Posts Tagged ‘primer’

Mysterious Spot on Wallpaper – Air Borne Substances

January 3, 2019


If you look closely, you will see tiny tan dots all over this wallpaper. This is a paper wallpaper with a very light acrylic coating, that was installed maybe 30 years ago. The installer did a very good job – although he did not remove the previous layers (2!) of wallpaper backings, and did not use a primer.

I see spots like this almost exclusively in bathrooms – where you have enclosed spaces, toiletries, and humidity.

Since these dots are most prevalent around the upper areas of the room, I think they are stains from air-borne substances. However, an alternate theory is that they could be stains leaching through from the tan backing paper that was left on the wall, or possibly from the clay-based paste that was used for the installation.

Epounding:

My theory of air-borne substances is that if you spray something into the air, such as hair spray, air freshener, deodorant, or even onto a surface, such as glass cleaner, some of the substance becomes air-borne, hangs in the air, and eventually will come to rest on the walls. This results in perfectly round little specks on the walls. (See the Page to the right, “Care and Feeding of Your New Wallpaper.”

The stains could even be coming from cooking oils that splattered into the air, got sucked through the A/C ducts, and expelled into the bathroom.

Since this paper has just a light acrylic coating and no durable protective vinyl coating, most any substance floating around in the air would be able to land on the paper and penetrate into it, leaving these spots.

Don’t get me wrong – I MUCH prefer these thin acrylic-coated papers over thick vinyls and non-wovens. You just need to take appropriate steps to protect them.

Moving on…

Another possibility is because the installer didn’t remove the previous layer(s) of manila-type paper backing left from the original wallpaper installation(s), nor did he use a primer or sealer, it’s possible that chemicals from the old tan paper backing are leaching through onto the new wallpaper.

This is why art framers recommend acid-free mats and framing techniques. The same are available for wallpaper installations – but we’re getting into some pretty high-end topics now…

Getting back to our bathroom in Tanglewood (Houston).

Another very possible cause is the clay-based paste that was used to hang the wallpaper. I have seen many, many times, a “dirty,” tan discoloration coming through from underneath the paper, which I firmly believe is coming from the tan-colored clay-based paste that many installers like to use. I have many instances validating this theory.

The only discrepancy is that stains from the paste working their way through the wallpaper would not manifest as tiny, perfectly round specks, but as more generalized, mottled areas. Unless, the composition of the wallpaper included teensy dots in the paper fibers, intended to allow for porousity. Or humidity in the room forms miniscule droplets which land on the wall and then wick the tan paste up through the wallpaper. Which sounds reasonable to me. In fact, I like this theory a lot. And I really DISlike clay-based paste.

A final idea is that the wallpaper is just old. After 30 years on the wall, materials are bound to break down, humidity will take a toll, and it will be time for a change to a fresh new look.

Bottom line: Remove old wallpaper, properly seal and prime the walls, avoid clay-based pastes and instead use a clear wallpaper adhesive.

Check back tomorrow for more!

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Stains from Wood / Furniture Polish Bleed Through Wallpaper

November 24, 2018


Originally, the walls in this West U. living room were smooth and painted. I didn’t notice anything or any stains when I started priming the walls. But almost immediately after the wallpaper primer was applied, I saw some brown stains work their way through the primer. The wall paint must have sealed them adequately, or perhaps I just had not noticed them, but something about the wallpaper primer activated the stains and brought them to the surface.

A large, old (antique) piece of wooden furniture had sat against this wall, and probably leaned against it. I figure the stains are from either wood sap (yes, even after decades) or from oily furniture polish that came into contact with the wall.

Either way, these stains could work their way through the new wallpaper, just as they had worked their way through the primer. They needed to be sealed with a stain blocker.

Many people use a shellac-based stain blocker, like BIN by Zinsser. But I like KILZ Original, the oil-based version (not the newer water-borne).

Once I applied the KILZ to the stains, they did not reappear. Now I am good to go to get the paper up!

A More Grown-Up Room – But Still Way Fun

October 25, 2018


I put this paper up back in the ’90’s. It’ still in perfect shape!

