Posts Tagged ‘paperhangers’

Easy Stripping Job Today

July 30, 2013

Digital ImageI’ve got a four-day job repapering a large master bathroom in the West University neighborhood this week. Twenty two rolls is a lot of paper to remove, but I worked happily today – because THE PREVIOUS INSTALLER USED A PRIMER!

Most paperhangers who work in new construction skip the primer. Wallpaper hung directly on the Sheetrock can be murder, if not impossible, to get off, and frequently causes much damage to the Sheetrock. A layer of primer costs little and does so much to protect the drywall, make installation easier, ensure adhesion, and facilitate removal later.

“Easy” isn’t the same as “fast,” though. There are still several steps to go through, plus waiting for paper to soak. In the photo, you see the original paper on the left. In the middle, you see the white area, where the top printed layer has been pulled off, leaving the white backing. This backing requires soaking. I use plain hot water, no chemicals. Once it’s wet enough to reactivate the paste underneath, this backing layer can be peeled off or scraped off.

On the left of the photograph, you see the wall, with it’s coat of white primer and a little of the tan clay paste used by the first installer.

Once all the paper is off and the surface has dried, I will prime the walls. Once that’s dry, all that’s left is to hang the paper!

Don’t Let the Classy Website & Bog Fool You – I’m NOT Expensive!

July 2, 2013

I got a call from a guy today who said he really loved my website (, as well as this blog.

But then he said that as he read about me, looked at the Gallery, and read my blog posts, he started to fear that I’m some kind of Wonder Woman of Wallpaper, and that my prices must be out of his reach.

Well, not true! For Houston wallpaper installations, I think my prices fall pretty much in the middle. You can definitely find someone cheaper, by reading the Greensheet or by pulling business cards off the bulletin board at Home Depot, for instance. And then there are the really high-end paperhangers, who routinely handle imported, hand-painted silk murals, or other really expensive materials.

Well, I like having the know-how and skill to hang those types of papers, and I’m always striving to learn more about my craft.

But to be honest, I much prefer working with the average priced papers (not the cheap stuff, though), and I love working for the every-day people in typical all-American homes (including foreign-born clients, too!)

Back to the man who called me today… being familiar with his style of home, I was able to ballpark some prices for him over the phone. Turns out that my estimate was exactly what he had in mind as a budget for his project!

So don’t let a fancy website or photos of beautiful rooms keep you from calling or e-mailing me. Most likely, your project is exactly the type I’d love to do!

Loose Seam on Grasscloth

March 9, 2013

Digital ImageDigital ImageI hung this Phillip Jeffries grasscloth in a home office a few months ago, and then went back to put more in an art niche over the desk, two strips about 7′ long. A little later, the homeowner e-mailed me a photo showing what looked like an overlap, and I thought the paper had somehow swelled or grown.

Luckily, it was simply loose seams, and was much easier to fix. Really, all it needed was some paste. But there was more to it than just that.

Because when paper pulls away from the wall like this, it also shrinks a little, I was worried about the white primer showing inbetween the two strips of paper. So I got my water color paints, a TINY artist’s brush, and CAREFULLY painted the wall behind the seam. Since grasscloth is porous and uncoated, it stains very easily, so it was imperative to do this carefully and precisely.

Once that was dry, I used a thin flexible 1 1/2″ putty knife to slip behind the paper and lift it up, and then used another thin putty knife to CAREFULLY slide paste onto the back of the strip. Paste will also stain grasscloth, so this had to be done meticulously, too. Once the paste was in place, I used a paperhanger’s squeege to carefully ease the paste along the loose edge, making sure to direct it away from the seam, to avoid it squishing out and staining the seam.

It worked perfectly. The “after” shot came out too dark, so – you will just have to see it in your imagination. 🙂

I have no idea why a few feet of this one seam came loose, and the rest of the room is perfect. Perhaps it has something to do with the location, or more likely it’s because the paste could have dried out before I got the strip to the wall. Or, since this niche job was done in relatively little time, it’s possible that the primer did not dry completely. I always like to know WHY a situation has occurred, because I think then there is a better chance of avoiding it in the future.

Usually Silly, but Useful Today

January 18, 2013

Usually Silly, But Useful TodaySome wallpapers come with these eraseable marks that indicate where the pattern match is. Usually, we paper-hangers get a kick out of these, because, gee, I mean, really – we can pretty well figure out how to match a wallpaper pattern.

But with this faux finish design, I found that I welcomed the manufacturer’s marks. They made it MUCH easier to find the pattern match, and sped up the job considerably.

This is by Chesapeake Easy-Walls #PN58593

Paper Shortage and Mis-Matched Run

December 14, 2012

Digital Image Digital ImagePeople! Please buy the amount of paper I tell you to – not what your Uncle Wilber comes up with by fiddling with his calculator and slide rule!!

When I first went to hang this bathroom, the homeowners had not purchased the right number of rolls. We still needed two 8′ strips and a 14″ piece for over the window. With 27″ wide goods, which is 27′ long, after discarding the damaged first couple of inches and then matching the pattern, that’s about what you get out of a double roll. So I told them to order two more rolls (a double roll).

When I went back today to finish the install, there waiting for me was a SINGLE ROLL. Exactly enough to give me one 8′ strip and about another 6′. NOT enough to do that wall! To make matters worse, the run number was different from what was used previously, so I could not use the left over paper, because that would leave a very noticeable color difference between the strips.

After considerable plotting, measuring, planning and testing, here’s what I ended up doing:

It was crucial that the most visible pieces to be all of the same run. There was a toilet against this wall, that could hopefully hide some of the mis-matched runs. I cut the short piece for over the window and the first 8′ strip from the roll, and put them up. Looked good.

