Posts Tagged ‘roman’

Milton & King Travelers Palm in Heights ( Houston ) Entry / Foyer

May 20, 2022
It’s hard to get a shot of this room, but here we are, looking from the family area through the entry vestibule toward the front door.
The sliding barn door on the right leads to the husband’s home office.
Here the walls are primed with my favorite Pro 977 Ultra Prime by Roman, and ready for wallpaper.
Paper’s up! Lighting and shadows are playing across the walls in some areas.

Opposite wall, west wall, primed and ready for wallpaper.
Done!
An interesting focal point in this room is this set of 100+ year old doors, reclaimed from a building in Arizona. The homeowner tells me that the door has been preserved from rot by the dry / arid climate in that state.
The dealer stripped the doors of years of paint and stain, and shipped them in their most “raw” state.
The doors were then fitted onto a track and hung to slide back and forth over the opening to the home office.
I love the way the weathered wood coordinates in color and texture with the wallpaper pattern.
It took a lot of measuring, trimming, engineering, and plotting to get the pattern so it aligned inside these two wall panels as if the pattern were continuing from the area outside the panels.
Close-up of the wallpaper design.
This material by Milton & King comes as a 2-roll set, consisting of one “A” roll and one “B” roll.
This entryway took four of the 2-roll sets.
Due to logistics, more strips from the “A” bolt were used than from the “B” roll.
Another reminder to always buy a little extra paper.

Milton & King makes some mighty fun wallpaper patterns. Visit their website!
The material is a washable vinyl on a soft and flexible non-woven substrate.
The material goes up on the wall like a dream, flexible and manipulable (is that a real word??!) and with seams that are invisible. When it’s time to redecorate, this non-woven material is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece, with minimal / no damage to the wall.

Stuff Doesn’t Wanna Stick To Slick

March 23, 2022
Tomorrow this breakfast area wall will get wallpaper. Today is prep day.
The wall has a very heavy texture, plus some issues with previous patches in areas, probably due to drywall cracks. I need to skim-float over all this to smooth the surface.
In addition, the current paint is quite glossy – and this can present a problem for the smoothing compound to adhere to it properly.
So I want to prime over this gloss paint before I skim-coat the walls. The primer has to both stick to the gloss paint and provide a base that the smoothing compound will adhere to.
Another issue is that I won’t be using this every day, so keeping it shaken up and useable was a consideration. I looked high and low for an appropriate primer. Finally I snapped that the Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 that I use under my wallpaper jobs checks off all the boxes … It sticks to just about anything, and it dries nice and flat / matt so any topcoat (wallpaper or smoothing compound) can grab ahold and stick, I have it in my van all the time, and I use it frequently enough that it’s always mixed up and ready to use. To top it all off, it dries in less than an hour. VoilĂ !
This stuff can be tricky to find. Sherwin-Williams used to stock it for me, but became unreliable. Now Murphy Brothers on Bissonnet (Houston) gets it just for me.
Besides dropcloths on the floor, here I’ve tacked strips of thin paper dropcloth material along the wainscoting (I also do this along baseboards) to keep any drops or roller splatters from marring the homeowners’ floor and moldings.
Here it is applied. Since my goal is to cover and eliminate the glossy paint, and then provide a base for the smoothing compound, this coat doesn’t need to be opaque or cover the wall evenly.
Tomorrow we’ll see how the wallpaper turns out!
Fast-forward … I’ve floated the wall and sanded it smooth. Compare the smoothness to the “before” picture at the top.

