Posts Tagged ‘paper-backed’

Cute Tiny Gold Dots on Blood Red

May 23, 2020

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


The first photo shows the original “cloud blue” wallpaper (along with some damage to the wall from when the pedestal sink was removed. I repaired that damage before hanging the new paper.) It was on a “satin” textured solid vinyl material, and both the pattern and the type of paper were very common back in the ’90’s.

Unfortunately, these paper-backed solid vinyl papers don’t hold up well, and have a tendency to curl at the seams and at baseboards, moldings, etc. Plus the shiny look is just … uh… a bit tacky.

Time for an update. The new paper is a complete 180* change – it’s dark and playful, with a small pattern that is more of a backdrop than a focal point in itself. The mirror and hand towel will help set off the paper.

In addition, this paper is on a non-woven substrate, which should not present the curling problems that the vinyl did. And the non-wovens are designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Sure Strip line, which I like a lot, and 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.

Solid Vinyl Paper Pooching at Seams

May 15, 2020


Today I stripped off this paper. It was dark and dated. But also, it had started curling up a bit at the seams.

The homeowners said this started after Hurricane Harvey, when they were without power for two weeks, and the lack of air conditioning allowed humidity to permeate the house.

So here we have paper-backed, pre-pasted, solid-vinyl wallpaper doing what it does best – succumbing to humidity, by allowing moisture to wick in behind the seams, which causes the paper backing to swell, pushing the vinyl surface back in a curl. Sometimes, the paper backing actually delaminates (comes apart from) the vinyl layer.

My main reason why I encourage people to steer away from these materials. The price point is attractive, but the quality and longevity is not.

Interestingly as a side note, it looks like the previous installer did not pay attention to the pattern match. Well, no biggie. On this design, it is not very noticeable, and the homeowners have lived with it happily for 20 years or more.

20+ Year Old Paper – Still Perfect

July 31, 2019


I hung this paper in a master bathroom in Bellaire more than 20 years ago. It is still in perfect shape!

This is due partly to the good quality paper the homeowner chose (not low-end, pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl), to good ventilation removing humidity from the room, to good installation techniques, and to the great primer I used at that time – Oil Based KILZ Original. Unfortunately, EPA regulations forced changes to this primer, and wallpaper paste will no longer stick to it.

The homeowners are going to renovate and update the bathroom, so I was there taking measurements for the new room. When it comes time to remove this old paper, I know that it will strip off easily and cleanly, because of the installation and primer used when it was put up.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Lower-End Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

June 7, 2019

People often think that vinyl wallpaper will be good in a bathroom, because water will roll off it. but in reality, very little water gets splashed on the walls – but a lot of moisture can get wicked into the seams.

These photos (you may want to scroll to enlarge them) show how the lower-end, paper-backed, solid-vinyl wallpapers tend to perform poorly in humid rooms like bathrooms. The problem is that moisture gets in between the seams and into the paper backing. That backing absorbs moisture and expands, curling away from the wall. The backing can actually go a step further and delaminate from the top vinyl layer.

This type of paper often performs like this when you’ve got people taking steamy showers, forgetting to turn on the vent fan, forgetting to keep the door open for air circulation, etc. Neither of these situations can be fixed. You will be stuck with these slightly curled seams.

The thing is, there are plenty of nice, paper or non-woven wallpapers out there, that will hold up a lot better in bathrooms.

Low End Wallpaper – Not So Bad This Time

October 12, 2018


I’ve said it before – these budget-friendly, pre-pasted, manila paper-baked solid vinyl wallpaper products are generally not good quality, and the Norwall brand is about at the bottom of the list. In fact, I often will decline to hang it. Do a Search here on those terms, or click the Page to the right “Stay Away From … ” for more info.

However, this homeowner, a Meyerland neighborhood (Houston) victim of the Hurricane Harvey flooding, and a client for whom I had worked back in the ’90’s, really loved the pattern, as well as the price-point. And she wanted her entry to look as it had before the flood ravaged her home.

I was pleasantly surprised. The paper went up OK, and the seams looked fine. It’s possible that the company has improved its product. But it’s more likely that my new installation method helped.

Instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions to run the paper through a water tray, which makes the material too wet and promotes bubbling, and instead of pasting the back of the paper, which turns it into a gummy mess, I tried something new. I used a spray bottle to lightly spritz fresh water onto the back; this activated the paste, but was not so much water that it would cause bubbling or seam curling or over-expansion of the material. I booked the paper and put it in a black trash bag to sit a few minutes.

Next I rolled paste onto the wall. I started out using a very faint coat, but found that a tad more worked better. I used a brush to cut the paste into the edges and around the floor and ceiling.

When I took the very slightly dampened paper to the wall and smoothed it against the lightly pasted surface, it adhered very nicely. It was pretty easy to smooth into position, although there was some twisting of some strips, which could have been a problem in a room that required more strips next to one another.

Usually these inexpensive vinyl papers grow bubbles, because, as they dry, there is nowhere for the moisture to go (because it can’t pass through the vinyl surface), so blisters form. But today was very little bubbling.

Best of all, the seams looked good. I didn’t get any of the raised edges that are so unattractive, and that allow moisture / humidity to penetrate and cause the backing to swell and pull away from the wall.

I am not saying that I was happy with this paper. But it was a lot better than I expected. And I hope that it will continue to look good for years to come.

Blue Birds Brighten a Bathroom – But Not A Good Quality Paper

June 27, 2018


The original wallpaper had fallen victim to curled seams. This happens most often with lower-end pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallcoverings, particularly in humid rooms, like this bathroom. Adding to the list of no-no’s were an improperly smoothed wall and the lack of a primer.

The seams on these papers are never great to begin with. When there is humidity, it will find its way into the seams and onto the paper backing of the wallpaper. When this backing gets wet by humidity, it expands. When it expands, it has nowhere to go but out – pushing away from the wall. This results in a curled seam. This is not “loose” wallpaper, and the seams cannot be glued back down. In many cases, the paper backing layer of the wallpaper actually delaminates (separates from) the top vinyl layer.

The homeowner loved the pattern, particularly the blue birds, and bought the same exact paper to replace the other. I stripped off the old paper, took various steps to stabilize the unsound wall surface, then skim-coated the wall to smooth it, primed, and hung the new paper.

The look is cheery and bright, and looks fabulous with the pale yellow bead-board wainscoting. The seams looked good when I left, and will pull down tighter as the paper dries.

Still, these economical pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpapers are not my choice for use in any room. And this particular brand (Norwall) just about tops my list for brands to NOT purchase.

My Solution for Yesterday’s Cantankerous Wallpaper

June 27, 2018


Here’s what I ended up doing with the Norwall pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpaper that was featured in my previous post. This brand is known for curling seams, as well as seams that just don’t lie down nice and flat, but appear to be “pouched” just a tad. I experimented with several pasting techniques, hoping to get nice, flat seams.

… It didn’t do well when I pasted it with full strength paste, as it got gummy and dried out too quickly. And it didn’t do well when I pasted it with diluted paste. Nor was it happy when I ran it through a water tray as per mfgr’s instructions (and then rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall); it went up great and looked good … but look back at it after 10 minutes and discover that it has bubbled. What worked best was to wet it in the water tray and then unbook the strips and let them hang to dry out for 10-15 minutes or more. This left enough moisture for the paper to grab ahold of the paste I had rolled onto the wall, but eliminated the excess moisture that was causing the off-gassing and bubbles.

I wet a bunch of strips at a time… I had them hanging over the shower rod, on the towel bars, over the door, and the small ones got set on the toilet to dry.

Lower-End Vinyl Wallpaper is Bad Stuff

April 24, 2018


Pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallcoverings are economical, and they are often touted as “kitchen and bath papers,” because the vinyl surface is resistant to water and because it can be washed better than paper papers.

But these products often perform poorly, especially in rooms with humid conditions or where they may be splashed with water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. It’s very common for the seams to curl, as you see in the photo. In some cases, the seams never look good, even when the paper is newly hung.

The curling seams are caused, in my opinion, because the paper backing absorbs moisture from the air, or if water is splashed onto a backsplash and can be wicked up into the paper backing of the wallpaper. The paper expands, the vinyl doesn’t, causing it to curl back. Then the vinyl actually delaminates from the paper backing. This is not a “loose seam” and cannot be simply glued back down. The two layers of the product are coming apart, and cannot be repaired.

