Posts Tagged ‘primer’

Fixing Drywall Damage From Where Vanity Was Removed

January 20, 2022
The powder room in this 1990’s home in the Houston Heights is being updated, and that means replacing the wall-to-wall vanity. Here the vanity has been ripped out. The areas where the backsplash was adhered to the wall have pulled the top surface of the drywall off. In addition, the plumber had to cut out a section of drywall in order to gain access to the pipes, so he can install the new faucet and handles. You can see the connections roughed in.
You can’t hang wallpaper over this mess. First of all, it way too uneven – all those bumps will show under the new wallpaper. And the outline of the ” trapdoor ” will leave a big square ridge under the paper. Thankfully, the plumber secured the panel with drywall screws – most plumbers just leave you with a chunk of drywall floating in space, or even just an empty hole.
Back to patching issues … in addition, the torn areas of drywall will absorb moisture from the wallpaper primer and / or paste and expand, creating bubbles that will show under the new paper.
I needed to fill in dips and gouges, even out high areas, and prevent bubbling drywall.
Gardz by Zinsser to the rescue! This is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and then dries hard, binding them together and creating a stable surface, as well as resisting moisture from water-based top coatings.
This picture doesn’t look much different, but here the torn drywall is a little darker, indicating that the Gardz has soaked in and dried. The surface is now ready for a skim-coat.
But first, the trap door needs to be addressed. I covered the cut areas with four strips of self-adhesive mesh drywall tape (no photo).
Then I went over everything (wall to wall) with joint compound (commonly referred to as mud ) (no photo).
Because of the thickness of the high and low areas, this had to be a thick coat of smoothing compound, and would take a long time to dry. So I went to the jobsite two days ahead of our install date, to do these initial repairs.
And – no – you can’t use quick set or hot mud or 5 or 20 minute mud to do these repairs. These products are intended for repairs of small areas. Top coatings like primers, paint, and wallpaper paste do not stick well to them. Don’t let a contractor sweet-talk you into letting him use any of these to smooth a large area of wall.
Here is the wall after my first, heavy, coat of smoothing compound. I use Sheetrock brand’s Plus 3.
The bubbles you see just left of center show that Gardz didn’t 100% do its job of sealing out moisture, as a little expansion and blistering has occurred. Not a biggie. These will disappear when the surface is sanded. There is usually not a problem with these re-appearing.
When I got to work two days later, the smoothing compound had dried. I sanded pretty smooth. Then vacuumed up the dust on the floor, and then used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This is important, because no coating will stick to dust.
The wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth, so I did another skim-coat. This was much thinner, so didn’t need a lot of time to dry. I used a fan and my heat gun to speed things along.
Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, vacuumed and then wiped off all dust. Then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have the paint store (Murphy Brothers in central Houston) add a little blue tint, so I can see it when I apply it to the wall.
What a transformation! Now this wall is ready for wallpaper!

COVID Supply Chain and Wallpaper Hanging

January 18, 2022

This sign was posted on the door at eye level when I visited Sherwin-Williams today.

The COVID-induced shipping container jam-up, driver shortages, fires and freezes at chemical plants – all these contribute to the lack of supplies in stores.

Luckily for me, as a wallpaper installer, few of the items I use have been affected.

To be honest, I don’t mind paying a bit more for materials. I’m mostly concerned about being able to obtain what I need to get my clients’ paper up on their walls!

Mostly I use primer, paste, and smoothing compound, plus razor blades. Luckily, all of these remain available in my Houston area. Sherwin-Williams is doing a great job of keeping me supplied!

Just in case, though, I’ve got a (small) stockpile in my garage. Just enough to get through a month or so, if needed. I don’t want to hoard and prevent someone else from taking care of his own clients.

