Posts Tagged ‘paperhangers’

1″ X 5′ = 9 sq ft of Lost Paper

July 18, 2021

For all the prospective clients who think they can pull out their calculator and slide rule and then meticulously calculate that they can cover their walls with 186.7 sq ft of wallpaper – WRONG!

Here is a good example of waste, and why you can’t purchase wallpaper based on square feet alone.

Here we are working with a non-woven material that is packaged in 21″ wide x 33′ long.

In the photo, that narrow 1″ wide strip of wall on the left needs to be covered with wallpaper.

That’s 1″ wide x 5′ tall. That comes out to .41 square feet of wallpaper.

Sounds negligible, doesn’t it? But in real life, a whole lot more wallpaper will be called into play – and tossed into the trash – in order to cover this miniscule space.

Although I stockpile all scraps, there is nothing in my remnant pile that is long enough, nor the correct pattern match, to cover this space.

So I must cut a new length from a bolt of wallpaper.

The pattern has a 25″ repeat, so I had to cut off almost this much in order to come up with the correct pattern match. That’s 25″ long x 21″ wide … so already, we are nearly 4 square feet cut off and thrown onto the trash pile.

Now that I have the pattern matched correctly, I need 5 running feet of it to cover the length of wall in the photo. That’s 60″ long x the 21″ wide width of the wallpaper. That calculates to 8.75 square feet of paper.

Of those 8.75 square feet, remember that I need only a 1″ wide strip. As previously mentioned, that comes to .41 square feet.

So, 8.75 sq ft – .41 sq ft = 8.33 sq ft of paper that can’t be used anywhere else, and will be tossed onto the discard pile.

That’s 8.33 sq ft of waste. Considering that the average single roll of wallpaper contains 28 square feet (but in reality, only 22 square feet of useable paper), this leaves you with only 19.75 square feet of useable paper.

In double roll speak, this means a bolt with 56 square feet, which is better calculated at 44 useable square feet, after hanging this one puny 1″ wide strip, you are left with 47.7 sq ft of useable paper – nearly 10 sq ft lost for just one 1″ wide strip!

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even gotten into pattern repeats, trimming at ceiling and floor, going around windows, vaulted ceilings, stairs, multiple drops, expansion when wet with paste, and all sorts of other factors.

Bottom Line: We paperhangers know the ins and outs of this stuff.

And homeowners don’t. Nor do contractors, painters, handymen, nor even engineers. Most of all, NOT engineers. (I love ’em all,,,, but they tend to get bogged down in details, and overlook the grand scale.)

Bottom, Bottom Line: Let the paperhanger measure the space and calculate how much wallpaper to order.

Using a Uni Tool

June 9, 2020

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I first saw this tool at the 2013 paperhangers’ convention, and it was lust at first sight. Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to buy one. It was designed by a member of the paperhangers’ guild (the Wallcovering Installers Association), and serves a number of purposes. The lady’s name is Eunice, so we call her tool a “Euni (or Uni) Tool.”

I’ll spare you the technical details and just focus on what I use it for mostly, which is a straight edge guide for double cutting wallpaper (splicing two pieces). There is a non-slip pad under the left edge, the pointy end allows you to get right up to the ceiling, and then you use the right edge as a guide when cutting. Today I used it when cutting through two layers of wallpaper, and also used it to cut through one layer, by butting it up against the next strip and then resting my blade against the edge of the trimmer.

In the bottom photo, you can see what a nice, tight seam this made.

Peel & Stick = Piece of Sh!t

September 24, 2019


We’re seeing more and more of this peel-and-stick, supposedly “removable” and “repositionable” plastic wallcovering. Unfortunately, many homeowners read the lofty claims by the manufacturers and think it will be a perfect alternative to traditional wallpaper. It is not.

The stuff is awful – I won’t hang it, and most of my friends won’t either.

First of all, you don’t NEED an alternative to traditional wallpaper – you just need quality paper and someone who will properly prep the walls and then properly install the paper.

Getting back to P&S, the stuff is virtually impossible to hang. Imagine a 9’x2′ strip of Contact Paper, trying to position that on a wall without it wrinkling or sticking to itself, and then trying to butt another strip up next to it. Not gonna happen. It also does not “remove easily” … well, it does, but it will tear your wall apart in the process.

