Posts Tagged ‘primer’

Stripping Wallpaper

September 14, 2017

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This is a good example of how wallpaper should come off the wall, when it’s been hung properly.  The original installer primed the walls before hanging his paper, which is a very good thing.  A primer protects the walls, facilitates installation, and makes it easier to remove the paper later, with minimal damage to the wall.

The brown is the original wallpaper.  It is a thin layer of inked paper on what we call a pulp substrate (backing).  On the right side of the photo, I have peeled away this layer.  Left behind is a light tan layer of the pulp backing layer.

The darker tan areas are the pulp backing that I have soaked with water.  Once the water has enough time to penetrate the paper, it will reactivate the paste behind it.  Once that adhesive gets soft, you can either scrape off the paper with a stiff putty knife (see photo), or, if you are lucky, the paper will simply peel away from the wall in large pieces.  That’s what you’re seeing in the upper left of the photo.

It took several hours to strip these 12 single rolls of paper off the walls of this powder room – which is reasonable and expected.  Because the original installer took the extra time and expense to coat the walls with a good primer, there was NO damage to the underlying surface.

So the walls are in excellent shape and ready for new wallpaper tomorrow.

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Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Again – Not Lovin’ It This Time

August 27, 2017

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“…Mitchell Black (company) is taking the intimidation out of wallpaper, one bold pattern and easy-hang strip at a time,” says the bi-line.  I’m always glad to see wall décor in public media.  But I see a number of problems with the rest of their information.

First, they print commercial grade (fine for its setting), traditional paper (great – as long as it’s a good substrate), and peel-and-stick (horrible).  P&S paper is like putting a large and unworkable sheet of Contact Paper on your walls.   Even though they call it “removable paper,” it will tear up the wall as you pull it off.   It’s very difficult to get smoothed out and looking good; the article even says that you can expect it to trap air bubbles so “…save it for rooms with lots of furniture and soft light.”  !!

Next, they print on 24″ wide x 18′ long rolls.   Regular wallpaper comes either 20.5″ or 27″ wide.  Why print on an odd sized roll?  And what’s with a measly 18′ long roll?  Most papers come 33′ long or 27′ long, and generally yield three or two strips respectively.  With a roll 18′ long, with 8′ high ceilings, you might get two strips (after allowing for trimming and pattern placement / matching), but with the more common 9′ ceilings, you will get only one strip).  And a whole lot of paper you paid for that is going in the trash can.

Last, it says, “Some pros paint first, but it’s not necessary.  Just spackle holes and sand rough spots.”  Wrong, wrong, WRONG!  Proper wall prep counts for 60% or more of a successful job!  Paperhangers don’t “paint” – they prime, with a primer specifically suited for wallpaper.  And merely glossing over imperfections won’t hide them … walls must be as perfectly smooth as possible.  If you paper over a textured wall, the bumps will show through.  If you paper over a glossy wall, the paper won’t stick.

I’m not fond of their patterns, either.  Cute designs, but three of the four photos of room sets with furniture and accessories looked awfully busy.

Just my 2c.

Homeowner Tackled the Wallpaper Install – So, How’s That Working Out for You?

August 9, 2017

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The homeowner tried tackling this wallpaper installation herself, without even consulting so much as a YouTube video. She didn’t do an all-out bad job, and the paper is still stuck to the wall after three years. But there are a number of things that were done incorrectly.

1. Walls were not primed with a wallpaper primer

2. Caulk should have been run around the top of the backsplash

3. Paper was wrapped around the edge of door moldings and not trimmed.

4. Seams were overlapped

5. Overlapped areas were not secured with a “vinyl-over-vinyl” adhesive.

6. Pattern was not matched.

7. And, last but very important – a poor choice of wallpapers.

I am not a fan of paper-backed, solid-vinyl wallpapers, especially the pre-pasted, lower-end products. Do a Search here on various terms, and you will learn a lot about the material and its poor performance. IMO

In the meantime, when I take on this job, I will remove all the old paper, scrub the walls to remove paste residue, fix any dings in the walls, prime with an appropriate primer, hang the paper properly, by matching the pattern, butting the seams, and trimming correctly along baseboards and door moldings, etc., and, when finished, I will run clear caulk along the top of the vanity and other key areas, then give the family my “lecture” about leaving the door open and using the exhaust fan and avoiding long steamy showers.

Squiggly, Jocular Geometric in a Front Entry

August 5, 2017

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Life at home will never be too serious when walking through the front door is this fun!

The homeowner is the mother of a toddler and a newborn, and she chose this light-hearted pattern for the entry of their beautifully renovated and updated 1958 ranch style home in the Spring Branch area of Houston. Originally, the entry felt small and unwelcoming, and the walls had a heavy texture that was, well, it was icky.

