Posts Tagged ‘repair’

Wallpaper Repair – Always Save Your Leftovers

May 3, 2018

Here is damage to a wall behind a mirror in the powder room of a home in the Champions Forest neighborhood of northwest Houston.

Explaining this repair in detail would be pretty difficult, mostly due to how the original installer fiddled with the pattern to make it fit an odd space, and to what I had to do to work around that.

But the most important thing is that the homeowner saved all the wallpaper left over from the original installation back in the ’90’s, so I had what I needed to do this repair.

If you look closely, you might see some pattern mis-matches. But these are minimal because of some tricks I played, and because the pattern was forgiving. The mirror will cover everything, so any irregularities will be hidden.

But the bottom 3″ or so running along the backsplash and visible under the mirror are intact, so will look good when the mirror is replaced. This wall will also look good if a different mirror is used in the future.

Grasscloth Repair

March 18, 2018

These homeowners in the Rice Village area of Houston suffered a window leak during Hurricane Harvey. Water stained the seam between two strips of grasscloth. Both strips had to be removed and replaced.

The strip to the left worked it’s way around the window and over the top. To replace this entire strip would have used an 8′ length of paper, and required removing the window valance. I wanted to use shorter scraps left from the original install, and also sure didn’t want to mess with taking down the curtains.

The grass portion pulled off easily, leaving the paper backing on the wall. I used a sponge and bucket of water to wet this backing, which reactivated the paste, and the backing came off easily, with no damage to the wall. (2nd photo)

I cut the grasscloth horizontally just to the left of the window sill. That way, I only had to replace the bottom portion. I pulled off a few of the strands of grass, leaving the black paper backing on the wall. (3rd photo)

Then I cut a new strip and placed it on the wall, and trimmed along the top of one strand of grass, so that it laid over the black paper backing on the wall, and met up with the other grass strands on the upper portion of the wall. (4th photo)

Except for a teeny extra thickness due to the black paper underneath, the join is invisible. (5th photo) At the factory, the grass fibers are held to the backing by sewing them in place with thread. There are a few loose threads where the material was cut, but that’s just going to happen, and it’s barely noticeable.

A Small Repair Today – Plumbing Issue

March 15, 2018

This couple had water damage from Hurricane Harvey, and I repapered their powder room a month or two ago. Well, recently a pipe burst, and, long story short, they had to replumb the whole house. To run the new pipes, the plumbers had to cut holes in the drywall.

The top photo shows where the plumber patched a hole with a scrap of drywall. He left some irregular areas and rough edges that would show under the wallpaper. So I skim-floated over these areas and then sanded smooth, as you see in the second photo.

There was precious little paper left, so a patch was called for (rather than replacing the whole wall). From leftover paper that matched the pattern around the drywall patch, I cut along the pattern design (third photo). This would be less visible than if I cut a square patch with straight edges.

Once I put the patch into place, lining it up with the pattern on the wall, the repair was invisible. (The gap at the bottom will be caulked.)

Prepping for a Repair Job Today

May 10, 2017

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This 1930 home just south of Houston’s Medical Center was being rewired, and the electricians drilled pilot holes into the wall in the room behind this room – and straight through the wall into this bathroom. Two smallish holes, but they totally ruined the wallpaper in this area. Top photo.

Luckily, this strip was next to a corner, so only this one strip had to be replaced. Which is a lot less complicated than dealing with multiple strips.

Also lucky is that the homeowners had saved the left over paper from when I hung it several years ago.

When I started stripping the wallpaper from the wall, it took chunks of the primer along with it. This surprised me, because that type of paper usually strips off relatively easily, and the primer I used usually holds nice and tight to the wall I think this is due to whatever paint or other treatment the contractors put on the wall before I got there. At any rate, the wall was left with jagged and uneven areas. Second photo.

Because the paper was heavily textured, it would probably have been possible to seal the damaged wall and hang the replacement paper over it with none of the uneven areas telegraphing through.

But I just couldn’t let myself do that.  I wanted the surface to be smooth and sound.  So I did a very light skim-float over the wall to smooth it. This added a lot more time, because I had to wait for the compound to dry, and then for the penetrating sealer / primer (Gardz) I applied to dry, also. But I felt better about the surface once these steps were done.

The last photo shows the finished wall – along with a few of my measurements and figures. Note that they are carefully written in pencil, because it’s about the only writing material that will not bleed through wallpaper.

Sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of the finished wall. But it turned out great.

This wallpaper is a textured vinyl product that is a wonderful alternative to real grasscloth, because it has none of the shading, paneling, color variations or staining problems of the real stuff.  This product is by Warner, but it is the exact same product as one I have done many times, called Bankin Raffia, by Thibaut.  This one did appear to have a slightly different backing than the Thibaut product, however.  I prefer the Thibaut.  You can Search here to see other jobs I have done with this very fine product.

