Posts Tagged ‘paint’

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.

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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.

Way Fun Splotchy, Inky Lines in a Heights Powder Room

January 10, 2019


Here we are, in another new tract home in inside-the-Loop Houston, with a generic look and beige-everything. The homeowners have twin daughters who are just learning to walk, and they wanted their home to reflect the fresh energy of the young family.

Here comes a fun “angled, tufted pillow” sort of design to the rescue!

This cool design looks like it was hand-drawn in watercolor paint, and has a distinct Rorschach Ink Blot Test feel to it.

The manufacturer is Graham & Brown. It is a nice-quality non-woven material, and was nice to work with. It should hold up very nicely as this young family grows.

Non-wovens are also designed to strip off the wall easily and with little-to-no damage to the walls when it’s time to redecorate.

Another Example of Wall Surfaces (Paint) Delaminating

January 7, 2019


This is a picture of an air conditioner vent, where I have removed the louvered cover. Around the edges, you can see where some of the paint stuck to the cover and pulled away when the cover was removed.

Although this house is only 30 years old, the walls have been covered with many layers of paint (probably due to children of different ages and genders using the room over the years). None of this paint would have been oil-based, but you are still going to find disparate and incompatible layers applied on top of one another.

The biggest issues here would be paint applied over dusty walls, or paint applied over a glossy surface, such as semi-gloss paint. It’s not likely that the new coat of paint would be able to adhere really tightly to either dust or gloss.

So when the air vent cover came off, you can see that it pulled off several layers of paint, probably right down to the drywall. I had a feeling that, if I tried, I could work at that wall and peel off all those layers of paint pretty easily, right down to the drywall.

The lesson here is, walls should always be prepped properly before any treatment (paint, wallpaper, wood veneer paneling) is applied.

What is proper prep? Well, that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother discussion!

Patch Disguises Delaminated Wall

December 19, 2018

I hung this paper for a young couple in a cute 1930 bungalow in the Heights neighborhood of Houston a year or two ago. After a year or so, the wallpaper began to gap at the seams. Turns out this is not the wallpaper coming loose from the wall. What is happening is that the various layers of paint and etc. inside the wall are actually coming apart.

The wallpaper dried and shrank and put torque (tension) on the wall at the seams. Also factoring in is humidity in the air, poor air circulation in the air, and possibly a moisture problem inside this wall. Oh, and this wallpaper manufacturer, Hygge & West, is known for using inks that curl away from the wall at the points where they cross the seams.

But the real culprit is years’ worth of paint and other wall surfaces that are not compatible with one another. Back 80 years ago, you had oil-based paint. Cover that with latex paint, then do a project that creates dust that sifts onto the walls, add some gloss paint, roll on a coat of latex, then a layer of texture, then more paint … all without proper prep between.

Proper prep or not, most of these wall coatings are not prepared to adhere to one another, and when drying / shrinking wallpaper puts stress on the surface, the various layers can let go from one anther and “delaminate” – which means to come apart.

In the photo, you can see the thickness of the separating layers. Some layers of paint have held fast to the wall, but others have let go and curled back. Because there is dust and gloss and other factors underneath, it’s not guaranteed that anything will hold the layers back tight to the wall.

Adhesive silicone caulk was my glue of choice. It will stick to porous or glossy surfaces. I squeezed some carefully into the popped seams, spread it around, closed the seam back up, and then waited for the caulk to tack up and grab ahold of the layer above it.

Eventually the caulk dried enough and became tacky enough that it held the layers together. Not perfectly, but at least there was no gaping opening at the seam.

The gap and a slight “pouch” still showed, so I thought of covering them with a patch that would span the seam, holding both sides together.

So next I took some left over paper (ALWAYS save your left overs!) and cut out dark green palm leaves. I made sure to leave a wide section on either side that was cut along the individual fronds, so they would mimic the pattern on the wall, and so there would be a wide area to straddle the seam and add stability. The area I cut out between each front helped the patch blend in with the pattern that was on the existing paper on the wall.

