Posts Tagged ‘pulp’

William Morris Pattern in Bellaire Powder Room

July 27, 2019


The owner of this powder room in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston lived for several years in England, and fell in love with the British aesthetic for the Arts & Crafts period of the early 1900’s. William Morris was a popular designer of that era – and still loved today.

Most of the patterns are intricate, while rhythmic and repetitive, with nature being a popular theme.

The wall sconces, mirror, and sink faucet were all off-center from one another. Figuring that the mirror was the most noticeable feature on that wall, I decided to center the pattern on the mirror, rather than the sconces or faucet. (Sorry, no pic of the mirror.)

This particular pattern had enough swoopy flowery foliage that the background trellis design was pretty obscured. In addition, I plotted the layout so that the dark green trellis would not fall close to the faucet (where it would be obvious that it was off-center). And the large flower to the right of the faucet helps obscure the off-center trellis, too.

Once the mirror went up, it became the eye-catcher. The room is a true beauty.

This wallpaper is by William Morris, a British manufacturer, and this paper was the traditional pulp material, rather than the newer non-woven substrate.

Sweetening an All-White Bathroom / Treating Trials

July 2, 2019



This homeowner was just trying to update her hall bathroom. She chose a new countertop, new tile, and new wallpaper. Unfortunately, some of the workmen who showed up for the job were less than stellar. I won’t say anything about the tile guys or the painters, but in the top photo, you can see how the “I can hang wallpaper” guy prepped the wall… which he proclaimed as “wallpaper-ready.”

I took down the light fixture, removed the remaining old wallpaper, and skim-floated the surface. Because the ridges in the original guy’s float job were so thick, I went there a few days early to get an initial layer of smoothing compound spread on the wall, so it would have time to dry. Then when I came back, I skim-floated the entire room. Because this second coat was thinner, it dried in a few hours (with fans, a space heater (to pull humidity from the air), and the home’s A/C unit cranking dry air through the room.)

I sanded smooth, vacuumed and wiped off the dust, and applied a coat of Gardz, which is my preferred primer for newly smoothed walls.

Mysterious tan dots worked their way through the smoothing compound and the Gardz. I didn’t know what they came from (mold, oil, tobacco, soft drink or food the workers splashed on the walls?), but I knew they would eventually bleed through the new wallpaper. So I rolled on BIN, a shellac-based stain-blocker made by Rust Oleum, to seal the wall.

This effectively sealed the stain, and the wall was nice and white after that.

A week later, I came back to hang the wallpaper. First I applied a coat of Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. For some reason, this product didn’t stick well to the BIN – which is surprising, because one reason I use this primer is because it sticks to anything, even glossy surfaces (the BIN was not particularly glossy). Look closely or enlarge the third photo, and you will see it sliding and dripping down the wall. Well, no fear. I brushed out the worst of the drips, and as the primer dried, it tightened up and clung flat and tight to the wall.

With the wall finally smooth and appropriately primed, I was ready to get that paper up on the wall. This was an old fashioned pulp paper, which the British companies were making before most of them switched to non-woven materials. I was looking forward to working with an authentic pulp paper, because it’s been a while since I’ve come across one.

But this one didn’t behave as most of them do… It was thicker and stiffer, which made trimming and intricate detail work difficult, and increased the potential for creasing (for instance, while fitting the paper into a corner at a ceiling line). And it sucked up paste and dried out way sooner than I could get a strip to the wall. So I ended up using a spray bottle to add extra moisture to the back of the paper while I was applying the paste. This did help a lot.

Some of the edges had been banged up during shipping, so some of the seams looked a little weathered. And the edges had not been cut perfectly straight at the factory, so we had a bit of what we call “gaps and overlaps.”

Still, the finished room looks great. With its sweet flowers and calming colors, the pattern reminds me of the Laura Ashley era. The blue really pops against the white woodwork and tile in the room, and the red roses are nothing short of romantic.

Such a happy turn-around, for a bathroom that started out full of trials and tribulations.

I’m not sure what the brand name is, but the label says “English Florals.” The homeowner found it on-line (free shipping!), and the cost was low – about $60 for a double roll bolt. The home is on the north side of Houston.

