Posts Tagged ‘primer’

Two Layers of Wallpaper to Strip Off – and No Primer

August 8, 2020



It’s not good to put wallpaper over wallpaper, especially if the bottom layer is vinyl. And double especially if no prep is done.

In this case, a vinyl wallpaper was hung over another vinyl wallpaper, which had been hung on unprimed drywall, back when the house was built 30 years ago.

All very bad. Vinyl is plastic, and therefore glossy, and that means that new wallpaper placed on top of it won’t stick. Look at the curling paper in the top photo and you will see what I mean. The second photo shows the paper curling away from the baseboard.

Raw drywall is porous in some areas, meaning it sucks the paste off the wallpaper, and thirsty in other places, meaning that it bonds tightly to the wallpaper paste and is often impossible to get off without damaging the drywall.

In the last photo, you can see where I have peeled off the top layer of wallpaper, revealing the paper backing underneath. Under that, you can see where I have removed some of the top layer of the first wallpaper, and the lighter colored backing of that paper is also visible.

So you are looking at two layers of wallpaper backings, installed on the home’s original drywall.

I knew I could remove the top layer of vinyl paper (see my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper”). But I honestly didn’t think I would be able to get the first layer off the wall.

But this job surprised me. … Turns out, both the top and bottom layers stripped off relatively easily, and with minimal damage to the drywall. Solid vinyl wallpapers are easier in situations like this. Click the link on the right to see the process.

Note: “Relatively easily” does not mean “quickly.” It took me about four hours to remove the paper from this 10 single roll (5 bolt) powder room.

Wildflowers Growing Up The Walls

July 31, 2020


Although I can’t tell if these are wildflowers or weeds, I really like this pattern. The homeowner does, too!

The original wallpaper in this hall bathroom was dark and dated back to the ’90’s. It had held up well, though. But the homeowner was ready for something new and fresh.

The original wallpaper was hung when the house was new, and was placed directly on the drywall with no primer. That bode badly, but – once I went to work on it, it stripped off relatively easily, and with no damage to the wall. It DID take most of a day, though, to strip both the large sink room and the large potty room.

Then I primed with Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, specifically formulated for wallpaper.

This is by Designer Wallpapers, and is a heavier non-woven material. It can be hung via the paste-the-wall method – but that works better on single accent walls. For this bathroom, with it’s corners and vanity and doors, I chose to paste the paper, which makes it more flexible, and easier to work into tight areas.

This home is in Katy (far west Houston). I hung paper in their entry a few years back, and was tickled when the homeowner called me to do some more rooms (additional posts to follow).

She also used the same gal to help her select and purchase her perfect paper – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby, my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price. (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.

Dramatic Artemis Black Floral Completely Changes Dining Room

July 26, 2020


Like many newish suburban houses, this Clear Lake (south of Houston) home is all pretty much a homogeneous light tan – every wall, every room. This is the homeowners’ first venture into wallpaper – and, boy, did they make the right move!

This salad plate-scaled, brightly colored floral design on a black background amplifies this dining room accent wall many times! The pattern comes in other colorways, but none of those would have the impact of this black version.

The wall was textured, so I had to skim-float it and sand that smooth, then apply a primer. In the photo, you see where I have striped dark paint under where the seams will fall, to prevent the white primer from peeking through. I also used black chalk (see photo) to color the edges of the paper, to prevent the white substrate from showing.

This wallpaper pattern is a multiple / quarter-drop pattern match, which is very complicated to plot and lay out. The House of Hackney company made it easy, by providing this material in a 4-panel mural format. See photo

In one photo, you see the strips arranged in the order they will be hung on the wall. Before hanging, these will be re-rolled backwards, so the unprinted white backing side is facing outward.

This is a non-woven material, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method. When I am on the ladder and unroll the strip and working to get it into position, having the paper rolled backward keeps the printed side from coming in contact with the paste on the wall.

Non-woven wallpapers have a high fiberglass content, and do not expand when wet with paste, nor do they shrink when drying, so less chance of gaps appearing at the seams, and also you can get accurate measurements that won’t change. The fiber content also ensures that the wallpaper “should” strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

A few short hours after I left, the homeowners sent me some “finished” photos. I wish I were more tech savvy and knew how to get photos off of text and into this post, so I could show you the gorgeous room. But for now, you’ll just have to use your mind’s eye.

