Posts Tagged ‘paste’

Freezing Weather and Hanging Wallpaper

February 19, 2021

Here in Houston, we are having unprecedented cold, including ice and snow, broken pipes and hundreds of thousands of homes with out water or electricity. All of that, of course, makes driving dangerous, and of course, you can’t hang wallpaper without lights, warmth, and clean running water.

But another concern is freezing temperatures and my materials. Before all this hit, I made sure to get all my water-based products out of the van and into the garage. Primer, paste, joint compound, and even things like caulk and bottled drinking water and my trusty Gatorade.

At $50 for a gallon of primer or a fiver of paste, that’s a significant investment to protect.

Some of my friends up north haul their buckets in every night. Others use various types of heaters to keep the rear of their vans above freezing.

Going For More Of The Same

February 9, 2021

I hung the original wallpaper in 2014, when the house was first built. The PEX water lines used in the home (flexible hoses instead of PVC pipes) were new at the time. Tragically, after a few years, the lines used in this home failed and caused leaks all over the house. Replacing all the water lines required cutting holes in MANY places throughout the home.

You can see in the photos where the plumbers cut out drywall and then patched it back in. This company actually did a good job of removing the wallpaper in the areas of their repairs.

Unfortunately, with the amount of wallpaper that was left over from 2014, I was not able to do repairs. The entire room had to be repapered.

The homeowner loved the pattern and wanted to keep it. It was still available, so she bought enough to repaper the room.

For various reasons, the original wallpaper was much more difficult to get off the wall than I expected. I could have gotten it off – but it would have taken about two full days.

So I opted to hang over it. It’s important to skim-float over the seam areas. First, because the seams will leave a little ridge that will telegraph through and show under the new paper. But also, because as wallpaper dries, it shrinks and puts tension on the seams. There is always the potential that this tension will cause the the surface below to pull away from the wall, and especially so if there is a weak area such as a seam. So you always want to avoid putting a seam on top of a seam.

So I skim-floated (do a Search here to learn more) over the seams, as well as over the patched areas left by the plumbers. See photos. Then I sealed the walls with Gardz, a product that penetrates and seals porous materials – like drywall joint compound and like this traditional British pulp wallpaper. Because it soaks in and dries hard, it helps to prevent moisture from paint or wallpaper paste from soaking through, and thus prevents bubbling of the underlying surface. That’s why this product is primarily used for sealing torn layers of drywall.

Although a bit glossy for my liking, Gardz is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on.

Interestingly, the expansion rate of the new wallpaper was a bit less than the original, and so the seams fell about 1/4″ to the right of the original seams. This reduced the worry of seams falling on top of seams and causing lifting.

It was a complicated room, and the paper was thick and stiff and difficult to work with. Prep took one day, and it took me two additional days to hang the paper (16 single rolls – 8 double roll bolts).

The wallpaper is in the line of Nina Campbell, by Osborne & Little, a British company. While most British papers these days are printed on an agreeable non-woven substrate, this one is a traditional, old-school British pulp … thick, stiff, difficult to fit into turns and angles, easy to tear, easily stained, non-malleable, plus the factory’s trimming roller blades must have been dull or wobbly, because the edges were not cut perfectly straight, which meant the seams had some “gaps and overlaps.”

Still, the finished room did look pretty darned good – even if it looks exactly the same as it did in 2014.

But that’s exactly what the homeowner wanted. So all is good and mission accomplished!

Mess Stripping Wallpaper

February 6, 2021

Over the years, this powder room ended up with at least four layers of wallpaper. Some had been stripped down to the backing layer before the next layer went up, sometimes a primer was used, and in other cases, the installer simply plopped the new paper on top of the old.

The homeowners attempted to remove the multiple layers of paper. This mess would have been difficult to begin with, but, to complicate things, unfortunately, they pulled some bad information off the Internet. You can see how the use of a “paper tiger” scoring tool caused damage to the wallpaper as well as to the surface underneath – and didn’t help at all to loosen the old wallpaper.

My solution was to peel off the top layer of vinyl paper – the brownish striped faux finished pattern in the upper left of the photo. Then I used a sponge and lots of water to soak the tan backing until the paste reactivated and the paper could be scraped off the wall.

I would have preferred to also take off the layers of paper that remained underneath. But time was a consideration, and also the likelihood of damage to the wall surface. And I wasn’t sure if there was drywall or plaster under there.

So I used the product Gardz to seal off the revealed wallpaper. (Do a Search here on the word ‘Gardz” to learn more about this ingenious product.) Once that was dry, I skim-floated over the entire surface, to create a new, plaster-like layer. That was allowed to dry overnight.

The next day, I sanded this skim-float layer smooth. Because the smoothing compound had to be applied thickly, this resulted in a massive amount of dust. Luckily, it was all contained in the powder room, and was easily vacuumed up.

