Posts Tagged ‘paint’

Farrow & Ball Feather Grass

September 1, 2019


Farrow & Ball is a long-established British company. Here is their very unique design “Feather Grass” which I hung in a master bedroom in the country. I love the look of this pattern as you gaze out the windows to the pastureland beyond.

Farrow & Ball includes their own powdered paste, which you mix up with water. To get a smooth mix, I prefer a hand-held blender to the old-fashioned stirrer stick. Not shown is the 1-gallon bucket of cellulose pasted all ready to go.

The company sends a mock-up of what their design will look like. (The image above is from a different pattern I hung in this same home.)

Because their paper is coated with their paint, rather than ink, there can be variations in color as the printer moves through the batch of paint. So the company labels each bolt in the sequence that it came off the printer, and you are instructed to use the bolts and strips in sequence, to minimize any color variations.

This pattern is something like a mural, and comes in panels with one design per panel, rather than strips with multiple repeats of the pattern. In the photo above, I am rolling the paper out on the floor, to get an understanding of how it is laid out and how it is packaged.

Each bolt contained three panels, all rolled up together. The panels are made to fit a wall as high as 12′, so I had to cut each panel from the bolt, then trim it down to fit the 7 1/2′ high walls.

Yes, there is a lot of waste with Feather Grass. In fact, it takes a full strip to go above and below the windows and doors, even though you are throwing away the entire middle part. So, again, incredible amount of waste – I carted home a whole lot of unusable paper to toss into the recycling bin!

Before shot.

The “grass” pattern is meant to appear at about 4 1/2′ from the floor. Since you start hanging wallpaper from the ceiling, I needed to know where to place the tops of the sheaves of grass. So I drew a horizontal line around the room at the 4 1/2′ height. (enlarge photo to see the faint pencil line) This way, from up on the ladder at the ceiling, I was able to see where the tops of the grass stalks were landing on the wall. It took a few trips up and down the ladder on each strip, but I was able to get all the stalks lined up perfectly.

Finished photos. It’s a subtle colorway, so you may need to enlarge the photo to see it well.

Isn’t the overall effect lovely, with the soft misty color of the grass showing against the view of nature outside the window?!

I hung this in the country home (Chappell Hill) of a family for whom I have worked previously in their River Oaks area home in Houston.

Textured Wallpaper for Headboard Accent Wall in the Heights

August 20, 2019


A distant shot to show you the warmth, and a couple of close-ups to show the texture.

This wallpaper went on all walls of a small vestibule leading into a master bedroom, and then on the headboard wall of the bedroom itself. The remaining walls were painted a coordinating grey color.

This is a thick textured vinyl material on a woven fabric (scrim) backing. Unlike most wallpapers, this is quite durable and stain-resistant – it’s the same type of stuff they use in hotels and hospitals, where it’s going to get banged into by carts and washed every now and then.

It is also extremely heavy. I’m betting that each double-roll bolt weighed at least 15 pounds. I could barely carry three at a time. A pasted strip 9′ long took about all my strength to lift higher than my head and position on the wall (while balancing on a ladder!).

Because it is so thick, it was hard to press tightly against the wall/ceiling junctions, so it took a little work to get a nice, tight cut. It was also difficult to cut through, so I had to press really hard, and went through a lot of razor blades, and still had to use my scissors to finalize some of the cuts, particularly to cut through some of the string backing.

My shoulders and arms are sore!

This embossed, textured pattern made a lovely, soft backdrop to the bed, and added a warmth that the paint alone could not.

The manufacturer is Thibaut. The older home has been beautifully enlarged and updated, and is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

Paint Speckles on Homeowner’s Countertop – I Hate Sloppy Work!

July 26, 2019


Look closely, and you’ll see scazillions of miniscule splatters of paint on the granite vanity top, backsplash, and even on the faucet and handles. Obviously, whoever worked in this room previously did not bother to cover the area with a dropcloth.

Such a shame. A few dollars’ worth of materials, and a little bit of time would have protected the homeowner’s fixtures.

Flooded Home is Finally Finished, and a Moroccan Trellis is the Finishing Touch

July 20, 2019


I’ve worked for this family several times over the last 25 years. Unfortunately, their home overlooking Braes Bayou (south central Houston) was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. The original home was torn down (along with my beautiful wallpaper ! 😦 ), and a new, raised home was built. Today I hung wallpaper on an accent wall in the dining room.

