Posts Tagged ‘razor blade’

Door Hidden By Wallpaper

August 4, 2021

Not many homes have hidden doors.

But this one did. It’s hiding a simple medicine cabinet.

The most notable thing is that the cabinet is not over the sink, as in most bathrooms. Instead, it is on the opposite wall, over the toilet.

There is plenty of room here for the door to open and close without the thickness of the wallpaper causing a log jam.

I hung the paper in the usual way, and then used a new and very sharp razor blade to cut around the door opening.

Rectifying a Mistake

July 2, 2021
Whoops! This wallpaper strip ended up too short. I suspect I forgot to add the 3″ extra for trimming at ceiling and floor. Sure would like to avoid replacing this whole strip.
I could have spliced a piece in horizontally. But that would have left a (slightly) visible horizontal seam, as well as put stress on the wall if the razor blade scored the surface. So I opted to patch in a piece. To disguise the patch, I cut along the design, and discarded the bottom piece.
Then I used scrap paper and cut along the same part of the design, making sure to leave a thin part of the design that would be overlapped (don’t want any gaps showing).
This patch was placed under the piece on the wall, with the top piece overlapping from above (less noticeable when viewed from above … the direction of lighting also affects this). Once all pieces were smoothed into place, it’s intact and homogeneous, and, best of all – undetectable.

Created Wallpaper “Border” to Separate Bookcases from Wall

June 12, 2021

thought the left edge where the wallpaper meets the molding of the bookcase was too much white-on-white.

To create some definition between the two surfaces, as well as to continue the them of the wallpaper, I took some scrap paper and custom-cut a strip of blue. I cut the right edge straight, Then I used a razor blade to trim along the irregular outline of the design.

I pasted the strip, and then appliquéd it over the wallpaper in the corner.

Now there is a visual break between the two walls. Even though the blocks on the left edge of the wallpaper are less than full width, your eye doesn’t notice it.

The eye is fooled into thinking it’s seeing a complete panel of the wallpaper pattern.

This is called “Feather” and is by Serena & Lily – one of my favorite brands.

Hand Trimming Wallpaper

May 13, 2021

Some wallpapers (usually the higher-end brands) are not pre-trimmed at the factory. They come with an unprinted selvedge edge, much like fabric. This needs to be trimmed off before the paper can go up on the wall.

If you’re lucky, the manufacturer will have provided printed trim guides / marks. And if you’re really lucky, the trim guides will be “true” (accurate).

Trimming off this selvedge takes concentration, precision, and the right tools. Here you see my table, protective polystyrene strip, brass-bound straightedge, plus a good old trusty single edge razor blade.

Burnished Copper Colors in Home Bar Area

May 6, 2021

tThe homeowner loved the coppery-hued colors in this “Carousel Stripe” pattern by Cole & Son. The colors mesh beautifully with the wood tones, and also the brass faucet, in this home bar area.

What’s interesting is that I think the colors (especially the red) are more intense now, than in the samples she got from the vendor. In fact, one complaint of hers was that the vendor sent just one small snip of the paper, and didn’t show the full color spectrum of all 10 stripes that make up the pattern.

No matter. The finished effect really sets off the bar backsplash, and will be a fabulous backdrop once the bottles and glasses are back in place.

This wallpaper is a non-woven material, which is made of synthetic fibers rather than wood or cotton pulp. Instead of the paste-the-wall installation method, I chose to paste-the-paper. This made the material more flexible and manageable, which helped a lot, because when it was dry, it really wanted to crease and flake.

TFor instance, the racks sitting on the counter in the first photo could not be removed. Manipulating, fitting and trimming the wallpaper around the sharp bends and angles without marring the wallpaper was very difficult.

The non-woven, synthetic-origin material (think fiberglass) was also really hard to cut. Even with a brand-new razor blade, I had trouble getting perfect cuts around moldings, and also in a whole lot of other simpler areas.

