Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

Plastic Tape Keeps Paste Off Ceiling and Cabinets

September 22, 2021

It’s a pain to wipe wallpaper paste off some surfaces. Plus, it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll get 100% of it. Here’s a trick to eliminate the whole issue.

A strip of thin, flexible plastic along the top of the strip of wallpaper will keep paste from transferring onto the wall surface.

Some folks cut strips from painters plastic – but I find that stuff too flimsy, plus it’s clear and difficult to see.

So lots of us use yellow “Caution” tape, or red “Danger” tape.

Place it at the top of the strip of wallpaper you are about to hang. Position your strip, and trim at the ceiling as usual.

Then remove your trimmed-off piece, and take the tape along with it. Be sure you get the piece below your cut, as well.

Smooth your strip of wallpaper back into place. No need to wipe paste off any surface, and no smears, either.

This trick can also be used at baseboards or other bottom surfaces, as well as in corners.

Strange Bubbles in Drying Wallpaper

September 21, 2021
Air bubbles appearing as this wallpaper dries.
Smoothing brush, and plastic smoother.

It’s not uncommon for vinyl wallcoverings to develop bubbles as the paste dries. This is called “off gassing” and it happens because the vinyl is impenetrable and there is nowhere for air to escape.

But these days, most paper products – such as this one – allow air to pass through, and dry nice and flat with no bubbles or blisters.

One thing to keep in mind is, virtually always, these bubbles will disappear as moisture evaporates and the the paper and paste dry and shrink taught. So the less fiddling you do with it, the better. (And exception would be large bubbles, which should be addressed.)

One way to treat bubbles is to chase them out toward a seam, using a tool such as the plastic smoother. You can also use a pin or razor blade to poke a tiny hole in the paper to let the air escape. It helps to do this in a part of the pattern, and not in an unprinted area, to disguise the hole.

I also like to understand why something like this happens. If you know what caused it, you have a chance of preventing it the next time.

I primed the wall with my usual primer, so I don’t think there would be issues with moisture being trapped between the primer and the wallpaper. But then again, you never know what is inside the wall – many walls have been painted multiple times, and some layers may not be compatible.

Another cause could be the plastic scraper. The bristled smoothing brush uses a more gentle action to push the paper into place. The scraper could actually overwork and stretch the paper. In fact, if you use the scraper to try to push bubbles out to a seam, you end up creating more bubbles.

I use the plastic smoother mostly for seams, and not so much for smoothing a full strip into place. But it’s possible that I used it more than usual this time, and stretched the paper, creating conditions for the bubbles to form. In fact, on one strip, I gently pulled the bottom portion away from the wall and then put it back in place, but making sure to use only the bristle brush. This did eliminate the bubbles.

But, again, if you just wait it out until the paper becomes thoroughly dry, nine times out of ten, all the bubbles will be gone by morning.

Trimming A Strip To Make Placement Easier

September 19, 2021
The width of the wall space to be covered with wallpaper is about 9″ wide. Yet the strip of wallpaper is 28″ wide. Maneuvering that wide strip of paper into this narrow space is going to be difficult, it’s going to get a lot of paste slobbered on the upper and lower cabinets, and is likely to put a lot of stress on the paper, and also create creases.
My solution was to cut the next strip of wallpaper in two, making the next strip (the left side of the split strip) just 10″ wide – enough to let just 1″ pass under and into the cabinet area.
Then I took the appropriate pattern match section from the right half of the split strip, and placed it under the cabinet. If you look closely, you can see the seam under the left edge of the cabinets.

This little trick made hanging this strip a whole lot easier, and it greatly reduced stress on the paper and the potential for creases or damage.

The red plastic tape is on the backside of the top of the wallpaper to keep paste off the cabinets.

Katie Kime – Tough Install Today

July 21, 2021
The Great Persuader

The previous wallpapers I’ve hung by Katie Kime have been on a non-woven substrate, a dependable synthetic material that has many positives going for it – light weight, breathable, stain-resistant, strips off the wall easily when redecorating, doesn’t expand when wet with paste so you can paste the wall as an alternative to pasting the paper, doesn’t expand so you can hang pasted strips immediately (no booking time), and your measurements will be accurate.

So I was surprised today by the weight of this material. And I could tell immediately that it was not their usual non-woven material.

Through a 20-minute Chat with their Customer Service (which is excellent, by the way), they told me that, due to the construction supply shortages related to the COVID pandemic, they are currently unable to get their usual materials, os have temporarily switched to a vinyl.

The backing looks like non-woven to me, but their instructions say to paste the paper and then book for 10 minutes, like a traditional paper. I suspect these instructions are outdated, but I followed them anyway.

This stuff was very thick and stiff … like working with a sheet of plastic. It was hard to press tightly into corners and to get tight cuts at ceiling and floor. I had to push really hard with a brand new blade to even slice through it.

I even had to use the heat gun to “melt” the material a bit so it would fit into and around inside and outside corners. This stuff would be the dickens to hang in a room with intricate cuts and turns.

