1/8″ or so wraps around the corner, and then you overlap the remaining part of the strip onto that little bit. This eliminates wrinkles caused by crooked walls. And it allows you to plumb up the new strip.

The walls and corners in this powder room were off-plumb. This is pretty typical, but since the room had 10′ high ceilings, by the time you moved 10′ down the wall, a little discrepancy turned into a big discrepancy.

This means that, when turning a corner, I had the options of mis-matching the pattern in the corner, in order to keep the new strip properly plumb. OR matching the pattern precisely and then allowing the new strip to hang off-plumb – which would cause the design to track off-kilter along the ceiling and floor.

This pattern afforded me the chance to fiddle a bit, to get the best of both worlds. I was able to match the pattern perfectly in the corner, as well as keep the motifs in their proper positions at the ceiling line.

I matched the pattern exactly in the corner. That caused the new strip to hang off-plumb. So I cut the strip in two vertically, by slicing along the wavy edge of the tree trunk. See top photo.

The right half of the strip of wallpaper was left stuck to the wall, off-plumb and all. The left half I pulled away, and replaced onto the wall an inch or so lower, so the design elements hit the ceiling where I wanted them to. I then lined its left edge up against a plumb line, allowing the right edge to overlap the left edge of the strip that was still stuck to the wall.

There was a small overlap at the top, but the overlap grew wider as I moved toward the floor, due to one strip being plumb and one being off-plumb.

But since I had cut vertically along the tree trunk, your eye only sees that the tree is intact, and doesn’t notice a little bit of pattern being covered by that tree trunk. The overlap leaves a bit of a ridge under the paper, but the design of the tree trunk obscures that nicely.

As the overlap got wider as I moved down the wall, there were some motifs that got covered up enough that they were noticeable. I simply took some scrap paper and cut leaves or butterflies or other elements and pasted them in appropriate spots, to fill in missing parts.

OK, actually, it was a little more involved than that, and it took at least a half an hour. But as you can see in the second photo, no one would notice that the pattern has been tweaked.

And best of all, this trick kept the pattern intact in the corners, and placed it where it was supposed to be at the ceiling line, as well as kept it evenly spaced as it moved along the woodwork of the door frame to the left (not shown).

Old Houses = Crooked Walls

October 6, 2019


This wall is off-plumb by more than a full inch – a lot, considering that it’s falling just 7 1/2 feet from the ceiling to the floor.

The grasscloth-like pattern of the wallpaper is good at disguising the walls’ irregularities. What it’s not good at is making a wonky ceiling line look level. You might be able to notice the pattern tracking downward in the second photo.

Compensating for Crooked Walls

July 17, 2018

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Today I was to hang this cute bear wallpaper on one accent wall of a baby’s nursery.  The walls were 0ff-plumb, and the ceiling was not level, and the pattern was very plotted and symmetrical.  So let’s just say that the room presented challenges.

One thing that helped was the way the blocks of bears are printed on the wallpaper.  See Photo 1.  Unlike most wallpaper designs, the motifs did not cross the seams, so there were no elements to be matched from strip to strip.  This left me free to place the bears’ heads at the top of the wall with every strip.

Normally, when the ceiling is not level, the wallpaper pattern (the heads of the bears) would start to move up or down the ceiling, and that means that the heads would start to get chopped off horizontally.

But since this pattern did not cross the seams of the wallpaper and I didn’t have to match any parts of bears across the seams, I was able to pull each strip up to the top of the wall, and eating a uniform line (or head-count 🙂 ) at the top of the wall.  It meant that the lines of bears were not perfectly level from strip to strip – but that was not very noticeable, and was a whole lot better than seeing heads get chopped off.

The walls on either side were also not plumb.  As a test, I hung the first strip of paper butted into the corner, so it is parallel with the wall.  The second photo shows my laser level red line against the side of the paper.  If you could see above the top of the photo, that red line is butted against the edge of the paper at the top of the wall.  Yet as you move down the wall, the strip of wallpaper moves away to the left of the red level line.

