Posts Tagged ‘sanding’

Improperly Prepped Paint Peels Off Easily

March 22, 2023
this vanity was originally white . To update the powder room and coordinate with the new wallpaper , the vanity cabinet was painted this rich green . When hanging wallpaper , some paste will get onto the woodwork or cabinetry . Usually, it’s a simple matter to wipe this paste off with a damp rag (we like microfiber cloths ).
But as you can see, even gentle wiping with a damp cloth has taken some of the new paint with it. This is usually because the new paint was applied without having properly prepped the original surface. The original paint has a gloss / sheen , which makes it attractive , as well as resistant to dirt and stains . But new coatings (be they paint , latex paint , wallpaper paste , etc. ) won’t adhere tightly to a glossy surface .
So it’s imperative that the original surface be prepped correctly , before the new paint is applied . This means de-glossing . Deglossing can be done by sanding the surface to scruff it up, which will give a bit of “tooth” to the surface for the new coating to stick to. Or you can buy a chemical de-glosser from a good paint store like Sherwin-Williams or big box store like Home Depot . This is simply wiped on with a cloth . You can also use what’s called a bonding primer , which is formulated to adhere to just about anything , and then provides a surface that paint or other coatings can grab a hold of and stick to .
Once the original surface is properly de-glossed and primed and prepped , the new paint can be applied . Once that dries and cures , you can put stress on the surface, such as rubbing or wiping , without fear of the new paint peeling off .
Another weird thing is that the green color came off on my microfiber rag . I’ve had this happen with water-based / water-borne paints – but not with the old-fashioned oil-based paints . Not a big deal. Not enough of the color wiped off to cause any lack of color on the painted surface of the vanity . install

Peeling Paint = Potential Problems

March 3, 2023
Here before hanging wallpaper, I have removed the light fixture over the bathroom vanity .  Some of the wall paint was stuck to the base of the light fixture, so was torn away from the wall when the fixture pulled away.  In the photo, the cream colored area is the current semi-gloss paint , and the greyish area is the paint that is beneath it. 
Problem is, wall coatings surfaces should adhere to each other.  In other words, the cream colored paint should not have peeled away from the grey paint under it.
Usually this happens because proper prep was not done before the new layer of paint was applied.  Surface coatings (meaning paint or wallpaper ) won’t stick to glossy surfaces, nor to dusty surfaces.  So, if you’re painting over gloss paint, first a deglosser needs to be used, or a bonding primer .  A good paint store guy ( Sherwin-Williams ) can advise you.  If the original surface has dust , as from sanding or construction , this needs to be wiped off with a damp sponge , and that has to be rinsed clean frequently.  Often a primer should follow that.  Again, consult a knowledgeable paint guy.
All of this is not so desperately important if you’re going to apply paint.  Even on an unstable surface , paint simply dries and sits there.  It only peels away if tension or pressure is put on it, such as removing the light fixture in the photo above.
But wallpaper is different.  Because wallpaper shrinks when the paste dries , tension is put on the seams .  If the surface below is unstable , this tension can cause the surfaces below to come apart / delaminate .  This can result in seams that pull away from the wall.
This is not the wallpaper pulling away .  This is the layers underneath that have actually come apart from each other.
And it usually cannot simply be ‘ glued back down .’ 
You can do a search here to read previous blog posts about this issue.  

