Posts Tagged ‘paint’

Transforming a Stark Hallway

October 7, 2017

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This young couple in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston has a beautifully updated and furnished 1940 ranch style home. But they wanted to up the volume, so to speak, and thought that this hallway, which slices through the center of the home, would make a fine focal point.

I’ve hung this classic damask pattern twice before, and was carrying around a sample of it when I visited them for an initial consultation. They liked it immediately, and, after considering several other patterns, decided on the damask.

To make the area really special, they added a chair rail and crown molding.

It’s hard to get a good shot of a long, narrow hallway. But you can see how the color and pattern adds warmth and dimension to the space, and the lightly pearlized shimmer of the paper definitely adds a touch of understated glamor.

Since the chair rail was a main feature of the room, I positioned the pattern so that the bottom of the damask motif landed just above the chair rail. Likewise, the top of the motif sits just below the crown molding. This looks a lot better than having part of the design chopped off in mid-motif.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers, and was delightful to work with. It was bought at below retail price from 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.

In fact, the couple is going to meet with Dorota tomorrow, to choose a complimentary paint color for the bottom portion of the walls.

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Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Again – Not Lovin’ It This Time

August 27, 2017

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“…Mitchell Black (company) is taking the intimidation out of wallpaper, one bold pattern and easy-hang strip at a time,” says the bi-line.  I’m always glad to see wall décor in public media.  But I see a number of problems with the rest of their information.

First, they print commercial grade (fine for its setting), traditional paper (great – as long as it’s a good substrate), and peel-and-stick (horrible).  P&S paper is like putting a large and unworkable sheet of Contact Paper on your walls.   Even though they call it “removable paper,” it will tear up the wall as you pull it off.   It’s very difficult to get smoothed out and looking good; the article even says that you can expect it to trap air bubbles so “…save it for rooms with lots of furniture and soft light.”  !!

Next, they print on 24″ wide x 18′ long rolls.   Regular wallpaper comes either 20.5″ or 27″ wide.  Why print on an odd sized roll?  And what’s with a measly 18′ long roll?  Most papers come 33′ long or 27′ long, and generally yield three or two strips respectively.  With a roll 18′ long, with 8′ high ceilings, you might get two strips (after allowing for trimming and pattern placement / matching), but with the more common 9′ ceilings, you will get only one strip).  And a whole lot of paper you paid for that is going in the trash can.

Last, it says, “Some pros paint first, but it’s not necessary.  Just spackle holes and sand rough spots.”  Wrong, wrong, WRONG!  Proper wall prep counts for 60% or more of a successful job!  Paperhangers don’t “paint” – they prime, with a primer specifically suited for wallpaper.  And merely glossing over imperfections won’t hide them … walls must be as perfectly smooth as possible.  If you paper over a textured wall, the bumps will show through.  If you paper over a glossy wall, the paper won’t stick.

I’m not fond of their patterns, either.  Cute designs, but three of the four photos of room sets with furniture and accessories looked awfully busy.

Just my 2c.

Don’t Write in Ink on the Wallpaper – or the Wall!!

August 25, 2017

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The contactor added wall light sconces on either side of the sink, and he also hung the heavy mirror.  For some reason, he roughed in where these objects were to be placed by marking the walls with a Sharpie ink marker, or something similar.

Folks – NEVER write on the wall with ink.  Nor with crayon, ballpoint pen, or the like.  The substances will eventually work their way through the wallpaper (as well as paint, wall texture, or a myriad of other surfaces), and will end up looking like ghost shadows.

Pencil is OK, and so is a light snap from a chalk line.  These materials won’t bleed through the new top layer of wallpaper.

Wallpaper – Twos are Bad News

May 6, 2017

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The homeowners were testing colors of paint for their woodwork. No problem with that. But what WAS a problem is that they labeled those choices by writing numbers on the wall with a Sharpie – in INK!

Ink bleeds through paint, and it bleeds through wallpaper. The stain might not appear immediately, but over time, the shadow of this “2” would eventually work its way through the new wallpaper.

There are sealers that will cover this (I like oil-based KILZ Original). But in this case, since the spots were small, I used sandpaper to scrub all traces of the ink off the wall.

For the record, there are other substances that will bleed through wallpaper, too. Ink, blood, rust, water stains, and any oil- or petroleum-based material, like crayon, lipstick, baby oil, cooking oil, grease, pet stains, etc.

Fixing a “Hot Mess”

April 18, 2017

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The homeowners of this house in Fleetwood (west Houston) tried to remove the wallpaper from their powder room on their own. They did a reasonably good job at the start, but soon realized that they were in over their heads.

In the top photo, they have removed the top layer of wallpaper from the wall on the left. The problem came when trying to take off the white backing layer. Their efforts resulted in torn drywall (second photo). Torn drywall is very bad, because it will leave uneven areas under the new wallpaper / paint. Worse, it will bubble when the moisture from the wallpaper paste or latex paint touches it, and that will leave bubbles under the new wallpaper / paint.