These homeowners had some guys doing other work in the nursery, and they said they could hang the wallpaper, too. They weren’t experienced paperhangers, and they weren’t up to the battle against this P&S. Virtually no one is.

First, they should have smoothed out the textured wall. Second, most P&S products spec that the wall should be sealed with a semi-gloss paint, which needs to dry and cure for two weeks. As you can see, this adds time and labor charges to the job.

I’m not sure why there are gaps at the seams (top two photos), but better prep would surely have helped prevent this. The large wrinkles are due to the inflexiblity of the material and its unwillingness to twist or stretch into position. With the baby on the way, the homeowner dad got desperate and used nails to try to tack down the curling paper.

The baby girl arrived, the parents lived with this wall for a while, and, when life settled down, they contacted me. I counseled them to forget the P&S and to choose a traditional wallpaper.

They zoomed in on this butterfly pattern by SuperFresco. This material is one of the newish non-woven materials, which contain a component of fiberglass and thus don’t expand or shrink, and won’t tug at the wall, so fewer worries of seems popping loose. These qualities also make it possible to dry-hang the paper, by pasting the wall instead of pasting the paper. I usually paste the paper, but on a single accent wall such as this (no toilets or sinks or fancy moldings to work around), pasting the wall works beautifully. It also saved me lugging my heavy, bulky work table up to this townhome’s third floor. 🙂

Removing the P&S paper was easy – it is strong and held together while I tugged it off the wall … I could do it all from the floor, without even climbing the ladder. Unfortunately, it took much of the paint along with it. So much for the “removable” claim.

It was still as sticky as the day it was born – so I rolled it all up and stuck it to itself and tossed the whole mess into the trash. Done and gone!

I skim-floated the wall to smooth it, sanded smooth, vacuumed, wiped residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then rolled on Gardz, a penetrating primer-sealer, that also is a great undercoat for wallpaper.

All that (especially waiting for the smoothing compound to dry) took several hours. I think it was about 6:00 before I started hanging wallpaper!

Thin non-wovens generally go up with pleasingly invisible seams, and this one did, too. I was surprised to discover more than a few large wrinkles and bubbles. This could have been because the paper got twisted during installation, because the wall was smooth but not flat, because of some uneven reaction between the substrate and the paste which caused off-gassing (burps!), or some other reason. But it meant that I had to go over the wall several times, checking to be sure all areas were firmly secured to the wall.

The finished accent wall looks great! It’s a gentler pattern and a quieter color, and doesn’t hit you in the face as the original floral pattern did. There’s a little bit of fun shimmer in the scattered pearlized butterflies, and the blue-grey wings coordinate nicely with the three grey walls in the rest of the room.

Finally, Baby Girl is ready to move into her own room!

Wet Wallpaper Can Look Scary

June 19, 2018

Digital ImageDigital ImageSee the color difference between the two strips in the first photo? And see the darker line at the seam in the second photo? Not to worry…

You are not seeing two different runs on the wall… the color difference in the first shot is due to the first strip is drier than the second one.

In the second photo, water has entered the paper through the edge, causing a darker color.

In both cases, once the paper dries, it will be uniform color. In fact, the manufacturer was on the ball enough to mention this in the instruction sheet.

That was important, because there is a phenomenon called “staining” or “blushing” caused by some pastes interacting with some wallpapers. It can look pretty much the same, but it won’t dry and disappear. Avoiding certain pastes can help prevent that.

All the same, we paperhangers can be mighty nervous until the paper is good and dry.

Metal Leaves Marks on Wallpaper

July 31, 2017

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There are some wallpapers that can be marred by metal… In the photo, I have purposely run a metal trim guide over the surface, so you can see how it looks.

The bad news is, we paperhangers use a lot of metal items – scissors, trim guide, smoother, and even things like a ring or bracelet could leave a mark, and even my expensive magnesium straightedge, which I bought because magnesium supposedly will not leave marks on paper, will, in fact, leave grey marks where it moves against the paper.

The good news is that most of the time, these marks will wipe off the surface with gentle rubbing with a damp cloth. Of course, you don’t want to overdo that.