I smoothed the walls, which took a long time, mostly waiting for the smoothing compound to dry, before I could sand it smooth and roll on a primer.

This playful pattern looks like someone took a grey Sharpie and drew star flowers and squares on the wall. It really expanded the space visually. The entry is now something fun and inviting to step into.

Since the entry can be seen easily from the living room and the great room and kitchen, it interjects a playful mood into the rest of the house.

This wallpaper pattern is from the Sure Strip line by York, one of my favorite brands, for many reasons. I like the “raised ink” texture to the paper. The thin paper will dry flat and hold tightly to the wall. Yet the material was developed so that, when it comes time to redecorate, it should strip off the wall easily and in one piece, with no damage to the underlying surface. On top of all that, it comes pre-pasted, and is very nice to work with.

Even though I was battling a regimented pattern in a room full of unlevel ceiling, un-plumb walls, and crooked corners, the finished project turned out fantastic.

This wallpaepr 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.

No Primer Under Wallpaper = Torn Drywall

July 24, 2017

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Today I stripped wallpaper off a kitchen where the previous installer had not bothered to prime the walls first, but hung his paper right on top of new Sheetrock.

This is very bad for many reasons.

` The walls will not have stick, so the new wallpaper will not have a proper surface to cling to – and this can cause curling seams, loose areas, and other problems.

` The walls will not have slip, which will make it much harder to install the new paper.

` With nothing separating the new wallpaper from the drywall, the paper will bond to the drywall, making it darned near impossible to get it off later.

This is what happened today. After I removed the top inked layer, and after I soaked the remaining paper backing for a while, the old wallpaper came away from the sections of the wall that were coated with joint compound or paint or wood stain.

But in areas of the wall that were just uncovered Sheetrock, the wallpaper grabbed tightly and could not be pulled off or scraped off. In stripping the wallpaper off these areas, some of the drywall came away, too, leaving areas that were torn and damaged.

These uneven, torn areas are problematic, because they leave bumps and ridges showing under the new wallpaper, and because, since they have no protective coating, they absorb moisture – from water, wallpaper paste, wallpaper primer, or other, and then they expand and then they bubble. Ridges and bubbles look like Hell under wallpaper.

The first photo is a wall to the right of the kitchen counter, where differing layers of drywall have been pulled off the wall. The dark brown area is the deepest.

The third photo is a newish product that is wonderful for sealing and “repairing” torn drywall. Gardz (by Zinsser) is a penetrating primer / sealer that soaks into the surface, binding things together. It dries quickly. When it is dry, it is impervious to moisture – which means that you can apply a water-borne primer over it, or you can skim-float it with joint compound, and not worry about bubbles appearing.

I applied Gardz to these areas of torn Sheetrock, let it dry, then skim-floated over it with joint compound, and then sanded it all smooth. Then I applied a second coat of Gardz.

In addition to making the surface very stable, Gardz serves as a good primer for wallpaper, because it’s molecular structure on its dry surface is such that the molecules of paste, attached to the new wallpaper, will grab on and hold tight.

In this case, because I like a white pigmented primer, and because I like hanging on it, I went over the walls with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. The last photo shows the wall after all that work. Finally ready for wallpaper!

Prepping Walls When Existing Wallpaper Won’t Come Off

July 18, 2017

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Almost always, when homeowners are switching from an outdated wallpaper to a new pattern, I am able to get the old paper off the wall. But twice this week I have run into papers that would not come off the wall – at least, not without causing significant damage to the Sheetrock or creating other problems. Sometimes it’s because they were installed improperly in the first place. And other times it’s just the nature of the beast.

Either way, it is possible to hang wallpaper over old existing wallpaper – IF the walls are prepared correctly.

In these two rooms, I used joint compound (“mud”) to skim float over the seams in the original wallpaper, to ensure that they would not telegraph through and show up as vertical lines under the new wallpaper. These are the white stripes and patches you see in the photos.

Then I sanded the mud smooth, making sure that the edges were feathered out, so the joint compound patch would not be detectable under the new wallpaper. I used a damp sponge to wipe dust off the sanded areas.

The next step was to seal the walls with a penetrating sealer called Gardz (by Zinsser). Gardz is a thin liquid sealer that soaks into the surface and binds it together. It dries hard, and prevents moisture from passing through.

In other words, you can hang wallpaper that is wet with paste on top of this primer, and not worry about moisture passing through and causing the original paste to loosen, or the original paper to swell and bubble away from the wall.

In addition, Gardz dries with a crystalized molecular surface that is ideal for wallpaper and its paste to “bite into” and “get a hold of.”

Bottom line – Gardz is a super fixer of problem walls, it’s a wonderful sealer, and it is a great primer for using under wallpaper.

