Posts Tagged ‘paste’

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.

Sticky Dots

May 7, 2020


This grasscloth wallpaper by Thibaut is called Union Square. It has not just the texture from the natural reeds of grass sewn onto the backing, but also 3-D square “dots” of thick plastic or resin or vinyl … Doesn’t matter what the material is … There are raised, textured “dots” marching across this paper in a neat, orderly fashion.

But plastic can be sticky. On all of the bolts, the paper labels stuck to the plastic dots. Unrolling the grasscloth caused the labels to tear off strips, which remained stuck to the plastic dots. These scraps of paper could not be removed, so I had to cut off and discard the top 16″ or so of each bolt.

The really sad thing about this is that the wall height was such that I could have gotten three strips out of each double roll. But with having to discard paper from the start of each bolt, we were left with only enough remaining paper on the bolt for two strips.

Even worse on a few other bolts, the plastic dots stuck to not just the paper label, but to the paper backing of the grasscloth itself. This left strips of paper stuck to the dots, and also peeled bits of paper off of the back of the wallpaper – leaving the possibility of paste leaking through and staining the surface.

This sticky defect went through the entirety of each bolt, so there were three bolts that were unusable.

This meant that I could not finish wallpapering the remaining walls. And that we’ll have to send back the defective paper, and the homeowner will have to wait for the company to find non-defective paper, and ship it, and for me to have an opening on my schedule to finish the job.

The Thibaut Customer Service rep has told me that the company is aware of and has worked on this problem. (Thibaut is one company that actually LISTENS to us installers, and makes changes as needed.) Their solution is to place thin plastic wrap inside the bolts, to prevent the dots from coming into contact with any other material, like the paper backing.

I hope the replacement paper comes with this new innovation.

Spoonflower – Overlapping Seams

April 5, 2020


Re my previous post … this manufacturer, Spoonflower, specs that the seams on its wallpaper should be overlapped – by as much as 3/4″.

On a busy pattern, you might not notice this. But when there is lot of blank space (white area), and when light is coming at an angle (see photo), you’re might notice it.

If you hunt, at every seam, you can spot a ridge the height of the wall, that’s about 3/4″ wide. To me, it’s not much of a big deal. Once yo uget used to it, you don’t even notice. In fact, I have authentic 1930’s and 1940’s wallpaper in two rooms of my home – with overlapped seams – and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

Truthfully, overlapping seams actually has many advantages. For one thing, when wallpaper gets wet with paste, it absorbs moisture and expands a little. Then when it dries, it can shrink a little. This is how you end up with tiny gaps at seams.

Second, overlapping the seams can reduce stress on the wall surface, and prevent the layers within from delaminiating, which can cause popped seams. (Do a Search here on “delaminate” for more info and pictures.

Finishing Touch to an Exercise Room Remodel

April 3, 2020


This is a detached room with separate entrance adjoining a home in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston. It could be use as a home office, but the lady of the house has claimed it as her private space, complete with exercise equipment and large TV. 🙂

She was originally looking at a Farrow & Ball pattern, but after I explained my disappointments with the quality of that brand (do a Search here), I was pleased that she changed to this design by a more reliable company.

This pattern is called “Bananas,” and is by Graham & Brown. They are one of the first companies to start using a non-woven substrate, which they put their vinyl top layer onto. They’ve created a really nice product.

The substrate has a lot of fiberglass, rendering it dimensionally-stable, meaning that it won’t expand when wet with paste nor shrink when it dries. It will also strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

In this case, I used the paste-the-wall method, which you can do with the non-wovens, and which saved me lugging in my huge work table.

In the third photo, I have cut my strips and placed them along the wall in the odd-even order in which they will be hung. Before I start, I will re-roll the strips backwards, so the backing is facing out. This helps reduce the “curl” or “memory” of the paper that wants to retain it’s rolled-up shape. And it helps keep the surface of the paper from bopping into the pasted wall. I secured the rolled-up strips with elastic hairbands from the dollar store.

Pasting the wall is a very clean way to work, because no paste gets onto the moldings or ceiling, and no paste sticks to the excess paper that is trimmed off at the ceiling and floor – less mess to clean up.

In the fourth photo, I have positioned my first strip with the design centered in the middle of the wall, using my red light laser level as a guide to keep the strip plumb.

Dark, Sparkly, Faux Cork in Spring Branch Powder Room

April 1, 2020


No good pictures of this, folks – you had to see it in person to get the full effect.

But the textured vinyl wallpaper had the appearance of a charcoal-colored cork material – with a few silvery sparkles tossed in here and there.

