Posts Tagged ‘penetrating sealer’

Removing Mirror Rips Drywall

September 19, 2017

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This powder room in the Medical Center area of Houston had a mirror glued to the wall.  The homeowners want a different mirror, so had the original one removed.  The mirror was attached to the wall with a tar-like substance called mastic.  The glass guys use suction cups to clamp onto the mirror, then they pull it away from the wall.  Some globs of mastic will be left on the wall, and this is a problem, because these tar-like substance will bleed through the new wallpaper.

So, to prevent any mastic / tar residue from bleeding through the wallpaper, the handyman took a Stanley knife / box cutter and cut out the top paper layer of drywall that had any mastic on it.

To smooth over the uneven edges, the handyman skim-floated the area with joint compound.  The moisture in the joint compound caused the exposed paper inside the drywall to swell.

So what you are seeing in the top photo is a wrinkled section of drywall caused by moisture.  This will show under wallpaper.

So I took a Stanley knife and cut out the handyman’s patch, to remove the wrinkled drywall paper layer.  I sealed it with a penetrating primer called Gardz, which soaks in, binds surfaces together, and dries hard.

Once that was dry, I skim-floated over it (and the entire area), to get a smooth finish.  Once my skim-float layer was dry, I sanded it smooth, and then primed again with Gardz.

The Gardz did its job, and did not allow moisture to penetrate into the exposed drywall, so no more wrinkles developed.  See the second photo.  Now the wall is nicely prepared and ready for wallpaper.

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Spring Time in a Powder Room

July 7, 2017

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I forgot my camera yesterday, the day I stripped off the old paper and prepped the walls, so I cannot show you the 15 year-old wallpaper with its curling seams, due to 1.) being an inexpensive paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper (my least favorite kind – do a Search here), and 2.) the previous installer did not prime the walls but instead hung the wallpaper directly on the new home’s bare Sheetrock, and 3.) age, heat, and humidity. The pattern, however, was not too dissimilar to this one, being a sort of “impressionistic painting” design in the same blue, pink, yellow, and green color scheme.

Anyway, the new powder room looks fantastic. The colors are similar to what the homeowner had before, but this wallpaper should hold up much better. The material is paper (not vinyl), and will hug the wall tightly. I removed every scrap of old paper and sealed the walls with a penetrating sealer named Gardz, and then primed with a wallpaper-specific primer called Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977.

On top of this good foundation, the new wallpaper is a pre-pasted, raised-ink paper by Thibaut, and is one of my favorite products to work with, and I also love it’s dependable performance down the road. The pattern is #6936, and is very similar to their “Augustine” hummingbird design (Do a Search here). I love the barely-discernible texture of these raised-ink papers. A unique printing process results in this effect.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Mirror “Tar” Will Bleed Through Wallpaper – Prevention

May 17, 2017

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Originally, this powder room in a newish townhome in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston had a mirror that was glued to the wall. Removing it left globs of mastic (tar-like adhesive) stuck to the wall. See Photo 1.

Mastic is petroleum-based, and it, like other similar substances such as grease, oil, and crayon, as well as other compounds like blood, rust, water, tobacco tar, and others, will work their way from behind the wallpaper up through it and then onto the surface, causing an unsightly stain.

KILZ Original oil-based primer and stain blocker is a superb product for sealing these substances. However, I feel more confident if the suspect material is removed entirely.

The best way to do this is to take a Stanley knife (utility knife / box cutter) and cut around the stain and into the wall. Then you can use a stiff 3″ putty knife to peel up the top layer of drywall, taking the staining material with it.

This leaves a patch of Sheetrock without its protective top layer. See Photo 3. These layers of torn Sheetrock will absorb moisture from anything you put on top (paint, primer, joint compound, etc.), and will swell, creating ugly bubbles that will mar the finished job.

So I brushed on Gardz, a penetrating sealer / primer by Zinsser. This is cool stuff, because it soaks into the surface and then dries hard, binding everything together.

In Photo 4, I have skim-floated over the areas where I have cut out the mastic. To skim-float, I trowel on a smoothing material called joint compound. Once that is dry, I will go back and sand it smooth, creating a perfectly smooth surface ready to accept the new wallpaper.