The two girls who shared this bathroom have grown up and moved away. Mom thought it was time to get rid of the girlhood dΓ©cor and move to something more suited for a guest bathroom.

The original paper was a pre-pasted solid vinyl. The vinyl layer stripped off easily, and left the paper backing clinging to the wall. A good soak with plain water softened and reactivated the paste, and the backing came away from the wall easily and with minimal scraping (the putty knife is there more to show perspective). The primer I used back then, oil based KILZ Original, helped protect the walls, and prevented moisture from the removal process from soaking through. KILZ was a superb primer, and I wish I could still use it. But the EPA required changes to many products, to be more environment-friendly, and wallpaper paste will not stick to the new formulas. 😦

Back to the wallpaper … This pattern is from Anthropologie. It is made by York, and is in their SureStrip line – one of my favorite papers to work with. It is pre-pasted and water-activated. The non-woven substrate is thin and pliable (unlike most other brands), conforms nicely to the walls, and exhibits no shrinkage / gaps at the seams when it dries.

The material is designed to strip off the walls easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. (Although I pretty much doubt that claim – and I would prefer that it not … There is much less chance of damage to the wall if the top layer of wallpaper strips off, leaving the backing on the wall, and then the backing is soaked with a wet sponge, the paste reactivated, and then the backing will come off easily, with minimal or no damage to the walls.)

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

Minimizing an Eyesore

October 9, 2018


The exhaust fan in this powder room was very obvious, having been placed smack in the center of the rear wall.

Covering the flat surfaces with wallpaper helped disguise it.

Note: Some portions of the vent cover were curved, and did not lend themselves to being covered with wallpaper, especially since this particular product was thick and stiff.

The vent was plastic, and required a special primer that would stick to the plastic, as well as special paste that would adhere to both the paper and the plastic. (VOV – Vinyl Over Vinyl paste is formulated to do just that.)

Wild Wallpaper In Frames That Will Be Hung On The Wall

July 31, 2018



Here’s some really cool, custom-made wallpaper that, expectedly, costs a ton. The homeowners wanted to accentuate two rooms (dining room, master bedroom) with these patterns, but, considering the investment, wanted to be able to take it with them, should they move.

After much deliberation and investigation of backings, weight, sturdiness, etc., it was decided to mount each mural on plywood, wrap each of those with a wooden frame, and then mount them on the walls with brackets that attach invisibly to the back.

The largest one, which already has its frame attached, and which you see in the top photo, measures about 7′ x 7′, and weights 80 pounds. Imagine getting that thing up two flights of stairs!

The top photo shows the large mural finished. It consists of two panels spliced in the middle. It was trimmed in place to fit inside the good frame you see around it.

The second photo shows the smaller mural being laid out. It will be applied to the board you seeing lying on the floor in the third photo. The plywood board has been sealed with KILZ, to prevent knotholes from bleeding through, sanded smooth, and then primed with a wallpaper-specific primer. I used Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

These wallpaper panels are custom-made to fit the project’s dimensions, and have a few extra inches “bleed” area on each side to allow for trimming and adjusting for wonky walls. The bordering silver area will be trimmed off, as will an inch or so of the printed area on each side of the mural.

On the smaller, dark mural, someone forgot to add an extra inch for the top and bottom, so the mural was centered as perfectly as possible, but a little bit of the white plywood peeked out on both the top and bottom. Don’t worry – a black frame will be constructed to cover the edges of the plywood, and it will have a lip (rabbet) that will cover this teeny gap.

The last photo shows one page of the instruction sheets, which includes drawings from the manufacturer detailing the layout and dimensions of each mural. The large mural came in two panels, which had to be overlapped in the center, carefully matching the pattern, and then double cut, or spliced.

Double cutting involves overlapping the edges of the two strips of wallpaper, while carefully matching the pattern. Then you take a straight edge and a brand new, very sharp razor blade and cut through both layers of paper. This paper was very thick, so I had to press really hard to get through both layers in one sweep. You want to avoid making multiple cuts if possible.

