Posts Tagged ‘paste’

RePaste and Disguise Split Wallpaper Seams

October 10, 2020


Several seams in this bathroom, as well as some whole sections of wallpaper, had come away from the wall.

Most likely, this was due to a combination of things … Number 1, extreme humidity from teenaged son taking showers with no ventilation and over several years. Number 2, possible improper wall prep before the wallpaper went up. Number 3, Unstable surface, which allowed layers inside the wall to delaminate and separate from each other.

Whatever the culprit, I had success in using wallpaper paste to re-adhere most of the loose areas back to the wall. We were still left with visible gaps at some of the seams, where the wallpaper had shrunk.

I used water-based craft paint to color these areas. I didn’t use the brushes … I just daubed my finger in the undiluted darker tan paint and swiped it over the gaps, pushing to be sure it reached to the wall. Then I wiped excess off the surface of the surrounding wallpaper with a damp rag.

I used water to dilute some of the blue and red paint, and then added that over the appropriate colored areas. I used the tiny brush to dot on bits of near-black paint, to correspond with the black printed areas on the wallpaper map.

From a distance, you could not see the touch-ups. Even better – you could not see the touch-ups even if very close.

Doing the Opposite Today – Removing Wallpaper

September 30, 2020


The large medallion on soft lavender on all walls of this large bedroom worked well for this gal for many years – but now that she’s an older teen, it was time for an update.

So instead of putting wallpaper up, today I took it down.

Most people think that stripping wallpaper is difficult. But if the walls were prepped properly, and if the paper was hung properly, and if the proper removal steps are followed, it should all go well, with minimal damage to the walls. See my link at right, on how to strip wallpaper.

The most important thing is to separate the top, inked layer of paper from the backing / substrate layer. I find that wetting this top layer with a sponge and plain water helps strengthen the fibers, so the top layer can be pulled off in larger strips.

In the second and third photos, you see how the purple layer has been stripped off, leaving the white backing attached to the wall. This top layer has to be removed, because it has an acrylic (or vinyl) coating, and will not allow water to pass through it.

The next step is to soak the backing with plain water and a sponge (see photo). No chemicals, no additives – just plain warm water. You will have to reapply water several times. The idea is to let water soak through this backing layer, to reactivate the paste underneath. Once that paste is good and wet, it should release from the wall. Sometimes you have to gently scrape the backing from the wall. But in my case today, once that paste was reactivated, the substrate layer came away from the wall in full, intact sheets. Easy peasy!

One photo shows my “dull” 3″ stiff putty knife. I call it “dull,” because it’s old and beaten up. But it’s really rather sharp. I use it to carefully get between the inked top layer of wallpaper and the bottom substrate layer. And then I use it to gently scrape wallpaper from the wall.

In my case today, the previous installer had done a superb job of hanging the wallpaper. He applied a primer before hanging the paper. That primer helped make this whole removal job go well, and it protected the walls from damage.

The family will need to apply a stain blocker to prevent any residual paste from causing the new paint from crackling or flaking off. Once that’s dry, the walls can be textured and / or painted. The room’s resident told me that she is planning to go all white.

This home is in the West University area of Houston.

Paint Must Be De-Glossed Before Adding A New Coat On Top

September 29, 2020


The original paint in both these photos was a gloss or semi-gloss. When it came time to update, someone applied a coat of new paint right on top. Then the floor guys came and stained the floor. To protect the new paint, they applied painter’s tape. Unfortunately, when the tape was removed, it took some of the new paint along with it.

Believe it or not, even something as relatively gentle as wiping wallpaper paste off the woodwork is enough to cause poorly-adhered paint to delaminate.

This happens because the new coat of paint was not given a sound surface to grab ahold of and adhere to.

To have properly prepared the original gloss paint to accept the new coat of white paint, the painter should have done one or more of the below:

1.) Sanded the paint to knock off the gloss. This leaves dust residue, so that dust will need to be wiped off with a damp rag or sponge (rinsed clean frequently) or a Tack Cloth.

2.) Wiped down with liquid chemical deglosser, such as Liquid Sandpaper.

3.) Primed with a bonding primer, formulated to stick to glossy surfaces, and also formulated to serve as an appropriate base for the new paint.

A primer is also not a bad idea to follow up in the case of 1.) and 2.) above.

Yes, all of this is a whole lot of work, and it creates dust and/or odors, takes more time, and adds cost.

