Posts Tagged ‘prep’

Stay Away From Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

February 21, 2018

Wallpaper - Curlinig Seam, Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl, Mylar
Paper-backed solid vinyl papers are about my least favorite of all papers. The main reason is that they tend to curl at the seams, especially when there is humidity present.

The issue is that, IMO, the gritty manila-type paper backing is porous, and so it will pull moisture and humidity out of the air when the room is under humid conditions (teenagers taking long hot showers). Once this happens, humidity / moisture can enter the seam and soak into the paper backing, the vinyl surface can delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing, causing the surface to curl away from the substrate / backing. This is what you see in the photo.

Because the two layers of the wallpaper have actually come apart, it is also very difficult to paste back against the wall. It would be far better to remove all the wallpaper, properly prep the surface (smooth, primer), and then hang the new wallpaper.

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Venetian Plaster – Whoever Thought This Was A Good Idea?!

February 18, 2018

In the early 2000’s, someone got the idea to put Venetian plaster in American homes. The fad caught on, and soon people were forsaking wallpaper and covering their walls with the new trendy texture, which was supposed to look “rustic,” and “Tuscan.”

To me, unless you had a house that was designed from the ground up to look “Tuscan,” this wall finish never looked good in the typical American home. Even worse was when the finish was poorly executed. Please see the photos.

I’m glad that the pendulum has swung, and people are going back to wallpaper.

There are special prep steps that must be taken, so that the texture won’t show under the new paper, and so the paper can adhere to the surface (true Venetian plaster has a slick wax coating).

Improper Prep Leads to Failed Wallpaper Job

February 7, 2018


The new homeowners bought an adorable 1920’s home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston, and inherited a dining room with a beautiful wallpaper pattern – that unfortunately had not been hung properly. The wallpaper was curling at the seams, peeling away, and literally falling off the wall. It is taking chunks of a white substance along with it.

It’s hard to determine exactly what is causing the failure, but the first issue is that the underlying wallpaper was not removed. Since wallpaper has an acrylic coating, it does not provide a secure foundation for the new paper to adhere to. In some cases, it’s not possible to remove the old paper, and then the seams should be floated over, and the old paper should be primed so it will have a surface that the new paper can grab ahold of.

Here, it looks like the walls were either not primed at all, or were primed with a flat wall paint. Some of that paint is letting go of the old wallpaper and pulling away from the wall, which allows the new paper to fall off.

Ideally, that striped ’90’s paper should be stripped off, along with any other layers of paper underneath. But it looks like some of the underlying paper was floated over, and that makes it particularly difficult to remove.

I suspect there are other issues going on, so it will take some time and exploration to decide what will be the proper approach for removing the beige paper and then prepping the walls, before the new homeowners’ new paper can go up.

Wha-Oh….Contractor’s Poor Job at Smoothing Wall

December 22, 2017


We had a “situation” on this job, and the contractor had to rip out some drywall and quickly replace it. The work crew did a good job on the interior areas of the drywall. But where the drywall met the corners and edges of the room, and where it abutted the balusters on the stairway as you see in the photo, they dropped the ball. Some of their joint compound (the plaster-like substance that is used to smooth surfaces and to cover joins in drywall), got onto surrounding areas. See photo.

Joint compound will wipe off easily enough with water and a rag. But in this instance, it’s thick enough that I am not sure it will wipe off. And, if it does, or if it can be chipped off the painted surfaces, it will probably leave a gap or rough surface, neither of which is good for wallpaper to stick to.

When I smooth walls, I have a special technique that I use in corners and along edges, that ensures that the paper will have “a good bed to lie in.” I also remove any smoothing compound that gets onto walls or woodwork.

Just another reason to let the Wallpaper Lady do ALL the prep.

A Word to the Wise – Measuring, Ordering, Prepping Walls

May 15, 2016

People! Please do NOT let your painter or handyman or Uncle Billy “prep the walls for paper.” They may be good at painting or at general home repairs, but they do not know the intricacies of wallpaper, or what constitutes a properly smooth and sound and sealed surface, nor are they familiar with or know where to purchase wallpaper-specific primers. Trust me – I am much better at wall prep than they are.

As I tell my clients, “You can pay your painter to prep the walls, but you will have to pay me to do it over again.”

And, People! Please do NOT pull out your ruler and calculator and try to measure the room yourself, and do NOT go by any “guides” posted on-line, nor by the calculations of someone who works in a paint store and has a few wallpaper books on display.

Figuring up how much wallpaper to buy is multi-faceted, and can be tricky. Many concepts need to be factored in – type of paper, manufacturer, pattern repeat, width of paper, length of roll, height of wall, on and on.

And, People! Do NOT order your paper until the walls have been properly measured by a professional. A professional PAPERHANGER, that is, not a professional painter or Sheetrocker.