The Big Easy On The Walls

March 5, 2022
West wall smoothed, primed, and ready for wallpaper.
The homeowner used to live in New Orleans, and she tells me that signs like this are very common in local convenience stores and neighborhood dives. Transplanted to Houston, these signs are very dear to her heart as a reminder of her roots – and the funky lifestyle in the Big Easy.
She wanted the signs recreated somehow to cover the walls in their newly-renovated powder room in the Houston Heights. I suggested she contact rebelwalls.com , who custom made the paper and sized it specifically to fit each wall in the room individually. I measured and made drawings, and a designer named Simon at RebelWalls laid it all out.
North wall before. This is the wall with the toilet and sink.
There were a couple of glitches, the first being that the strips were printed about 10″ longer than I requested. No biggie – I’d rather have too much paper than come up short.
But the main glitch being that I had asked for this “sign” to be centered over the toilet, which meant that the center of the sign (I used the middle fleur-de-lis) would land at 17.5″ from the wall to the left. But somehow it got printed to where the left edge of the pattern was 17.5″ from the wall … That left a whole lot of white space between the wall and the design, and also pushed the words too close to the mirror, which will hang over the sink to the right.
After careful measuring, calculating, and testing, I determined that if I used my straightedge and razor blade to take off a 12″ wide slice from the left side, the “sign” would move to the left such that its center would fall over the mid-point of the toilet.
VoilĂ ! As you see in the photo, now the words are nicely balanced on this section of wall, and will not crowd the mirror which will be hung to the right.
The rest of the wallpaper moving to the right is unprinted, so as to leave a blank slate for the mirror to hang on. Here you see that wall, and also the wall to its right. This east wall has the same sign, but in a smaller scale, sized to fit the narrower wall. It’s also placed at a different height
Graphic designer Simon used my drawings and measurements to get the words nicely centered on this wall. The area above the door to the right (not visible) is left blank.
Here is the west wall (on the right) abutting the south / window wall.
The bull-nosed / rounded edges / corners such as you see around the window are really a pain with wallpaper, especially when they go both around the sides and the top, and can lead to some impossibilities. Too complicated to get into here. But I was pleased with the way this worked out. And the placement of the pleated shades toward the front of the opening helped a lot, too.
One interesting thing to note is that the thickness of this non-woven wallcovering (along with the joint compound I used to smooth the textured wall) is enough that it narrows the space inside the window just a tad,,, and that makes it a bit tight for the shades to fit back in,,, and that opens the potential for abrading the wallpaper as the shade is raised and lowered over time.
Another point … even though the widths of the wall spaces to be covered were different, we requested that the size of the font on the “sign” lettering be the same on the west wall and the north / mirror wall, and ditto for the window wall and the door wall.
I also made sure that the “signs” started at the same distance from the ceiling. This then ensured that each “sign” would land at the same distance from the tile below it.
Synchronizing the size of the fonts as well as the spacing between ceiling and tile helps immensely to lend a feeling of unity and order to this room.
I spent a full 2 1/2 hours plotting, measuring, testing mock-ups, and going back to the drawing board, before I ever cut any paper.
Prior to that, there were two visits to the home to get measurements and kick around options with the homeowner. In addition, she spent countless communications with the manufacturer and with our specific designer.
All this futzing is important, because, with murals, there is no second chance. There’s only one of each panel, and if one gets screwed up, there are no more to pull off the bolt, like you’d have with regular rolled goods.
RebelWalls is the manufacturer. I’ve had lots of great installs with this company.
What was inside our box, including Simon’s dimensions and lay-out.
Basic installation instructions. Ours was a bit – a whole lot – more complicated, because it covered not one but four walls. In our case, it worked best to have each wall be a separate mural, so to speak.
RebelWalls includes free wallpaper paste. I prefer to use my own pre-mixed vinyl adhesive, which is SureStik Dynomite 780. Recently bought by Roman, so the name has changed to just 780.
Certain pastes have been known to ” stain ” non-woven wallpapers (areas look wet but never dry out). I think that a high moisture content in the paste has a lot to do with this. So I’m hesitant to use a powdered paste that needs to be mixed with water.
I’ll squirrel away that RebelWalls powdered paste for another, better suited job. For this home’s install, I’m sticking with my tried and true 780.
A coupla more notes.
One, this project was a study in vision, desire, anticipation, and patience. The homeowner first contacted me in July 2021. It took nearly eight months to come to fruition. Granted, they had a whole kitchen remodel in the middle, which also included an update to this powder room. But just speaking for the wallpaper, there were several site visits, many emails, and then innumerable communications with the design team at RW.
In fact, since I’ve hung lots of RebelWalls and am familiar with their process, I thought I could lay out the design. But this project of separate “sign” motifs for each wall section was taxing my skill set. Finally I laid down my pencil and paper and said, “Stop doing what you yell at your clients for doing, which is trying to do something you don’t have expertise in! RebelWalls has designers who are trained to figure all this out. So let THEM do the math and placement and calculating and layout.” So we turned it over to them, and within a short time they had it all worked out perfectly (except for those few glitches I mentioned). Their customer service was amazing.
All this was crucial to ensuring that mural pieces fit the wall perfectly and that the final product looks stunning.
I also want to mention that the RebelWalls quality is excellent. It’s a non-woven material which has many advantages (too numerous to go into here, but you can Search). The seams melt together like butter and are invisible – even on areas with all that bare white space with no pattern. On a simple accent wall, you can paste-the-wall to hang it. In this (and most) cases, I pasted-the-material, which gives more flexibility and also ensures that paste gets into hard-to-reach areas – like behind a toilet.
In addition, the non-woven material is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate.
The company offers scores of patterns, from cute to sophisticated, and, as we did this time around, can make custom creations.
Super customer service, too.