Prepping for a Repair Job Today

May 10, 2017

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This 1930 home just south of Houston’s Medical Center was being rewired, and the electricians drilled pilot holes into the wall in the room behind this room – and straight through the wall into this bathroom. Two smallish holes, but they totally ruined the wallpaper in this area. Top photo.

Luckily, this strip was next to a corner, so only this one strip had to be replaced. Which is a lot less complicated than dealing with multiple strips.

Also lucky is that the homeowners had saved the left over paper from when I hung it several years ago.

When I started stripping the wallpaper from the wall, it took chunks of the primer along with it. This surprised me, because that type of paper usually strips off relatively easily, and the primer I used usually holds nice and tight to the wall I think this is due to whatever paint or other treatment the contractors put on the wall before I got there. At any rate, the wall was left with jagged and uneven areas. Second photo.

Because the paper was heavily textured, it would probably have been possible to seal the damaged wall and hang the replacement paper over it with none of the uneven areas telegraphing through.

But I just couldn’t let myself do that.  I wanted the surface to be smooth and sound.  So I did a very light skim-float over the wall to smooth it. This added a lot more time, because I had to wait for the compound to dry, and then for the penetrating sealer / primer (Gardz) I applied to dry, also. But I felt better about the surface once these steps were done.

The last photo shows the finished wall – along with a few of my measurements and figures. Note that they are carefully written in pencil, because it’s about the only writing material that will not bleed through wallpaper.

Sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of the finished wall. But it turned out great.

This wallpaper is a textured vinyl product that is a wonderful alternative to real grasscloth, because it has none of the shading, paneling, color variations or staining problems of the real stuff.  This product is by Warner, but it is the exact same product as one I have done many times, called Bankin Raffia, by Thibaut.  This one did appear to have a slightly different backing than the Thibaut product, however.  I prefer the Thibaut.  You can Search here to see other jobs I have done with this very fine product.

A Good Reason Not to Double-Cut

April 10, 2017

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A double-cut is a paperhanger’s term for splicing two strips of wallpaper together. The edges of the strips are overlapped about 1″ on the wall, and then, bracing against a straightedge, a sharp razor blade and plenty of pressure are used to cut through both layers of wallpaper. Remove excess paper from both layers, and you have a perfectly butted seam.

The only problem is that it’s virtually impossible to do this without scoring into the wall, slicing through the top layer (or more). This cut makes the surface unstable, and when the new wallpaper dries, it shrinks and puts tension (torque) on the wall’s surface. This shrinking and tension can cause the wall to split and curl back, leaving a gap or a gaping wallpaper seam.

This is what you see in the photo.

To remedy this, I wanted to bridge the gap with something that would move with any shifting in the drywall, and that would not cause ridges under the new paper.

The new wallpaper was a thick, textured material, so I was not overly worried about ridges from the patch telegraphing through it.

I used strips from the paper backing of the old wallpaper / grasscloth I had just stripped off the wall to cover the cut wall areas. I tore the patches, rather than cutting, because the “feathered” edges of the torn paper would be less noticeable under the new paper than a sharp, straight edge would be.

The strips were wet from having been stripped off the wall with water, and the wall’s surface had damp paste residue remaining on it, so the patching strips adhered nicely to the wall surface.

But, to be sure, I brushed on Gardz, a penetrating sealer and “problem wall solver.” It soaked in, bound the surfaces together, dried, and made a taught, strong surface for the new wallpaper to go over.

Still, I made sure that my seams did not fall in the same exact spots as these compromised areas of wall. That greatly reduces the possibility of seams in the new wallpaper from curling back or pulling away from the wall.

As it turns out, because of the way I engineered the wall and various other factors, I did end up doing a double cut splice over this door. But I made sure it was not in the same place as the compromised wall surface. In addition, I protected the wall by putting a thin polystyrene (plastic) strip under the wallpaper before I cut, so that when I pressed my razor blade hard to cut through the two layers of cork, it did not damage the wall. Sorry, no pics, but there are other photos of that process on my blog, if you want to do a Search.

Faux Grass Lends a Sleek, Mid-Century Air to this Dining Room

June 17, 2016
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I love it when my clients listen to me. This couple near the Highland Village (Houston) was considering grasscloth for their dining room. I discouraged that choice, because of the color variations between strips, and even within strips (called paneling or shading) of natural products like grasscloth. Also, because grasscloth stains easily, it’s not a great choice for an active family with young children and a puppy.

