Posts Tagged ‘pasting’

Minor Bubbles, Waffling, Quilting on Wallpaper

March 28, 2021

A lot of high-end wallpaper manufacturers use heavy inks (a.k.a. stinky ink). When wet paste is rolled on to the back of the wallpaper, these inks commonly compete with the substrate for moisture. The substrate absorbs more moisture and more quickly than the inked areas.

The result is wrinkles, blisters, bubbles, warps, quilting, waffling – whatever you want to name it, you’ve got a bumpy surface that doesn’t want to lie flat on the wall.

One way to tame this beast is to LIGHTLY sponge water onto the surface of the paper, before pasting. This allows the front to absorb moisture at the same time that the backing is soaking up moisture from the paste. The result is a more even “quilting” of the material.

Another thing to keep in mind is that small blisters like seen in the photo will usually flatten out and disappear as the wallpaper paste dries. A good wallpaper-specific primer underneath is a big help.

Also, a liner paper is often a good choice. The liner is a special, unprinted paper that goes under the decorative wallpaper. The liner absorbs moisture quickly and helps “lock down” bubbles and seams.

A liner also ups the installation price. Because you have to add the cost of the material, plus the labor of at least an additional day to hang the liner, and then let it dry at overnight or longer.

Textured Faux Crocodile in Montrose Powder Room

October 1, 2020


From flat and white to textured and black, this powder room took a trip to the wild and exotic. The embossed vinyl wallpaper mimics the look of crocodile hide.

I centered the design on the sink wall, so the pattern would frame the mirror evenly. Then, since the toilet wall is the first thing you see when you enter the room, I thought it would look nice to have the pattern centered on that wall, too. Usually, you can only balance the pattern on one wall, and after that, the design has to fall sequentially as it works its way around the room. But I did some engineering, and figured a way to place the pattern in the center of the toilet wall, too.

The material is an unusually thin and flexible embossed vinyl on a thin non-woven substrate. It’s my second time in this year to hang this, and I like it a lot – much better than most non-wovens, which can be thick and stiff and can bruise easily.

Non-wovens have some fiberglass in their content and do not expand when they are wet with paste, nor do they shrink as they dry. They can be hung immediately after pasting – or you can use the paste-the-wall method. Non-wovens are designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This is in the SuperFresco line by Graham & Brown, one of my preferred manufacturers. You don’t need a retailer, because this can be bought directly from the G&B website.

The home is new build, contemporary in style, in the Montrose area of central Houston.

Cole & Son Fornasetti Chiavi Segrete in a Houston Powder Room

July 17, 2020


I’ve worked for these clients many times over three homes and nearly 30 years. This is their final but “not-quite-retired” home.

The homeowner fell in love with this pattern by Cole & Son, in their Fornasetti line, called Chiavi Segrete. But she got pulled in other directions by various design trends, and then got side-tracked by more pressing things.

Finally, at least a year after moving into the new home, she realized she really wanted her first choice, so went back to the green leafy pattern with the gold keys.

I have to admit – it is a best ever fit for this room. It matches the paint color perfectly. The scale is right for the size of the room and walls. And it will look even more super once the mirror is put up.

Like most of the British papers these days, this material is a non-woven, and can be hung via the paste-the-wall method, or, as I chose to do today, pasting the paper. The surface is vinyl, and can be cleaned (somewhat) easily.

This wallpaper pattern is 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. This homeowner has worked with Dorota for most of her projects, over these many years. (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.

Schumacher Pyne Hellyhock Hell

March 22, 2020


Pardon my French, but we don’t call this company “Schitmacher” and “Poomacher” for nothing … With so many quality substrates and inks out there, and so many other companies making top-notch papers, why, oh WHY does Schumacher continue to use outdated materials and methods – especially when they’re crappy?!

The wrinkles here are referred to as “waffling” or “quilting.” This is caused by the wallpaper backing (substrate) absorbing moisture at a different rate from the ink on the front. This moisture causes the substrate to expand more than the ink, which creates wrinkled areas.

I had this problem with the Bibliotheque I blogged about last week. But that was not as severe, mostly because the inked area covered most of the paper.

In this Pyne Hollyhock, most of the ink is concentrated down the center of the strip, leaving large un-inked areas along the outer edges.

I was able to smooth out many of the smaller wrinkles in between the blue flowers. Others may disappear when the paper dries.