Smoothing Textured Walls = Sanding Dust

May 19, 2021

This master bedroom had textured walls that needed to be smoothed before the wallpaper could go up. (Texture looks bad under the new wallpaper, plus it interferes with good adhesion.)

I “skim-floated” the walls with drywall joint compound (what we call “mud”). This is akin to troweling on plaster.

Once that was dry, I sanded the walls smooth. In the first photo, you see the amount of dust that is created!

In the second photo are my “sanding sponges.” Some are coarse, some are fine, and one is angled, all with specific uses. These became available maybe 25 years ago, and are a huge improvement over the sandpaper-wrapped-around-a-block-of-wood that everyone used previously.

The putty knife is used to knock off big globs or high ridges, before hitting the wall with the sanding sponges.

Actually, I used to use a hand-held electric sander. That tool was fast, but it put a whole lot of dust into the air, and it traveled all over the room.

The sanding sponges are hand-operated and don’t throw dust up into the air. Also, manufacturers have made improvements to the joint compound formula which encourage the dust to sink to the floor rather than become air-borne.

You still end up with a lot of dust, though. And it does sift all over the room.

No problem. I simply bring in my Shop Vac (not pictured) and vacuum up all the dust. There’s still residual dust, so I use a damp rag to wipe dust off the floor, and a damp sponge to remove dust from the walls. (Important, because wallpaper will not adhere to a dusty wall).

Note that the photo shows an empty room. In rooms that have furniture, I cover it with painter’s plastic. And in most situations, which are usually one accent wall, I put up a sheet of plastic along the wall, draped from ceiling to floor, which contains dust to the 3′ along the wall, and prevents dust from getting to the rest of the room.

I also want to note that I am a big proponent of drop cloths. The reason you don’t see them in this scenario is because you can’t vacuum dust off a dropcloth, because the dropcloth gets sucked up into the vacuum nozzel. Much easier to vacuum dust up off a solid floor, and then wipe up any residue.

I also want to note that all my ladders wear “booties” / baby socks on the feet, to cushion the client’s floors and protect against scratches.

Protecting Baseboards from Splatter

February 23, 2021

No matter how careful you are, splatters and drips from paint and primers are going to fall – and onto the baseboard and floor. I hate seeing little “speckles” all over homeowners’ floors, moldings, countertops, etc.

I’ve cut thin dropcloth into strips which I tack above the baseboard or vanity top, to catch splatters. The material is absorbent on the surface, and liquid-proof on the back. They are thin and pliable.

And – oh, yes – occasionally you need a damp terry-cloth rag to cover a doorknob or projecting faucet.

Preventing Speckles on Floors and Counter Tops

December 13, 2020

One of my pet peeves is splatters from a paint roller, that land all over a homeowner’s floor or countertop. See top two photos.

There are ways to prevent this. First and foremost is to use a dropcloth. You’d be surprised at how many contractors don’t bother.

But protecting shoe molding and backsplashes and faucets takes a bit more. A lot of people use blue painter’s tape across the top of surfaces.

But I like my method, which you see in the third photo. It’s a strip of dropcloth that I have cut into 9″ wide strips. The material is absorbant paper on the top side, and water-proof plastic on the back.

I use push-pins to tack it above the baseboards and shoe molding, and backsplashes, etc.

It’s wide enough to protect any width of molding, and also faucets on a vanity’s sink. And it’s thin and flexible enough that it will contour around any wall configuration.

Peel & Stick = Piece of Sh!t

September 24, 2019


We’re seeing more and more of this peel-and-stick, supposedly “removable” and “repositionable” plastic wallcovering. Unfortunately, many homeowners read the lofty claims by the manufacturers and think it will be a perfect alternative to traditional wallpaper. It is not.

The stuff is awful – I won’t hang it, and most of my friends won’t either.

First of all, you don’t NEED an alternative to traditional wallpaper – you just need quality paper and someone who will properly prep the walls and then properly install the paper.

Getting back to P&S, the stuff is virtually impossible to hang. Imagine a 9’x2′ strip of Contact Paper, trying to position that on a wall without it wrinkling or sticking to itself, and then trying to butt another strip up next to it. Not gonna happen. It also does not “remove easily” … well, it does, but it will tear your wall apart in the process.

These homeowners had some guys doing other work in the nursery, and they said they could hang the wallpaper, too. They weren’t experienced paperhangers, and they weren’t up to the battle against this P&S. Virtually no one is.

First, they should have smoothed out the textured wall. Second, most P&S products spec that the wall should be sealed with a semi-gloss paint, which needs to dry and cure for two weeks. As you can see, this adds time and labor charges to the job.

I’m not sure why there are gaps at the seams (top two photos), but better prep would surely have helped prevent this. The large wrinkles are due to the inflexiblity of the material and its unwillingness to twist or stretch into position. With the baby on the way, the homeowner dad got desperate and used nails to try to tack down the curling paper.

The baby girl arrived, the parents lived with this wall for a while, and, when life settled down, they contacted me. I counseled them to forget the P&S and to choose a traditional wallpaper.