lottery , money order , checks cashed , household supplies

Smoothing a Textured Wall, Continued

March 3, 2022
Continuing from yesterday’s post … The smoothing compound has dried and I’m ready to sand it smooth. This photo gives an idea of what needs to be sanded down. Some areas, such as around electrical outlets, are more irregular and have more raised areas to be sanded down.
Before I get to the sanding, a 3″ stiff putty knife comes in handy for scraping down high areas.
For decades, contractors wrapped sandpaper around a wooden block and used that to sand walls. Then, about 25 years ago, some genius invented these sanding sponges. They’re soft, flexible, easy-to-hold blocks covered with sanding fibers of various grits. They have angles that aid getting into various corners. I find that the edges can be a bit “pointy” and can gouge into the surface, so I often use a scissors to cut off the corners, as you see in all but the one on the far left.
Held against the actual wall.
Don’t forget a dust mask, to prevent inhaling the fine particles. And, yes, this is an N-95 … The same mask that protects us from ingesting the COVID 19 virus also protects the lungs of us home improvement contractors.
Manufacturers have done a good job of creating joint compound whose dust settles to the floor, rather than going air-borne and sifting all around the room. Still, it’s best to take measures to keep dust out of the rest of the home. Here I’ve hung a sheet of painter’s plastic across the wall, to contain sanding dust.
Once I’m done sanding, I’ll use my Shop Vac to clean up the mess, removing dust from both the floor and the walls.
It’s crucial that all dust be removed from the wall. If not, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper (or paint) will kinda stick – but not really stick. Vacuuming the wall will not remove all dust. The only way to remove all residual dust is to wipe it off the wall with a damp sponge.
Look at how much dust has accumulated on the sponge after only a few swipes.
The sponge needs to be rinsed clean frequently. Once I’m done, I’ll dump this bucket of dusty water down the toilet (not the sink).
Swipes from the damp sponge will leave wet marks on the wall. These need to dry before moving to the priming step, so as not to trap moisture within the wall surface.
Here I’m rolling on my favorite wallpaper primer, Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have my paint store guys add just a bit of blue tint, to help me see where I’ve rolled it on. The short angled brush is for cutting the paint in around corners and edges.
I’ve tacked strips of dropcloth along the top of the baseboards, to prevent splatters.
Finished wall, nice and smooth, primed, and ready for wallpaper.

Starting to Smooth a Textured Wall

March 2, 2022
This is a typical wall texture provided by many builders of new tract homes in the suburbs of Houston.
Wallpaper doesn’t look good hung over this texture, because the bumps will show through. And the high-and-low ridges and dips interfere with good adhesion to the wall. So this accent wall will need to be skim-floated to smooth it before the wallpaper can go up.
In addition, this wall started out with a semi-gloss paint. I worry about my materials being able to stick to a glossy surface.
So, before applying the smoothing compound, I am priming the wall with something that will stick to the gloss paint, as well as provide a matt finish for the smoothing compound to adhere to.
I’ve discovered that my favorite wallpaper primer also works great for this purpose. It sticks to just about anything, and dries almost dead-flat. I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.
I use a trowel (top) to spread on the smoothing compound. The 3″ stiff putty knife is used to knock off big-ish chunks on the wall, or bits of grit. I use the 1 1/2″ flexible putty knife to apply the smoothing compound in tight spots like around electrical outlets or between a door molding and a wall corner.
The smoothing compound I use is drywall joint compound, and I like the Sheetrock brand Plus 3 version. Search hear (upper right) to see previous posts with photos of this material.
Bottom of photo – trowel sticking to the wall shows you just how tacky this stuff is. Above that are blobs of the smoothing compound waiting to be spread around, and a little bit on the left initially smoothed onto the wall. At the top of the wall you see a section that I have already covered with the smoothing compound. This will dry overnight, and I will sand it smooth tomorrow.
Sometimes I can float a wall, get it to dry, sand it smooth, prime, and hang the paper all in one day. But this texture is so heavy that more time is required for it to dry, so it will need an overnight sit. Some fans, plus the home’s heat and/or air conditioning help to pull moisture out of the smoothing compound and hasten dry time.