Dark and Moody Jungle Theme for Powder Room

February 11, 2023




Before. Heavily textured wall has been skim-floated with smoothing / joint compound and then sanded smooth , and then primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer . I’ve run a narrow line of dark green craft paint along the top of the chair rail / wainscoting , due to uneven edges . More on that in a soon-future post.
Sink wall is done. Pattern is centered nicely on the faucet and in between the electrical boxes for the new sconces – They haven’t arrived yet and will be installed in a few weeks .
The homeowner’s carpenter created this beautiful wainscoting out of 3D block paneling , and then painted it a rich dark hunter’s green . Right now there’s some sanding dust collected on it, plus bad lighting . In person, it’s gorgeous . The same company did a fantastic paneled wall / fireplace surround in the family room (not pictured) .
Back to wallpaper … This shot is pretty color-accurate. I love the way the dark wallpaper coordinates with the green paneling . The pink and orange flowers , as well as the row of purple foliage , really stand out against all the dark .
Close-up looks like an artist’s painting . Besides centering the pattern on the sink wall, the dimensions worked out so that I was able to balance the chameleons between the ceiling and chair rail , one just below the ceiling and the one here just above the chair rail. So no critter got cut in half .
This product comes as a 2-strip (roll) set , with an “A” strip and a “B” strip in each box. Together, the two strips equal just a hair under 6′ wide , and a little over 9′ high . Here I’m rolling out the two strips so I can gauge the pattern , measure width and height , and plot the layout on the wall.
Sobering fact: Each 2-strip set (one “roll”) cost about $500. This room used four of those sets. I always try to keep that in mind when working with people’s purchased wallpaper .
OK, this damned Word Press blog account has AGAIN (2nd time in two nights!) deleted paragraphs that I spent a lot of time typing. I can’t recreate all the info I put into that lost post, but below I will try to include some of the important points.
First and foremost – since the switch to the New Editor back about 2015, I pretty much HATE WORDPRESS .
Anyway, here the company is providing a mock-up of what the “A” and “B” strips look like. The mock-up above shows the two panels next to each other.
Since this is essentially a mural and the pattern doesn’t repeat vertically as more typical wallpapers do, you can plan on getting only one strip out of each panel. These walls are 6′ high , and the panels are 9′ high. So you’re losing 3′ with every strip.
Further, the area over the door needed one panel that’s 2′ high. But an entire 9′ panel was needed for this, to get the 2′ high strip. So 7′ are going into the trash. Add to that, since this product comes as a 2-panel set , the homeowner had to buy a 2-panel set (at $500), even though only part of one panel would be used. This means that 1 + 2/3 9′ long panels were purchased but not used.
Also, because this comes in panels instead of traditional rolled goods, there are no “extra” strips. This means that I can’t make any mistakes.
Nothing like a little pressure while trying to install wallpaper !
No fears … this pattern and material went up nicely, and we had just enough paper to git ‘er done.


Manufacturer is Breeze and the pattern is called Fantasy Tree . It was purchased from one of the show rooms in one of the Design / Decorative Centers in central Houston. It’s printed on the user-friendly / DIY – friendly non-woven material , which can be hung by pasting the paper (which I prefer) or the paste-the-wall method . It’s designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate . Definitely better than peel & stick (click my link on the right to read more about P&S ).
The home is in the Oak Forest / Garden Oaks / Heights neighborhood of Houston .

Contractor Prepped Walls – But Left Dust

November 20, 2022
I usually insist on prepping the walls for wallpaper. But we had a time crunch here, and the homeowner asked her paint contractor to strip the old wallpaper and smooth the walls.
He did a good enough job of skim-floating and sanding the walls smooth.
Unfortunately, he neglected to wipe residual dust off the walls.
The problem is that nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. Over time, stress, humidity, and other factors can cause the wallpaper to expand and contract, which puts tension on the seams. This tension tugs at the seams , and if the wall surface underneath is unstable ( dusty ), the layers can pull apart ( delaminate ), and you end up with failing seams.
So I wiped down every square inch of wall, using a sponge and bucket of water. I rinsed the sponge frequently, to prevent build up of dust on the sponge.
Here’s drywall dust wiped off in just a few swipes. In the background, you can see tracks of my damp sponge along the wall. These damp areas will need to dry thoroughly before I can apply my wallpaper primer. A heat gun helps speed that process along.
One fear that I have is because, as you see in the photo, the contractor spray painted the woodwork, and in so doing, got a lot of overspray onto the wall. This can be painted over without much problem.
But, as mentioned above, putting wallpaper over this can open a can of worms.
Even with a good wallpaper primer underneath, the drying / shrinking wallpaper can put stress on the seams. If the wall underneath is dusty, the layers may let loose of one another and result in a popped seam .

Smoothing Over Holes and Bumps

October 8, 2022
The artwork and hanger have been removed, but this wall anchor remains in the drywall . It will leave a bump under the new wallpaper . I removed it from the wall. That left a hole that will leave an indention under the new paper .
Here I’ve collected a bit of joint compound (we call it mud ), a plaster -like substance that’s used for installing drywall , as well as for patching holes and smoothing textured walls (called skim-floating or skim-coating )
Here it is applied over the hole.
To speed the drying process, I use my heat gun .
Using a sanding sponge to smooth it.
Wiping dust off with a damp sponge . Important, because neither primer nor wallpaper paste will adhere to dust .
After this dried , I primed over this area and the whole wall with wallpaper primer . I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .
Now the wall is ready for wallpaper, with no worries that bumps or dips will show through .