Patch Job Today

January 16, 2016
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This is on the landing on a staircase, which someone fell down after a little too much holiday cheer 😉 , and put a sizeable hole in the wall. The homeowners had a guy come replace the damaged Sheetrock and tape and float. He supposedly used 20-minute mud, which is supposed to dry quickly. But when I showed up the next day, the patch was still very wet, as you can see in the top photo. The grey color means it’s still wet – there are also shadows from the banister in the photo.

For some reason, this patch took a long time to dry – several days. I went back about a month later, and it was ready to go. In the second photo, you can see that the compound he used is not quite smooth. His 20-minute mud is harder to sand than the regular mud I use (it’s really called joint compound). So I skim-floated a very thin layer over the top, dried it quickly with a heat gun, sanded smooth, primed with Gardz, dried that with the heat gun, and then did the wallpaper patch.

It would have been less noticeable to redo the whole strip, from floor to ceiling, but there was not enough left over wallpaper. So I trimmed the top of the paper at a 90* angle / horizontal, and trimmed off the 1/4″ narrow strip of white along one side, then appliquéd the piece over the patched area.

One issue is that wallpaper absorbs moisture from the paste and expands, and my patch expanded less than the original piece. That means that the stripes did not line up perfectly. Lining the tan stripe up on the left with the tan stripe on the paper below caused the stripes to the right to be just a tad off, but it was noticeable. So we decided to line up the center stripes, which meant that the stripes on either side were still off, but the difference was divided between the right and left sides, so it was less noticeable.

The other thing is that, because the patch was appliquéd over the top of the original paper, there is a slight difference in height, and you can see the top edge of the patch (last photo). This will minimize a little as the paper dries and shrinks.

It’s good that the homeowners saved their left over wallpaper, so this unexpected accident could be repaired. Much more economical than replacing all the wallpaper in the entry and hall, upstairs and down.

Yes, Virginia, Run Number Matters

September 15, 2014

Digital ImageI was called to do a repair (dog ate the wallpaper) on a dining room I hung about a year ago. There wasn’t enough left over paper to replace the strip, so the homeowner had to order new paper. Since time had gone by, it was not possible to get the same run number.

A run, or batch, number refers to all the bolts of wallpaper that were printed at the same time. The next time they mix up a batch of ink and print wallpaper, it’s likely the color won’t be exactly the same. So it’s important to buy paper that is all the same run number. If not, there will be noticeable color differences between strips on your walls. Not good.

Look at the photo. The darker element on the paper at the top is an aqua color. On the strip below, the color is more of a sage green.

If you can’t get enough paper all in the same run to do the whole room, it’s OK to “break” the run in a corner, because your eye won’t notice the slight color difference, because lights hits each wall differently and changes the color a little. But know that you will also have to buy extra paper, when working with two different runs.

Wallpaper Repair Today

September 14, 2014

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Digital ImageI hung this popular David Hicks hexagon pattern not quite a year ago. The other day, the homeowner e-mailed and told me their dog had chewed up a corner of the wallpaper. Boy, did he! … and he clawed a gouge in the Sheetrock, and ripped off another strip of paper in another room.

Once I got the wall damage repaired, the wallpaper was a fairly easy fix. I stripped off the lower 2′ of paper, making sure to cut around the zig-zaggy black geometric figures. I then cut a new piece of wallpaper to the right length, and trimmed the top around the design, so that the new piece would overlap the existing piece just along the “WWWW” in the design. This way, the overlap was only a 1/4″ wide horizontal zig-zag, instead of a vertical overlap along the entire length of the new piece.

Before applying the new piece, I used a black marker to color the thin top edge of the paper, along the black motifs, so the eye would not be caught by the white edge of the paper.

As you can see, it turned out pretty darned well!

This wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, a British company, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Repairing Grasscloth

July 27, 2014

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Digital ImagePets can be Hell on grasscloth. I hung this paper in an entry just a few months ago, and then this week got the call that it had been damaged. While grasscloth is different from more typical wallpapers, it can be repaired without having to replace the entire wall. Here’s what I did:

The damage was only a foot or so off the floor, so I only replaced the lower 12″ of the strip. I cut a horizontal line the width of the strip, and removed everything below that line. To do that, the woven grass layer had to be pulled off, then the brown colored layer had to come off, because water won’t penetrate through it.

Once that layer was off, a wet sponge was used to soak the remaining backing (the tan layer). The water reactivated the paste, and once all that was good and wet, it was easy to scrape, or even simply pull it off the wall. Note that my primer underneath (the white layer) is key to being able to remove wallpaper (and lots of other reasons why a primer should always be used).