Rebel Walls Gives You Paste

February 24, 2022
I carry 5-gallon buckets of wallpaper paste in my van. But to make it easy for DIY’ers, rebelwalls.com includes a box of paste with every order. This is powdered paste that needs to be mixed with water. This may be lightweight and easy to ship, but I don’t like to use it when hanging a non-woven material like theirs.
Non-wovens are prone to staining and blushing (look like they’re wet but never dry out) . Most often this is caused by the paste – usually a paste that is too “wet” or, in other words, has a high moisture content. Roman 880 is notorious for this, as is Dynomite (now Roman) 234.
But a paste that you make by mixing powder into water seems even more risky for having a high water content, and causing staining. And so is the practice of dampening the back of the paper with a damp sponge, or a spritz of water from a squirt bottle. In my mind, too much water / moisture = risk of staining or blushing.
I say, skip the anxiety and use a low-moisture pre-mixed vinyl adhesive such as Roman 838 or Dynomite 780 (also now made by Roman). Clay pastes are also known for low water content – but I definitely do not recommend on a non-woven material, as I’ve seen the red clay bleed through far too many wallpaper surfaces.

Disguising a Plumbing Access Door

February 1, 2022
This is the trap door that leads to the plumbing for the tub on the other side of the wall. The homeowner didn’t like the big white blob in the middle of the wall. Wallpaper won’t stick to enamel or gloss surfaces, so I coated it with my Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime primer.
Even with the contoured molding uncovered, this door now blends into the wall much better.

Fixing Drywall Damage From Where Vanity Was Removed

January 20, 2022
The powder room in this 1990’s home in the Houston Heights is being updated, and that means replacing the wall-to-wall vanity. Here the vanity has been ripped out. The areas where the backsplash was adhered to the wall have pulled the top surface of the drywall off. In addition, the plumber had to cut out a section of drywall in order to gain access to the pipes, so he can install the new faucet and handles. You can see the connections roughed in.
You can’t hang wallpaper over this mess. First of all, it way too uneven – all those bumps will show under the new wallpaper. And the outline of the ” trapdoor ” will leave a big square ridge under the paper. Thankfully, the plumber secured the panel with drywall screws – most plumbers just leave you with a chunk of drywall floating in space, or even just an empty hole.
Back to patching issues … in addition, the torn areas of drywall will absorb moisture from the wallpaper primer and / or paste and expand, creating bubbles that will show under the new paper.
I needed to fill in dips and gouges, even out high areas, and prevent bubbling drywall.
Gardz by Zinsser to the rescue! This is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and then dries hard, binding them together and creating a stable surface, as well as resisting moisture from water-based top coatings.
This picture doesn’t look much different, but here the torn drywall is a little darker, indicating that the Gardz has soaked in and dried. The surface is now ready for a skim-coat.
But first, the trap door needs to be addressed. I covered the cut areas with four strips of self-adhesive mesh drywall tape (no photo).
Then I went over everything (wall to wall) with joint compound (commonly referred to as mud ) (no photo).
Because of the thickness of the high and low areas, this had to be a thick coat of smoothing compound, and would take a long time to dry. So I went to the jobsite two days ahead of our install date, to do these initial repairs.
And – no – you can’t use quick set or hot mud or 5 or 20 minute mud to do these repairs. These products are intended for repairs of small areas. Top coatings like primers, paint, and wallpaper paste do not stick well to them. Don’t let a contractor sweet-talk you into letting him use any of these to smooth a large area of wall.
Here is the wall after my first, heavy, coat of smoothing compound. I use Sheetrock brand’s Plus 3.
The bubbles you see just left of center show that Gardz didn’t 100% do its job of sealing out moisture, as a little expansion and blistering has occurred. Not a biggie. These will disappear when the surface is sanded. There is usually not a problem with these re-appearing.
When I got to work two days later, the smoothing compound had dried. I sanded pretty smooth. Then vacuumed up the dust on the floor, and then used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This is important, because no coating will stick to dust.
The wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth, so I did another skim-coat. This was much thinner, so didn’t need a lot of time to dry. I used a fan and my heat gun to speed things along.
Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, vacuumed and then wiped off all dust. Then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have the paint store (Murphy Brothers in central Houston) add a little blue tint, so I can see it when I apply it to the wall.
What a transformation! Now this wall is ready for wallpaper!