December 30, 2021

Bridging A Gap

These are the plumbing stems for wall-mounted handles and faucet in a powder room in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner had the fixtures removed to make the wallpaper installation easier and with fewer ” relief cuts ” in the paper. This helps to eliminate chances of splashed water hitting open edges of the paper and wicking up inside, which can cause curling at the seams.
But the holes were a tad too big for the escutcheons (decorative back plates) to cover. The hole around the left handle gaps about a half an inch outside the plate (not pictured).

I wanted to close that gap a little bit, and also to provide a firm surface for the wallpaper to stick to. I cut ” collars ” out of scrap non-woven material. This material is very strong, and won’t stretch or warp out of shape. Non-woven makes a fine substrate for today’s wallpapers. In the photo, I have placed them around the plumbing stems.
I impregnated the “collars” with Gardz, which is a penetrating primer which soaks in and binds surfaces together, and then dries hard – a lot like varnish or shellac.
Then I skim-floated the area with drywall joint compound (” mud “), let dry, sanded smooth, wiped off dust with a damp sponge, and then primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime, my favorite wallpaper primer. So this photo shows the finished task. When the plumber comes to re-install the faucet, etc., if the holes are too small, he can simply cut some away.
Now that the opening is smaller, the escutcheon easily covers it.

Contractor Cuts Into Wall Surface – Bad

December 28, 2021
Due tomold issues, there isnew Sheetrock on the wall to the right, and some of the paper removed by the contractor around areas where he was working. He also added crown molding at the top of the wall, so removed a few inches of wallpaper below the molding. This is preferable to him putting the molding right on top of the wallpaper.
Unfortunately, his blade cut through not just the wallpaper, but through the wallpaper primer and into the drywall. Here you can see the top paper layer of drywall peeling loose.

This is bad, because it allows for an unstable sub-surface, and creates the potential for anything (paint, wallpaper) put on top of it to also come loose as it dries and puts tension on the wall.

I skim-floated over the areas, then primed on top. Hopefully this will keep everything buried and sound.

Kitchen With Burst Pipe Water Damage Fixed and Finished

December 24, 2021
This kitchen in the Spring area of north Houston suffered severe water damage from burst pipes during the hard freeze in February 2021. Nearly a year later, they are almost finished with repairs, including new drywall on bottom of walls, new cabinets, new plumbing, cabinets, electrical, and more. Here you see the contractor’s repair work on top of some of the original wallpaper, which dates to the early 1980’s! It was a good brand, and the installer did a great job. For various reasons, I opted to leave this wallpaper in place, and so skimmed over uneven areas and then primed on top of it with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.
The homeowner’s new choice is very similar to the previous paper, but with a more springy feel and a lot of upward movement. The area below the chair rail will receive another coat of paint to better define the correct yellow color. Or, the homeowner may switch to a green pulled from the leaves in the pattern.
This wall with the fir-down / soffit was a real bugger, for various reasons, and took me about four hours.
Looks so sharp against the white paint and tile!
The wallpaper was printed on a white substrate, so I ran black chalk along the edges of each strip, to try to prevent white from showing at the seams. Still, some of the strips shrank just a half a tad, and that did allow some white to show. This wallpaper is a non-woven material, which has a high polyester content, and is not supposed to stretch or shrink, so this is disappointing. Pasting the wall and dry-hanging the material would have probably helped. But the material was extremely thick and stiff, and plus the room had way too many turns and bends and angles, so pasting the paper made the most sense. These gaps are very minor, and only visible when viewed from straight on; from an angle you can’t even see them. On some papers, I can pull some tricks out of my bag and camouflage them. But with this non-woven material, don’t even try anything with paint, marker, chalk or anything else – it will surely stain the material.
The walls are smooth. The slight texture you see is the non-woven material. When an edge is torn, you can actually see the polyester fibers – a lot like fiberglass. This material is very strong, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.
Manufacturer is Mind The Gap out of Transylvania (!), and the design is called Aquafleur, in the Anthracite color. The material comes as a 3-panel set, which they call one “roll.” The overall width of the A, B, and C panels side-by-side is about 5′, and the height is just under 10′. The height of the wall was less than 5,’ and the strips were nearly 10′ long, so at least 5′ was lost of each strip. Because the pattern was a mural type, rather than a typical repeating wallpaper design, even more paper was lost in working around the configurations of the room – for instance, a full 10′ strip would be needed to paper just one 9″ high strip above the door. So there was an incredible amount of waste – and this is a higher-priced boutique brand. But the lady of the house really loves it, and so she went with her heart.