Out of the Bayou and Onto the Wall – Crocodile Hide!

May 22, 2020


There is a lot going on in the second photo.

After determining the pattern match – which was no small feat on this very eye-crossing design – I am measuring and cutting my strips.

Those that have already been cut are rolled up and placed in the order they will be hung.
There is a piece of dark chalk I am using to color the edges of the paper, to prevent the white backing from peaking out at the seams.

And to keep the white primer from doing the same, you can see that I have plotted out where the seams will fall, and have striped black paint on the wall.

I don’t need my work table for this job, because it’s a paste-the-wall material, so no need for a table to paste on. And there are no corners to turn, so no need for a table to trim on.

The pattern has a crocodile hide look.

This Superfresco brand is by Graham & Brown. It is an embossed (textured) vinyl on a non-woven backing – which has a fibrous, fiber-glass composition, and is made to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This material was a lot more pliable than most non-wovens, so it was quite nice to work with. Although there was some stretching and warping. On a longer wall, that could have caused some panels to develop wrinkles.

I hung this wallpaper in a recessed headboard niche / accent wall in the master bedroom of a newish home in the Rice Village area of Houston.

Wallpaper Seams Split – White Showing At Seams

March 31, 2020


I hung this Bradbury & Bradbury digitally-printed wallpaper from their new ’20’s Vintage collection yesterday. When I left, the seams were perfect, and the job looked super.

Yet overnight, the paper dried and shrank, and that left some gaps at the seams. In the top photo, you can see the white primer peeking out from underneath. (Note: I have not had any opened seams when I hung their more traditionally-printed papers, including a dark brown paper in my own master bathroom.)

If the paper is allowing of it, it is possible to use craft paint or chalk pastels to color in the open space between the edges of the two strips of paper.

You have to test before moving forward, because some papers have a porous surface that might absorb the colorant and leave a mar or smudge on the surface. Usually, chalk is the safest way to go.

Weird Cracks

March 24, 2020


I have just finished stripping off wallpaper that I hung 12 years ago. The walls beneath are in perfect condition.

Except that, along just about the full height of just about every seam, I discovered these hairline cracks.

What is very odd is that the cracks have not made the wall unstable, and no material has pulled away from the wall (as often happens when you have layers of incompatible materials that will not adhere to each other – do a Search here on “delaminating”).

I believe that my original prep 12 years ago was to skim-float the walls and sand smooth. Then I wiped off the dust with a damp sponge, then followed with my favorite primer at the time, KILZ Original oil-based primer.

My thought is that the KILZ, or possibly the underlying joint compound, has separated due to tension put on it by the wallpaper seams, possibly shrinking and expanding over the years due to minute fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

Why that happened I don’t know.

This past year, I’ve had opportunity to remove wallpaper from several jobs that I hung as far back as 20+ years ago. All were over the very same original prep conditions. But none showed these little hairline cracks.

I always like to understand why something happens. That way, you have the potential to prevent it from happening in the future.

Not that I’m particularly concerned in this case. The tiny cracks have not created any problems, and the wall is not unstable.

I felt perfectly comfortable hanging the new paper right on these walls – however, I made very sure that no seams of the new paper landed exactly on top of those cracks. That would eliminate the chance of any stress put on the cracks by the new seams potentially causing them to weaken and pull away from the wall.

Washing Texture Off of Walls

March 5, 2020


The owners of this new-build home in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston knew that they wanted wallpaper in the dining room and powder room. So they instructed the builder to not texture the walls.

Well, as often happens, the drywall/paint guys didn’t get the message, so while they were spraying texture on the other walls in the home, they also textured the dining and powder rooms (sorry, no picture).

But – they got stopped before they primed or painted. This is good.

The textured surface had to be smoothed before wallpaper could go up. I’m quite good at skim-floating, and I quoted the homeowners a price for me to float and sand the walls smooth.

But the homeowner is also pretty handy. He opted to smooth the walls himself.

Since no primer or paint had been applied, the texture on the walls was raw mud (drywall joint compound). With no coating on it, this stuff is water-soluble. That means that the homeowner could simply wipe the walls with a wet sponge to remove the texture.

Well, it’s actually a bit more than that. You have to wet the walls well, and keep on scrubbing, to the point where the joint compound / texture softens up and can be scraped off the wall with a stiff putty knife, or scrubbed off the wall with a drywall sponge.