Then I removed a few of the grass fibers, leaving a thin horizontal strip of the brown colored paper on the wall. This gives me a thin layer to place the new paper on – putting the new paper over the coarse grass fibers would result in a thick, very visible line / ridge at the point of overlap. Leaving the brown paper on the wall eliminates the possibility of the white wall peeping through.

I cut my new piece of grasscloth, but instead of cutting it straight across at the top, I followed the curvy line of the grass fibers. This is one of the secretes that make the patch invisible.

The new piece was pasted, booked (let to rest and expand), then placed on the wall, with the curvy cut edge overlapping the horizontal brown strip of paper. In this case, a little extra adhesive was needed to get the edge to adhere tightly.

If it’s not possible to get a good looking splice because of uneven grass fibers, it’s possible to take a few strands and glue them in void spaces, to the woven fiber look is uniform.

In the last photo – Pet damage? What pet damage?! 🙂

Wallpaper Repair Behind a Toilet

March 5, 2014

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Digital ImageSome renovations were being done in this home in the Museum District, and the toilet was removed. The toilet tank had sat very tight to the wall, so the previous wallpaper installer was not able to get wallpaper behind the toilet. Instead, he cut around it, leaving a blank space behind the tank. Not a big deal at all, it happens from time to time. But once the toilet was removed, the homeowner did not like the idea of the empty wall back there. I failed to get a shot, sorry.

I was called in to patch the spot. I originally planned to replace a short, full-width strip, from the seam to the right of the toilet to the corner on the left, because all that would be potentially visible would be a horizontal splice about 14″ above the floor, and maybe a slight color difference between the paper on the wall and the paper that had been rolled up in storage for many years.

But after studying the situation, I decided to make the patch as small as possible. I could hide the splice better if I didn’t go all the way to the corner and instead kept it close to the toilet. This would also minimize any difference in pattern match, due to different expansion of the material, between what I installed and what the previous guy installed. (Different methods, different pastes, might mean different amounts of swelling / expanding.)

What I did was strip off the old original paper (a blue vinyl paper, installed before the other guy put up the tan ship yard paper). This was harder than I expected, because the original guy had not primed the wall, and when wallpaper is stuck directly to the Sheetrock, it can be VERY difficult to get off. I also removed the curled, un-stuck parts of the tan ship paper. I primed with Gardz, a good sealer for Sheetrock, and used a heat gun to dry everything quickly.

Then I cut a fresh piece of paper, matching the pattern, a little bigger than the section I had removed. I pasted it, booked it (let it sit a few minutes), and then put it over the area. Then I took a straight edge and a new razor blade and cut around the patch, just a little inside the edge.

I removed the outside area, then carefully lifted the new patch away from the wall, and removed the overcut area on the paper on the wall. Once that was removed, the new patch fit into place invisibly.

Repairs I Made This Past Week

April 29, 2011

In my last post, I mentioned that people should save leftover paper in the event that they may need to have wallpaper repaired down the road.

This past week, I did just that – and did a darned good job of it, too, if I do say so myself!

The homeowners had had foundation work done, and this caused the usual diagonal cracks above doorways, and twisting / shifting of the paper in corners.

This was a heavy, woven fabric-backed, solid vinyl paper that had been up for quite a few years. For some reason, only very small scraps were left over from the original installation. Nonetheless, “some” is better than “none,” and, with careful plotting and patience, I was able to make the repairs.

Two diagonal rips above the doors were easy to fix, by peeling back and repasting the paper, or by removing damaged pieces and patching in small replacements.

The corners were another story, though. The damaged areas needed to be removed, then retaped and floated with Sheetrock tape and mud, sanded, primed, and repapered.

The kicker was that the length of the repair was 8 feet – the height of the wall. But the scraps of wallpaper that were left from the original installation were less than a foot tall. Once the pattern was matched and the excess discarded, the scraps were even smaller.

So, to repair the 8 foot tall area and match the pattern correctly, I needed to use 13 short pieces of replacement paper. THIRTEEN!

It turned out looking great.

So great, in fact, that the homeowners began looking around the room to find other corners I could fix.

Whoah, I said. We only talked about fixing these two places above the doors, and this one really bad corner. Besides, I have used all the scraps, and there is no paper left over for more repairs.

But they were so delighted with the repair, and so desireous of having one other (less noticeable) corner in the room fixed, that they began digging through all the closets to find if surely there weren’t just a tad more paper somewhere.

And there was! The wife finally uncovered more miniscual scraps… this time, instead of being short scraps the full width of the roll of paper, they were long scraps only about 2″ – 4″ wide. Not much to work with!

But, intrigued by this new challenge, I set about plotting, measuring, matching, splicing, and scheming, and – Voilà! – There just happened to be two pieces with just the right pattern match, that could be spliced together in the corner to make an almost indetectable repair.

The homeowners loved it! And I have to say, even though the bathroom and entry I papered in the home turned out lovely, I am almost more proud of those repairs.