Posts Tagged ‘razor blade’

Clever Wine Crate Pattern for Outside a Wine Room

July 24, 2019


In the top picture, out of sight to the right is a walk-in wine room. The homeowner has loved this pattern for years, and finally found a place to put it – right adjacent to the wine room!

The wine case pattern is by Brunschwig and Fils. Unlike the other papers by B&F that I have hung, this one is a vinyl, with a slightly embossed surface (the lines between the boxes are slightly indented). It has a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand. Unlike most hand-trimmed papers, this one had no trim guide marks, so I had to wing it on where to place my straightedge.

The paper backing soaked up paste quickly, and each strip was nearly dried out by the end of the booking time, so I ended up rolling a little paste on the wall where the seams would fall, to augment. Once it was on the wall, the paper adhered nicely.

The floor was unlevel, and so the paper ran crooked along top of it, making it look like the bottom row of boxes was running downhill. To level out this bottom line, I used my straightedge and a razor blade to cut off the bottom “boards” along the black line. I trimmed the strip to 1/2″ high. See 4th photo. I used a piece of artist’s chalk to color the cut edge, so white would not show along the top.

Then I appliquéd the strip over the bottom of the paper on the wall, butting it up against the baseboard. Wallpaper paste won’t stick to vinyl (it’s too slick), so I used special adhesive on the area of the overlap.

In the bottom photo, you can see how nice and even the bottom line looks.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Faking Perfection

July 20, 2019


Even though I carefully centered this trellis pattern on the dining room wall, due to the pattern being a teensy bit off-center on the strip, by the time it reached the right and left corners, the pattern was a tad off. Meaning that the dark vertical elements in this trellis design were about 3/8″ wide on the left side of the wall. But on the right side, the mirror-image elements were no more than 1/8″ wide, and tapered off to nothing at the top of the wall, due to a bow in the wall.

In the top photo, if you look at the bottom right corner, next to my ladder, you can see the difference in width of the vertical lines compared to those at the top of the wall, and at the left side of the room.

If the design had hit the corners in the curved parts of the trellis, no one would have noticed any slight difference in width. But since the pattern landed on a vertical motif that the eye expected to be 3/8″ wide, the right wall with it’s narrower or non-existent vertical motif was kinda noticeable. At least to me.

So I used my straightedge and a razor blade to cut some 3/8″ wide vertical strips. I then pasted these onto the appropriate place in the design. This made the Moroccan “lanterns” look a little narrower than they were supposed to be. But that is not nearly as noticeable as maintaining the width of those vertical strips at the left edge of the wall. See last photo.

I have done this with paper many times. But I was a little nervous trying this trick with a 3-D stringcloth material, because I feared the thickness of the overlay would be eye-catching. I also worried that the adhesive would not adhere to the strings.

But everything worked out nicely. The appliqués stuck without argument, and you really couldn’t notice the thickness of those tiny patches.

All this tweaking took about an extra 45 minutes. I think it was well worth it.

Brunschwig & Fils’s Biblioteque in a Heights Library

July 14, 2019


Another installer hung the paper in the first photo. For some unknown reason, two half-walls were left unpapered. I was called in to finish those two areas.

Brunschwig & Fils is a French manufacturer, with a long history. Like many higher-end brands, this product came with a selvedge edge that I had to trim off by hand (see last photo), using a razor blade and a 6′ long straight edge (not shown).

And, like many higher-end brand papers that are printed with ink that smells like mothballs, once paste is applied to the back of the paper, the inked surface absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the back side. When the top inked layer expands at a different rate from the substrate, you get waffling, or quilting. Sorry, no photo, but you can do a Search here to see previous blogs on this topic. Essentially, it’s a wrinkly mess.

One way to deal with this is to even out the moisture differential by lightly sponging water onto the face (inked side) of the wallpaper. The front can then absorb moisture from the sponging at the same time that the substrate is absorbing moisture from the paste.