I could pull the strip of paper into plumb so that it aligned with the red laser line – but that would cause a slew of bears to get their heads sliced off vertically where they hit the adjacent wall.  As well as when they got to the opposite wall.

Also, since the ceiling was not level, the bears’ heads would start marching either up or down the ceiling line, and, again, some bears would get their heads chopped off.

What to do?

I checked for plumb on both outer walls, and found that both walls were off-plumb by a fairly significant amount.  Luckily, both walls were out of plum parallel with one another.  This meant that I could hang the paper off-plumb and butted into the right corner, and it would come out on the left side of the wall nicely parallel to the opposite side (right corner).

So the pattern aligned nicely with both the right and left walls.  But since to do this I had to hang the paper off-plumb, it would also go off-level at the ceiling.  And since the ceiling was already no where near level, it was very likely that the pattern was going to track up or down that ceiling line, with a bunch o’ bears getting their heads cut off.

Here is where the placement of the pattern on the 20.5″ wide wallpaper made a difference… Because I didn’t have to match a bear’s head to a bear’s head horizontally across the seams. I could position each strip so that the tips of the bears’ ears were at the top of the wall.  (Read previous paragraphs.)

But because the ceiling was off-level by such a great degree, some of the pattern did get crooked, and so you see a couple of black feet starting to appear above the brown bear at the top of the wall (See photo 3).

But I’d rather have a few paws showing at the top of the ceiling, than have a bunch ‘o bears get chopped off vertically at the corners.  But still, I didn’t like looking at those paws hanging down from the ceiling.

The fix was easy.  I took some scrap wallpaper and from it I cut some thin strips of white paper that I then pasted over the offending paws.  Voilà!  No visible dangling paws.

AND the pattern looks amazingly equal in each corner,

This is a new townhouse in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston.

The Corner’s Crooked, The Pattern’s Gone Wonky – But There Is A Fix

November 21, 2017

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Walls aren’t always plumb, horizontal surfaces (ceilings, floors, countertops) aren’t always level, and wet wallpaper can twist out of shape. Look down the center of the top photo, and you’ll see how poorly the pattern matches in a corner that is off-plumb by more than half an inch from top to bottom. Notice the double-images in the upper part of the picture.

When hanging the strip to the right of the corner, I could have manipulated the paper so that the pattern matched perfectly. But that would have meant hanging the strip off-plumb – and that would have meant that every subsequent strip would be off-plumb. And that would have meant that the design motifs would begin tracking down the wall.

Meaning that, the red leaves I plotted to sit at the top of the wall would begin walking their way down, further and further from the ceiling line. The whole wall would have a lopsided and off-kilter look.

I chose to keep the red leaves in their assigned position at the top of the wall. The trade-off was the mis-matched pattern you see in the corner in the top photo.

But I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Let’s just say that some craft paint, a tiny artist’s brush, a sharp scissors and a few appliqués, time, patience, and a good pair of strong reading glasses did their magic.

A Horrible Place for a Wallpaper Seam

March 29, 2017

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Often you can “fudge” wallpaper patterns, to avoid awkward or unstable placement of seams – but just as often, you cannot.

Here I could not avoid having the seam fall ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH away from the outside corner on this wall.

So why all the consternation?

First, being just 1/4″ from the corner, there is little wall space for the paper to grab onto, which raises the worry about the paper not adhering, and curling away from the wall, or, at minimal, gapping in areas.

This brand is particularly challenging, because it is known for curling at the seams, which further hinders a good, tight, flat seam.

Second, since walls are never straight or plumb, it’s hard to keep the wallpaper design evenly spaced and correctly positioned down this length of wall.

The un-plumb walls also make it near impossible for wallpaper to wrap around the outside corner without warping, which makes it difficult for the subsequent strip, which is straight, to butt up nicely against the un-straight edge.