But the blank / white areas had wrinkles so big that they would not be smoothed out. See third photo. The other thing is, because this white area was twisting and warping so dramatically, you can bet that the edges of the strip will not butt up properly with the next strip.

Sometimes you can double cut (splice) seams that are not butting up correctly. But since this paper also presented the huge wrinkles, it still is gonna look bad at the minimum, and have large gaps at the worst.

A liner might help (do a Search here), but I doubt it would tame the worst wrinkles, especially at the edges. In addition, it adds more material cost and at least another day’s labor.

I did a couple test strips, employing different approaches with each. Such as dampening the front before pasting to even out the moisture distribution. Booking for extended lengths of time. Booking and then opening and repasting. Different smoothing techniques. I even got out the heat gun to speed up drying to see if the wrinkles would flatten.

But I never got a result that I felt was acceptable. And certainly not what this family deserved, nor worth the price they paid for this so-called high-end brand.

It’s not often that a paper beats my butt, but I did end up throwing in the towel on this one.

Too bad, because the homeowner and interior designer really love the pattern, which is one of Schumacher’s most popular. Right now, it’s undecided if they will see if one of my buddies wants to tackle it, or if they will choose something else.

This was to have gone in the dining room of a newly renovated home in the Woodland Heights of Houston.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt I – Hand Trimming, Overlapping

March 18, 2020

Like many of the higher-end brands, this Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper had to have its selvedge edge trimmed off by hand. Unfortunately, they did not provide trim guide marks. Double unfortunately, I tried using the pattern as a guide, but, for a lot of reasons, this was a big fail – the edges looked like they had been trimmed with a hair curling iron. 😦

How, then, was I going to get good seams?

I was preparing to double cut (splice). But for many reasons, this was not presenting as a good option.

Then I got the idea to overlap. This turned out to be the perfect solution!

The edges of the “bookshelves” were not straight, so, instead of using my straightedge as a trim guide, I grabbed a new razor blade and free-handed my cuts along the design. (see top photo)

Then, after measuring, pasting, and booking my strips, I positioned them on the wall by overlapping one “shelf support” on top of the previous one. The second photo shows one strip being placed thusly.

Overlapping like this does leave a ridge under the wallpaper. But it is not very noticeable, especially since my design motifs were perfectly aligned.

What’s even cooler is that this overlap added a bit of 3-D to the room, which is what you would have if you had real wood and books in there.

Another advantage is that I could tweak the spacing if needed, to plumb up a strip that might have started going crooked.

Flaws of the Day – Smudges and Streaks

March 11, 2020


The smudges you see are ink from the manufacturer’s printing process. They appeared on both the right and left side of this strip of wallpaper.

It was just by chance that I saw this before I got it to the wall (because normally you’re looking at the back of the strip while you are pasting it).

There was another, faint, thumb-sized smudge on the outer 3″ of another strip. Even though it was faint, it would have stood out against this very plain background.

Again, lucky that I spotted it before pasting, and was able to save the strip by plotting to use it where the defect would be cut off by the door frame.

The manufacturer is Thibaut, one of my favorite wallpaper brands. Issues like this are rare with Thibaut.

Please Don’t Buy Pre-Pasted, Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpaper – Bad Seams

March 4, 2018

I try to guide my clients to buy good quality wallpaper. But sometimes they don’t listen, or don’t understand, or they shop before they get my information packet, or they’re concerned about the price-point, or they just fall in love with a pattern and don’t pay attention to the quality.

In this case, the homeowner loves the color and design. Unfortunately, the paper is one of my LEAST favorite types – a pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid-vinyl. And it is living up to its (bad) reputation.

I tried several pasting techniques, but still the paper backing absorbs moisture from the paste and expands, which forces it to curl backward. The causes the seam to “pouch” up a little. I’ve tried every trick I know, but still the vinyl wants to curl back from the paper backing, leaving this curled seam.

I am hoping that, once this paper is dry, it will shrink nice and tight against the wall, and the seams will look better.

There is still the worry, though, that over time, moisture and humidity from this master bathroom will work its way into the seams, and cause the paper backing to expand, and allow the seams to “pouch” up again. If that happens, even with proper prep, this paper may not last more than a few years.

Playful World Map With Fun Animals for Baby’s Nursery

August 8, 2017

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Couples love this mural for their new baby – I’m betting it’s all over HOUZZ and Pintrest, and that’s where web surfers are finding it. This is the third time I’ve hung it, each time in a different color. The seams were much better this time, having been cut straight so there were not gaps of overlaps, and lying down better. (Search to read my previous posts.)

