Posts Tagged ‘paint’

Protecting Baseboards from Splatter

February 23, 2021

No matter how careful you are, splatters and drips from paint and primers are going to fall – and onto the baseboard and floor. I hate seeing little “speckles” all over homeowners’ floors, moldings, countertops, etc.

I’ve cut thin dropcloth into strips which I tack above the baseboard or vanity top, to catch splatters. The material is absorbent on the surface, and liquid-proof on the back. They are thin and pliable.

And – oh, yes – occasionally you need a damp terry-cloth rag to cover a doorknob or projecting faucet.

A Very Pretty Heights House Renovation

February 10, 2021

Recent updates reflect respect for the original feel of this 1920 bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. There will be a claw-foot tub, as well as a very cool authentic vintage pedestal sink that the homeowner found on the side of the road, discarded from another older bungalow just a few blocks away. !!

Vintage-look beaded board paneling was added, along with hexagonal floor tile, both in a warm, muddy green that compliments the greens in the wallpaper.

The homeowner has a stunningly beautiful garden, and sought a wallpaper pattern that would bring the feel of nature indoors.

The top photo shows the walls as the contractor left them, in what we call a “Level 4” condition. This is optimal for wallpaper installation. No texture for me to get rid of, and no paint or PVA-based primers under the wallpaper. All I had to do was roll on my wallpaper-specific primer, Romans Pro 977, Ultra Prime.

The wallpaper is called Garden Party and is by York, in the Waverly collection (yes, reviving classic designs from the 1990’s!), and in their SureStrip line – one of my favorite products. It is pre-pasted, goes up nicely, hugs tight and thin to the wall, and performs wonderfully over the years, even under (mildly) humid conditions – such as a bathroom in an old house with poor ventilation.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and whole-house remodels, and mostly in the Heights / Garden Oaks neighborhoods.

A Few Tricks of the Trade

February 2, 2021

Artist’s chalk pastel stick, for coloring edges of dark wallpaper, so the white substrate does not show at the seams.

Craft store paint, for diluting and striping under where wallpaper seams will fall, to prevent the stark white wall below from peeking out.

Blue plastic “cut tape.” I place this along the top of a strip of wallpaper, to prevent paste from getting onto the molding or ceiling.

In the instance pictured above, the left edge of that strip of wallpaper was going to lap onto the newly tiled wall. A pain to wipe paste off all those small and irregular tiles.

Running protective blue plastic tape down the left edge of the wallpaper strip kept paste from getting slopped onto the tile, and eliminated the need to wipe areas clean

Helping To Hide Seams

January 23, 2021

Like most wallpapers, this Sure Strip by York can be expected to expand a bit when it becomes wet with the paste. Once it’s on the wall, it will dry and give up moisture – and that results in a tad of shrinkage. That usually means you might see just a teeny bit of a gap at the seams.

Not usually a big deal. But when you have a dark or bold color such as this on a light background and also printed on a white backing, if the paper shrinks and gaps, you can end up with a hairline’s breadth of the underlying wall surface and / or of the white wallpaper substrate showing through.

Layman’s terms: You might have a slight white line showing at the seams.

To help ward this off, I did two things. One was that I used red chalk to lightly color the edges of the wallpaper. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture, but you can Search here to see previous jobs where I employed that method.

The other thing was to stripe red paint under where the seams would fall.

This is a bit more complicated than it sounds. Because wallpaper will stretch when it gets wet with paste, making it difficult to guestimate exactly where the seam will fall, and thus where to run your red stripe.

Once you plot that out, you need a level to guide you by creating a plumb line at the appropriate point. And then mix your paint with water and use a brush or small sponge to run along that plumb line, straddling it widely enough to catch the seam wherever the gap might end up actually falling.

Also, the red paint needs to be good and dry before you put wallpaper on top of it. So this means you run the red stripe down the wall, and then get fans or a heat gun, or employ some other method to get the paint to dry quickly.

Oh, and … wallpaper works best when it’s hung on a wallpaper primer. Primers specific to wallpaper are designed to resist the tension created when wet wallpaper dries and shrinks a tad, putting stress on the seam area.