The other good news is that, with some extra attention, it is possible to avoid most of these blemishes. Leave your jewelry at home. Blue painter’s tape will seal off the ends of the straightedge, and plastic trim guides can be substituted for metal for some tasks. And care should be taken when using scissors and other equipment to not slide it across the surface of the paper.

“Smoke” On A Floating Wall

January 13, 2017

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This wall in the dining room of a very contemporary new home in the Spring Branch area of Houston “floats” in the middle of the room. This breath of smoke floating across the wall adds a distinctly ethereal feel.

The interior designer on this job is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group, who was expertly assisted by Anthony Stransky. I love working for these guys. And homeowners love their creations, which are crisp, sleek, modern, a bit edgy, yet still warm and comfortable.

The smoke mural was custom made to fit the wall, and came from Murals Your Way https://www.muralsyourway.com/ , a member of the Wallcovering Installers Association (WIA). Their murals can be printed on various materials, and I chose the vinyl on an Osnaburg backing.

Each of the three panels was about 42″ wide, and they were meant to be overlapped and then double-cut (spliced) at the seams. Great care was taken to not get paste on either the surface of the mural or on the ceiling, and to not score the wall while splicing.

I have a specially made 2 1/2″ wide plastic tape that keeps paste off surfaces, and another special 2″ wide polystyrene plastic strip that protects the wall from cuts from the razor blade, and a specially made non-slip straightedge used as a guide while trimming. All of these were invented and made by fellow members of the WIA (Steve Boggess and Eunice Bokstrom). Probably boring for the average blog-reader, but exciting stuff for us paperhangers. These things really helped make this job turn out perfect.

Freebie Gimme Comes in Handy

September 16, 2015

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I am just a few days back from the wallpaperhangers’ convention in New Orleans. (classes, demos, networking, product showcase, etc.) At our closing event, they gave out these little kits. I grabbed a few, intended for holiday stocking stuffers…. But mine has already come in handy… I used the tweezers to remove a splinter from the grasscloth I hung today. 🙂

Grasscloth in an Entry, Bullnosed Edges

January 30, 2015

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Here’s one of those jobs that’s easy to look at, but you don’t realize how difficult and time consuming it was to hang. It took a full day to hang this one wall, with its recessed door niche, and the short pieces under the curved stairwell.

This product is grasscloth, and it helps that, unlike most grasscloth wallpapers, it’s particularly thin and pliable. This helps it conform to the bull-nosed edges and curves in this new home in Sienna Plantation south of Houston.

Bull-nosed edges have been all the rage in new construction for about 10 years now. They are nice to look at, lending a softer look to the home. But they are the devil to hang wallpaper on, because you can’t see or feel where you’re supposed to trim it, and because strips of straight wallpaper don’t want to conform to curved walls and edges.

But paperhangers have their box of tricks, and, even though it took a lot of time, I got this wall to look great. I still have three other walls in this entry to hang. I am allowing three days total for this job (plus another day and a half for prep).

My New Ladder Shelf

May 11, 2014

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Digital ImageSome paperhangers keep their tools in a tool belt worn around their waist. I prefer to have my tools easily accessible sitting on top of my ladder. To keep them from rolling off and falling to the floor (or smashing my clients’ countertops), I’ve fashioned trays to attach to the top of my two step ladders.

This one is made from 1″x10″ board, and edged with a trimmed yardstick, which is just wide enough to form a neat wall around the tray. It attaches to the top of the ladder with wing nuts, and can be removed when not needed. It’s sealed with Danish Oil, and the bottom is lined with clear Contact Paper, to protect from water and other materials.

I made this one last week, and love it already.

New Paste to Experiment With!

October 8, 2013

Digital ImageWhile I was at the paperhangers’ convention in Reno last month, the salesman for Garner-Gibson, Jack Ford, tried very hard to interest me in his wallpaper paste. (I am currently using Roman’s pastes.).

He was so excited, he even pulled me out of a seminar so he and I could have a one-on-one discussion about his Shur-Stik products.

Jack was so intent on having me try his pastes, that he sent me – free – three 5-gallon buckets, three different varieties. This is about $200 bucks worth of paste, folks! Different papers, different surfaces, call for different adhesives. I am particularly interested in trying the 780.

I’m very grateful to Jack, and look forward to seeing how I like his paste!