Un-plumb corners also throw the wrapped wallpaper off-plumb. That can result in the pattern’s design “going off-plumb.” This means that the horizontal pattern won’t line up perfectly along vertical walls (like in corners).

Another thing that will happen is that the pattern motifs can start creeping either up or down from the ceiling line (un-level ceiling lines factor in here, too.)

And, lastly, because wallpaper absorbs moisture from the paste and then expands and / or warps, it’s hard to keep everything straight and plumb as it turns a corner. Which makes it hard for the next strip to butt perfectly up against it.

This wallpaper is by Hygge & West, and can be bought from their on-line website.

Geometric Wallpaper Makes for a Stunning Entry

March 4, 2017
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Geometric prints like this are very popular right now. They look great in the room – but they can be a real challenge to the installer. Walls and door / window moldings are never perfectly plumb, nor are baseboards and ceilings perfectly level.

With a wild pattern or a forgiving floral, you would never notice patterns going amiss. But with a rhythmic geometric design, your eye will catch any little element that is off.

Here, in some areas, I chose to hang the pattern off-plumb, so that it would align with the un-plumb vertical lines of the woodwork. Doing it this way made sure that the design motifs were uniform in size as they dropped from ceiling to floor along the door moldings – even though that made the top black triangle drop down a little as it moved across the ceiling line.

I was lucky in this room, because the height of the strips over the doorways was short, and I could fudge things a little and bring the pattern up to where I wanted it to be, with the black triangle hitting the bottom of the crown molding, which put the design motif back exactly where I wanted it to hit the ceiling line. See 3rd photo.

In the corners, I followed the rule, “It’s better to match the pattern in the corners, than to have it run perfectly along the ceiling.” I won’t go into details, but that corner in the 2nd photo took quite a bit of plotting and work. The pattern does not hang plumb, and it does not run straight down the door molding to the right. But, in the end, you don’t notice anything amiss, and the overall look is fantastic.

With all this engineering and plotting and manipulating, the two walls in the second photo took me about three hours to hang. The rest of the room was equally challenging.

In addition, the paper was thick and stiff and difficult to work into tight spaces. It was a “paste the wall” product, but when I tried that, I got puckered seams (due to the “dimensionally stable” paper expanding when it got wet with paste), as well as curled seams (due to the substrate absorbing moisture from the paste at a different rate from that of the inked top layer of the paper.

So I threw caution to the wind and ignored the manufacturer’s admonitions to “Paste the wall. Do NOT paste the paper.” Instead, I pasted the paper, and let it book (sit wet) for a short time, before I hung it. This let the paper absorb moisture from the paste and expand as much as it wanted to BEFORE I got it to the wall. It also made it more pliable and easy to work with.

It also, unfortunately, made the surface less stable, which meant that I had more instances of ink flaking off the paper. In fact, I had to discard one whole 9′ strip, because of one crease-with-chipped-off-ink. It was small, but it happened near a light switch plate, so it was in a very obvious spot, so had to be replaced. Note: Always buy more than you need, so you will have extra in case of the need for repairs down the road..

Fudging the pattern, hanging things off-plumb, and not accepting flaky paper paid off, though. Despite all the little indescrepencies that I fret over, none of them are really noticeable at all, and the the finished room looks fantastic.

This wallpaper is by GP & J Baker, a British company. It’s in their Groundworks line, and is by Ashley Hicks, for her famous father, David Hicks, who is well known for his black, gold, and cream geometric patterns, the most well-known being the hexagon. Google it, or do a Search on my blog.

The interior designers for this job are Neal LeBouef and Anthony Stransky, of L Design Group. Wonderful guys, and I love their crisp, clean, sophisticated style. The home is in West University Place (Houston).

Water Color Flowers for a Little Girl’s Room

August 25, 2016
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This is my second time to hang this mural wallpaper – and both times were for a little girl!

This mural is sweet, with subdued hues and watercolory transparancy, so it does not overwhelm the room. I hung it on one wall in a little girl’s room in the Briarpark neighborhood of Houston.