Peeling Paint – What Is Going On?

May 8, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image


I was “undressing” a bathroom today, to get all the fixtures off the wall so I could put up the new wallpaper. When I removed the hand towel ring, paint from the wall stuck to it, and pulled away from the wall. Latex paint peeling away from the wall like the skin of a balloon.

Why did this happen? Probably because whoever applied the paint used a cheap brand and put it over some other cheap paint. The paints were not able to bond together for a tight hold.

Another possibility is that the room had undergone renovations, which left dust on the walls, and when paint was applied over the dust, a tenuous bond resulted, which gave way the first time it was tested (by me pulling off the towel ring).

Moral: Properly prepare the wall, by removing all dust (with a damp sponge, rinsed frequently), using the right primer, and then following up with a good quality paint, properly applied. Waiting for the paint to dry and cure before attaching towel bars will also help keep these fixtures from getting stuck in the paint.

Taking Your Lumps – Pt II

March 4, 2011

Coincidental to my previous post, I bid a job this weekend in a room that had an extremely nasty texture on the walls. The homeowner had gotten a quote from (Large Wallpaper Retailer) that included the wallpaper and installation, and it sounded pretty reasonable.

The only thing is, just like the other Large Chain Wallpaper Retailer, this company did not include a price for prep. Now, how can you price a job without knowing what type of prep is involved?!

What these guys typically do is, give a price that sounds wonderful, then show up to do the work and either don’t do any prep at all, which could result in a bad looking job, or one that looks good initially but doesn’t stay on the wall for long, OR they arrive at the home and suddenly inform the homeowner that more work is going to be involved and, by the way, it’s going to be ($XXX) more. In one story that I heard, the price jumped from a very reasonable $300 to $1800 !!

To me, that’s leading the customer on, misleading her, and pulling the old Bait And Switch.

That’s another reason why I always insist on seeing the job ahead of time, and why I spend time talking to the homeowner to explain what I plan to do to get a good look and a lasting installation. Hopefully, with this explanation, the client will understand why there may be a cost difference, and value the extra work required to ensure a good job.

Knowing When to Bail

April 20, 2010

Please click the links at right to learn about me and my business.

Today I got two calls, both saying the same identical thing: “We need your help! We (or my husband) started wallpapering our bathroom, and got part way through, and realized it wasn’t going the way it should. It was harder than we thought it would be.”

You know, the manufacturers make it sound like a simple DIY project, when, in fact, doing a good wallpaper job takes a lot of know-how and experience.

Just the prep alone is tricky – and one of the most important elements for the job. Both of today’s callers, though, had totally neglected to do any prep at all – No wonder their jobs failed!

And prep is just the start. After that, it’s more than just pasting and applying the paper. There are lots of tricks and knowledge that only come with experience over a period of time – like how much pressure to use when smoothing, how to cut around intricate moldings, which side of the straight edge to place your razor blade, on and on.

I look forward to seeing these two jobs, and hope I can help the homeowners to finish up with a beautiful room.

I Lost a Job Today

March 19, 2010

Wallpaper Installation in Houston

I lost a job today, due to price. Yes, it happens from time to time. But it puzzles me a little, and it concerns me, when people choose an installer seemingly based on price ONLY.

This job was for a room in a very nice home – valued at nearly a million dollars; with furnishings and accessories, the value is easily over a million.

You could safely assume that money was not an issue with this family. You would also logically assume that, in a home of this caliber, quality and perfection would be an expectation.

When I visited the home, measured, and presented my estimate for the job, as always, I took care to explain exactly how I would prepare the walls, why prep is important, the types of materials I use, and the care and attention to detail I employ when installing wallcoverings. I spent quite a bit of time at the home, consulting on colors and selections for several rooms, in addition to the wallpaper selection for the children’s bathroom.

Yet the client chose to use another installer, who supposedly said he would do the job for half my price.

Now, you have to wonder, HOW can he do the SAME job, for half the price? The answer is, he most likely is NOT providing the same work.

I’ll bet you that this other installer is not going to prep the walls as carefully as I would. In fact, I’ll bet you that he will not do ANY prep at all – and simply install the new paper right over the existing paper. This is a combination leading to disaster.

The thing is, usually such jobs LOOK good, at least, as I like to say, until the guy cashes her check. At some point down the road, and probably not too far, problems with improperly installed wallpaper will pop up.

Or, another scenerio, he may simply do a sloppy job, rushing through, or not bothering to remove paste from the surface of the paper, not using sharp razor blades – who knows what short cuts of sloppy techniques he might employ?

Well, chances are, I will never know, because it’s unlikely I will ever hear feedback as to how the job turned out. But I am left wondering – why, when money obviously is not in short supply, does a client make her decision based solely on price?