Old Wallpaper Could Not Be Stripped Off

July 12, 2017

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The homeowner is ready for a new look, so the red wallpaper with the “broken coral” pattern has to go. I am pretty darned good at removing wallpaper, but this stuff was not agreeable with the idea.

Normally, you peel off the top, inked layer, and then soak the remaining backing layer with water until the paste loosens, and then you can either lift the paper from the wall, or gently scrape it off.

But this top inked layer came off in tiny pieces – 1/2″ square. Which meant it would take a year and a day to get the whole room stripped off. Then, on my test area, when I tried soaking the paper backing to loosen the paste, it would have non of it.

The backing would not come away from the wall. And in the tiny 1/2″ square area where I finally did get the paper off the wall, there were more problems underneath. Meaning, a gummy, rubbery substance that would not come off the wall, and that left a residue behind that was unsuitable for hanging new wallpaper on top of – it would have necessitated a whole lot of additional skim-floating, sanding, sealing, priming, etc.

I believe that the previous installer either primed the walls with RX-35, or hung the paper with VOV ( Vinyl Over Vinyl), both of which are inappropriate for this type of paper, and both of which are nearly impossible to remove, and both of which leave the gummy, rubbery residue that is so difficult to negate.

I found it preferable to leave the existing paper on the wall. I removed any loose areas (virtually none), and then skim-floated over the seams with joint compound, to remove any vertical lines that could show under the new paper. That’s the white stuff you see in the 2nd photo.

When dry, I sanded that smooth, wiped off the residual dust with a damp sponge, and then primed with Gardz, a penetrating sealing primer. This will yield a smooth, stable surface for the new wallpaper to grab onto.

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.

Can’t Sell the House With Outdated Wallpaper

June 23, 2017

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The homeowners have put this Bellaire (Houston) house on the market, but it has not been attracting much attention, and the realtor says it’s partially due to the outdated wallpaper. My camera ate pics of three of the rooms, so you have only this mossy green stripe combined with a coordinating faux finish accent wall – topped with a topiary themed border. Gee – NO ONE is doing borders these days. The paper has to go!

So, today I am stripping off paper that I hung in 2001. I am proud to say that every wallpaper in every room I did 16 years ago is still in absolutely perfect condition, even in the humid bathrooms.

This job went especially well, since I used a good paste and because I had primed the wall with an excellent primer, oil-based KILZ Original. I was able to remove the paper in three bathrooms in just a few hours, with virtually no damage to the walls, because the KILZ protected them.  Because KILZ Original is oil-based, it will not re-wet when wallpaper paste is put on top of it, or when water is used to remove old wallpaper.

NOTE: The formula for KILZ has changed in recent years, due to environmental regulations. Wallpaper paste won’t adhere to it, so it is no longer a good primer for wallpaper projects.

In the second photo, I am stripping off top vinyl layer of the green striped wallpaper. The tan colored paper backing is left on the wall. In the third photo, you see the tan backing. I have soaked some of it, and the wet areas are a darker tan color. Once it gets good and wet, the paste reactivates, and the paper can be gently scraped from the wall, or, if you’re really lucky, gently pulled from the wall in large pieces. In the third photo, the white area in the center is where the paper backing has been removed, revealing the KILZ primer underneath. It was fun to also find my measurements and notes written on the wall back in 2001.

See the next post for a pic of the room with the paper off.  The realtor walked in and was very happy.  Next the painter will prime with a stain-blocking primer (like oil-based KILZ Original or Zinsser’s BIN) to prevent residual wallpaper paste from causing the new paint to crackle and flake off, and then paint the walls.

Here is How I Protect Woodwork While I am Priming

June 14, 2017

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I do a lot of skim-floating to smooth textured walls, so the wallpaper will be bump-free and have a smooth surface to adhere to. The penetrating sealing primer I like for this is Gardz, because it soaks in, dries hard, and binds the surface together. The downside is, it’s thin like water, and splashes and runs like crazy. There are tricks, like using a micro fiber roller, rolling in an upward direction, using light pressure on the roller, and paying attention to what you’re doing.

Still, splatters and drips will happen. And they can happen with other primers, too, as well as with paint or any other product you are rolling or brushing on a wall.

Most painters use a dropcloth to cover the floor. But I can’t stand the tiny “speckles” that fly off a roller and land on the shoe mold, baseboard, chair rail, or backsplash. Many people wouldn’t even notice them, but I do, and I think the homeowner deserves better.

So I protect the homeowner’s floors and countertops as you see in the 2nd photo. I put dropcloths down on the floor or counter. Then I cover the baseboards or chair rail or backsplash with an additional dropcloth, this time a thin flexible plastic-backed paper material. I use push-pins to hold it tightly against the wall, to catch any and all splatters and drips.

It takes more time and it increases my material costs, but it sure is a better way to treat the client’s home.