Photo 1 – the wall as the contractor left it

Photo 2 – the wall after I have primed it

Photo 3 – finished

I don’t like true grasscloth due to the visible seams and very noticeable color variations between strips, and also it’s propensity to stain easily. (Read my page to the right.)

The product pictured above is a fantastic alternative to real grasscloth. It is paper, superimposed with a vertical string material, so it has the texture and dimension that people are liking these days. The grass design is printed on (not real grass fibers), and this keeps the color uniform, so no abrupt color differences between strips.

The pattern can even be matched from strip to strip, making the seams pretty much invisible. You also have the option of not matching the pattern, to give a look similar to real grasscloth. Even then, the consistence of this design and color make it pretty impossible to tell where the seams are, if you are standing even three feet away.

In addition, the material has been treated, so it is somewhat resistant to stains.

I’ve hung this faux grass a good number of times, but this is the first time to hang it with the trellis design. The homeowner likes to mix modern with traditional, hence the geometric pattern with the antique furniture and chandelier. She also hunted for something that would meld nicely with the color of the paint on the woodwork. I like the look a lot.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and I believe in the Grass Effects book. It was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Potential Trouble Brewing

July 7, 2019


What you see here is a bit of rubbery latex paint and texture that has peeled away from the wall in this powder room. The surface underneath it felt gritty and dusty and porous. I had the feeling that if I had tried, I could have peeled all the paint off the wall.

This is not good.

This paint is probably peeling because of a combination of poor quality materials (cheap paint), improperly prepared surface (inappropriate or no primer, not removing dust from the wall, incompatible coatings (latex over oil based, not sanding or deglossing a gloss paint before repainting), climate fluctuations (humidity, temperature), stress on the wall (pulling off a piece of tape), or more.

All this is not so bad under paint, because paint just kinda sits there on the surface. But wallpaper actually puts stress on the surface beneath it, as it dries and pulls taught. Over time, fluctuations in humidity and temperature can exacerbate that, causing the paper to expand and contract ever so slightly, and then put tension on the wall where the seams fall.

This can result in not just the seams coming loose, but in the various layers inside the wall actually delaminating and coming apart from themselves.

Trouble Brewing? Paint Not Adhering to Wall

June 26, 2019


Top photo: A small circle of paint had been pulled away from the wall. When I picked at it, I was able to easily detach more paint.

Second photo: When I removed the light switch plate, some paint had stuck to it, and pulling the switch plate off the wall took some of the paint underneath along with it.

The exposed wall underneath the paint was gritty and dusty. I could not tell if it was a layer of old paint, drywall, dust, residue from ancient wallpaper paste, or other. I had the feeling that if I had tried, I could have peeled all the paint off the dusty subsurface.

This is not good.

This is an old house, and many layers of paint and other treatments have been added to the walls over the decades (100 years!). Many of these substances are not compatible with each other, and especially not if the walls were not prepped properly before applying another coat of paint.

Latex paint won’t stick to oil based paint. New paint won’t stick to a glossy paint. Nothing sticks to a dusty surface.

All these various materials will adhere to one another – for a while. But when a stressor is added to the formula, there is the potential for the layers to delaminate (come apart). That’s what happened in the two areas above, when a bit of a tug was all it took to peel several layers of paint away from the wall.

The issue here is that wallpaper comes with its own stressors. Wallpaper gets wet when it’s pasted, expands a bit, and then when the paste dries, the paper shrinks a tad and puts tension on the walls. Over time, with changes in temperature and humidity, foundations shifting, and just plain old passage of time, this tension could cause the paint to give way from the walls – this usually manifests at along a seam.

I use a wallpaper-specific primer, and among its attributes is the ability to withstand this type of tension.

Let’s hope that over the years, the many layers of paint, the new coat of primer, and the wallpaper all work together to stay nice and tight to the wall.

Note: If I had known about the wall condition earlier, and if the homeowners’ budget had allowed, a liner would have been a good option in this case. A liner is a special type of paper that is applied to the primed wall the day before the paper goes up. It serves several purposes, but one is to distribute tension across the wall. Because the seams of the liner do not line up with the seams of the wallpaper, drying and shrinking wallpaper puts tension on the liner, and not onto the unstable wall itself, thus pretty well eliminating the chance that the wallpaper seams could cause the wall to delaminate.

The downside is that using a liner adds an extra day (or more) of labor, plus the cost of material.

Do Bubbles Mean Trouble?

May 20, 2019

The walls in this dining room in a historic house in the Houston Heights had received many coats of paint over its 100 years. The latest was a coat of what appeared to be flat latex paint. Since this is not a suitable surface for wallpaper, I applied a wallpaper-specific primer.