To keep from scoring into the plywood below (and it’s even more important if you are cutting on a wall made of drywall and / or many layers of paint and primer), I put a strip of polystyrene plastic on the plywood surface to keep the razor blade from cutting into the bottom surface. Once the double cut is made, the excess wallpaper, as well as the polystyrene strip, are removed, and the two edges of wallpaper smoothed into place. This makes for a very perfect seam.

All this takes a lot of time. It would be really cumbersome in a larger or more complicated room. But protecting the subsurface is important, because, once the wallpaper starts drying, it shrinks a little and pulls taught, and if the surface below is not intact (due to a cut from a razor blade, or from something else like dust on the surface or layers of incompatible materials such as old oil based paint covered with latex paint), these layers can come apart (delaminate), and the wallpaper seams will pull apart. This is not the paper “coming loose,” and it cannot be “glued back.” It is actually layers of the wall delaminating.

Anyway, back to today’s project, and, sorry, a little out of sequential order, but all important information. These panels were to be hung on the walls, but had not been hung yet. This allowed me to do them flat on the floor, which I think was easier. The instructions said to paste the paper, but that was extremely difficult because they were much wider than my work table. I didn’t want to crease or damage the material. Most non-woven products can be hung by pasting the wall, so that’s what I opted to do. Except, in this instance, they were laid out on the floor. πŸ™‚

The material was a thick non-woven on a mylar plastic, and was very thick and somewhat difficult to work with. In addition, the panels were much wider than normal wallpaper, and hard for me to manipulate. I was glad that the interior designer was hanging around and was game for helping me position these pieces.

As I said, the material was thick and stiff, and no matter how hard I pushed or what extreme tool I used (metal plate), it would not press tightly into the corners of the gold frame enough for me to get a satisfactory cut – meaning that there was a slight (1/16″ – 1/8″ gap between the material and the frame. No matter… The interior designer was easy going, and said she will add a small piece of molding to the inside of the gold frame, to cover any gap, as well as to prevent the thick material from curling up. On the smaller, dark mural, the black frame to be constructed will include a lip (rabbet) that will cover the open edge and help hold it down, as well as cover the outside edge of the plywood panel.

This gutsy wallpaper is made by Calico, a husband-and-wife team out of New York City that is just a few years old – not many people have this stuff – and even fewer have the balls to put it on their walls!

The interior designer for the project is Elizabeth Maciel, and the location is a newish home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

Contractors and Painters Should NOT Prep Walls for Wallpaper

July 14, 2018


This home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, and has been redone, and is now ready for final touches, like decorating, i.e. – wallpaper!

The first three photos show how the contractor left the walls. It’s hard to conceive how anyone could think these walls are “ready for wallpaper.”

What you are looking at is where the contractor ripped off the top, inked layer of the original wallpaper. Most of them don’t realize that there is a backing layer of paper that is left on the wall, that should be removed, too. Simply soaking this with a wet sponge will reactivate the paste and allow the paper to be removed easily, and with no damage to the wall (esp. if there is a good primer underneath the paper). Read my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper” to see how this should be done.

Instead, this contractor left the paper backing on the wall. Some of this porous backing is exposed. Other areas have been covered with the paint that was used on the woodwork. This solvent-based paint “raises the grain” of the surface it’s applied to – see all the hairy fibers from the wallpaper backing that have gotten stuck in the paint and raised up? Some of them are more than 1/4″ high. They create a gritty feeling on the surface, like really coarse sandpaper.

The surface is uneven, and the bumps will show under the new paper. The unevenness also means that areas of the paper will not be able to contact the wall, so there will be gaps and air bubbles and poor adhesion. The backing of the original wallpaper has been exposed, and when new, wet, pasted wallpaper gets placed on top of that thirsty paper backing, it will absorb moisture, expand, and bubble.

I had three missions. 1.) Seal the surface 2.) Smooth the surface 3.) Prime with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

I rolled on a coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz to seal the surface, so that my following treatments would not cause the paper backing to bubble. When that was dry, I skim-floated the wall with a coat of joint compound. In the areas where the hairs were 1/4″ high, the skim coat was pretty thick, and took a good while to dry. Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, then vacuumed the dust of off the floor, used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the walls, and then followed up with another coat of Gardz. It will soak into the joint compound and dry hard, forming a stable surface for the new paper to adhere to.

