Posts Tagged ‘seams’

Lots of Defects in Today’s Paper

September 24, 2021
There is a lot of “fuzzy stuff” along the edges of the seams.
But most concerning is that the seagulls do not match from one strip to the other.
This photo shows you why. Look at the gull next to my finger, and compare it with the gull by my pencil. The gull at the top of the roll is fatter – it has more white wing area. Obviously this run of wallpaper got trimmed “on the bias,” meaning that the rolls were not cut straight, but at a slight diagonal … sort of like a very long trapezoid. This results in the motifs being cut at an angle, with some wider than others. That means that the motifs are not going to match up perfectly at the seams.
In addition, one double roll bolt had abraded areas, as if something at the factory swept across the material and scraped off some of the ink. I cut off and discarded the worst of this. Luckily we had a little extra paper.
More fuzzy stuff. This shows on the surface. And it prevents the seams from meeting properly. I was able to remove some of it with a sanding block. But some of it remained, and affected the look of the finished job. Luckily, not extremely noticeable.
Anderson Prints

I’ve hung this paper before and not had these problems. I hope the issue is unique to this run, and subsequent runs will be back to being perfect.

I usually have the client order enough wallpaper that we can work around issues like this. Also, because of the layout of the room, and the fact that there is only one motif that has to be matched across a seam, and it’s relatively small, I’m going to be able to finish the room with it all looking O.K.

Strange Bubbles in Drying Wallpaper

September 21, 2021
Air bubbles appearing as this wallpaper dries.
Smoothing brush, and plastic smoother.

It’s not uncommon for vinyl wallcoverings to develop bubbles as the paste dries. This is called “off gassing” and it happens because the vinyl is impenetrable and there is nowhere for air to escape.

But these days, most paper products – such as this one – allow air to pass through, and dry nice and flat with no bubbles or blisters.

One thing to keep in mind is, virtually always, these bubbles will disappear as moisture evaporates and the the paper and paste dry and shrink taught. So the less fiddling you do with it, the better. (And exception would be large bubbles, which should be addressed.)

One way to treat bubbles is to chase them out toward a seam, using a tool such as the plastic smoother. You can also use a pin or razor blade to poke a tiny hole in the paper to let the air escape. It helps to do this in a part of the pattern, and not in an unprinted area, to disguise the hole.

I also like to understand why something like this happens. If you know what caused it, you have a chance of preventing it the next time.

I primed the wall with my usual primer, so I don’t think there would be issues with moisture being trapped between the primer and the wallpaper. But then again, you never know what is inside the wall – many walls have been painted multiple times, and some layers may not be compatible.

Another cause could be the plastic scraper. The bristled smoothing brush uses a more gentle action to push the paper into place. The scraper could actually overwork and stretch the paper. In fact, if you use the scraper to try to push bubbles out to a seam, you end up creating more bubbles.

I use the plastic smoother mostly for seams, and not so much for smoothing a full strip into place. But it’s possible that I used it more than usual this time, and stretched the paper, creating conditions for the bubbles to form. In fact, on one strip, I gently pulled the bottom portion away from the wall and then put it back in place, but making sure to use only the bristle brush. This did eliminate the bubbles.

But, again, if you just wait it out until the paper becomes thoroughly dry, nine times out of ten, all the bubbles will be gone by morning.

Pink Horses for Baby Girl’s Nursery

September 8, 2021
The homeowners had this board-and-batten wainscoting added to one wall of the nursery. It compliments similar elements in other areas of the house.
Finished. The side walls are painted a very, very faint pink blush color – just enough to add warmth and unity to the room.
Horses! The mom-to-be had the manufacturer enlarge the scale of the figures, to better fit the size of the wall. That’s a nice service from Spoonflower.
This wallpaper is hung by overlapping about 1/2″ at the seams. This is not common, but there are several companies that work this way. I actually like it. It eliminates the chance of gapping at the seams as the paper dries and shrinks. And it distributes torque / tension on the wall cross that 1/2″, so less worry about a seam pulling up due to wall surface delamination.
This overlap does leave you with a bit of a visible ridge running the length of each seam. A little bit noticeable here, but less so on a busier pattern with less “blank” areas.
Spoonflower is a nice company. But I like ONLY their “Pre-Pasted Removable Smooth” option. I am not as fond of their “Pebble” – mainly because they can’t describe clearly what, exactly, it is. And definitely Do NOT get any peel & stick product, by this company or any other (see page to the right.)

This home is in a new subdivision in League City.

Pewter Cork in West U. Powder Room

August 5, 2021
Before
Finished
Looks super with antiqued brass faucet and handles. Notice metallic flecks of copper within the pewter surface.
Looking up at corner over the toilet and under the stairs. Notice that the material is made up of 7″ squares of cork. A 3′ x 3′ swatch of ceiling was left white; the dark cork material over every square inch of space would have made the room dark and claustrophobic.
When it’s got her name on it, you know it’s going to be glam and glitz! The Candice Olson line is made by York, one of my favorite brands.

At first, I didn’t think the contemporary feel of this metallic wallpaper would look good with the homeowner’s traditional style furniture, including this family heirloom console vanity base. But once the room was finished – it’s darned handsome!

Hard to see in the second photo, but there was a gap of only about 1/4″ on either side of the granite countertop. And about 1″ between the wooden cabinet and the wall. It definitely took some gymnastics and ingenuity to get the wallpaper into those spaces and smoothed against the wall.

Cork is a natural material, and you should expect some inconsistencies in color, pattern, and texture. It’s also lots thicker than most papers, so seams will be more visible.

The home is in the West University neighborhood of central Houston.