Before There Can Be Paper, There Shall Be Liner

March 13, 2019


Usually, a smooth wall coated with a good quality wallpaper-specific primer is the best surface on which to hang wallpaper.

But with certain papers, particularly high-end or delicate materials, or in certain room conditions (humidity), a liner paper is called for.

A liner is a thin paper, made of either non-woven or pulp, often called “blank stock,” which is hung on the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It has a couple of jobs…

– provide a smooth “velvety” look
– “lock” the seams down quickly and tightly
– help tame papers that want to “waffle” or “quilt” – do a Search here to learn more
– wick moisture from the paste away from the paper, helping to reduce the chance of staining or blushing – do a Search here to learn more
– absorb moisture in humid areas (bathrooms) and help prevent seams from curling

There are “bridging liners” which are supposed to cover cracks, gaps, bumps, ridges, and the like. In my experience, they do NOT live up to their hype. Once the paste dries, they pull tightly against the wall, and any bumps or grooves will still show. If the wall has imperfections, the best solution is to skim-float the wall and sand smooth.

Hanging on liner paper is different from hanging on a primed wall. The liner grabs the paper so quickly that you don’t have the opportunity to manipulate seams or fine-tune areas that need special attention. And you won’t be able to reposition a strip even five minutes later. It does help reduce bubbles or wrinkles.

A liner will increase the cost of the job, usually by more than double. There is the cost of the material itself, as well as the labor to install it. The liner has to dry overnight, so you are looking at at least one day’s additional labor, plus the cost of the liner.

Updating a ’60’s Dining Room – But Staying True to Mid Century Modern

November 1, 2018

I love all things vintage, and have a keen fondness for old wallpaper in particular. So it really hurt to strip off this beautiful (albeit kitschy) mural – the original installed on one wall of a dining room in this 1960 home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston.

The new homeowners, a young couple, had a more modern vision for the look of their home. This very whimsical “Franz” design feels both modern and mid-century at the same time. And, it perfectly mirrors the thin linear gold lines of the chandelier.

The wallpaper is by a company I had not heard of before – Half Full. It is based in California, and their products are reasonably priced. Unlike many “boutique” manufactures, the company was able to provide sensible product information over the phone, and I was pleased with the quality of their wallpaper.

The surface was printed with a clay-coated ink, and the substrate felt like a pulp material. Installation instructions called for a typical vinyl adhesive, and standard booking times. The material – particularly the edges – did tend to dry out a little too quickly, but a little additional pasting helped with that. There was no detectable shrinkage. I do wish they had printed this black design on a dark substrate, because, even though I used chalk to color the edges of the paper, the white paper backing did show through at the seams just a smidgeon.

Humidity from Shower & Bathtub Loosening Paper

July 5, 2018

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The homeowner said I put this paper up about 20 years ago. It is what we call a British pulp paper – paper, not vinyl and not vinyl coated. In a few areas near the ceiling, the paper has started to pull away from the wall. It was only over the shower and tub areas. What does that tell you? Yes, humidity is the great enemy of wallpaper. Especially when you have teenagers taking steamy, hour-long showers.

This was pretty easily fixed, by repasting the wall behind the loose areas, and then smoothing the paper back into place.

Counting Shadows On The Wall

June 15, 2018

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Here is a paper that has been in a master bathroom in a home in River Oaks for many years. This wall faces a wall of windows.

The dark areas you see in the photo are where a piece of art was removed from the wall, and, below that, where two towels had hung on towel racks (the rods have been removed and you are looking at the support brackets).

The picture and the towels kept sunlight away from the wallpaper, while the unprotected areas faded due to exposure to sunlight from the window.

Some wallpapers are dubbed “fade-resistant.” This one was not. This particular brand is printed on what we call pulp stock, which is usually a British product, and the inked layer has no coating, so it is not likely to hold up well against light or water or abrading or the likes.

I also think that the previous installer’s methods might have influenced the fading of the paper. The paper was hung directly on Sheetrock, with no primer. The drywall could have leeched into the wallpaper, causing discoloration. A primer would have prevented this.