I was happy when they went with this textured vinyl product instead. It has the texture and depth of color that people like these days, but none of the color difference problems, plus it is quite washable and stain-resistant. I think this looks something like a man’s tweed suit – in fact, it is called “Flanders.” The look is sleek and crisp and calming, and will look super with the family’s Mid-Century Modern dining table, buffet, and chandelier.

This is a thick, woven-fabric (scrim) backed vinyl product, and was a little difficult to fit tightly against the moldings; my angled steel plate tool (not pictured) helped greatly with this. I hung every other strip upside down, which minimized color variations by placing the same side of each subsequent strip next to itself.

The wall was lightly textured to begin with, so I skim-floated the walls to smooth the surface, to prevent bumps from showing under the paper and to provide a smooth surface for the wallpaper to grab on to. I also smoothed the wall area below the chair rail, which the family is going to coat with a semi-gloss paint, so it will look like wooden paneling. I primed both areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, #T-14164, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Flames, Tails, or Swirls?

May 17, 2016
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Top Photo: Which do you prefer? … The powder room’s original blue and white mini-print, or the grey and silver swirly geometric with feeling of upward movement? The original small pattern was good in its day, but the new homeowner had updated this under-the-stairs powder room in a Galleria-area townhome with a new marble countertop, and brushed nickel light fixture, faucet, and towel ring. The blue country-ish small print no longer cut it.

After studying magazines, HGTV, and HOUZZ, the homeowner thought she wanted a geometric pattern. She was also concerned about getting the right shade of grey to coordinate with the marble counter top. And she wanted something that was youthful, yet would not soon go out of style. The wallpaper seller (read below), and I both encouraged her to explore other patterns.

This homeowner took her time, did research, got samples, sought input – and settled on this softer, more fluid take on a geometric design. The shade of grey is on the cool side, and goes perfectly with the marble. She chose a complimentary mid-tone grey paint for the vanity cabinet (not shown).

The painters had prepped right over the old wallpaper, and it was intact and tight to the wall. So, in this case, rather than strip the old paper, which would have raised many ugly heads, I left it on the wall and skim-floated over it (the white areas show this), and then sealed everything with Gardz, a penetrating sealer. That’s what you are seeing in the first photo.

I love the way the metallic areas (really vinyl / Mylar) reflect in the top of the toilet. 🙂

This wallpaper pattern is by York, and I hung the exact same thing a few months ago, also in a powder room. It was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

I was happy to consult with this homeowner several times before the wallpaper went up. She took her time and defined her likes and the parameters of the room. Result? She loved the finished powder room, with its soft, upward-moving swirly pattern.

What’s cool is, she said, “I realized that I don’t even really like geometrics.” She had been swept along with what is popular right now in the media. I’m glad she settled on this softer-yet-energizing pattern, which suits her taste and the room perfectly.

You Can’t Hang Wallpaper Over Textured Walls

April 21, 2016
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The homeowners wanted a contemporary, textured look in their powder and master bathrooms, so hired a faux-finish company to create this striated look.

Unfortunately for all, they were not pleased with the look. They decided to go with wallpaper instead; one thing about wallpaper – you get a sample or look in a book and so pretty well know what the finished project will look like.

But, before the new wallpaper can go up, the walls need to be smoothed. This will eliminate ridges from showing under the new wallpaper, and will provide a smooth surface for the new wallpaper to grab onto.

So I “skim-coated,” or “floated” over the previous texture with joint compound (“mud”), let it dry, sanded it smooth, wiped dust off the surface with a damp sponge, and then primed with a clear penetrating sealer called Gardz (by Zinsser and available at Benjamin Moore paint stores). Now we have a good surface for the new wallpaper.

Note: The areas at the bottom of the second photo show some vertical lines – these are remnants of the striated surface below. The spaces between the ridges have been filled in with smoothing compound, and the whole surface is smooth.  The scissors is there to give a reference as to scale.