These two rooms were hard enough, with minimal angles and corners and intricate moldings. If this had been a bathroom, or another room with a lot of turns and fancy cuts, it would have been really difficult to prevent creases and other damage to the wallpaper.

As it was, I spent about nine hours hanging these four single rolls of paper.

This is a wonderfully restored 1939 home in the Rice University area of central Houston.

Grasscloth Repair Today

April 14, 2021
Whoops! Somebody dropped a bottle of nail polish and look what happened!
Damaged area removed.
First approach – trimming replacement piece along horizontal grass reeds.
A better approach – splicing in the replacement piece. Blue plastic tape keeps paste off the paper on the wall.
Splice has been made, excess grasscloth and its paper backing below the splice have been removed, and I begin smoothing the patch into place.

The spliced area is undetectable.
Bottom is trimmed at the baseboard, push pins removed – done!

Good thing this family kept their scraps left over from the original install. They had a roll that had about two 8′ strips on it, plus a shorter piece that was maybe 4′ long.

Often, a repair means that you replace the whole wall, from corner to corner. For one thing, it eliminates the worries of color differences due to the existing paper fading from exposure to light over time. And the potential of buggering up one strip while removing the damaged strip next to it. And other issues like variables in the rate of expansion of wallpaper when it gets wet with paste, between what’s on the wall compared to the new replacement piece. Lots of factors.

Replacing the whole wall also would have eaten up all of the left over paper. I wanted then to keep that paper, in case something else happens down the road.

So I figured a way to use just 18″ or so of the shorter scrap they had left over.

First I took a razor blade and trimmed along a horizontal grass fiber, from the seam on the right, moving to the left and around the corner to where the paper meets the vanity. Then I peeled off the top layer, which was the grasscloth. That left the paper backing remaining on the wall.

I used a sponge to apply water to this backing, being very careful to touch only the paper and not the grasscloth that was to be left on the wall – water will stain grasscloth. After a while, the water reactivated the paste, and I was able to use my “dull” stiff 3″ putty knife to gently scrape the paper backing off the wall, making sure to get every bit that butted up to the grasscloth left on the wall, to be sure the replacement paper would sit flat against the wall and not on top of bumps of paper residue. All the while making sure to not damage the existing paper.

I cut a piece of replacement paper off the 4′ roll, cutting it a little longer than I might need, because I wasn’t sure if my first technique would work, and I wanted to avoid having to cut a whole new strip from that precious 4′ roll.

My first approach was to trim the replacement piece horizontally along the top reeds of grass. I hoped that this would butt up against the bottom of the strip on the wall. It did not. This is because the reeds of grass are uneven, and there were undulations between the top and bottom pieces that left gaps and overlaps between the two strips. (sorry, no photo)

I have used this technique successfully in the past. But that was with grasscloth that was coarser and had more distance between the reeds, so the eye would see the gaps as “normal.” Didn’t work with this finer textured grasscloth.

So my next option was to do a splice. What we in the trade call a double cut. A double cut will give you a perfectly fitted seam. But I try to avoid them, because there is the potential to score into the wall, which can cause an un-intact area that may delaminate over time, resulting in a “popped” seam.

(When hanging new wallpaper (not doing a repair to paper already adhered to the wall), it is possible to use polystyrene strips under the seam area to protect the wall when you make your cut. You can do a Search here to learn more about that.)

So a double cut was my best option. I had cut the replacement piece long enough that, after the failed attempt at butting the strips, I still had enough length to do the splice. I pasted the strip, let it book a few minutes to relax, and then unfolded it and ran a strip of blue plastic tape along the top edge. This tape will keep paste off the existing wallpaper. (Remember – grasscloth stains easily, and it’s difficult to wash, so it’s important to keep paste and other substances off of it.)

(The blue tape, and also the polystyrene strips and a lot of other cool tools, are available from fellow paperhanger Steve Boggess in Virginia. http://boggesspaperhangingtools.com/index.php )

Then I put the replacement strip in place, butting it up against the existing strip to the right, and overlapping the strip above it by about 3/4.” I used push pins to keep the strip from sliding. See 4th photo.

