Posts Tagged ‘paste’

Faces in Unexpected Places

January 26, 2020

How’s this for something no one else is gonna have?! The homeowner of this Galleria-area home in Houston is a big-personality gal, recently divorced, and she wants her new home to reflect who she is. Everything in the house that could have glitter, shimmer, mirror, or glitz does – including the dog bed and the kitchen backsplash.

This wallpaper in the adjoining powder room (with a huge crystal chandelier!) fits right in with that new life.

This is a sort of mural, composed of rectangular panels about 3′ wide x 2′ high. It was bought on-line, and came with no information or installation instructions.

It was a paper substrate, and was meant to be butted at the seams, as opposed to overlapped, as many mural panels are. After experimenting, I found that a powdered wheat or cellulose paste hydrated the paper best, and that a little of my traditional wallpaper paste added to the mix helped hold the paper tightly to the wall and minimize shrinkage as the panels dried.

The paper curled badly when it was wet with the paste (see third photo), which made it difficult to paste it, book it, and then get it to the wall.

It also expanded a lot when it got wet – almost an inch in each direction. Uneven expansion meant that it developed large wrinkles and warps that were difficult to remove.

In addition, the walls were bowed and uneven in the corners, the walls were not plumb, the ceiling was not level, the crown molding was at different heights on different walls, and we didn’t have a lot of paper to play with.

It took a lot of work to keep the pattern matched as well as possible in the corners, to keep the pattern running at the right point below the crown molding, to eliminate the aforementioned wrinkles, to butt the panels, to minimize white showing at the seams due to the panels drying and shrinking, the paper getting saturated and tearing or dragging when I tried to trim it, and lots more challenges.

All this could have been easier if the manufacturer had chosen a better substrate to print on. But – well, hey, we’ve got a digital printer, so let’s just dig up some paper stock, print cool designs on it, and market it as wallpaper.

Actually, this material worked out pretty well in this small powder room. But I would not want to paper a large, wide wall with it.

Most companies who make murals like this, on this type of thin paper substrate, allow for the edges to be overlapped about 3/8″ at each seam. This allows the installer to make adjustments for wonky walls and ceilings, and it eliminates the gapping at seams as paper dries and shrinks. It does, however, leave a ridge along each seam where the edges are overlapped.

Overall, though, I was not unhappy with this product in this room. And working out all the challenges was mighty fun. I was glad to have a nice, quiet, empty house to do all this in. All in all, this medium-sized powder room that I had prepped the weekend before, took me nine hours to hang.

Grasscloth in Heights Master Bedroom

January 17, 2020


This is the 1st floor master bedroom of a nicely-remodeled-but-still-retains-many-original-details-and-all-its-original-charm 1920 bungalow in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

The textured walls started out dark green. I skim-floated and sanded them smooth. The new wallpaper is a brown grasscloth with a faint greenish tinge, and it has a nubby texture with a lot of knots (more pics tomorrow!)

The homeowner ordered her paper before I measured the room, and I told her to get two additional double roll bolts. In the 4th photo, I am checking labels to be sure we have all the same run / dye batch; we lucked out and the new bolts were the same run as the original lot.

In the 5th photo, I have cut strips for a wall, and have them lined up and ready to paste and trim. In the background, you can see how I place bolts against each wall, as a way of keeping track of how many strips I need and which bolts I will take them from.

Because there are shading / paneling issues with grasscloth (do a Search here on those terms), it’s important to not mix strips from different bolts. That way, if there are slight color differences between bolts (as there usually are) these differences will be minimized. Still, as you see in the third photo, the three strips on the right came from one bolt, and the strips on the left came from another bolt – and there is a noticeable difference in shade. This is not a defect – it’s simply the nature of grasscloth – a product made from natural materials.

This one long wall used seven strips from three bolts, so a color difference could be expected. On the other, narrower, walls, all the strips came from the same bolt, so the color differences were minimized. When I had to use different bolts on the same wall, I was able to place the “break” over a door or window, with only 1′ of color difference. That’s a lot less noticeable than the 8′ you see on the long wall in the photo.

This wallpaper was bought through Sherwin Williams. There is no brand name on the label.

More photos tomorrow!

Reattaching Curling Seams on Vinyl

January 7, 2020


I hung this Bankun Raffia woven fabric-backed wallpaper a few years ago. Some of the edges along the tile and over the shower and below the window had begun to curl. This is mainly due to

` Not wanting to adhere to the porous tile grout
` Humidity from the shower
` Moisture inside the wall, or coming through the window frame

The few areas that had an inch of paper that was loose called for wallpaper paste. But for the very edges, my “secrete weapon” of clear silicone caulk was the solution. Caulk is tacky and grabs more quickly than wallpaper paste. And it will hold tighter against the aggressive curl of the vinyl.

That aggressive curl is a bit of a beast. But I have another “secrete weapon” that is up to taming the beast – a heat gun.

