Posts Tagged ‘paste’

Oh Joy – The Pedestal Sink is OUT of the Room!

July 26, 2017

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This homeowner had the pedestal sink (as well as the toilet) taken out of the room before I started work. This makes it a WHOLE LOT easier for me to get the paper behind these fixtures, and it means that there will be an intact sheet of paper against the wall, without relief cuts or an open edge along the top of the sink (which could absorb splashed water and curl up).

Also, as you can see, removing the sink can tear up the wall, including any wallpaper, so if you’re going to replace the sink or vanity, as this homeowner is, it’s always best to pull it out before the wallpaper goes up.

The dark brown areas in the photo are where the removal of the sink tore the drywall. This damage should be repaired before paint or wallpaper goes back up.

I stripped off the surrounding wallpaper, then sealed the torn drywall with Gardz, a penetrating sealer made for this type of repair. It soaks in, binds loose edges together, and dries hard and impenetrable to water. This prevents bubbling when something like joint compound, paint, or wallpaper paste are applied over it.

Then I skim-floated the area with “mud” (joint compound), let dry, sanded it smooth, wiped off dust with a damp sponge, and sealed it a second time with Gardz. Gardz is also a good primer for use under wallpaper, so I primed the entire room with this same product.

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Prepping Walls When Existing Wallpaper Won’t Come Off

July 18, 2017

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Almost always, when homeowners are switching from an outdated wallpaper to a new pattern, I am able to get the old paper off the wall. But twice this week I have run into papers that would not come off the wall – at least, not without causing significant damage to the Sheetrock or creating other problems. Sometimes it’s because they were installed improperly in the first place. And other times it’s just the nature of the beast.

Either way, it is possible to hang wallpaper over old existing wallpaper – IF the walls are prepared correctly.

In these two rooms, I used joint compound (“mud”) to skim float over the seams in the original wallpaper, to ensure that they would not telegraph through and show up as vertical lines under the new wallpaper. These are the white stripes and patches you see in the photos.

Then I sanded the mud smooth, making sure that the edges were feathered out, so the joint compound patch would not be detectable under the new wallpaper. I used a damp sponge to wipe dust off the sanded areas.

The next step was to seal the walls with a penetrating sealer called Gardz (by Zinsser). Gardz is a thin liquid sealer that soaks into the surface and binds it together. It dries hard, and prevents moisture from passing through.

In other words, you can hang wallpaper that is wet with paste on top of this primer, and not worry about moisture passing through and causing the original paste to loosen, or the original paper to swell and bubble away from the wall.

In addition, Gardz dries with a crystalized molecular surface that is ideal for wallpaper and its paste to “bite into” and “get a hold of.”

Bottom line – Gardz is a super fixer of problem walls, it’s a wonderful sealer, and it is a great primer for using under wallpaper.

Old Wallpaper Could Not Be Stripped Off

July 12, 2017

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The homeowner is ready for a new look, so the red wallpaper with the “broken coral” pattern has to go. I am pretty darned good at removing wallpaper, but this stuff was not agreeable with the idea.

Normally, you peel off the top, inked layer, and then soak the remaining backing layer with water until the paste loosens, and then you can either lift the paper from the wall, or gently scrape it off.

But this top inked layer came off in tiny pieces – 1/2″ square. Which meant it would take a year and a day to get the whole room stripped off. Then, on my test area, when I tried soaking the paper backing to loosen the paste, it would have non of it.

The backing would not come away from the wall. And in the tiny 1/2″ square area where I finally did get the paper off the wall, there were more problems underneath. Meaning, a gummy, rubbery substance that would not come off the wall, and that left a residue behind that was unsuitable for hanging new wallpaper on top of – it would have necessitated a whole lot of additional skim-floating, sanding, sealing, priming, etc.

I believe that the previous installer either primed the walls with RX-35, or hung the paper with VOV ( Vinyl Over Vinyl), both of which are inappropriate for this type of paper, and both of which are nearly impossible to remove, and both of which leave the gummy, rubbery residue that is so difficult to negate.