After matching the pattern and discarding the banged-up-and-creased tail end of the roll, only about 6′ were left. This fell to slightly below the top of the toilet, and about 24″ from the floor. For this remaining 2′, I would have to use the left over paper from the other run.

I had two options for doing this. One was to splice the papers together with what we paperhangers call a “double cut.” This would leave a nice smooth surface. But, since the paper was thick, the seam would be likely to be noticeable. Your eye is forgiving of verticle seam lines in wallpaper, but not so much with horizontal lines. This particular paper (more of the “green” krapp that manufacturers are churning out right now) dries really quickly, and could cause delamination (tearing apart) of the paper when I tried to seperate the spliced layers of paper.

The other problem is that a straight cut would show the color difference where it cut through the blue areas. (Yes, I could have meticulously cut around the white lattice design, but that is really hard and time consuming, inacurate, and REALLY hard to do behind a toilet!

So instead I opted to overlap the paper. If cut the paper off straight across and overlapped, there would be a visible bump or ridge the full width of the strip, where there was a double thickness. To minimize this, instead of cutting straight across, I used a razor to cut around the white lattice design, on both the top and bottom pieces. Cutting around the white pattern also means that no blue background from one run would be meeting the other run, so the color difference would also be disguised.

The top photo shows the process in progress, and the bottom photo shows that, although there is still a double thickness and a color difference, from a distance, it’s not all that noticeable.

The pattern is Schumacher 5005143.

Flaw of the Day – Blotches Test My Splicing Skills

October 14, 2012

See the smudge of white ink in the first photo? There were quite a few of these defects, and I didn’t discover them until I already had two strips on the wall. The manufacturer usually won’t replace paper once it’s been cut, and especially if it’s up on the wall. So I opted to use scraps of paper, splice them in, and finish the job.

In the second photo, you see that the strip went from the ceiling to about 3′ from the floor. I chose this, rather than having the splice be 3′ from the ceiling, which would bring it to eye level.

The paperhanger’s technical term for a splice is a “double cut.” In the third photo, the first piece is in place, and the second piece has been put in place below it and overlapping a few inches, carefully matching the pattern. To help disguise the splice, it’s better to make a double cut in the middle of a design, than in an area that has lots of blank space.

Double cutting is tricky, as you have to use a very sharp blade, and press hard enough to cut through both layers of paper, but not cut into the primer or the wall. If the primer or wall becomes cut or compromised, there is the potential of the paper drying, shrinking, and pulling enough that it could curl away from the wall.

To prevent this, I put a thin strip underneath where the cut would be made, to keep from cutting into the wall. Even this is tricky, because whatever is used underneath will add some thickness, and once the cut is made and the buffer material is removed, there is the possiblilty that the seam won’t meet absolutely perfectly. You also have to be sure that the paste didn’t get wiped off or dried out during this procedure.

As you can see in the last shot, the splice turned out pretty darned good, matches perfectly, lies flat, and dried nice and clean. 🙂

Coming Up Short

August 8, 2012

Here’s something we paperhangers don’t like to see… a strip that ends a half an inch from the corner!

You never wrap a strip of paper around a corner… corners are never straight, and this would cause twisting and warping and crooked paper and all sorts of other ills. So when you come to a corner, you cut the strip vertically, leaving 1/8″ or less to wrap around the corner, and then place the next strip so it overlaps this 1/8″ bit.

In this case above, I had to cut piece of paper from the next strip a mere 1/2″ wide. It’s much more difficult to work with such a narrow strip, and keep it from gapping, than with a wider strip.

What’s particularly annoying, is that this was my first wall, and I had control of where the strips would fall. Meaning that, if I had measured more carefully and plotted accordingly, and taken into account all the strips that were hung on that wall, instead of focusing only on the first and second strips, I could have prevented this by starting at the corner, instead of next to the doorjam as I did.

A little techinical, I know, but I think you get the idea.
1. Never wrap wallpaper around an inside corner
2. Measure and plot for all strips on a wall, when possible.

Houston Area Paperhangers’ Meet-Up

March 1, 2012

I mentioned that a number of us independent paperhangers got together on Sunday, February 19, for the first-ever networking meet-up.

While swapping stories, it became evident that most of us had shared the same experiences … the joys of seeing a room go from outdated to gorgeous and knowing that the client is happy, clients who love us for putting down dropcloths after the painters who were there the week before insisted they were “so good they don’t need dropcloths,” customers who do their own measuring and insist they need less paper than they actually do, the various flaws found in wallpaper, lugging 50lb buckets of paste up to the third floor bathroom, working behind the guy who hung the same paper on top of itself (We unanymously agreed that he must be paid by the roll or hour, and he was trying to use up paper or time), and the occasional customer who simply won’t rest until she’s fed you – and that can even include sitting down with the family and joining them for dinner.





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Electric Wallpaper Stripper – ??

February 4, 2011

I got this e-mail through the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers:

The Rokamat Wallpaper Removal System
Rapidly perforates wallpaper for soaking, then quickly shaves it off the wall
Has a flexible shaft drive leaving the motor off the tool for light weight in the hand
Includes the Chameleon dual disc machine, perforating discs, shaving discs, and rails
Is designed and manufactured in Germany

See it on U-Tube:

I see this as something that SOUNDS good, especially to novices or DIY’ers. But in actuality, I can’t imagine the damage this gizmo would do to the wall surface.

Why not just stick with good old hot water, a sponge, and a 4″ stiff putty knife?