The mural came from Portugal, and was custom-sized to fit this accent wall in the nursery. The homeowner did the measuring, and he did a good job (as opposed to a prior install – read previous post), and the manufacturer also added a little around all the edges, to allow for trimming at the side walls, floor, and ceiling.

Now, if the homeowner had called me before he ordered that mural, I would have had him get it a little larger. The manufacturer’s guidelines allowed for a scant 1″ at the ceiling and baseboard. In a perfect world, this would be fine.

But in this room (in a beautifully renovated 1940 bungalow in the Houston Heights), the walls were not plumb, and the ceiling was not level. If I had hung the mural true-to-plumb, it would have started tracking off-kilter along the ceiling and floor lines, quickly eating up that 1″ allowance, and quite possibly ending up running out of paper at the top of the wall or at the baseboard. The same thing could happen at the corners, too. (That did happen on one of my other installs.)

Before I pasted a piece, I did a lot of measuring and plotting, to be sure I could position the mural so it would cover the entire height and width of the wall space. Much too complicated to explain. But, in a nutshell, what I did was to hang the mural off-plumb, but parallel with the un-level ceiling.

I started with the center panel, to minimize any tracking on either the left or right sides. I also made sure that the strips falling on either side of that center piece would be wide enough to reach the two wall corners, even if they hung crooked.

My strategy worked, and I ended up trimming off 1 1/4″ from the top, and 3/4″ from the bottom, on each strip. This meant that the mural was running parallel with the ceiling and floor, which was more important than being perfectly plumb. (Note: Usually you’re trimming off 2″ at both top and bottom, so today we were really cutting it close.)

Another complicating factor to this install was that, while most wallpaper widths are 20.5″, 27″, or 36,” these three mural panels were each 4′ wide. I’m 5’3″ tall, and my arm stretch is probably not a full 4,’ so handling, positioning, manipulating the pasted 9′ long strips was very difficult.

Additionally, it was important to “work clean,” because the surface is textured and it’s not easy to remove any paste that might get on the front of the wallpaper.

There’s more: My work table is 33″ wide, so pasting and booking the 48″ wide x 9′ long strips was a challenge. And the pasted strips, which I booked in accordion folds, were heavy and unwieldy.

All that mental plotting and physical gymnastics were worth it, though, because the finished mural looked fantastic, and the mom-and-dad-to-be loved it.

I have a pretty long lead time (4 months), but this couple called at the moment when another job had just postponed due to construction delays, so I had an open day and could get them done right away. That’s really good, because the baby’s coming, and the parents want to get the room furnished and decorated and ready.

I’m glad I was able to help them. 🙂

Out of the ’90’s, and Into the …. ’90’s ….

December 30, 2015

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The owners of this newish home in Garden Oaks were updating their powder room, including a new console style vanity, a point-of-use tankless water heater, and new wallpaper. They wanted it all done before the Super Bowl game…. I am generally booked with work several weeks out, but had an unexpected opening, so was able to squeeze them in today, between Christmas and New Year’s. They were happy to let me come this holiday week!

I have hung a ton of that chintz style floral (top photo) in the ’90’s. It’s a pleasing pattern, but has become dated. Really, the homeowners’ new choice isn’t much different, but it’s an updated version, plus the red color has a lot of impact, and that helps the walls stand out against the white woodwork.

One good thing about a pattern like this is that it won’t really ever go out of style.

The paper was printed on what we call a pulp substrate. I usually like pulps, but this one was thick and stiff and brittle and it abraded easily. I had to color the edges with oil pastel, to keep the white backing from peeking out at the seams. Pasting it was a wrestling match, because it kept wanting to curl back into a roll. It didn’t want to turn corners, it bubbled, and it abraded if it was rubbed too much, especially at the seams. It will stay nice and flat to the wall over time, but has no coating, so cannot be washed, and will stain if water splashes onto it. In other words, don’t buy this brand. 🙂

All that said, the room looked great when I was finished, and the homeowners loved it. The plumber is coming tomorrow, to install the sink, and they will be all ready for Super Bowl Sunday!

This wallpaper was bought from the Sherwin-Williams on N. Shepherd in Garden Oaks. I believe it was made in England, and the brand appears to be English Florals.