And that’s what the homeowner did. He did such a good job that he cleaned the walls all the way down to the bare drywall. That’s what you see in the first two photos. This guy was way more thorough and meticulous than any “professional” I’ve seen out there.

The best primer for bare drywall is Gardz (third photo). It penetrates and seals both the paper face of the drywall, as well as the joint compound “mud” that is troweled over the joints and tape (see white areas in photos).

So my task for today was not to work on smoothing the walls, because the homeonwer had done such a great job of that. OK, well, I did do a little tweaking in a few areas. But primarily, what I did today was roll on (and cut into the corners and edges) a good coat of Gardz.

Besides sealing drywall, Gardz is a good primer for wallpaper. So once the primer was applied and then dried (about an hour), the room was ready for wallpaper.

Smoothing a Heavily Textured Wall

February 9, 2020


The first photo shows the typical heavy texture that is put on many tract homes in the suburbs around Houston. You can’t hang wallpaper on these walls – it will look bad, and it will not adhere well.

The second photo shows how I have used a trowel to apply smoothing compound (drywall joint compound – I use the lightweight version, because it sands more easily).

Because the texture was so very thick, this had to dry overnight.

In the third photo, I have sanded the walls smooth, and applied a penetrating primer called Gardz.

Gardz works nicely as a wallpaper primer, too, so, once it is dry, I will be ready to hang wallpaper.

Stripping Wallpaper

January 30, 2020


Eeewww – I’m stripping wallpaper off the walls of a bathroom. What a mess!

(Don’t worry – there are dropcloths under there.)

For a few years now, I’ve been using Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer, and this was my first chance to remove paper that has been hung on it. I must say – I was very pleased.

The paper came off nicely enough, and the primer stayed stuck to the wall. It did not rewet or bubble. There was NO damage to the walls, and no need for repairs, nor any need to reprime.

One key to this is to wet-strip the paper. You cannot come in and just try to yank the paper off the wall. First of all, that won’t work. But if it does, it is likely that the paper will take some of the primer and even some of the wall or drywall along with it.

The proper, more gentle way to strip wallpaper is …

You’ve gotta understand that wallpaper is made of at least two layers – the top, inked layer, and the underlying substrate layer.

I use plain water and a 3″ stiff putty knife to strip paper. The water will re-wet the paste on the back of the paper, and once it is wet and softened, the paper will (usually) peel away from the wall easily and in large pieces.

The thing is, water will not penetrate the top, inked layer of wallpaper. That’s because the manufacturer has applied a coating to protect the paper from stains, and it is resistant to water.

So I take that putty knife and use it to get under the top layer of wallpaper – withOUT gouging into the substrate or into the wall. Then I peel off that top layer of paper. I have found that wetting the surface with a sponge helps strengthen the fibers, so that larger chunks of paper come off. You will also find that there is a “nap” to the material, and it will pull off in larger chunks once you figure out if it wants to be pulled from top to bottom and / or from left to right – or vise versa.

It will separate and leave the backing / substrate stuck to the wall.

Once that top layer is off, I use a sponge and a bucket of hot water to wet the backing. Over and over as needed. The backing is porous and the water will soak through, allowing the paste to reactivate. Once that paste gets wet enough, it will let you pull the backing away from the wall.

You will have the most success with this if the walls were properly prepped and primed before the original wallpaper went up.

That’s it in a nutshell. Time consuming, but sort of methodic and meditative. And it will leave your walls in good condition to receive the new wallpaper.

Primer Choices

December 12, 2019


Today I was priming the backs of some bar cabinets. My preferred primer, Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, which usually sticks to anything, was beading up and sweating off of the Formica surface. Even if it dried, it would leave beads and bumps under the wallpaper. I had to take a paper towel and wipe it all off.

Luckily, I had some Zinsser 123 in my van. This stuff sticks to just about anything. It rolled on with no problems.

It’s OK to hang wallpaper over 123, but I prefer to hang on a product made specifically for wallpaper. So, once the 123 was dry (it dries quickly, and for good measure, I set a fan blowing on it), I rolled on a coat of Ultra Prime.

This is all very timely, because I was looking at that can of 123 just the other day, which was bought exactly a year ago and which I virtually never use, and was about to toss it out. I’m glad I kept it.