Be careful using it, and practice first, so as not to damage the vinyl. But judiciously applied heat will relax the vinyl just enough that it will release its curl and lie back neatly into it’s original position against the wall.

In the picture, the putty knife is for pulling the loose edges away from the wall so I can get paste and caulk behind the paper. The white smoother is for pushing the paper against the wall. The putty knife was also a good option here, because it withstood the heat of the heat gun better than the plastic smoother.

Humming Birds on Aqua in Powder Room

November 22, 2019

This is one of my all-time favorite wallpaper patterns. It’s just pretty – PRETTY.

I’m told it dates back to the late 1800’s – about the same time the manufacturer founded its company. In fact, the paper is 18.5″ wide, instead of the more standard 20.5″ width, because it is printed on the same rollers and drums that were used back then.

I’ve hung it many times over two decades. But I think this is the first time I’ve done this aqua colorway.

The under-the-stairs powder room is too small for me to get good photographs. But you can see how the paper glows.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, one of my favorite brands. If you look closely at the last photo, you can see the “raised ink” used in the printing process. I love that look and feel.

The material is pre-pasted, so all you have to do is wet it to activate the paste. I do also run a light coat of augmentive paste on the wall.

The home is in the Tanglewood area of Houston.

It 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.

Good Catch After a Mistake

November 19, 2019

Whoops! Somebody (me 😦 ) cut a wallpaper strip to 6’24” instead of 6’34”.

This William Morris wallpaper is expensive, and I didn’t want to just throw away the too-short piece. So I figured a way to use scraps to save it.

At the bottom of the too-short strip, I trimmed horizontally along an element of the design. From the scrap pile, I found a piece with a corresponding pattern, made sure it was the right length to reach the baseboard, and then trimmed the top horizontally to match up with the design on the piece already on the wall.

The reason I trimmed along the swoopy line of the design is that I wanted to eliminate a straight horizontal ridge showing under the two strips once they were overlapped on the wall. The eye might notice a wide, non-conforming, horizontal ridge, but it won’t notice a narrow overlap that follows the contours of the pattern.

I put the short strip in place, and the pattern matched perfectly.

But there was a slight sheen from above, glinting off of the cut edge of the wallpaper in just a few spots. You can just barely see this in the second-to-last photo.

So I pulled the two strips of wallpaper apart and put them back together, but reversed the sequence, overlapping the top strip onto the lower strip. Now there was no cut edge for light to catch or bounce off of, and now the overlap / ridge is completely invisible.

Note that the surface of this wallpaper was a vinyl (plastic) material. Wallpaper paste won’t stick to plastic very well (it’s too slick). There is a special adhesive called VOV – for Vinyl Over Vinyl – formulated to make this bond. But I don’t always trust it.

So I often use clear caulk, which I call Super Glue for Wallpaper. Under the right conditions, it’s a wonderful solution.

Note: There is a technique called a double-cut, which is a method of splicing two strips of wallpaper together. A double-cut eliminates the possibly-visible ridge that you get when you overlap strips of wallpaper. For various reasons too complicated to get into here, in this case, and especially down low and behind the toilet, I preferred to use the overlap-and-super-glue technique.

Calming Blue Silk on Bookshelf Backs – Schumacher

November 9, 2019


This is a somewhat nubby silk fabric mounted on a non-woven backing. The soft blue coordinates nicely with other elements in the room, and makes a lovely backdrop for the books and decorative items that will fill the shelves.

Silk wallcoverings are much like grasscloth, because the pattern cannot be matched. You will see all the seams. And there will be color variations and irregularities. This is all expected with these natural materials.

I was pleased with this one, because it was fairly homogeneous in color.

I used the paste-the-wall installation method. Silk, like grass, stains easily, so you have to keep your hands clean and dry, and don’t let any paste get onto the surface or ooze out at the seams.

The manufacturer is Schumacher, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. She works primarily in the Heights, Oak Forest, and Garden Oaks, and mostly does new builds or whole-house remodels.

Farrow & Ball – Disappointing Quality

October 10, 2019


First three photos – Burnish marks from smoothing paint-coated paper to wall. Read below.

Last two photos – Fat seams caused by poor trimming and thick paper and paint. You man need to enlarge the photo to see clearly. Read below.

I’m disappointed in the quality of the Farrow & Ball paper I hung recently. (See my post from September 1st.) For a high-end brand, their quality-control is definitely lacking.

The seams are thick and dark, and many areas had to be repasted because they didn’t hold to the wall. As one of my highly-skilled, decades-long installer buddies put it: “This is a common problem caused by …… incompetence of factory trimming and poor choice of substrate. This substrate is thick and the trimming from F&B often gives us a “rounded” edge, for want of a better word.” Another installer described the seam edges as “scalloped.” You can never get a good, tight seam with thick paper and paint, and improper factory trimming.

Another disappointment was a sheen on the paper. F&B is proud of their paint, and, instead of using ink (like other successful manufacturers do), they coat their wallpaper with their paint. To get wallpaper stuck to the wall, to eliminate bubbles, and to set seams, you need to use tools, notably a smoothing brush (“sweep”) and/or a plastic smoothing tool.