My advice – avoid these papers. Instead go for a paper paper, or one of the new non-woven papers. More info on choosing a quality paper in the “Beginning – General Info Pack” page to the right.

A Possible Good Quality Pre-Pasted, Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

March 8, 2018


In previous posts, including one day ago, I have railed against the lower-price-point, pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpapers. Do a Search here to find out why.

But today, at the end of a 9-day job in Bellaire, where each of the four bathrooms was using the same brand of wallpaper, this final pattern (in a powder room) actually went up beautifully.

The seams laid down nice and flat, there was no bubbling, no curling, no fighting with it. Even I could not find the seams!

I noticed three differences. First, the vinyl on the surface was smooth, instead of the lightly textured faux “satin” look on the other two patterns. Second, the paper backing seemed smoother, as contrasted to the somewhat gritty, porous paper backing on the other patterns. Third, the pre-paste applied by the manufacturer to the back of the paper was smoother and more gel-like, instead of the dry, globby, cantankerous paste on the other papers.

It’s too early to tell how this paper will hold up under humid conditions. But I have much more hope that it will not absorb humidity from the air, and will stay nice and flat to the wall.

The manufacturer is “Exclusive Wallcoverings” and is a British company. I’m not saying I love this paper, but it appears to be better than most of the pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl offerings out there.

Wallpaper and YouTube Don’t Mix

December 31, 2017


This West University mother of young children went to YouTube for some primers on how to hang wallpaper, and then, along with hubby, spent a 3-day weekend tackling the powder room redo project. They didn’t do a horrible job (first three photos), but there were some things that must not have been covered on YouTube.

First, and probably most important, the walls should have been primed with a product designed for wallpaper.

Second, seams should be butted, not overlapped.

Third, wallpaper should not be wrapped around the door moldings, but trimmed at the base.

Fourth, I’m not sure what’s going on with the cuts at the baseboard. I think the room had seen a number of redecorating efforts, and that the baseboards took a bit of a beating in the process, leaving a surface that wasn’t smooth and wasn’t willing to hold on to wallpaper.

I stripped off their wallpaper, patched bad spots, sanded the walls, then primed with Gardz, a penetrating sealing primer that bonds together porous surfaces and that is also a good base to hold wallpaper.

The rest of the photos are of the room after I hung the new paper.

This product is a pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl material. It happens to be one of my least favorite kinds of wallpaper. The homeowner chose it because she has young children and the vinyl is reputed to be more water-resistant and durable than other types of wallpaper. If she had consulted with me before she bought her paper, I would have steered her in another direction.

It’s true that the vinyl surface is resistant to water, and it’s more resistant to stains than a paper-wallpaper. But that doesn’t make the product wonderful.

The main problem is the paper backing. This stuff is not horrible, but it does have a reputation for curling a tad at the seams (do a search on my blog for previous posts). Humidity (such as in a bathroom with showering) can cause increased curling at the seams. Any water that falls on a cut edge of the paper (along backsplashes, seams under hand towels, etc.) can wick into the paper backing and cause it to expand, which will cause the seams to curl.

To reduce the potential for seam curling, I used a special pasting process (rather than following the manufacturer’s instructions). And I ran a bead of caulk along the top of the backsplash (see 4th photo – the caulk will be clear when it’s dry) to prevent splashed water from wicking up under the wallpaper.

My trim cuts along the baseboard looked better than the homeowners’, but I still felt the baseboard was compromised somehow and that wallpaper did not have a good surface to grip ahold of. So I ran a bead of caulk along the top of the baseboards, too.

This wallpaper is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, a British manufacturer. It is a faux grasscloth, and, unlike true grasscloths, it is pretty water- and stain-resistant, and it has a pattern that can be matched. In fact, the close-up photo above shows a seam – and I’ll bet that you can’t find it! The pattern number is FD44143

Next time around, when a mom has concerns about her kids touching or splashing the wallpaper, I would suggest she consider one of the newish non-woven products. Or, better yet, a scrim-backed (woven fabric-backed) solid vinyl product, such as something from the Thibaut brand Texture Resource line, particularly Volume 4. Everything in that book is beautifully textured and realistic, and virtually indestructible. Do a search here to see my previous posts.