Posts Tagged ‘razor blade’

Two Pretty Blues Today

April 25, 2019


Another “all white” house gets a little personality and definition from a light dose of color and pattern. What a pleasant change!

The first three photos are Scalamandre’s “Balinese Peacock.” It came with a selvedge edge that had to be hand-trimmed off with a razor blade and a 6′ straight edge.

The last two photos are a fun elongated triangle floral stripe by Schumacher. My “after” sink photo didn’t come through, unfortunately, but the other pictures will give you an idea of the pattern.

Even though these papers are by two different manufacturers, the blue color is identical. It’s a lot brighter and prettier than my crummy camera depicts. The blue picks up hints of blue that the homeowner has in her living room (throw pillows) and in the dining room (navy blue paint above the wainscoting).

The peacock went in a small bar area off the living room, and the foliage stripe went in the under-the-stairs powder room that is right off the bar. The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

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Keep an Eye on Your Razor Blades

January 16, 2019

OK, so today I was digging deep in my toolbox, looking for my screwdriver, which sits against the back wall in the bottom of the box.

Unbeknownst to me, an unsheathed razor blade had fallen into the tool box, along that back wall sharp side up.

You are already guessing – and you are guessing correctly…. My index finger jammed down onto the blade, and the razor slid its way neatly up between the finger and the nail. Ouch!

Actually, it didn’t hurt all that much, and I caught it before it got pushed in really deep. It didn’t even bleed very much.

What’s funny is, I asked the nanny for a Band-Aid, and she brought out two really little tiny bandages. Turns out the family has three young children, and all the Band-Aids in the house are kid-sized.

No worries – she draped the diminutive bandage over my injured fingernail, and then I got some blue painters’ tape and wrapped that around it, to be sure it would stay on my finger.

Beautiful Bradbury Birds

June 29, 2018


Bradbury & Bradbury is a well-established company based in California that produces wallpaper patterns in the style of by-gone eras – Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Oriental and more. I have their Raspberry Bramble, from the Victorian collection, in my own master bathroom. Do a Search here to see pics.

Bradbury has unveiled some new genres recently, including the ’50’s Atomic Age and the ’20’s Vintage. These new products are digitally-printed, which is a little different from their other papers, most of which are screen-printed.

Today I hung half of a master bedroom with their 2D-103. Those numbers are not very interesting, but the pattern is – see it in the photos above. It’s a lovely, cheery, and easy-to-live-with birds, branches, and flowers, on a soft yellow background.

Bradbury wallpapers come with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand, using a razor blade and straight edge (not shown). This takes precision and a lot of sharp new razor blades – I spent two hours trimming paper for these two walls (with more to come tomorrow for the remaining two walls).

Once all that tedious trimming was over, the paper was a delight to work with. The seams melted together and were next to invisible. The paper hugged the wall nicely with no curling at the edges. Other companies with cantankerous papers could take a lesson from Bradbury.

This home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston, and was partially destroyed in the flooding after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The homeowners love the vintage vibe of their older home, and when the house was rebuilt after the flood, they took great care to recreate the look of the original home … woodwork, flooring, kitchen cabinets, kitchen appliances… all are true to the home’s original look.

Difficult Hang Today – Lots of Work to Get Good Seams

June 17, 2018



I don’t recall ever having seen a wallpaper product labeled “heavyweight paper” before. I wasn’t thrilled with this stuff. It was thick, and that made it difficult to work with. I prefer thin papers because they form to the walls better. This paper didn’t have any coating on it, so it is not any more durable than a thinner paper, so I don’t see the reason for the “heavyweight” treatment.

And any time you apply paste and the edges of the paper curl backward (Photo 1), you know you are in for a tough install.

The room was already prepped, and it was just 9 single rolls on an easy top of a dining room – no tricky moldings to trim around, no toilets to reach beind, no awkward spaces to situate the ladder in… It should have taken 5-6 hours. Instead I toiled for 12 hours.

I hung three strips, and wasn’t happy with the two seams between them. They pouched just a little and would not lie down flat. (Photo 2) With strong light coming in from the windows, the seams looked bad. There was no way of knowing how the seams would look once the paper was good and dry. But for now, I couldn’t stand the look, and I didn’t want to leave the homeowners with these pouchy seams.

I removed two of those strips, refreshed the paste, and kept them “open” by placing them in a plastic trash bag so they would remain useable (we didn’t have a lot of paper to spare). I ran to the truck and got supplies so I could double cut new seams (splice on the wall). I needed a special trim guide, and a special polystyrene padding strip to protect the wall so that the razor blade wouldn’t score into it (which could compromise the surface and lead to delamination of layers … too complicated to get into here, but you can do a Search and read previous posts on this subject).

From then on, instead of using the factory edges for seams, I double cut. Double cutting involves padding the wall behind where the seam will be, overlapping the new strip onto the old strip while carefully matching the pattern, and then using the handled straightedge and a sharp new razor blade to cut through both layers of paper. Then you peel back the paper at the newly cut seam and remove the two thin strips of excess paper that were just cut off. Then you remove the plastic padding strip.