The homeowner wanted a snug, dark powder room. But not cave-like. This paper did the trick beautifully. It is dark, but with the large mirror and the light grey vanity and cararra marble countertop, there were plenty of light colored accents to offset the dark.

This was a new, open floor plan, contemporary styled home in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. The vinyl material will be resistant to water and stains. The non-woven substrate had a lot of fiberglass content – I could see the strands! – so it will be easy to strip off the wall when it’s time to redecorate. In addition, the material does not expand when wet with paste, needs no booking time, and can be hung with the paste-the-wall method. I preferred to paste the paper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, and 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.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt II – Waffling, Wrinkling

March 18, 2020


In the top photo, I have used a paint roller to apply paste to the back of this wallpaper. See it wrinkling up? We call this “waffling,” or “quilting.”

This happens because the ink on the surface absorbs moisture from the paste at a different rate from the substrate. So they both expand, but fight each other, which causes the wrinkles you see in the picture.

One way to minimize this is to lightly sponge the surface of the paper with clean water. In the upper left of the top photo you can see my sponge and bucket of water. You can also use a spray bottle.

After pasting, the strip is “booked” and then rolled up like a newspaper and placed into a plastic trash bag to sit for a few minutes. This gives the paper and ink a chance to absorb all that moisture.

Some papers are still cantankerous when they get to the wall. But my experience with Brunchwig & Fils and their Bibliotheque is that, with proper smoothing and minimal manipulation, it smooths and adheres quite nicely to the wall. The wrinkles and quilted areas disappear.

The only wrinkles that remained were inside the horizontal “shelves” (see second picture). Most of these either could be chased out with a smoothing too, or laid flat once the paper dried. A handful of them remained even after the wallpaper was dry, but were not very noticeable.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt III – Curling Edges

March 18, 2020

As mentioned in a previous post about this install, wallpaper paste introduces moisture to the back of the paper, which causes the backing to absorb moisture and expand – and, sometimes, as in this case, the expansion will cause the paper to curl back on itself.

As you can imagine, this makes it a whole lot harder to get the strip positioned and secured to the wall.

Powerful Storm Clouds – Cole & Son Nuvolette

March 14, 2020


“Nuvolette” by the British manufacturer Cole & Son is a very popular pattern – but not every room can handle such a strong design. This bedroom in a new townhome on the far west side of Houston is large enough to contain the storm clouds – which will cover all four walls. Talk about drama!

The dark floor and dark woodwork help ground the pattern. The homeowner has a background in interior design, and I can’t wait to see what furniture, bedding, window coverings, and accessories she outfits the room with.

The pattern match is very tricky, and you have to plot everything carefully and confidently before you cut anything. The product comes packaged as an A-B 2-bolt set. On the label it’s noted that one pattern match is straight across, while the next strip is a drop match.

So, essentially, this has a multiple-drop pattern match , played out across four strips of paper – but with even more complicating factors tossed in. It’s a real brain-banger to plot out! I’ve hung it twice, and both times was lucky enough to have a large open area where I could spread out the A and B bolts, and then plenty of time and a distraction-free environment to get my head around the pattern match.

In the picture, you just see a nicely fit-together set of panels. But getting them to that point did take a good bit of engineering! (Especially since “someone” opened the shipping box and removed several of the bolts from their original packaging, so there was no way to tell the A bolts from the B bolts.)

Like most of Cole & Son’s wallpaper, this was a non-woven material. This stuff has a high-fiberglass content, and thus does not expand when it gets wet with paste. This allows you to get accurate measurements that won’t change when the paper is pasted. It also allows you to paste a strip and hang it immediately (no booking time), and takes the pressure off of having a booked strip over-expanding while you fiddle with hanging a difficult strip.

It went up pretty nicely. Tomorrow I will hang the remaining two walls.

The pattern is in the Fornasetti line by Cole & Son, and 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.

Keeping Paste Off The Paint

March 10, 2020


My next strip of wallpaper will be placed to the right of the strip in the photo, and it will need to be trimmed horizontally along the rounded (bull-nosed) edge of the wall.

To keep paste from the wallpaper from getting onto the wall paint during trimming, I have placed special 2″ wide, thin blue plastic tape along the edge of the wall.

Once I have finished making my trim cuts, I will remove the blue tape. There will still be sufficient paste on the wallpaper to hold it to the curved edge.

No need to wipe anything, no paste on the paint, and no worries about paste causing the paint to crackle and flake off the wall down the road.