“Priming” Wall With Paste to Keep Seams Down Tight

August 3, 2021
Hard to see, but the slightly darker, shiny section of wall to the left of the wallpaper is a bit of paste that I have rolled onto the wall along where a seam will lie.
The paste has pulled the edges of the paper nice and tight to the wall. Never mind the slight pattern mis-match … this is a hand screen print, and it’s pretty common for these to be slightly off in printing and/or trimming. The pattern matched better above the door, then drifted off as the paper neared the bottom of the strip. You can also see that some of the edges are somewhat jagged and saw-dusty, due to trimming at the factory.

Some manufacturers use inks that fight with their substrates. The substrate absorbs moisture from the paste and expands, but the inked layer does not, so you end up with the bottom layer stretching and forcing the top layer to curl back, resulting in edges that curl and don’t stay tight to the wall.

Any time you smell ink that calls to mind mothballs, you can expect to deal with this issue. It’s pretty common with screen printed wallpapers.

One trick is to lightly sponge the surface with water before pasting the back. Another, which I have discussed here previously, is to paste the paper, fold and book it, and then dip the rolled-up edges into 1/4″ of clean water. Then place the rolled up strip into a plastic trash bag for the booking period. This helps to keep the edges from drying out while the paper books.

On many papers, I’ve found that it also helps to roll a light coat of paste onto the wall, just under where the seams will fall. This works amazingly well to grab the edges and hold them tightly against the wall.

Grasscloth on Bookshelf Backs – Railroaded

July 29, 2021
Before, with my primer in four cubbies, two more to go, and my fan set up to get it to dry faster.
Finished.
“Railroading” means the paper was run horizontally, instead of vertically. With grasscloth, this means the reeds ran up and down, instead of sideways. This technique eliminated seams (run the usual way would have given us a seam smack down the center of the shelf area – a decorating no-no).
I was able to slide the edges of the paper under the back side of the wooden shelves. No trimming needed. And no gaps showing between the wall and the shelves.
For this stiff grasscloth material, instead of my softer, natural-bristle smoothing brush (right), I chose a stiffer, plastic-bristled brush.
Showing the texture and natural material of the grasscloth. And how the dye stained my fingers!
Manufacturer is York, a very good company.

The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Coloring Edges of Wallpaper to Prevent White Backing from Showing

July 22, 2021

When hanging a dark wallpaper, sometimes the white edges of the substrate will show at the seams. Other times, the paper may shrink a tad when the paste dries, and teeny gaps may appear, again, showing white at the seams.

So I will often run a stick of chalk along the edges of the strip of wallpaper – applying from the back, to avoid getting color onto the surface.

It’s important that you use chalk, and never oil pastels. Oil products may bleed into the wallpaper, and cause visible staining on the surface.

Preventing White From Showing At The Seams

July 8, 2021
Chalk pastels for coloring the edges of the wallpaper. (Do NOT use oil pastels – they stain wallpaper.)
Craft paint from the hobby store used to stripe the wall where the wallpaper seams will fall. Note the red vertical line from my laser level, which serves as a guide. I use a small square of dampened sponge to wipe on the paint. Be sure to let it dry before hanging the paper.

Manufacturers have a bad habit of printing dark wallpapers on white substrates. Since wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and then shrinks as it dries, you have the potential for the white edges of the paper showing at the seams. There is also the possibility that the white wall behind the paper will be exposed, too.

To minimize these chances, I use chalk pastels to color the edges of the wallpaper, and diluted craft paint to stripe under where the seams will fall.

Overlapping At The Seams

June 30, 2021

Re my previous post … the strips on this 6-panel mural are intended to be overlapped, by about a full inch.

There are advantages to this. Since wallpaper shrinks as it dries, it an result in gaps at the seams. Overlapping the seams prevents that.

Wallpaper that is drying and shrinking is also tugging at the wall behind it, which puts stress on the surface. If that surface is unstable, this tension could cause the layers inside the wall to give way and pull apart, resulting in open seams and a delaminated sub-surface. Overlapping the paper redistributes and minimizes the tension, and it also eliminates an open area where the two sides of the seam could pull away from the wall.

A disadvantage of the overlap method is that you can see the cut edge of the paper (see photo), and you also end up with a 1″ wide ridge running under the paper the full length of each seam. In this case, with such a busy pattern, you are not going to see that ridge.

Clipper Ships / Battle Ships Mural

June 19, 2021
Nursery wall smoothed, primed, and ready for wallpaper
Battling ships fill the wall space with dramatic action
The action continues to the left of the door
More battle action on the opposite wall
Close up
Detail
Manufacturer is Rebel Walls, from Sweden. I like their products.

A baby boy is due in a few months. For his nursery, Mom wanted an action-packed, historic nautical look. She found this mural on RebelWalls.com

Usually you see a mural on one accent wall. But here we have two companion murals on opposing walls in this nursery. I think it works swimmingly! 🙂

The mural was custom-sized to fit each wall. The website also allows the option to choose which portions of the design you want. So Mom chose to put the largest battleship on the main wall that you see when you walk into the room. A smaller ship and quieter scene was plotted to go on the opposite wall.

I will note that, on both murals, the company did include some motifs that were not on the customer’s order sheet. That changed the dimensions and placement of the ships on the wall. It all worked out O.K., though, with the stormy vessels positioned perfectly on each wall.

Custom-sized to fit each wall, the murals came in 8 panels, plus one panel that was just 4″ wide. It was a non-woven material, which is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. It can be hung via the paste-the-wall method, which is what I did today. It can also be hung the traditional way, which is to paste the paper. The seams are virtually invisible.

This home is in the Garden Oaks / Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.