Welcoming Room for Mother-in-Law

August 24, 2022
This young couple hosts the mother / mother-in-law a few times a year, and are lucky enough to have a private spare bedroom for her. To make it special, they wanted to jazz up the area a little. Enter this fun and whimsical wallpaper pattern .
The room before was a pretty shade of murky teal – but needed personality and warmth.
The wall started out with a light orange peel texture . I skim-floated the wall, and then sanded it smooth .
Along the baseboard at the floor , here’s the dust from sanding , along with the sanding sponge I use – this is a modern take on the idea of wrapping sandpaper around a block of wood .
I tack painter’s plastic across the wall from ceiling to floor to prevent dust from getting into the room or onto the furniture .
Here’s the wall smooth and primed , ready for wallpaper .
Since this is a dark wallpaper and I want to be sure that the white wall does not peek out from behind the seams, I stripe dark paint along the wall under where the seams will fall. Because non-woven papers don’t expand when wet with paste , it’s simple to measure the width of your strips and plot out where each seam will fall. Use the laser level as your guide . Do a Search here (upper right hand corner) to read more about this technique.
I use craft paint from Texas Art Supply (or any hobby store ), diluted with water from a Gatorade bottle cap , and applied with a scrap of sponge .
Further insurance is taking a chalk pastel (never oil pastel – oil bleeds and will stain wallpaper) and running it along the edge of the wallpaper strip – from the backside to avoid staining the surface – to cover the white substrate the wallpaper is printed on. This is to prevent white from peeking out at the seams , which can happen with dark papers.
Centering the first strip in the middle of the wall, and using my laser level to ensure the strip is nice and straight and plumb .
Note: The strip is not centered on the wall. The dominant pattern element is. Notice that the center of the dominant pattern motif – the white circular flower – is 3.5″ to the right of the left edge. This means that I had to position the left edge of the wallpaper 3.5″ to the left of the center of the wall, in order to get the round white flower to fall down the center of the wall.
When you look again at the finished photo, you’ll notice that the white flower falls down the middle of the walls, and that it also appears at equal distance from both the right and left walls.
Most people wouldn’t be able to put their finger on this symmetry , but it is something they subconsciously notice , and it lends a feeling of orderliness to the room.
As orderly as you can be, that is, with pigs dancing around the meadow dandelions !
Finished accent wall . The three other walls painted in blue were a bit of a surprise, because one would think the more dominant color of green would be used. But with so much green in the wallpaper, green on the walls, too, would have been too much, perhaps. I like the cool feeling that the blue creates .
There is plenty of the exact same blue in the wallpaper pattern to tie the walls and wallpaper together.
Close up shows the stamped printing technique .
You’ve gotta love a frolicking pig in a hand-knitted sweater!
This pattern is called Hoppet Folk and is in the Wonderland line by Borastapeter , a Scandinavian company .
It’s a nice, sturdy but flexible non-woven material that can be hung via the paste the wall installation method .
In addition, this product will strip off the wall easily and in one piece , with no damage to your walls, when it’s time to redecorate.
This is a very popular pattern, and I’ve hung it more times than I can count, just in the last two or three years. It does come in other colors – but most people gravitate toward this black version.
The townhome is in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

Sneaky Snaky Dining Room Accent Wall

August 6, 2022
Beautiful symmetry …
But look closer – those intertwining lines aren’t fronds of vegetation – they’re snakes !
The wall before. It’s a mid-century home, but the drywall here is new. Per my request, the contractor left it taped and floated , but not painted or covered with any coating .
I had planned to simply prime this wall. But after examining it more closely, the surface was a little grittier than I like. So I ended up applying a very light skim-coat and sanding it smooth .
Here the smoothed wall has been primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .
I’m plotted out the center of the wall and am using my laser level to ensure that the design in my first strip falls right along the center, and also is nice and plumb .
My work table with two strips of wallpaper . Spoonflower packages its wallpaper differently from other companies. It comes in widths of 24″ and lengths of your choice of 3,’ 6,’ 9,’ or 12.’
Get their Pre-Pasted Removable Smooth option, which is water-activated , and is wonderful stuff.
Do NOT get the Peel & Stick , nor the Traditional Pebble . The P&S and the Traditional are both very difficult to work with, and can lead to bubbles and creases on your walls , plus cause damage when the wallpaper is stripped off later.
Back to the photo – the blue cube thing in front is my laser level , shooting its red line at the wall.
Close-up
I’m using this blue plastic tape on the edge of this strip of wallpaper. This will prevent paste from getting onto the wall or ceiling.
The accent wall stops in this left hand corner, so I need to trim off the excess. But I don’t want to get paste onto the un-papered wall. Paste can cause the wall paint to crackle and flake off.
So here you see how the blue tape is keeping paste off the wall. Once I finish trimming, I’ll check the back to make sure all of the blue tape has been removed. Any areas where the blue tape might be still on the back of the wallpaper , the paper won’t adhere to the wall .
This tape is available to paperhangers / installers . If you’re interested, shoot me an email wallpaperlady@att.net
Another thing about Spoonflower , the seams are meant to be overlapped, by 3/4″ . Note that this does create a ridge that runs vertically the length of each seam. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t very noticeable.
Actually, there are advantages to overlapping seams in this manner. No worries about white substrates showing at the seams, nor the paper shrinking and leaving gaps at the seams.
Also, in case of unstable walls that might come apart ( delaminate ) under the tension of the drying / shrinking wallpaper, overlapping disperses the tension and helps prevent wall failure.
This pattern is called Serpents and Apples and is by Spoonflower . Spoonflower has a lot of cute designs , and also a good number of fun avant garde patterns like this one.
The homeowners have some other non-typical décor that will meld perfectly with this wallpaper. Think life-sized skeletons .
… Notice how that light fixture hanging in the center of the wall kinda looks like a skull ? …
The home is in the Oak Forest area of northwest Houston .