But it’s a step well worth the investment, because properly prepped and painted surfaces will hold up and look professional for decades to come.

Dramatic Artemis Black Floral Completely Changes Dining Room

July 26, 2020


Like many newish suburban houses, this Clear Lake (south of Houston) home is all pretty much a homogeneous light tan – every wall, every room. This is the homeowners’ first venture into wallpaper – and, boy, did they make the right move!

This salad plate-scaled, brightly colored floral design on a black background amplifies this dining room accent wall many times! The pattern comes in other colorways, but none of those would have the impact of this black version.

The wall was textured, so I had to skim-float it and sand that smooth, then apply a primer. In the photo, you see where I have striped dark paint under where the seams will fall, to prevent the white primer from peeking through. I also used black chalk (see photo) to color the edges of the paper, to prevent the white substrate from showing.

This wallpaper pattern is a multiple / quarter-drop pattern match, which is very complicated to plot and lay out. The House of Hackney company made it easy, by providing this material in a 4-panel mural format. See photo

In one photo, you see the strips arranged in the order they will be hung on the wall. Before hanging, these will be re-rolled backwards, so the unprinted white backing side is facing outward.

This is a non-woven material, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method. When I am on the ladder and unroll the strip and working to get it into position, having the paper rolled backward keeps the printed side from coming in contact with the paste on the wall.

Non-woven wallpapers have a high fiberglass content, and do not expand when wet with paste, nor do they shrink when drying, so less chance of gaps appearing at the seams, and also you can get accurate measurements that won’t change. The fiber content also ensures that the wallpaper “should” strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

A few short hours after I left, the homeowners sent me some “finished” photos. I wish I were more tech savvy and knew how to get photos off of text and into this post, so I could show you the gorgeous room. But for now, you’ll just have to use your mind’s eye.

Colorful Backdrop to an Eastside Powder Room

July 24, 2020


The homeowner owns some treasured artwork (one painted by her grandfather!) that will really pop when placed against this cute, tight, small-scale geometric print in bright orange.

The wallpaper is by York, one of my favorite companies, in their SureStrip line, which is also a favorite of mine.

This paper comes pre-pasted, so you only need to activate the paste on the back with water. And it is designed to strip off the wall easily and cleanly, when it’s time to redecorate.

As with most rooms, the walls were not straight or plumb, so it was more than a bit of a challenge to make the pattern look straight, while also matching the design when turning corners.

In the end, the room looked great.

Central Houston

Special Paste for Special Paper

July 22, 2020


Most wallpapers can be hung with standard wallpaper pastes. But some papers are more delicate or have special characteristics (silk, vintage, non-woven, prone to curling seams,) and thus call for special pastes.

When certain pastes are used, non-woven wallpapers like this one can display “blushing” or “staining,” which look like wet spots that never dry.

This manufacturer, Rebel Walls, has included a box of paste that is specially formulated to work with non-woven material. It is a powdered potato starch-based paste that is mixed with water on-site, allowed to set up, then mixed again, and then it’s ready to use.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t use this paste. With the propensity of non-wovens to blush and stain, the less moisture you introduce, the better. So I would opt for a pre-mixed clear paste, such as Roman’s 838 or SureStik 780. But beware – some other types of clear pre-mixed pastes will stain (880, 234) and probably clay pastes will, too.

Arts & Crafts Authenticity in a 1908 Heights Home

July 16, 2020


This home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston dates back to the very early 20th Century, back when the Arts & Crafts movement was in full force. The style emphasized nature, earthy colors, blocky features, and stylized designs.

I like this look a lot, so it was really fun to work with the wallpaper and help bring their living room to their vision. They have the period furniture to go with it.

The wallpaper is by Bradbury & Bradbury, a California company that makes wallpaper in vintage and antique designs – Victorian, William Morris, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, Oriental, Atomic Age, ’20’s, and more.

Their paper is a little tricky to work with. First, there is an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off with a 6′ straightedge and razor blade (search here for other posts showing that process).

The manufacturer calls for clay-based paste, which I hate, for various reasons. But to comply with their specs, I bought a $50, 50lb, 5-gallon bucket of it – and used only about 1/2 gallon. Clay is a low-moisture paste, which helps with this material.