Hallway Wallpaper Repair – Thibaut Honshu

December 11, 2021
This couple in the West University neighborhood of Houston loves color and avant garde – unexpected and fun! I hung this Honshu wallpaper by Thibaut in their small hallway at the beginning of the pandemic – April 2020. Since then, they decided to change the faucets and showerhead in the bathroom on the other side of this wall. To access the pipes, the plumber had to cut a hole in the drywall. The ‘guy’ that this couple uses did a fantastic job of cutting the drywall, preserving the wallpaper, and then patching the hole. You can even see that his cuts are perfectly level and plumb!
Slapping wallpaper patches over the two holes would have probably sufficed. But I wanted to make it better, so I stripped off and replaced the old wallpaper. This meant patching the guy’s drywall repairs. I didn’t get a photo, but I used drywall tape and joint compound to even out the areas. A heavy duty floor fan plus a heat gun helped get the smoothing compound to dry in a few hours. I sanded smooth and applied wallpaper primer, and ended up with what you see in the photo.
To conserve paper, instead of replacing the entire two strips from ceiling to floor, which could have caused some problems with matching the pattern on the left side, I patched in about one foot down from the ceiling line. To disguise the appliqued area, I used a scissors and trimmed around the wallpaper design, as you see here. This is less visible than a straight horizontal cut.
In this photo, the two strips have been put into place. You could never tell there was a hole (or two) !

Proof That Primer Protects the Wall

December 8, 2021

This is the wall anchor that holds the toilet paper bracket. When I hung wallpaper in this powder room a few years ago, to save time and allow more time for the primer to dry, I left the towel bars and other hardware in place and primed around them. Then, as the primer was drying, I removed them.

In this photo, I have stripped off the wallpaper, using water to reactivate the paste and loosen the paper backing. The primed area of the walls held up beautifully.

But as you can see in this photo, the area that was not protected by the primer allowed the water to penetrate into the surface. You can see the original builder’s grade paint delaminating from the wall.

Stripping Wallpaper

December 7, 2021
The contractor removed the wallpaper at the top and right side. Here I have begun pulling off the top layer of paper, to the left of center in the photo.

This shows how wallpaper can be stripped off a wall simply and without damage to the underlying surface. The keys are 1.) water and 2.) patience. Oh, and proper wall prep by the original installer.

First and foremost, don’t start yanking and trying to force the paper off the wall dry.

What you do is use a putty knife to lift an edge of the paper and gently pull off the top, inked layer. It should separate and leave the backing on the wall. In this photo, that’s the white paper. Kinda hard to see, because the wall is also white.

Once the top layer is off, you use a sponge dipped in a bucket of water to soak that backing layer. The idea is to reactivate the paste. Once the paste has wetted a bit, it will loosen and you can then gently pull it off the wall.

In most cases, it will strip off the wall easily, as you see in the photo.

It helps immensely if the wall has been properly primed before the paper went up. In this case, the original installer’s (me!) primer (Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977) held up to the stress of tugging the paper off the wall, and also prevented the water from penetrating through to the original surface.

For more detailed instructions and tips, click the link on the right.

Space Heater Speeds Drying Time

November 28, 2021

Whether drying smoothing compound ( drywall joint compound ), or primer, hot, dry, circulating air helps speed the process.

i love this old space heater that I got at a garage sale decades ago. It runs when you tell it to, for as long as you tell it to – without “safety” measures that trip other heaters off after a few minutes. (Don’t worry – I keep an attentive eye on everything!)