I found it preferable to leave the existing paper on the wall. I removed any loose areas (virtually none), and then skim-floated over the seams with joint compound, to remove any vertical lines that could show under the new paper. That’s the white stuff you see in the 2nd photo.

When dry, I sanded that smooth, wiped off the residual dust with a damp sponge, and then primed with Gardz, a penetrating sealing primer. This will yield a smooth, stable surface for the new wallpaper to grab onto.

Shiny Geometric Print Fills a Wall and Brightens the Space

June 20, 2017

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The walls in this newish home in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston are painted a light brown, and someone had painted this wall in the dining area a darker brown. This made it an “accent wall” – but it wasn’t very interesting.

The homeowner knew that some pattern and shimmer would bring life to the room. She chose this interlocking geometric design in a shiny brassy finish on a lightly textured bronze colored background that coordinates very nicely with the painted walls.

Wow, did this change things! The fluid design interjects personality and a modern feel into the dining and living area, while the glossy lines give a jolt of excitement. You see this wall as soon as you enter the main area of the house, and it really sets a bright, lively, sophisticated feel for the home.

This wallpaper is in the Antonia Vella line by York. It is a somewhat heavy solid vinyl embossed with texture, on a non-woven backing. It was important to not let any paste touch the front of the paper, because the textured surface would grab and hold the paste, which would show and look bad for – well, for as long as the paper is up on the wall. Other than that, the paper was surprisingly lovely to work with.

Those windows with the rounded edges, however, were not so accommodating. It took me four hours to hang this wall, and most of that time was spent on the windows. Too complicated to explain the tedious and exacting process, but it was well worth it, because the finished accent wall looks fabulous.

This wallpaper pattern is by York Wall, 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.

Stripping Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 17, 2017

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This powder room in a newish townhome in the Galleria area of Houston was originally papered with a deep red, nubby-textured grasscloth wallpaper. It didn’t suit the taste of the new homeowners, so they had me strip it off and replace it with something lighter.

Often, grasscloth can be really hard to get off, because the grass fibers and the netting used to sew them to the backing separate from the backing and come off in tiny handfuls of fiberous messiness.

I was luckier today, because the top layer with the grass fibers and red ink came off the wall fairly easily, and in almost-intact 9′ strips. The paper backing was left on the wall (see 2nd photo). In some areas (see 3rd photo), bits of the red inked layer remained.

The next step was to remove the paper backing. All that’s needed is to use a sponge to soak the backing with warm water. Soak one section, move on and soak the next, then go back and resoak the first section, etc.

Water has a harder time penetrating the patches where the red inked layer was not removed. Soak it a little more, or use a putty knife to get under that layer and pull off the inked material.

Eventually, the moisture from the warm water will reactivate the paste. If you are lucky, you will be able to simply pull the paper backing away from the wall. But if not, all it takes is a little elbow grease and a stiff 3″ putty knife, to gently scrape the paper from the wall.

I was doubly lucky today, because whoever hung the original grasscloth did a good job, including the use of a good primer to seal the walls before he hung any wallpaper. His primer protected the walls, and all my water and tension as I soaked and pulled paper off the walls caused no damage to the subsurface.

All I had to do to prepare the walls for new wallpaper was to wash off old paste residue, and apply a primer, in this case Gardz by Zinsser.

God Bless the Homes with Elevators

April 11, 2017

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Today I was hanging wallpaper in a 4-story townhouse. I was not looking forward to lugging all my bulky and heavy gear (7′ long 30lb table, 40lb buckets of paste, loaded toolbox, and lots of assorted equipment) up and down all those stairs.

Was I happy to see this in-home elevator! It sure made my day much easier.

A Horrible Place for a Wallpaper Seam

March 29, 2017

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Often you can “fudge” wallpaper patterns, to avoid awkward or unstable placement of seams – but just as often, you cannot.

Here I could not avoid having the seam fall ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH away from the outside corner on this wall.

So why all the consternation?

First, being just 1/4″ from the corner, there is little wall space for the paper to grab onto, which raises the worry about the paper not adhering, and curling away from the wall, or, at minimal, gapping in areas.

This brand is particularly challenging, because it is known for curling at the seams, which further hinders a good, tight, flat seam.