I said I hung this before, but, to be honest, I am not sure. I’ve been told that all you need to do is tweak a design a little – the tilt of a leaf, the shading on a petal – and you can get around copyright laws and call the design your own. I think that’s what is going on here.
Here is the one I did previously: https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/water-color-ful-wall-for-a-baby-girl/ If you look really closely, the flowers appear to be ever so slightly different. That tells me that one of them is a knock-off.

In fact, the one I did a few months ago was very expensive, and was on a non-woven substrate, and was a paste-the-wall product. I didn’t have any particular problems with the installation.

The one I hung today was less expensive, was printed on a thin paper substrate, and was a pre-pasted product. I had issues with seams that “gapped and overlapped” (butted perfectly in some places but overlapped in others), pattern mis-matched at the seams, paper twisting off-plumb, and the pattern not being printed at the right height at the top of each panel.

This almost caused a huge problem, as I was about to come up with a strip that was unexpectedly 2″ short at the top of the wall – but I was able to pull some tricks and rectify that.

Whichever is the “real” design and which is the knock-off, the pattern and colors are perfectly suited for this little girl’s room – in fact, she was toddling around the house in a matching pink top!

This wallpaper is described as a mural, and it came in a set of seven panels. It was custom ordered and sized to fit the wall. In the last photo, I have separated each panel and laid them out on the floor, to be sure the pattern matches, and to ensure the proper sequence for installation.

Think This Wall is Crooked?

October 24, 2015

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The red line is from my laser level, and it is plumb. The line you see to the right of that is the corner where two walls meet in the powder room where I am hanging wallpaper today. The wall is off-plumb by more than 1 1/2″ in less than a 6′ drop from ceiling to floor.

Needless to say, the pattern match will be a little off in that corner!

Keeping Stripes Straight in a Corner

April 19, 2015

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One of the challenges of hanging wallpaper is keeping the pattern straight/plumb/level/all that jazz – especially factoring in Houston’s gumbo soil and shifting foundations. With a striped pattern, even a little variance is noticeable. Often, it’s not so important that the stripes hang true to plumb, but that they hang perpendicular to the corners and moldings in the room.

In the first photo, the corner is a little off-plumb (which is common). If the pattern had ended with the brown field in the corner, all would have been fine. But since the dark line fell in the corner, some of the “balls” in the pattern fell on the right of the corner, and some fell on the left, and that was obvious to the eye.

To disguise this, I cut my next strip and included the entire dark stripe along its left edge. Then I pasted this edge over the stripe in the corner (second photo), tweeking it a little, making sure that the stripes were on the left of the corner and the “balls” were on the right, and nothing was cut off.

Having the stripes absolutely plumb in the corner was not as important as how the stripes fell against the door molding to the right. Here, it had to be straight and parallel (but not necessarily plumb). You can see how I am using a ruler to be sure the length of the stripe is equidistant from the top of the door molding to the bottom.

Whew! Mission accomplished!

But all is not done … We still have the rest of the room to hang. And, as you can see, right above this door molding, the stripe looks like it is going off-plumb. Actually, it is an optical illusion, caused by the un-level-ness of the crown molding. It may be the trim carpenter’s fault, or the framer’s fault, or the Sheetrocker’s, or just blame it on the shifting gumbo soil under Houston. But, still, your eye sees this.

So, instead of butting my next strip of wallpaper against the piece in the photo, which would have committed each strip to being equally off-plumb, I cut the left edge of the strip along the striped design, and then overlapped the stripe of the new strip over the stripe on the existing strip, but, again, tweeking it just a little to make it look perpendicular to the crown molding.

This trick is blessedly easy to do with stripes, not just on headers (the short strips over doors and windows) but also, when necessary, and with a little more finesse, on full-length drops.

To reiterate: Keeping strips parallel with moldings or other key visual elements in a room, is more important than having them hang true to plumb.

It just sometimes takes a little work to reach that goal.