When wet with paste, the heavy inks on this paper absorb moisture differently from the paper backing, and the result is “waffling” or “quilting” – which is when you get wrinkles inside the unprinted areas (do a search here for more posts on this issue). To prevent this, it helps to lightly dampen the surface of the paper with a sponge and clean water. This helps even out the moisture ratio. I found that this pattern also fared better with a little water sponged lightly onto the back, as well.

To handle the 20′ long horizontal strips, after pasting, I folded the strips accordion-style. I also added blue plastic tape to the bottom edge, to prevent paste from getting onto the painted woodwork, which would eliminate the need to wipe it off during installation. Then all went into a plastic trash bag to “book” for a few minutes.

I set up two ladders, so I could step between them as I unfolded the accordion pleats, and I also used push pins to hold the booked strip up while I got down and moved the ladders.

The paper adhered nicely to the wall without curling at the edges. There were a few wrinkles in the inked areas, but these disappeared as the paper dried.

A wide decorative border like this, especially dating to this era, is called a “frieze.”

What’s really cool is that the homeowner (a former contractor), added the block wood molding because he wanted to unite the heights of the door molding with that of the windows (both just barely visible in the photos). That was way before they thought of adding a wallpaper border. Once they discovered Bradbury and started hunting for a wallpaper, turns out that the height of the space between the two moldings was exactly the height of the wallpaper frieze.

Even more amazing is that the paint colors were chosen before they went searching for wallpaper – but are magically perfectly harmonious with the colors in the frieze.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Birchwood Frieze,” by Bradbury & Bradbury. They have lots more gorgeous stuff on their website.

Transitioning to a Big Boy’s Room

July 10, 2020


The little boy who uses this room is 2 1/2, but you’d think he was 5. He’s energetic, articulate, inquisitive, polite, outgoing – and ready to move from the nursery into his “big boy’s room.”

The room was originally all white, but the parents knew an accent wall in this “Pick Up Sticks” pattern in white on navy would add warmth and character. In addition, this is a pattern that will grow with the boy, from his tot years to his teens.

When you look at the close-up, I like the way the white lines look like they were drawn by hand, instead of being perfectly straight and regimented.

The wallpaper is by Magnolia Home (Joanna Gaines, of HGTV fame), which is made by York. It is in their SureStrip line, which is one of my favorite brands. It’s a thin, flexible non-woven material, designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

SureStrip comes pre-pasted, so all you need to do to activate the paste is to add water. I do brush and roll a little augmentive paste onto the wall before hanging the paper.

Since papers like this are known to shrink as they dry, and because the factory often fails to trim the edges absolutely straight, I striped some dark paint on the wall where the seams would fall, so in case of gapping, you wouldn’t see jarring white lines.

The material does bubble a bit as it dries (releases moisture). You have to be patient, because bubbles will eventually disappear, and waiting is better than overworking the paper. But in this case, I got some rather large bubbles, so I did spend some time after the install going over the walls and chasing out the largest of them. By the next day, everything was nice and flat.

This wallpaper 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.

Warping Wallpaper – Grasscloth

June 17, 2020

Well, this was a first for me. I can’t say that I remember having a grasscloth that stretched and warped out of shape this badly.

What’s odd is that, after I pasted and booked the wallpaper, it was perfectly lined up and flat. It was only after the paper had sat for the resting period, and then I unfolded it and took it to the wall, that it started warping out of shape.

My first strip laid against the wall nice and flat, but did not line up against my laser level’s red beam, moving to the left the farther down the wall the strip went. The subsequent strip to its right, naturally, would not butt up against the first strip. However, this second strip did line up against the laser plumb line, on both the right and left sides. So I left it on the wall.

But I had to tear off and discard that first strip.

I had problems with many of the strips. As you can see, there was major warping and wrinkling. I was unable to smooth out most of these warps.

Some of my colleagues have suggested that my trimmed edges were not straight. And I admit that I sense that my ($200!) straightedge is not true (perfectly straight). But a 1/8″ discrepancy over a 9′ drop should not result in wrinkles of this magnitude.

I think that the substrate that S&L is using is absorbing moisture from the paste unevenly, and thus creating the warps and twists.

The only way I could make this work was to do a double-cut (spliced seam). I smoothed the grasscloth onto the wall as best I could, even though both the right and left edges still presented wrinkles.

I carefully pulled away from the wall the left edge of the previous strip (having applied extra paste, to keep everything wet and “open”). Between that edge of the strip and the wall, I placed a “Boggess Strip,” (invented by a fellow WIA member) which is a thin strip of 2″ wide polyethelyne plastic, that will protect the wall from my razor blade.