The hot air from the space heater helps pull humidity out of the air, which speeds drying time.

Works best in a small room like a powder room. Close the door and let the heat build up. Use fans to move air around the room. You will feel the humidity increase as moisture is drawn from the walls. Periodically open the door and use a fan to circulate moist air out of the room.

One thing to note – which I have learned the hard way – is that this gizmo pulls a lot of electricity. And so do some fans. I can use my two box fans while this heater is running. But if I run my more powerful floor fan while the heater is on, it will trip the electrical circuit. And double-ditto if I try to use my heat gun while the heater is on.

Soft Jungle Mural for New Baby’s Accent Wall

November 19, 2021
The first installer was inexperienced, and left gaps at the seams, wrinkles, creases, mis-matched pattern, and even tears. The homeowners had their painter strip off the wallpaper, patch the torn areas of the wall, prime, … and then they had to purchase a whole new mural. Oh, and next they called me! 🙂 The painter was unschooled on wallpaper, too, so he just grabbed something off the shelf at Sherwin-Williams that had “wallpaper” on the label, and rolled it on. That particular primer, Pro 935, is meant to be used in different sorts of situations, and was too glossy and too tacky. I covered it with my preferred Pro 977 Ultra Prime by Roman.
Putting latex / water based paint over torn drywall will often cause the moisture from the paint to soak into the drywall paper and cause it to expand, which creates bubbles. These look bad under the new wallpaper. Here I have cut around one such bubble and removed the top layer. I will skim-float over this area, let it dry, sand it smooth, and then prime over it.
A whole wall’s worth of mural fun rolled up into one cylinder. They provided powdered paste – which I did not use, mostly because these tend to be too wet and can lead to staining on these non-woven materials. I did, however, take the paste home with me, because every now and then you run into a delicate wallpaper that requires this stuff – which can be hard to source.
I started hanging in the middle of the wall. Mostly because whoever measured forgot to add FOUR INCHES to both the height and the width. Instead, the manufacturer added only one scant inch at each side. This didn’t give much play at all, to accommodate trimming at the ceiling and floor, and walls / ceiling that went off plumb / level. This means that if the ceiling wasn’t level, it could start sloping either up or down, and that means the mural would start getting either cut off, or some white space might show at the top. By starting in the middle, I could split the difference between any irregularities, and, hopefully, over the 12′ width of the wall, now divided into two 6′ sections, any off-level sloping would be minimal enough that it wouldn’t visually impact the top or bottom of the design. I know that doesn’t make sense to a lot of you reading this, but I do have a number of paperhangers who follow my blog, and they do “get it” and hopefully will learn some new tricks.
monkey, giraffe, flamingo, cockatiel
Finished and ready for furniture – and a baby!
For this non-woven product, I used the recommended paste-the-wall installation method. I can see why the other guy had difficulty. This was a very thin, but stiff, material. I got wrinkles, too. It took some time and some finesse to urge them out of the paper. This is another reason why I started in the center of the wall. If wallpaper starts warping or wrinkling, it usually will cause the outer edge (the edge not butted up against the previous strip) to expand and twist. As each subsequent strip goes up, the twisting and distortion becomes magnified. You can’t butt a straight edge of a new strip up against a strip that is bowed out of shape on the wall. Thus, by starting in the middle, I can minimize the number of bowed edges. Instead of four, there will be only two. And the amount of distortion will be less per panel. I will note that this usually does not happen with non-woven materials.

A big chunk of mural was cut off by the door and lost to the trash pile. As the mural worked its way across the top of the door and down the right side, a different set of leaves, and a lot of blank area, was going to end up in that 6″ wide space between the door and the wall. I thought it would look cooler if the design of the foliage to the left of the door continued on to the right side of the door. So I saved the strip that got cut off by the door and then did some tweaking in various ways, and got that narrow strip placed to the right of the door. When you look at it, it appears that the leaves and fronds are passing from left to right uninterrupted through the doorway.

The home is in Bellaire, in Houston.