As I worked with the paper, I discovered that it wanted to dry out quickly. So it helped a lot to also use a sponge to get a little moisture onto the back side of the wallpaper strip, before pasting.

Other tricks to slow drying out are to 1.) Book the paper (fold pasted side to pasted side and then roll up loosely like a newspaper) and then dunk the ends into a bucket of clean water. 2.) Place the booked strip into a black trash bag, which will prevent evaporation during the time the paper books. 3.) When the wait time is up, gently unbook the paper and lightly spritz the back with clean water from a spray bottle. Alternately, you could sponge the surface once again. The idea is to introduce a little more moisture, to loosen up the paste and to make the paper more malleable.

I had been told that this paper was difficult to work with, and that the seams wanted to curl. I had the opposite experience – I thought it was lovely to work with. The seams laid nice and flat, and the paper was easy to manipulate, and it clung tightly to the wall. Applying moisture to the surface and back got rid of the waffling, and any that did remain (there were small puckers in the white horizontal “shelf board” areas) disappeared as the wallpaper dried.

This home is in the Houston Heights neighborhood, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

Fudging The Pattern To Make It Look Like It Matches

June 15, 2019


Top photo – this wallpaper has a subtle stripe pattern formed by vertical blocks of squares. As I mentioned in the previous post (below), I centered the white stripe pattern on each wall. And that meant that as the wallpaper moved its way across the wall and up over the doorways, the squares making up the pattern would be out of sequence as they met in the center over the doors, resulting in a pattern mis-match.

To further complicate things, I felt the room would look better with the white stripe also centered over each doorway and window.

My challenges were to:

~ Keep the squares positioned so the horizontal lines of the pieces over the doors aligned with the horizontal lines on the full-height strips to either side. That was harder than it sounds, because on two of the doorways, the center point where I started was 6′ away from the target I was trying to line up with. In some cases, I trimmed the edge of a doorway header strip every so slightly at a diagonal, so as to move that top line of the square up or down, so it would match up with the target line.

~ Keep the pattern inside the squares looking like they were following the original sequence. In other words, I didn’t want a tan square to land abruptly next to a white square. All those squares had to ease into one another. The pattern was a bit forgiving, because the squares were of varying widths, so the eye wouldn’t notice if some were wider or narrower than originally printed. So I used a straightedge and razor blade to cut some of the header strips apart vertically, eliminating tan or white squares as needed. I could also cut some additional squares and insert them in between strips.

If this were a thin paper-paper, I could have simply trimmed along a vertical line and then overlapped the two pieces. But this non-woven material is thick, and an overlap would show, probably even from 9′ up and over the door moldings. So I used a double-cut (splice) technique.

In the photo, you see the opening I am trying to bridge. In the next photo, I have positioned a piece of paper so that it lines up with the horizontal lines on both the left and right. This piece overlaps an inch or two onto the strip to the right. You can just barely see a bit of the blue plastic tape I am using to keep paste off the piece that it is overlapping.

Now it’s time to make the double-cut. I have placed a strip of polystyrene plastic on the wall under where my splice will take place. This will prevent my razor blade from scoring into the wall surface below. This is important, because an un-intact wall surface may give way when the tension from drying / shrinking wallpaper tugs on it, causing a popped seam.

I found a spot among the vertical lines where I could have the spacing between lines and squares look similar to the natural rhythm of the design. Using a straightedge and new razor blade, I cut vertically through both layers of wallpaper. In the photo, you see the excess paper of the top piece, along with its protective blue plastic, falling away.

Not shown is removal of the excess piece from the strip of paper on the bottom, and also removal of the polystyrene padding strip. The blue tape was also pulled away.

The last shot shows the area over the door after the spliced pieces were smoothed back into place. Perfect!

Nobody would guess that the pattern is a tad out of sequence.

And, yes, all this takes engineering, concentration, and time. There were five sections over the doors and windows, each only 13″ high. I spent more than six hours on just these five sections.

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.

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

Digital Image


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.