Cactus Patch Powder Room

January 5, 2022
I didn’t get a picture of the original dull, putty-brown paint, which did nothing for this space. Here is the room primed with my favorite Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime, formulated specifically for use under wallpaper.
Sink / vanity area before.
Wow! This billowy cactus pattern makes a statement!
Tall! The ceilings in this home are over 10′ high. This very fluid, vertical design makes them seem even higher! Your eye just swoops up toward the ceiling! This back wall is what you see when you first enter the room, so I centered the cactus pattern on this wall.

I was also able to center the pattern on this sink / vanity wall. It will look nicely balanced when the mirror goes up. A new light fixture is coming, and will be installed where you see the round hole / electrical box in the wall.
Close up.
Milton & King is the manufacturer, and San Pedro is the pattern name. M&K makes nice wallpaper, and I enjoyed working with this. It’s a non-woven substrate, so you can paste the wall if you like – but I usually prefer to paste the paper. The surface felt like a thin, flexible vinyl – durable and fairly resistant to splashes in a bathroom. Their patterns often come as a 2-roll set, with an ” A ” roll and a ” B ” roll. It can be a little tricky to measure for these until you get accustomed to how they work. Further complicating the issue is that this design has a 51″ pattern repeat. In a nutshell, this means that, in order to match the pattern from strip to strip, you may have to cut off and throw away as much as 50″ (more than 4′ ! ). Thus, with these high ceilings and the long pattern repeat, instead of getting three strips from each 33′ long roll, I got only two. So a lot of paper went into the trash pile. It’s important to be cognizant of that and include the waste factor when calculating how much paper to purchase. Better yet – have the paperhanger figure it up for you!
These homeowners had already ordered their paper before I arrived for the initial consultation. After measuring and calculating, I told them to purchase one more 2-roll set.
Another odd thing is that at the end of the day, we ended up with two full unopened “B” rolls plus one full-length “B” strip,,,, that’s a total of five full-length strips. But we had only one 10′ strip left of the “A” rolls. This points out that, depending on the layout of the room, you can use more “B’s” than “A’s” or vice versa. I’m sure glad I made them buy that additional 2-roll set!
This new townhouse in the Heights neighborhood of Houston is home to a young couple. They will be married in a month or two. I had originally set their install date for a week or so before the wedding. I got a last-minute schedule change, they were able to get the room ready for me on short notice, and so I got their wallpaper up today,,, and they can spend the next months focusing on their upcoming special day!

December 30, 2021

Bridging A Gap

These are the plumbing stems for wall-mounted handles and faucet in a powder room in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner had the fixtures removed to make the wallpaper installation easier and with fewer ” relief cuts ” in the paper. This helps to eliminate chances of splashed water hitting open edges of the paper and wicking up inside, which can cause curling at the seams.
But the holes were a tad too big for the escutcheons (decorative back plates) to cover. The hole around the left handle gaps about a half an inch outside the plate (not pictured).

I wanted to close that gap a little bit, and also to provide a firm surface for the wallpaper to stick to. I cut ” collars ” out of scrap non-woven material. This material is very strong, and won’t stretch or warp out of shape. Non-woven makes a fine substrate for today’s wallpapers. In the photo, I have placed them around the plumbing stems.
I impregnated the “collars” with Gardz, which is a penetrating primer which soaks in and binds surfaces together, and then dries hard – a lot like varnish or shellac.
Then I skim-floated the area with drywall joint compound (” mud “), let dry, sanded smooth, wiped off dust with a damp sponge, and then primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime, my favorite wallpaper primer. So this photo shows the finished task. When the plumber comes to re-install the faucet, etc., if the holes are too small, he can simply cut some away.
Now that the opening is smaller, the escutcheon easily covers it.