I was surprised to see that, a few minutes after I rolled on my water-based wallpaper primer, blisters appeared.

I thought they would disappear as the primer dried, but they did not.

Obviously, the moisture in the primer was soaking into some of the layers below it, and causing something to expand and “off-gas”, which created the bubbles.

I switched from my wallpaper primer to a penetrating sealer called Gardz (also water-based) – and the same thing happened. (The Gardz dried so glossy that I feared the wallpaper would not stick to it, so I went back to my original Ultra Prime by Roman’s.)

Once the primer was good and dry, I used a stiff putty knife to knock off the high points of the blisters. The areas were not perfectly smooth, but they were OK for use under this particular wallpaper.

I’m doing some research, and am hoping to gain insight as to why this blistering happened, so I’ll know how to prevent it in the future.

Trick in Hopes to Stave Off Popped Seams from a Crumbly Wall

April 3, 2019


The walls in this powder room in the West U neighborhood of Houston had had many treatments over it’s life, including paint, more paint, skim-floating, wallpaper, and more. Sometimes, and particularly if prep is not done properly, these various layers are not compatible, and won’t adhere to one another well.

When the old wallpaper was removed, this was clear at the seams, where the various layers of the wall had pulled apart, leaving ridges along the length of each seam. This happens because the wallpaper dries and pulls taught and creates tension on the wall; if the wall is unstable, the layers can be pulled apart (delaminate). Sorry, no pics of the “before,” but you can do a search here to see pics of other rooms. This condition can happen over time, as the house fills with humidity and the paper absorbs it, then dries and shrinks again.

I dug out the raised ridges and applied tape over them, sealed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that dries hard. Then I skim-floated over all the walls, to create a smooth surface for the wallpaper. Sanded, wiped dust off with a damp sponge (nothing sticks to dust), and primed all walls with Gardz.

One good way to deal prevent this from happening again is to cross-line the walls with a special liner paper. This is a thin paper that is usually run horizontally before the actual decorative paper is hung. The idea is that if the new paper shrinks and applies tension, it will be distributed by the liner paper, and will not pull at the wall. If the liner shrinks and pulls, the tension is off-set by the decorative paper on top of it. So the two layers are working together to distribute any harmful tension on the wall surface.

Unfortunately, using liner adds a day of labor plus the cost of the material. The homeowner’s budget had already been busted by other factors, so she wanted to keep the job to one day. After collaborating with my colleagues in the Wallcovering Installers Association on our Facebook page, I decided to try this method:

From Office Max I got some plain old cash register tape. I plotted where each seam would fall, and used my laser level to guide placement of a floor-to-ceiling strip of the tape. I adhered it with regular wallpaper paste. At first, I worried that it would soak up moisture and bubble, but once it was smoothed into place, it laid down nice and flat.

Then I hung the wallpaper. The seams fell nicely on top of the tape, held tightly, and looked beautiful. There is the possibility of seeing a very slight ridge under the paper because of the thickness of the tape, but it’s very minimal because the tape is quite thin. And it’s much preferable to popped seams or delaminated walls.

The idea is that the tape will bridge the seam, and distribute tension from the drying paper across the width of the tape, keeping tension away from the wall itself. The tape is very thin, and doesn’t appear to have much tensile strength, but my buddies who have tried this method say it works well.

Time will tell, but I have a lot of confidence in this method.

Paint Splatters on Brand New Granite – Naughty Painters!

March 19, 2019


In this photo, you are looking down at a windowsill, with the black and white tile floor below that.

Workmen had painted the walls and overhead soffit. As you can see, they didn’t bother to protect the brand new granite window sill with a dropcloth. Nor did they shield the floor or bathtub, both of which were equally covered in paint speckles and splatters.

Come on, guys! All it takes is a dropcloth and a few minutes of your time.

Keeping Splatters Off The Baseboards

February 20, 2019


In the photo, look above and to the left (10 o’clock) of the electrical outlet. You will see splatters of paint from when the walls were painted, and the workers didn’t bother to cover the baseboards – in this $$$ new home in the Greenwillow / Willow Meadows neighborhood of Houston.

There are a lot more speckles that don’t show up in this photo.

I can’t stand these little splatters,,, and they are easy enough to prevent. So before I roll primer onto a wall, I pin protective strips of dropcloth material along the tops of the baseboards, to catch any splatters or drips.

It takes more time, but it protects the homeowner’s baseboards, shoe mold, and floors from speckles and tiny splatters.