Keeping Dust to a Minimum

February 5, 2022
Most homes in the Houston area have textured walls. These bumps are unsightly under wallpaper, and also interfere with consistent adhesion. So I like to skim-float the walls with drywall joint compound (I use the Plus 3 version) and then sand them smooth.
Sanding this stuff creates lightweight, powdery dust that sifts through the air and gets over everything. Homeowners tend to hate that. 🙂
So here I’ve created a ” tent ” out of painter’s plastic along the walls where I will be sanding. This creates a pretty darned effective barrier that prevents dust from getting into the rest of the room.
Here’s the dust created by smoothing just the top 5′ of wall area. And my ShopVac to clean it all up.
I find it easiest to let the dust fall onto the floor and even the carpet. It’s easy to vacuum dust up off these surfaces. Dropcloths and plastic tend to get sucked up into the vacuum hose, and the dust doesn’t come with it. I once tried protective self-adhesive plastic that’s made to cover carpet … but it was extremely difficult to unroll, plus, it was even more difficult to get back off the floor. I truly feared it would pull off the surface finish of the floor along with it.
The vacuum gets most of the dust. But there is still a fine, invisible layer left on surfaces. So you need to take a damp rag and wipe the floor.
I also vacuum the walls. After the visible dust is gone, it’s imperative that you take a damp sponge and wipe residual dust off the walls. You have to rinse the sponge frequently to get all the dust. If not, it’s like, as I like to say, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper will kinda stick – but not really stick.
Once the walls are perfectly dust-free and dry, follow up with a wallpaper primer.
Then go and hang your wallpaper!

Lots of Gear to Smooth Textured Walls

January 26, 2022

Walls need to be smooth before wallpaper can go up, both for appearance and for good adhesion. Here’s just some of the equipment I carted into this house, to use while smoothing the textured walls of the powder room. In the black bucket is the smoothing / joint compound. To the left of it the grey metal thing is a space heater that pulls moisture out of the air. In front of that the white bucket holds wallpaper paste which will be used later.

The big square box is my Shop Vac, to clean up all the dust created when sanding the walls smooth. And fans – lots of fans – so speed drying of the smoothing compound.

Interestingly, the big black fan and the space heater both pull so much electricity that I cannot use them at the same time – they have been known to trip the circuit breaker!

Don’t Use Adhesive Picture Hangers

January 6, 2022
Yes, they’re strong enough to hold a 50lb painting.
But removing them may well take layer(s) of paint along with! Here you see a bubble that has lifted from the wall, as well as a break in the paint that was torn off by the adhesive picture hanger.
Several layers of paint have been pulled away from the wall. This is called ” delaminating .”
One reason for this is because the original underlying surface may have been dusty – as in dust from construction, or from sanding new drywall joint compound. Nothing sticks to dust. Other reasons for delaminating walls are incompatible surfaces, such as, an older home that starts out with oil-based paint, then someone comes along and applies latex paint over it without proper prep, then someone adds a gloss paint, then a ” flipper ” buys the house and slaps on a coat of paint without deglossing, ,,, on and on, situations that can cause layers of paint to not stick to each other. End result is that the wallpaper may come away from the wall, too.