The stupid camera ate my picture of the patch after it was cut and pasted, but before it was applied to the wall. Dang it, because that would have explained a lot of my process.

Anyway, I made several of these frond-leaved patches, pasted them, and then applied them to the wall, directly straddling the popped seams. Not only did this cover and hide the open edges of the seams, but the width of the patch helped strengthen the bond while at the same time lessening the possibility that a seam would open up again.

In the last photo,  at the top of the picture, you can see one appliqué patch applied, straddling the seam.  Moving down the wall, I would add two more similar patches over the seam.

From a distance – heck, even from up close, you could not see the repaired areas.

It’s Hard to Conceive That This Painter Went Home Feeling Proud of His Work

November 4, 2018


Every bit of molding in this house had bizarre globs of paint like you see in the top two photos (and much worse). In addition, there were plenty of splatters of paint on the homeowners’ brand new dark hardwood floors.

Leopards Walk the Room Right

August 19, 2018


I’ll be the first to admit – I love a darkly decorated room. But this all-black powder room in the home of a young couple in the Heights neighborhood of Houston was not making the grade. With shiny black paint on all four walls, there was nothing to define the room. You literally could not even see where one wall ended and another began. And the work had been done poorly, with zillions of bumps and bits of stuff stuck in the paint.

My first task was to use Liquid Sandpaper to degloss the shiny paint. Then I skim-floated the walls to smooth over the irregularities. Sanded smooth, wiped off the dust with a damp sponge, then primed with the penetrating sealer Gardz. Sorry, no pic of the prepped walls.

The new homeowner was fine with the dark idea, but she wanted something fun and a little sassy, that would wake you up when you walk into the room. These marching rows of leopards do just that!

The new wallpaper is still dark. But not quite as dark. And because it has pattern and some variations in color, you can easily see the corners, and each individual wall. The room is no longer stark and oppressive, but warm and fun.

This wallpaper design is called Leopard Walk, and is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is a thin and flexible non-woven material with a vinyl surface that will resist splashes and stains better than most papers.

Happy Humming Birds Take the Hum-Drum Out of a Heights Powder Room

August 2, 2018


The light murky-green color of the original wallpaper pattern in this under-the-stairs powder room in the north Heights neighborhood of Houston coordinated nicely with the paint in the main rooms of the house. But the tiny fleur-de-lis pattern was way too small to do any justice to the room. The new homeowner never liked it and, after four years in the home, decided it was time for a change.

This new hummingbird pattern by Thibaut is called “Augustine.” It is one of my favorite designs, as well as one of my favorite products to work with.

As you can see, it fills the wall space much better, it is light and bright and airy, and it adds a pleasing upward movement – the whole overall effect is uplifting.

Also, the colorway is perfect with the room’s beautiful stained glass window.

When I first consulted with the homeowners, I showed them samples of more contemporary designs. They were not sold. Then I looked at their historically styled home, with it’s Victorian accents and classic furnishings. So I pulled out my more traditional file – and they zeroed in on this pattern right away.

Perfect choice! Indeed, this pattern dates back more than a hundred years. In fact, the goods come 18.5″ wide, as opposed to the typical 20.5″ wide, and I’m told that that is because it is printed on the same exact printing presses they used back in the 1800’s.

It is printed using the raised-ink process, it comes pre-pasted, it is a joy to work with, it doesn’t shrink when it dries, it hugs the wall tightly and is easy to work around corners, and should stay nice and flat under most home conditions for decades.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and 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.

Don’t Touch the Wall, and Don’t Cover the Switchplates With Wallpaper

July 22, 2018


A little hard to see in the photo, but there is dirt all around the switch plate, particularly to the left. This wall is painted, but wallpaper will become soiled when touched, too.

Even clean hands have oils in them, and, over time, this can leave stains on painted and papered walls. This is why I always “lecture” my clients to touch the switch, not the paper.

It’s also a good reason to not cover switch plates with wallpaper.