Next I took a single-edged razor blade and cut horizontally through both strips. Grasscloth is much thicker and harder than regular wallpaper, so I had to press hard to get through both layers – while still trying to not cut into the wall itself underneath.

Normally I would use a straightedge as a guide, but because the grass reeds are not straight themselves, I chose to free-hand the cut, following the horizontal line of one of the fibers of grass.

Once the cut was made, I removed the sections of paper that had been cut off. On the original piece that was already adhered to the wall, I had to pull off the grass, and then, once again, use my sponge and water to wet the remaining paper backing, reactivate the paste, and then carefully scrape that backing off the wall.

Once all that was done, as you see in the 5th photo, I peeled away the blue tape, and smoothed the two pieces together. They butted together perfectly!

The homeowner is going to paint over the little dabs of nail polish on the baseboard. (I told her I’d read her the riot act if she used remover or solvent and got any on that delicate grasscloth! 🙂 )

Hand Trimming Wallpaper

March 28, 2021

A lot of high-end wallpapers come with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand before the paper can go up on the wall.

Hmmm … they charge you more because it’s a “designer brand.” But they give you less, because it takes a lot of time, precision, and razor blades to trim this off, when the company could have simply done it at their factory.

O.K., moving past that … To trim off the selvedge, I used my 6′ brass-bound straight edge and lots of new, sharp, single-edge razor blades. The “Trim” mark guides printed on the material by the manufacturer were pretty much on-target.

Thus the pattern on the trimmed strips matched up very nicely once pasted and hung on the wall.

Hand Trimming off the Selvedge Edge of Wallpaper

January 2, 2021


Some wallpapers, particularly the higher-end brands, come with an unprinted selvedge edge, much like fabric. This needs to be trimmed off so the pattern will match when the wallpaper strips are butted together on the wall.

Here you see how I am using my 6′ straightedge and a sharp new razor blade to remove this selvedge.

Betcha Can’t Find The Kill Point

December 9, 2020

Usually, when hanging wallpaper, you start in a corner, work your way around the room, and end up on the opposite side of that same corner. This virtually always ends up in a pattern mis-match. So we try to place this in an inconspicuous place, such as in a corner behind a door.

But this powder room didn’t have any hidden corners. All four of the corners were very visible to anyone in the room. I didn’t want an 8′ high corner of half-flowers and mis-matched motifs.

So I decided to put this kill point in the least noticeable space – the 1′ area above the door.

As you can see in the top photo, when the last strip of wallpaper came to meet up with the first strip, the pattern wasn’t going to match.

I didn’t want to have flowers cut abruptly in half vertically. So I decided to do some double cutting – a paperhangers’ term for splicing.

By cutting along the flowers in the design, I knew I could prevent an abruptly cut off flower. I padded behind the strips to protect the wall from being scored. Then I overlapped the new strip onto the first strip.

Then I took a sharp new razor blade and used it to cut along the motifs, pressing hard enough to cut through two layers of paper – but not cut into the padding and definintely not into the wall behind it all.

Once the excess paper was removed and the strips smoothed back into place, the seam is flat and smooth, and you could never tell that the designs is a marriage of two sets of motifs.

’70’s Retro Flower Power

December 9, 2020

Here is a home where people are not scared of color, nor of pattern …. What a fun switch from drab to dramatic – with a little groovy tossed in!

The wallpaper is by Sanderson, a British company. Unlike most modern British papers which are of non-woven material, this was printed on a pulp substrate, and the surface felt like vinyl. Once wet with paste, it was fairly flimsy and prone to tear while being trimmed with a razor blade. Once dry, it will be a bit more durable.

This was a small, cramped powder room. It was super appreciated that the homeowners had removed the sink before I started work, so it was much easier to hang paper on that wall.

The home is in the Montrose area of inner loop Houston.