By running paint on the wall along the seam line, now you’ve covered up the wallpaper primer. There is no way to know if that perfectly pigmented craft store paint will hold up over the long run and keep the wallpaper seams tight to the wall.

That’s one reason I used a fairly light mix of the paint. A full-strength concentration of red paint might not allow the wallpaper paste to grip onto it. And definitely do not use a glossy paint. Nothing sticks to gloss.

As you can guess, this process adds a significant amount of time to your install. But it’s worth it, because, in the red room I hung pictured in previous posts, the seams were virtually invisible. I know that if I had not colored the edges of the paper as well as the wall, white would have shown just a teensy bit at the seams.

Preventing Speckles on Floors and Counter Tops

December 13, 2020

One of my pet peeves is splatters from a paint roller, that land all over a homeowner’s floor or countertop. See top two photos.

There are ways to prevent this. First and foremost is to use a dropcloth. You’d be surprised at how many contractors don’t bother.

But protecting shoe molding and backsplashes and faucets takes a bit more. A lot of people use blue painter’s tape across the top of surfaces.

But I like my method, which you see in the third photo. It’s a strip of dropcloth that I have cut into 9″ wide strips. The material is absorbant paper on the top side, and water-proof plastic on the back.

I use push-pins to tack it above the baseboards and shoe molding, and backsplashes, etc.

It’s wide enough to protect any width of molding, and also faucets on a vanity’s sink. And it’s thin and flexible enough that it will contour around any wall configuration.

Doing the Opposite Today – Removing Wallpaper

September 30, 2020


The large medallion on soft lavender on all walls of this large bedroom worked well for this gal for many years – but now that she’s an older teen, it was time for an update.

So instead of putting wallpaper up, today I took it down.

Most people think that stripping wallpaper is difficult. But if the walls were prepped properly, and if the paper was hung properly, and if the proper removal steps are followed, it should all go well, with minimal damage to the walls. See my link at right, on how to strip wallpaper.

The most important thing is to separate the top, inked layer of paper from the backing / substrate layer. I find that wetting this top layer with a sponge and plain water helps strengthen the fibers, so the top layer can be pulled off in larger strips.

In the second and third photos, you see how the purple layer has been stripped off, leaving the white backing attached to the wall. This top layer has to be removed, because it has an acrylic (or vinyl) coating, and will not allow water to pass through it.

The next step is to soak the backing with plain water and a sponge (see photo). No chemicals, no additives – just plain warm water. You will have to reapply water several times. The idea is to let water soak through this backing layer, to reactivate the paste underneath. Once that paste is good and wet, it should release from the wall. Sometimes you have to gently scrape the backing from the wall. But in my case today, once that paste was reactivated, the substrate layer came away from the wall in full, intact sheets. Easy peasy!

One photo shows my “dull” 3″ stiff putty knife. I call it “dull,” because it’s old and beaten up. But it’s really rather sharp. I use it to carefully get between the inked top layer of wallpaper and the bottom substrate layer. And then I use it to gently scrape wallpaper from the wall.

In my case today, the previous installer had done a superb job of hanging the wallpaper. He applied a primer before hanging the paper. That primer helped make this whole removal job go well, and it protected the walls from damage.

The family will need to apply a stain blocker to prevent any residual paste from causing the new paint from crackling or flaking off. Once that’s dry, the walls can be textured and / or painted. The room’s resident told me that she is planning to go all white.

This home is in the West University area of Houston.

Paint Must Be De-Glossed Before Adding A New Coat On Top

September 29, 2020


The original paint in both these photos was a gloss or semi-gloss. When it came time to update, someone applied a coat of new paint right on top. Then the floor guys came and stained the floor. To protect the new paint, they applied painter’s tape. Unfortunately, when the tape was removed, it took some of the new paint along with it.

Believe it or not, even something as relatively gentle as wiping wallpaper paste off the woodwork is enough to cause poorly-adhered paint to delaminate.

This happens because the new coat of paint was not given a sound surface to grab ahold of and adhere to.