A Scratchy, Blurry Geometric Trellis On A Dining Room Accent Wall

March 30, 2016
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The homeowners are fairly new to this house in the Shepherd Park Plaza neighborhood of Houston, and are doing lots of updates. In this dining room, they removed the built-in cabinet that was smack in the middle of this wall, as well as the chair rail molding around the middle. In the top photo, you see new Sheetrock that has been taped and floated in areas that were damaged by removing the cabinet.

To make a perfect surface, I skim-floated the wall. This eliminates hairs and grit from the drywall, and smoothed over the patched areas. I then sanded, wiped free of dust, and primed with a penetrating sealer called Gardz. The finished wall is shown in the second photo.

The homeowners found a paper that matched the colors on their walls and in their Oriental rug, and the scratchy, vague design is visible, but not at all overwhelming. I love the way that the trellis pattern mimics the carved design on the ceiling.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpaper, and was a non-woven, paste-the-wall product. It was bought from Sherwin-Williams. I made sure to center the pattern on the wall, so when they place furniture against it, the pattern will be balanced on either side.

Stripping Wallpaper, Damaged Sheetrock

December 29, 2015
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These days, I am hanging wallpaper in lots of new homes, which have never had wallpaper before. So today, when I had to strip off existing paper before I could hang the new, it was like a step back in time. And, since the first installer had skipped an essential step, it was a long step!

The navy-blue-on-white savoy pattern (Photo 1) was a nice paper that had been hung, unfortunately, directly on new Sheetrock, without a wallcovering primer, nor even a coat of paint. In this setting, most wallpapers will bond with the drywall, and can be very difficult to get off. Going too fast, or trying to force the paper to succumb to you, can severely damage the walls. To avoid this, I do it in steps.

The first step is to wet all the wallpaper with a damp sponge. That seems to strengthen the top layer of paper. Second, I strip off the top, inked / colored layer of paper. This leaves the backing / substrate – which in my photos today is a white paper. This white backing layer must then be soaked with a wet sponge. Unlike the top, colored layer of paper, which has a thin vinyl coating, this white backing layer can be penetrated by water. Once the water soaks in, the paste beneath it is reactivated. And once enough time has gone by and that paste is wet enough, the wallpaper can be removed.

If you are lucky, it will peel away easily. More likely, you will have to use a stiff 3″ putty knife to carefully scrape every inch of wallpaper backing away from the wall.

If you are lucky, it will come away with no damage to the Sheetrock. More typically, you will have some tears, and will have to do some repair work to the drywall.

The second photo is a wonderful shot of the various surfaces you might find when stripping old wallpaper. First is the layer with the pattern and color. When that has been removed, you see the white (or sometimes yellow) paper backing. Once that backing has been removed, you are left with other sub-surfaces. In the photo, the white is the areas that have been spread with “mud,” or joint compound, which is used over the tape that spans joints in the drywall. Another surface under the old wallpaper that is not shown in the photographs is paint, which you find where it has been oversprayed along the ceiling or next to where the woodwork was painted. The grey area is the top layer of the Sheetrock.

Wallpaper will stick to all these materials differently – It sticks to paint “kind of,” but can be removed with no damage to the walls; it sticks to joint compound not really well at all, but removes easily also with no damage to the walls, but leaving a thirsty porous surface beneath; and when it comes to raw drywall, wallpaper actually bonds to the surface, and can be a bugger bear to remove.

Usually, as in this case, pulling off the old wallpaper causes hairs on the unprimed drywall to pull up, so you end up with a gritty surface, which can leave bumps under the new wallpaper. Worse is when the top grey surface of the drywall de-laminates and pulls off, leaving the torn brown paper layer you see in the third photo. This is really bad, because, when hit with wet primer or wallpaper paste, this layer swells and likes to bubble up, leaving ugly bumps under the new wallpaper.

The cure for this torn Sheetrock is to seal it with Gardz or a similar penetrating sealer / primer. Then the area needs to be “skim floated” with joint compound (similar to plaster), sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, and sealed again.

All this takes a lot of time, eats up materials, makes a mess, and costs money.

As you can see, it would be much better if the builder and / or original wallpaper installer would prime the walls before hanging the paper. Or, at the very least, not ideal, but at least it would protect the walls, if they would slap on a quick coat of paint. And, when it’s time to redecorate, it would sure make removing the paper a whole lot easier.