They zoomed in on this butterfly pattern by SuperFresco. This material is one of the newish non-woven materials, which contain a component of fiberglass and thus don’t expand or shrink, and won’t tug at the wall, so fewer worries of seems popping loose. These qualities also make it possible to dry-hang the paper, by pasting the wall instead of pasting the paper. I usually paste the paper, but on a single accent wall such as this (no toilets or sinks or fancy moldings to work around), pasting the wall works beautifully. It also saved me lugging my heavy, bulky work table up to this townhome’s third floor. đŸ™‚

Removing the P&S paper was easy – it is strong and held together while I tugged it off the wall … I could do it all from the floor, without even climbing the ladder. Unfortunately, it took much of the paint along with it. So much for the “removable” claim.

It was still as sticky as the day it was born – so I rolled it all up and stuck it to itself and tossed the whole mess into the trash. Done and gone!

I skim-floated the wall to smooth it, sanded smooth, vacuumed, wiped residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then rolled on Gardz, a penetrating primer-sealer, that also is a great undercoat for wallpaper.

All that (especially waiting for the smoothing compound to dry) took several hours. I think it was about 6:00 before I started hanging wallpaper!

Thin non-wovens generally go up with pleasingly invisible seams, and this one did, too. I was surprised to discover more than a few large wrinkles and bubbles. This could have been because the paper got twisted during installation, because the wall was smooth but not flat, because of some uneven reaction between the substrate and the paste which caused off-gassing (burps!), or some other reason. But it meant that I had to go over the wall several times, checking to be sure all areas were firmly secured to the wall.

The finished accent wall looks great! It’s a gentler pattern and a quieter color, and doesn’t hit you in the face as the original floral pattern did. There’s a little bit of fun shimmer in the scattered pearlized butterflies, and the blue-grey wings coordinate nicely with the three grey walls in the rest of the room.

Finally, Baby Girl is ready to move into her own room!

Scalamandre Textured Stripe

September 23, 2019

This is one of those jobs that you have to see in person to fully appreciated, because the photos show only a fraction of the coolness of this material.

The homeowner of this brand-new home in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston loves to entertain, and he has a large personality. He turned his living room into a bar / lounge / reception sort of area. It’s the first thing you see as you enter the house.

This room has a lot more luxe and drama and cool furnishings that I am not showing, out of respect for my client’s privacy. But suffice it to say, the overall effect will really WOW everyone who walks into the home.

ScalamandrĂ© makes this product, which is called “Pacific Stripe.” It has a high plastic content, which allows for the heavily textured surface, as well as a lot of Mylar, which accounts for the metallic-like sheen.

One photo shows this material rolled out on the floor, to see how the pattern plays out across the width. Turns out the dark striped ridges come nine to a set. The edges on either side of the goods have more than nine ridges … This means that when strips are placed next to one another, you will end up with many more than nine ridges at each seam. So some has to be trimmed off of either side of the wallpaper, to ensure that each band of stripes has only nine ridges.

Lots of higher-end papers need to have their selvedge edge trimmed off. But this is the first time I’ve encountered a thick, textured paper that had to be hand-trimmed. Note the photo showing this process.

My goal was to leave four ridges on the right side of the paper, and then five ridges plus a flat line on the opposite side of the paper, to maintain the correct rhythm of ridge-to-flat spacing. The paper was dark, and the lighting was poor, so it was difficult to see where to trim.

Also, the thickness of the ridges held my 6′ metal straightedge off the material, so it was very important to hold my razor blade absolutely straight, to avoid a beveled or wavering cut.

It helped that the contractor had painted the wall black (per my specs), so, after I deglosssed and then applied my clear primer Gardz, there were no worries about background color peeking out at the seams. As extra assurance, I colored the edges of the paper (which was bonded to a white substrate) with dark chalk.

Scalamandré provided no instructions or information of any sort, so I followed my gut as for paste, booking time, and other installation techniques.

The product was very thick and stiff. It was difficult to trim through and took many swipes of my razor knife. A simple accent wall like this is one thing … but this material would have been a real pain to hang in a room that had intricate decorative moldings, or in a complicated room like a bathroom – I would probably have had the homeowner remove the sink and toilet and then replace them after the wallpaper was up. ($$ to pay the plumber!)

As it was, this single accent wall behind a well-loved entertaining area was the perfect spot for it.

The homeowner is overjoyed with the finished bar. In fact, he can’t wait to host his first party!

Solid Vinyl Wallpaper is Not Good in Humid Areas

September 18, 2019


I don’t recommend the economical (i.e. lower end) pre-pasted, solid-vinyl wallpapers in humid rooms. Yes, the vinyl will resist water and stains if it gets splashed. But that gritty paper backing sucks up moisture, even moisture in humid air. When it does, the paper expands. The top vinyl layer does not. So the expanding paper pushes the plastic surface away from the wall, as you see in these photos.

In a further scenario, the two layers actually delaminate (come apart) from one another. This sort of seam cannot be glued back down.

It’s best to avoid this type of paper.