To have properly prepared the original gloss paint to accept the new coat of white paint, the painter should have done one or more of the below:

1.) Sanded the paint to knock off the gloss. This leaves dust residue, so that dust will need to be wiped off with a damp rag or sponge (rinsed clean frequently) or a Tack Cloth.

2.) Wiped down with liquid chemical deglosser, such as Liquid Sandpaper.

3.) Primed with a bonding primer, formulated to stick to glossy surfaces, and also formulated to serve as an appropriate base for the new paint.

A primer is also not a bad idea to follow up in the case of 1.) and 2.) above.

Yes, all of this is a whole lot of work, and it creates dust and/or odors, takes more time, and adds cost.

But it’s a step well worth the investment, because properly prepped and painted surfaces will hold up and look professional for decades to come.

Special Powdered Paste for Farrow & Ball Wallpaper

September 16, 2020


This company covers their wallpaper with their special brand of paint, rather than inks like most other manufacturers use. They also print on a traditional “pulp” material, instead of the “non-woven” that most British manufacturers have moved to.

Because of these unique features, and the related pH conditions, they recommend you use their own brand of cellulose paste.

This paste is unique because it is not pre-mixed, but comes as a powder that you mix with water. I like to use a hand-held immersion blender. Once it’s mixed up, you have to let it sit a certain period of time before using.

Farrow & Ball Difficult Paper – Taming the Beast

September 13, 2020


Farrow & Ball is not among my favorite wallpaper manufacturers. For starters, they coat their wallpaper with their paint, instead of ink like every other manufacturer in the world uses.

Paint is not a good substitute for ink. It flakes, it doesn’t apply evenly so if you are standing at the right angle, you can see unevenness in the ground (background color). Plus, it burnishes with even the lightest brush stroke across it. Do a Search here to read my previous posts about this.

Look at the first photo, and you will see what we call gaps and overlaps. This happens when the trimmer blades at the factory are wobbly and / or dull, resulting in edges that are not cut straight. Thus, when two strips are butted together, you end up with some areas gapping and some areas overlapping.

Also, the seams like to give argument to staying down tight against the wall. Again, so a Search for previous posts about this.

This “Lotus” install was a little less problematic than my experiences with other patterns. The gaps and overlaps due to poor factory cutting were still present.

But the burnishing was less of an issue, because this pattern has so much printed area that there was not a lot of ground exposed to my smoothing brush.

I also found a way to get the seams to lie down better. For starters, I used a bit more paste (their special brand of powdered cellulose paste), than usual, and that wetted the paper out better, which made it want to hug the wall better.

Next, I found that if, before hanging each strip, I rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall under where the seams would fall, the edges of each strip would grab the wall and lie down more tightly and uniformly.

In the second photo, you can see my laser level marking the vertical line where I will run my roller of paste.

Most British manufacturers are printing on the newish non-woven substrates, which offer many positive features. Farrow & Ball, however, continues to use the traditional British pulp. When coated with their paint (instead of ink), this stuff tends to be pretty thick and stiff. The thickness adds a bit to the visible seams as seen in the top photo.

Also, once the paper becomes wet with the company’s cellulose paste, it becomes quite flexible and delicate. Meaning that it can be difficult to cut, as it often drags along even a brand new razor blade, leaving jagged edges. It tears easily. And, while unbooking, it sure felt like some of the strips were so weak that they wanted to break in two.

All in all, this install went well. But I sure would prefer if F&B would get with the rest of the wallpaper world and print on a better substrate, as well as ditch the paint in favor of good, reliable ink. And outfit their factory with some straight and sharp trimming blades.

Farrow & Ball Lotus in River Oaks Master Bedroom

September 12, 2020


“Lotus” is a very old and very popular pattern by the British paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball.

It comes in several colors, but for all four walls in a large bedroom in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, the homeowner wisely chose this muted light tan-on-white.

It coordinates beautifully with the newly lightened and refinished floors, and the woodwork.

The material has an interesting gesso-like texture, which you can see in the last photo. It kind of makes the walls look like an artist’s painting.