These homeowners were smart enough to stop before more damage was done, and called in the pros (me).

I finished stripping off the old wallpaper, using methods that caused less damage to the drywall. There was one patch of original wallpaper, a foil-type that dated back to the build date of 1976, that would not come off without a lot of damage to the wall. I left that section on the wall.

Once all the paper was off that would come off, I sealed the torn drywall and other unstable surface areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer. Once that was dry, I skim-floated the entire room with “mud,” (joint compound). When that was dry, I sanded the surface smooth. Then I vacuumed up the dust, then wiped any residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge.

Lastly, I rolled on another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. It will dry hard and tight, preventing the torn drywall from bubbling, and holding all the loose or unstable areas together. It is also a good primer for wallpaper, so tomorrow the walls will be prepped and ready for their new décor! See last photo.

Preventing Stains by Sealing Ink with KILZ

December 8, 2016

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See that red vertical line just to the right of the paint can? The previous wallpaper installer had used a red Magic Marker to color the edges of his vinyl wallpaper. This is a good way to cover the white edges so the seams don’t show, especially with a dark paper. But it’s better to use chalk or colored pencils, because oil or ink can bleed through and will stain the new wallpaper or paint.

In this photo, the previous dark red wallpaper has been stripped off, but the red ink that was used to color the seam’s edges has soaked into the wall. The wall has been skim-floated with a light coat joint compound and then primed with the penetrating sealer Gardz. Yet the red ink has bled through. If wallpaper is hung over this red line, it is quite likely that, over time, the ink will work its way through the various layers and up to the surface.

The best way to prevent that is to use a stain-blocker. KILZ Original oil-based sealer and stain blocker is about the best product on the market for this. Brush it on, it dries quickly, and then you are safe to apply wallpaper, paint, or other materials.

KILZ will also block stains from oil, smoke, rust, water, ink, crayon, tobacco, and more.

Crinkly Paint Caused by Paste Residue

July 12, 2016

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Hard to discern, but the red / brown at the top of the photo is wallpaper, on the vertical side of a soffit around the top of a dining room. The greenish area is the bottom of the soffit.

The craggly looking stuff at the junction is crackling paint. Why is this paint getting crackly and crumbly?

Wallpaper paste will cause paint to crackle. The original installer must have left a teensy bit of adhesive on the wall (which is easy to do), and, over time, a reaction occurred, and a very small strip of paint began to crack and flake.

This was only about 2″ long, and 1/16″ wide, and 10′ up in the air, so, not anything anyone is really going to notice. And, over a decade and a half, nobody ever did. Only me, when it was time to strip off the old paper.

I do find these little things interesting, though, because they help me be aware of things that can happen, and help me to take measures to prevent them when I am installing a wallpaper job.

Got a Call for a “Wallpaper Disaster” Today

June 21, 2016

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Monday: This evening, I got a call from a friend who is a member of the Masonic lodge not far from my house. It seems they are renovating a room – and hope to have it finished in time for an awards luncheon on Saturday. That would be four days from today. They intend to strip wallpaper, paint the walls and a heavily textured ceiling, pull up old carpet, and lay a new laminate floor. And it’s a BIG room.

The top layer of wallpaper was vinyl, and stripped off easily and cleanly. But this bottom layer, which is the original paper from when the lodge was built in 1952, was not cooperating. They had soaked it, used a solvent, and tried scraping, but the paper wasn’t budging. That’s what you see in the photo – some original paper, some scraped off with backing and / or paste left on the wall, and some bare plaster. So my friend called and asked if I could take a look.

I was curious, because this type of wallpaper usually comes off relatively easily, once it is soaked and the old paste reactivates. Especially since the walls appeared to have been properly sealed, which makes removal later easier.

But once I got to playing with it, I realized that the old wallpaper had been coated with a sealer, before the new vinyl was applied. In other words, the original installers did a good job by properly sealing the plaster walls (you don’t see many buildings in Houston that have authentic plaster walls!), and then the next crew did a good job, too, by sealing the original wallpaper before applying the vinyl wallpaper. (Actually, they should have stripped off the original paper, but perhaps they were unable to do so, which sometimes does happen.)

But the sealer kept water from penetrating into the paper and reactivating the paste. So the lodge guys could have soaked the walls all day, but not accomplished much. (They were also using a squirt bottle – my bucket of warm water and a large sponge soaks much more area much faster.)

Sometimes, it’s time to call uncle. If the paper won’t come off, take proper steps to prepare it so you can go over it. So what they’re going to do is skim-float the wall with joint compound, which means they will be troweling on a thin layer of a plaster-like substance. Once that is dry (overnight), they will sand it smooth and then wipe off all dust with a damp sponge rinsed clean frequently. That will leave a very smooth surface, with none of the ridges from the torn wallpaper showing, nor any cracks in the plaster.