Now you can put the edges of the freshly cut new seam back together. Because they were cut into each other, they will fit together perfectly. But because the padding strip has some thickness, the two newly cut edges are now a teeny tad wider than needed, so you’ll have to do some finessing to get the seam to butt together, instead of pouching up just a bit.

Because one strip of pasted paper overlapped onto another, once the excess paper strips are removed, there will be paste residue left on a 1″-2″ edge of one of the wallpaper drops. This has to be washed off with a damp microfiber rag, and you will have to rinse the rag and wash the wall several times to get all the residue off.

And all of this has to be done on a time frame, because while you’re working on one seam, the edges of the next are rapidly drying out, which is a whole new can of worms.

My finished double cut seams were perfect. (Photo 3)

But after I had worked my way around the room a bit, I looked back at the first wall, and saw that, as the paper dried, it shrank just a little. This left a visible gap between the two strips. (Photo 4) This gap isn’t visible from a distance, and it’s not visible if you look at the walls at an angle. But if you are standing three feet away and looking head-on, you will see the gap. I think it’s too much.

Oh, and, one more thing … the paper was easily marred if it was touched by any bit of metal. (Photo 5) Scissors, straight edge, trim guide, even the metal eraser housing on the end of my pencil would leave a grey mark if it happened to rub against the wallpaper. Most of these marks would wipe off, but not all of them. And wiping the paper leads to abrasion, so you want to avoid overdoing it. I worry about how the wallpaper might be marked up when the homeowners innocently go about hanging their art and mirror.

Considering what the homeowners paid for the wallpaper and installation, I think they should have a better outcome than this. This paper is manufactured by Thibaut. Thibaut makes many types of wallpaper, and most of them are lovely to work with, and they perform well. It makes you wonder why they would use this “heavyweight” stock, which produces a less-than-desireable outcome.

Hand Trimming A Patterned Grasscloth

June 7, 2018

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Most wallpapers come with their edges pre-trimmed by the manufacturer. But some – usually the higher-end products – come with the selvedge edge intact, which means the installer has to hand-trim the material to remove this unprinted edge.

This is done with a straightedge (not shown in the photo), a single-edge razor blade (lots of them!), an appropriate surface to cut into, and a steady hand.

The manufacturer will print marks (trim guides) on the wallpaper, so you know where to trim. But these are not always accurate, so often you have to go by an element in the design (1/4″ away from the tip of the red dog’s nose).

You also have to use a tape measure to make certain that the width of the strip is the same along it’s entire length. If it’s not, you will end up with a trapezoid, or a strip with one or both edges that are shaped like a boomerang – and no strip of wallpaper will butt up against a boomerang!

Hand-trimming is tedious and time-consuming and precise. It’s important to have the right equipment, to pay attention, to take your time, and to have a steady hand.

Hand-Trimming Rebecca Atwood “Dashes” Wallpaper

June 1, 2018


The wallpaper from my previous post is sold by the yard, and was digitally printed to order. Instead of coming in standard-length rolls / bolts, it comes in one continuous roll.

Like many high-end materials, it has an unprinted selvedge edge that has to trimmed off by hand. Here you see my straightedge and razor blade, carefully removing the excess paper.

Trimming Wallpaper With a Selvedge Edge

December 20, 2016
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Many of the higher-end wallpapers come with an unprinted selvedge edge, which has to be trimmed off, so that the seams can be butted together on the wall. The first photo shows this selvedge, along with the proofs for ink colors that are used in the design.

The second photo shows my straightedge, razor blade, and some of the selvedge that has been trimmed off. The trimming process is exacting, tedious, time consuming, and not always as accurate as I want it to be.

The third and fourth photos have poor lighting, but look closely and you will see the deep red dotted lines forming much of the pattern.

This wallpaper was bought on-line from Grow House Grow, and I hung it in a rear entry in a Mid-Century Modern home in the Highland Village neighborhood of Houston.

Hand-Trimming Wallpaper

October 4, 2016
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Two wallpapers I hung this week came untrimmed, with the unprinted selvedge edge still intact. This means that the paperhanger has to take a razor blade and a straightedge and trim off the selvedge, following trim marks from the manufacturer, or an element of the design.

It’s tedious and time-consuming, and you have to be mindful of what you are doing at all times, or risk getting a crooked cut, or a seam that won’t butt together properly.

Usually, it’s the higher-end papers that come untrimmed. Hmmm… you pay more for the paper, but the manufacturer puts in less work on his end. Hmmm.

Metal Mars Wallpaper

February 18, 2015

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The little grey mark here, near the point of my razor blade, was made by a metal tool – straightedge, probably – brushing against the wallpaper. With some papers, this can happen, and you have to handle the material very delicately. I’m not sure exactly which tool did this, but I’m a little surprised, because I am careful, and because I invested in a pricy magnesium straightedge, because that metal is supposed to not scratch wallpaper.

Luckily, virtually all marks like this will wipe off with light pressure from a damp rag.