Then I used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This was followed by another coat of Gardz – a product that soaks in, dries hard, and effectively seals the surface. It’s a good sealer for new skim-coat, and it also works nicely as a primer under wallpaper.

With fans blowing on it, it dries quickly, and I was able to start hanging paper in an hour or so.

A Few Tricks of the Trade

February 2, 2021

Artist’s chalk pastel stick, for coloring edges of dark wallpaper, so the white substrate does not show at the seams.

Craft store paint, for diluting and striping under where wallpaper seams will fall, to prevent the stark white wall below from peeking out.

Blue plastic “cut tape.” I place this along the top of a strip of wallpaper, to prevent paste from getting onto the molding or ceiling.

In the instance pictured above, the left edge of that strip of wallpaper was going to lap onto the newly tiled wall. A pain to wipe paste off all those small and irregular tiles.

Running protective blue plastic tape down the left edge of the wallpaper strip kept paste from getting slopped onto the tile, and eliminated the need to wipe areas clean

Mottley Gold Damask in River Oaks Dining Room

January 27, 2021

The lady of the house likes glitter and bling, but didn’t want to over do it in the dining room. She also didn’t want anything too rigid or precise.

This rather scratchy, indistinct damask by York works perfectly. There’s a bit of glitter, but not overwhelming, plus a light texture that adds a pleasing effect.

This is a non-woven material, and so could be hung using the paste-the-wall method, which works nicely for an accent / feature wall like this.

In the last photo, you see me measuring off the strips, rolling them backwards (to prevent the surface from bopping into the pasted wall), and lining them up in the order they will be hung on the wall. Because I pasted the wall, there was no need for me to haul in my big work / pasting table. The PTW method is also very clean, because pastes goes on the wall only, so no messy wet scraps and no need to wipe paste off the woodwork.

Updating & Brightening a West U Dining Room

December 4, 2020

The original wall treatment in this dining room was a nicely done deep red faux finish (see yesterday’s post). It was beautiful – but the fauxed trend has run its course, and the homeowner was ready for an updated look.

This lighthearted trellis design (La Giaconda) in gold on cream is checking off all the boxes!

This was a pleasing pattern to work with in this room, because it did not need to be matched absolutely-dutely perfectly. That meant that I could manipulate it where needed to maintain the ceiling line, and to keep things matched up while going around the SIX windows in the room.

The wallpaper manufacturer is Thibaut, and it was purchased from Southwestern Paint, Bissonnet just west of Kirby in Houston.

I normally love Thibaut wallpapers. But this one was oddly thick and stiff, and it had scraggly bits along the edges that I had to remove with a sanding block. The seams didn’t lie down well, and it took me a day and a half to figure out the best approach.

What tamed the beast was to paste the paper, book it, dip the ends in water, put all in a plastic trash bag for several minutes, and then, before hanging, roll a thin stripe of paste onto the wall under where the seams would fall.

Note: The shading on the wall in the 4th picture is shadows from the chandelier.

Updating from Decorative Paint to Beautiful Wallpaper

November 18, 2020

The walls in this small entry in a pretty original condition 1935 home in the Montrose / Upper Kirby neighborhood of Houston had been painted by an artist with a wide stripe pattern in deep orange and gold, with a darker wash over the surface. It was probably done in the ’90’s, and was a good look then.

But the new homeowner never loved it. As for me, I think the look is too modern to suit the era and style of the home, and also the colors have a sort of dirty cast to them. After living there several years and focusing on career and raising kids, the homeowners were finally ready to bring a new concept to the entry.

The first photo shows the existing wall finish. The white stuff is my smoothing compound, which I have started to apply over the lightly-but-irregularly textured walls.

The next photo shows the walls sanded smooth, vacuumed and then wiped free of dust, primed with a wallpaper primer, and ready for wallpaper.

In the “after” photos, note that the dark or blotchy areas are simply wet with paste or water, and will disappear as the paper dries.

This is a particularly pretty pattern that suits the room well. There is a slight Chinoiserie / Asian feel to the design. And the grey is a good colorway for this home’s d├ęcor. I love the arched moldings that frame the passageways to both the living room and the dining room. Typical adorable 1930’s architecture!

The wallpaper is by Anderson Prints. It was pretty nice to work with, but did tend to dry out even before the booking time was up, so presented a bit of a challenge in that respect.

In the distant shot, you can make out a sort of hourglass figure in the branches and vines. I plotted the placement so a full “swoop” would display over the doors.

And also so the “hourglass” would play out down the center of the main wall, as shown in the photo. This will look nice as the vines and flowers gently surround the chest of drawers and oval mirror when they are placed back into the room.

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.