To create a uniform surface under their new paint, it is important that they float the entire wall, even areas that do not have torn wallpaper, because their new paint will soak differently into the various surfaces of the wall – plaster, wallpaper, wallpaper with a sealant over it, residue from wallpaper paste, etc. Skim-coating the entire wall, including corners and edges along ceiling and moldings, will create a perfectly uniform surface, that will yield a uniform finish on the new paint.

Before painting, the newly smoothed wall will need to be sealed, and I recommended Gardz by Zinsser. It is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces, such as new joint compound. (It is also wonderful – in fact, designed – to seal torn drywall, to prevent bubbling when a water-based product is applied.)

I know you can hang wallpaper on top of Gardz, but they will have to ask the paint store guys if they can paint on top of it, or if it will need a paint primer first.

It’s a lot of work, but the guy there whom I talked to seemed up for the challenge – he was knowledgeable, energetic and enthusiastic, and I got the impression that he didn’t have a day job and so could invest some serious hours at the lodge, getting the room into shape.

They promised to give me an update, later in the week.

Beautiful, Quiet-Toned Master Bath Remodel

May 19, 2016
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This poor couple in a home near Tanglewood, Houston, started the remodel of her master bathroom more than a year ago, and they have been living in disarray ever since (a pretty common story 😦 ). Wallpaper is one of the last elements of the job, so they are now almost finished and able to get back into the room!

This is a subtle stripe pattern with a faux crackle finish motif – quite unusual. It compliments their tile and paint very nicely.

The homeowner had asked me to place the pattern so that the “crackle” design would not fall against the shower tile, because she thought the tile and the wallpaper looked too much alike.  I was happy to accommodate this request.  But I was also concerned about how the stripe pattern would play out across the various walls.  Once that first strip is hung, all the other strips – and the stripes on them – pretty much have to fall where the geometry dictates.

But because the pattern was “fuzzy,” I was could play with it a little, and was able to manipulate it so that the stripes were centered on four key walls – on the wall next to the shower tile (shown), behind the toilet (shown), on a wall next to the closet, and on the wall with the sink.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, and was a dream to work with. It will hold up well in this bathroom.  It 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.

More Reasons NOT to Let the Painters Prep the Walls for Wallpaper

May 16, 2016
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This week, I got at least three calls / e-mails that declared: “Our painters prepped the walls for you, so everything is ready to go.” NOT TRUE! Painters are good at painting, and at prepping walls and woodwork for paint. For PAINT. So why would you have them prep the walls for WALLPAPER?

I run into this a lot. I think the painters are at the house working on something else (like PAINT), and they want to pick up a little extra money, so they tell the homeowners that they can prep the walls for the paperhanger. Folks – don’t fall for it. Let the wallpaper professional do what he / she is good at. Let the WALLPAPER HANGER prep the walls, not the painter (or anyone else).

Here’s what I encountered today. The walls in this bathroom were originally textured. The painters (or contractor or some other worker) skim floated the walls to smooth them. They did a decent job. In the middle of the walls.

But look closer. These guys did not bother to remove the switch plates or the light fixtures (top photo), so there are rough areas under where the new wallpaper will go, plus a difference in height of the wall surface. I always remove towel bars and light fixtures and smooth the wall as completely as possible.

They also did not get the smoothing compound tightly into corners or along the ceiling and baseboards (second photo). This leaves a gap or jagged area where the wallpaper is supposed to be trying to hold onto the wall. Not good at all. I ask myself, “Is this a good bed for the wallpaper to lie in?” What you see in the photo is not. I always squish the smoothing compound into the corner, and then take my finger and run it along there, like you would with caulk, creating a smooth transition, which gives the wallpaper something solid to grab ahold of.

The painters did a good job of sanding the walls smooth, but they did not wipe dust off the walls. Nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. These things will “kinda” stick, but once tension / torque is put on the wall (by drying / shrinking paint or wallpaper), the subsurface is likely to let go, resulting in peeling paint or curling seams. It is imperative that sanding dust be wiped off the wall with a damp sponge, rinsed frequently, before paint or wallpaper are applied.

One e-mail I got the week stated that the painters had “prepped the walls” (whatever that means), and then applied KILZ 2 as a primer. “These guys prep walls for a high-end interior designer all the time, and this is what they use.” But why would you not ask the paperhanger who is going to hang the paper which primer he / she prefers? KILZ 2 is a sealer and stain blocker. It is not a wallpaper primer. It was developed as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to KILZ Original, but is not nearly as good. It is also latex, which is not a good choice under wallpaper.

Once a product is on the wall, it’s on there. You can’t get it off. So you can only go over it with something more suitable. This results in more and more layers piled up on the wall, some of which may be compatible and may adhere to one another, and some of which may not. Now put paste, wallpaper, and tension-while-drying on top of that. See where this is going?

If you want to have your painter prep the walls for wallpaper – go ahead. But as I tell my clients: You can pay your painter to “prep the walls,” but you’re going to pay me to do it over again.