The last photo shows the wall once I finished.

Someone Hung Wallpaper over Textured Walls

June 19, 2018

The texture on this wall is not heavy, but it can still be seen under the wallpaper. In the second photo, I am stripping off the wallpaper, and you can see the wall texture underneath.

I removed the top vinyl layer of the wallpaper, then removed the paper backing. Then I skim-floated and sanded the wall to smooth it (no picture). Follow up with a primer, and the wall was smooth as a baby’s bottom and ready for the new wallpaper.

Smoothing Textured Walls

June 16, 2018


I like walls to be nice and smooth when the wallpaper goes up, first so the texture doesn’t show under the new paper, and second so the paper has an intact, flat surface to grab ahold of. When homes have textured walls, I skim float them with joint compound (which we calls mud) to smooth them.

To skim float, I use a trowel to spread the smoothing compound onto the walls. In the top photo, the upper portion of the wall has been skimmed, and you can see the compound drying around the edges and in high areas. It goes on grey, and when it’s dry, it will turn white. The second photo shows the box that the mud comes in, enclosed in a plastic bag, to retain its moisture.

To help speed the drying process along, I set fans up blowing on the walls, as you see in the second photo. I have three fans, and they will be positioned differently for maximum air blastage. Having the air conditioner cranking away and the house fan on also help to circulate air and pull humidity out of the air. In small powder rooms where the door can be closed and the climate supervised closely, I get a space heater going, which also helps pull humidity out of the air. For stubborn areas, I get out the heat gun – it’s like a hair dryer on steroids. πŸ™‚

Once the mud is dry, I sand the walls smooth, then vacuum up the dust that falls to the floor, then wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then finally prime the walls. For this application, I use Gardz, a penetrating sealer which soaks into the joint compound and binds it together, and which is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on. Sorry, no photo of the Gardz or of the finished wall – but you can Search here to find previous posts.

Wallpaper on a Window Valance

June 12, 2018


I hung a beautiful grasscloth in the West U. living room of this empty-nester couple a month ago. They were putting the room back together, including hanging the curtains. This window valance had been covered with padded fabric which matched the drapes. Since the drapes are being changed, the valance no longer worked. The couple thought that the valance would look better covered in the same material as the walls.

So … I brought the valance home, along with some left over wallpaper scraps, and covered it.

The photo is deceptive – the thing is about 7′-8′ long. At first I thought I could take it to work with me and do it while I was waiting for primer to dry, for instance. But it’s way too big and loppy to haul into someone else’s home and, would, of course, take more time than anticipated.

So it sat in my garage for a couple of weeks, until I finally found a spare moment (three hours, actually) to pull out my tools, set up my table, get out the measuring tape, and slap some paste on that puppy.

The homeowner had removed the upholstery and the padding, and hammered the staples down as flat as possible. Then I sealed the wood with oil-based KILZ Original stain blocker, to prevent any wood sap from bleeding through the wallpaper. Since wallpaper paste won’t stick to most oil-based products I followed that with a coat of wallpaper primer (Ultra Prime, Pro 977 by Roman’s). On the driveway under the June Houston sun, that didn’t take long to dry. πŸ™‚

Then some careful measuring to get panels of equal width, pasting, and applying the grasscloth to the wooden frame. I used a special “super glue for wallpaper” (clear silicone caulk πŸ™‚ ) for the edges, to be sure the grasscloth would be able to grip on to the uneven and rough wooden surfaces.

I was pleased with the way it turned out. And I know the homeowners will be happy to get the valance up on the wall, their curtains up, and their room put back together and ready to enjoy.

Spider Corraled by Primer

May 27, 2018


This tiny spider appeared on the wall after I had started priming. Unfortunately, he found himself surrounded by the primer.

Don’t worry I brushed him off the wall before I finished coating that patch of wall.