Now hanging the next grasscloth strip, I then covered the underside of the right (wrinkled) edge with blue plastic tape (also invented by the same WIA genius member). This would keep paste off the surface of the strip I was overlapping it onto. Then I smoothed the paper onto the wall, allowing the right side of the strip to overlap on top of the previous strip, by 1.5″.

I worked out wrinkles as best as I could, but some insisted on remaining. I then took my EuniTool straightedge (invented by yet another WIA member), and used it as a guide, along with the red light line from my laser level, and a new, fresh razor blade, to cut a straight, plumb line between the edges of the two strips.

The grasscloth was thick, and I had to press really hard to cut through both layers. The Boggess strip prevented scoring into the wall. This is important, because an un-intact wall can delaminate under the stress of drying / shrinking wallpaper, and this can cause the seams to pop open.

Back to the double-cut. Once the cut was done, I removed the plastic Boggess strip from the wall, and the protective blue plastic tape from the edge of the grasscloth, as well as the two excess strips of paper that I had just cut off. (Do a Search here to see pics and read more about the double cut / splice process.)

I could then smooth the newly-cut edges of the two strips together.

All this takes a lot of time.

I still had more strips to hang – and each required the same procedure. You only have so much “open” time before a piece of wallpaper starts sticking to the wall and cannot be jacked around with anymore.

I had to jump to the left edge of the current strip I was working with, and add a Boggess strip behind it. And then I had to paste and book my next strip, and apply some blue tape to the area that would overlap the previous strip. Wait a few minutes for it to book and absorb the paste.

Then repeat the double cutting procedure used on the first strip.

All this caught me off guard, and it threw off my engineering of the wall and my planned width of the strips. It also took a lot more time … I spent 5 hours hanging just these 5 strips.

Bottom line – I got ‘er done … But I am definitely NOT going to recommend Serena & Lily grasscloth to future clients.

And I am VERY grateful to my WIA colleagues for inventing tools and gadgets that help with these tricky situations, which I’m glad I bought and had stashed in my van, and for sharing their knowledge and experiences so I knew what techniques I might try.

Cloud Mural in Baby Girl’s Nursery

May 8, 2020


Want a room that will suit a child of either gender, and also grow with him/her into the teen years? This “Nuage” cloud mural by Anewall (A New Wall) checks off all the boxes!

This mural was not custom-sized, but came in pre-set dimensions. The product came in six strips, and the overall size was a bit taller and wider than the wall. In the third photo, I am laying out all the strips on the floor. This is very important, because you want to be sure you are grabbing strips in the correct order before you paste them to the wall.

Also, laying out the mural on the floor enabled me to see the whole design, so I could decide how much of the excess to cut off at the top and bottom. And I could also determine where the center was (break in the clouds), so I could position it where the parents would be placing the baby’s crib against the wall.

The material was pre-pasted, so I didn’t need to lug in my big table and pasting equipment. The paste is already on the back of the paper, and is activated by water. Some people spray the back with a squirt bottle. But I find this messy and sporadic. I prefer the old-fashioned water tray method. It’s quick, easy, and gives the most uniform water coverage.

In the fourth photo, you see my plastic dropcloth protecting the floor, two towels on top of that to absorb water splashes, and then my green water tray. Each rolled-up strip will be placed in the tray, and then unrolled and pulled out on top of the towels. This exposes the paste to water, which activates it. Then each strip is folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side (booked), and set aside to absorb the water/activate the paste/expand/relax.

In the next shot, I have aimed the red line of my laser level along the center of the wall. I am hanging my first strip, butted up against the red line. On we go, until the wall is covered with clouds!

In the close-up, you see that the design has a sort of tufted “quilty” look to it.

HOWEVER, I did experience some excessive vertical expansion / stretching between some of the strips. This means that some strips became wet with water and expanded more than others. And that means that the pattern on some strips did not match up perfectly with the previous strip. The protocol is that you match the pattern at eye-level, and then as the paper moves up and down the wall, the pattern will fall out of match.

The good thing is that this pattern is so scratchy and “quilty” that the eye will never notice a 1/8″ or even 1/4″ mis-match, especially not from a distance. With a more precise and visible pattern, this would be an issue.

This home is relatively new, and is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.