No matter how gently I swiped with the brush, the paint burnished (left a sheen). Using the plastic smoother to try to coax the cantankerous seams to stay down left worse sheen along the length of each seam. I tried covering the smoother with soft T-shirt cloth, but that didn’t help. This sheen is caused by sensitivity of the paints. I hung three different F&B patterns, and had the same problem with each.
I worked as cleanly as possible, because trying to wipe even a small speck of paste off the surface left another shiny spot. The sheen was more noticeable when the paper was viewed from the side, with light hitting it at an angle.

If other manufacturers use inks that are designed to bond to paper, and that will withstand the light brushing and occasional wiping during the installation process, why does Farrow & Ball persist in using paint on their wallpaper??! Matt-finish paint is designed to be looked at, not rubbed or wiped or washed. And why use a thick, poor-performing substrate, when so many other companies have found wonderful papers to print on??

One solution for the sheen might be to coat the paper with a matt-finish varnish or other product that will even hide the shininess. As for the fat, noticeable seams, there is no solution. For now, we’re leaving everything as it is, because the client doesn’t see what I see, and she is delighted with her new wallpaper.

Cute Flowers for Guest Bedroom Accent Wall

September 25, 2019


This bedroom went from typical traditional suburban style to much more contemporary and fun, thanks to this line-drawing pattern with a playful take on potted flowers.

Just the headboard wall was papered, creating a focal accent for the room.

By Exclusive Wallcoverings, this is a non-woven product, and can be hung either by pasting the paper or by pasting the wall. Since there were no intricate cuts to make or obstacles to trim around, it worked nicely to paste the wall.

Non-woven papers tend to want to retain their curled-up state, which makes them difficult to work with. To get rid of that “memory,” and to prevent the decorative side from bopping into the paste on the wall, I roll the paper backwards and secure with a hairband, as you see in the photo. Once I’m up on the ladder, I undo the paper and let it unroll toward the floor, working it into position against the preceding strip as it goes.

This home is in the Kingwood neighborhood of Houston.

Farrow & Ball Feather Grass

September 1, 2019


Farrow & Ball is a long-established British company. Here is their very unique design “Feather Grass” which I hung in a master bedroom in the country. I love the look of this pattern as you gaze out the windows to the pastureland beyond.

Farrow & Ball includes their own powdered paste, which you mix up with water. To get a smooth mix, I prefer a hand-held blender to the old-fashioned stirrer stick. Not shown is the 1-gallon bucket of cellulose pasted all ready to go.

The company sends a mock-up of what their design will look like. (The image above is from a different pattern I hung in this same home.)

Because their paper is coated with their paint, rather than ink, there can be variations in color as the printer moves through the batch of paint. So the company labels each bolt in the sequence that it came off the printer, and you are instructed to use the bolts and strips in sequence, to minimize any color variations.

This pattern is something like a mural, and comes in panels with one design per panel, rather than strips with multiple repeats of the pattern. In the photo above, I am rolling the paper out on the floor, to get an understanding of how it is laid out and how it is packaged.

Each bolt contained three panels, all rolled up together. The panels are made to fit a wall as high as 12′, so I had to cut each panel from the bolt, then trim it down to fit the 7 1/2′ high walls.

Yes, there is a lot of waste with Feather Grass. In fact, it takes a full strip to go above and below the windows and doors, even though you are throwing away the entire middle part. So, again, incredible amount of waste – I carted home a whole lot of unusable paper to toss into the recycling bin!

Before shot.

The “grass” pattern is meant to appear at about 4 1/2′ from the floor. Since you start hanging wallpaper from the ceiling, I needed to know where to place the tops of the sheaves of grass. So I drew a horizontal line around the room at the 4 1/2′ height. (enlarge photo to see the faint pencil line) This way, from up on the ladder at the ceiling, I was able to see where the tops of the grass stalks were landing on the wall. It took a few trips up and down the ladder on each strip, but I was able to get all the stalks lined up perfectly.

Finished photos. It’s a subtle colorway, so you may need to enlarge the photo to see it well.

Isn’t the overall effect lovely, with the soft misty color of the grass showing against the view of nature outside the window?!

I hung this in the country home (Chappell Hill) of a family for whom I have worked previously in their River Oaks area home in Houston.

20+ Year Old Paper – Still Perfect

July 31, 2019


I hung this paper in a master bathroom in Bellaire more than 20 years ago. It is still in perfect shape!

This is due partly to the good quality paper the homeowner chose (not low-end, pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl), to good ventilation removing humidity from the room, to good installation techniques, and to the great primer I used at that time – Oil Based KILZ Original. Unfortunately, EPA regulations forced changes to this primer, and wallpaper paste will no longer stick to it.

The homeowners are going to renovate and update the bathroom, so I was there taking measurements for the new room. When it comes time to remove this old paper, I know that it will strip off easily and cleanly, because of the installation and primer used when it was put up.