Second, since walls are never straight or plumb, it’s hard to keep the wallpaper design evenly spaced and correctly positioned down this length of wall.

The un-plumb walls also make it near impossible for wallpaper to wrap around the outside corner without warping, which makes it difficult for the subsequent strip, which is straight, to butt up nicely against the un-straight edge.

Un-plumb corners also throw the wrapped wallpaper off-plumb. That can result in the pattern’s design “going off-plumb.” This means that the horizontal pattern won’t line up perfectly along vertical walls (like in corners).

Another thing that will happen is that the pattern motifs can start creeping either up or down from the ceiling line (un-level ceiling lines factor in here, too.)

And, lastly, because wallpaper absorbs moisture from the paste and then expands and / or warps, it’s hard to keep everything straight and plumb as it turns a corner. Which makes it hard for the next strip to butt perfectly up against it.

This wallpaper is by Hygge & West, and can be bought from their on-line website.

The Blow Fish Again – Second Time in One Week / Better Results!

February 1, 2017
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Last week, I wrestled with this same wallpaper (different color) and didn’t finish the job until 11:00 p.m. (Bless the homeowners who tolerated me working late, to get their powder room finished on schedule.) Today I had an easier powder room (shorter drops, fewer cuts, no pedestal sink to cut around, very little decorative molding), but I also tried a different installation technique. Instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions, which were to paste-the-wall, instead, I pasted the back of the paper. This made all the difference!

The paper relaxed and became much more malleable. The paper absorbed moisture from the paste and expanded and contracted on my table, not on the wall, so I had beautiful seams with no ‘gaps and overlaps.’ The second- and third-to-last photos are shots of the seams, showing that you can barely see them.

I hung this in a very nicely updated home of a young family in the Woodlands (north of Houston). This wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, a British import, and is called “Acquario.” 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.

Puckered Seam Due to Material Expanding

January 24, 2017
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This is a popular wallpaper pattern, and the previous times I’ve hung it it was called “Wood” by Cole & Son. It has a matt finish and has always gone up beautifully.

But today I hung the same pattern, this time curiously with a label from “Blooming Wall.” The material had shiny surface. Both brands are a non-woven substrate and a paste-the-wall product. Because the material is dimensionally stable, it will not expand when it gets wet with paste like regular wallpapers will. So you can put paste on the wall instead on the back of the paper, and hang your strips immediately, with no booking / soaking or waiting. The Cole & Son performs as it’s supposed to.

But this Blooming Wall product did soak up moisture from the paste, and shortly after I put it into the paste on the wall, it expanded just a little, causing puckers at the seams. It also warped and twisted a little, and created bubbles that had to be worked out or cut open.

Once I figured out what was going on, my solution was to lightly dampen the back of each strip with water, to allow the material time to absorb moisture and expand before it got to the wall. This did help eliminate the seam puckers and the warping.

Ripples in the Tail Ends

January 17, 2017
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Here is an imitation grasscloth that I like a lot. And, when I have clients interested in the texture and natural material look of grasscloth, I try to steer then toward this. It is much more uniform in color, the seams are just about invisible, and it will not stain easily or run like real grasscloth likes to do.

When I got to the last 5′ – 6′ or so of each bolt of wallpaper, though, I found these creases and punctures running horizontally across the back of the paper.

In all probability, once the paper backing gets wet with paste, it would smooth out and lie flat on the wall, and the horizontal ridges would not be visible. But you never know that for sure, plus there is also the possibility that paste could ooze out from the punctures in the backing of the paper and onto the surface. It would be impossible to clean paste off the textured surface of this material, so you could consider that strip ruined.

I chose not to put this paper on the wall. I had the homeowner order enough paper that I could discard these two 5′ lengths of paper, and use fresh, unmarred paper instead.

This is a faux grasscloth product from a book called Grass Effects. It is a string cloth material that has the texture that people seek these days. But, because it is a man-made instead of a “natural” material, it has virtually none of the color variations, shading, paneling, bleeding, staining, or other problems of real grasscloth. I love this stuff, and I try to steer clients to consider it.

This wallpaper is in the EcoChic line by WallQuest. It can be bought 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.