The installer also used clay-based paste. This stuff is really sticky, but I think it’s icky – it is slimy and hard to wipe off woodwork, and it has a tan color that I have seen work its way through wallpapers, including grasscloth, many, many times.

If paste stains are bleeding through wallpaper, perhaps they are pulled more, or perhaps less, toward a source of light -and it could differ if it’s sunlight or a light bulb, too. And an obstacle such as a framed picture or a towel hanging from a bar a half an inch away from the paper block some of that light, and that could all have an effect, too.

And remember that towels are often damp, and that dampness hanging next to, or even touching, the wall, could cause changes to the paper and the paste and the surface below.

Just musings. When I look at existing wallpaper, or strip off some other installer’s work, I always am fascinated by the surface, the methods, etc.

Noah’s Ark for a Baby Girl’s Nursery

December 24, 2017


Rooms for baby girls don’t have to be all about pink. Here’s a neutral-toned, animal-rich, Noah’s Ark-themed pattern that will grow with the child. This is just one accent wall, a very effective use of pattern, and economical, too.

The mother-to-be commented that the pattern was soft enough that it could go on all four walls of the room. I agreed. But I think it would look better, perhaps, if wainscoting were added at the bottom 1/3 of the wall, or a wooden chair rail and a slightly darker shade of paint at the bottom, and then have the paper on just the top 2/3 of the wall.

This wallpaper is by Andrew Martin, a British company, and was printed on a pulp stock substrate. It has no protective coating, so mom will have to be sure the little one keeps her hands off the paper. The home is in the Rice Village area of Houston.

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.

Stupid, Unresearched, and Misleading News Article About Wallpaper

June 29, 2017

A spot with this information (click link below) aired on the local news Monday, and since then it has popped up on news and information sites on the Internet. Like many such “news” stories, it is all sensation and no honest information.

The article purports that “wallpaper can make you sick.” However, what it really should say is that MOLD in the air can make you sick. The article tosses out this scary claim, but makes no explanation of what kind of wallpaper might be involved, what the conditions of the room are, what connection mold has with wallpaper, how common this situation is. I will give them credit for listing a (scant) few other possible causes of mold in a building.

Here are a few true facts that the reporter should have dug up and included in her story. Wallpaper itself does not support the growth of mold. In fact, acrylic-coated papers, pulp papers, non-woven material, and natural fibers (grasscloth) all allow air to pass through them.

Now, it is true that mold can grow behind some solid vinyl wallpapers that are commercial grade (and unlikely to be used in homes), because they don’t breathe. But conditions would have to be right for this to happen – improperly prepped walls, improperly installed wallpaper, humidity or dampness in the building, moisture inside the wall (leak in a pipe or roof), lack of air conditioning / heating, lack of air circulation or ventilation. And usually the mold just sits there. It’s when the wall surface is disturbed (removing old wallpaper) that the mold might be released into the air.

I sure hope that people don’t read the headline or the skimpy story, and fall for its misleading information, and avoid using wallpaper in their homes or offices. The fact is, a good quality wallpaper that is hung properly in a building that is maintained properly will enhance the setting, and give many years of beauty and “clean living.”

Here is the link. http://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Healthy-workplace/Health-in-the-workplace/your-wallpaper-might-be-making-you-sick-20170626

British Love for a Montrose Powder Room

November 11, 2016
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This couple lived in England for a while, and adopted British taste in decorating. I have papered four rooms for them so far (another is coming up!), and (almost) all have been done in imported British wallpaper, with traditional designs.

This pattern is by Colfax & Fowler (called “Dalancey”), and is on what we call a pulp substrate. It is a beautiful, matt finish, lies very flat to the wall, and will resist curling under humid conditions. It has no protective coating, so can be stained by splashing of water or toiletries or even hands, and painter’s tape will lift the inked layer right off the backing. In other words – beautiful to look at, but handle with care. 🙂

This home is brand new, but presented challenges due to unplumb walls, bowed walls, and crooked corners. I had to do a lot of twisting and finagling, and a little patchin’ in, and some fudging with the pattern match, but the end result looked fantastic. The homeowner said, “I can’t believe how much it changes the room!”

And she said, “Every time you come, you leave our home looking a little more beautiful!”