Posts Tagged ‘seams’

Contractor Patches On Top Of Wallpaper – Bad Idea

February 19, 2019


This home experienced a water leak, and the bottom 2′ of drywall had to be cut out and replaced. When taping-and-floating in the new drywall, the contractor didn’t bother to remove the existing wallpaper, but put his smoothing compound right over it. This is bad enough if the old paper is paper, but this wallpaper is vinyl – something you really don’t want buried under layers of joint compound and new wallpaper.

Vinyl is shiny, and few materials will stick well to it over a period of time. It is also thick, and that increases the likelihood that seams will pop up, even if they are buried under this “mud,” as we call it.

So I took a razor and cut above the contractor’s patch. Then I stripped off all the wallpaper above the patch. This left a difference in height between the patched area and the newly-stripped area, which would create a visible ridge under the new wallpaper. So then I took my own smoothing compound (joint compound) and floated over his patch and the now-bare wall, to eliminate any uneven areas.

Waited for it to dry, sanded smooth, removed dust, primed with Gardz, and finally was able to hang the new wallpaper.

This took a LOT more time than I originally planned for this job, but it was worth it to keep vinyl wallpaper from being underneath the new paper, and to prevent any bumps or irregularities from showing under the new paper.

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Stripping Off What I Hung 20+ Years Ago

February 12, 2019


I hung this viny pattern back in the early 2000’s in dining room in the West U neighborhood of Houston. Now that it’s time for a change, I got to strip off what I had hung 20 years ago.

I was amazed at how easy it was, and at how there was NO damage to the walls.

The paper came away from the wall when I simply pulled it dry, but I was afraid of doing damage to the walls, especially at the seams. (When wallpaper dries, or over time with fluctuations in temperature and humidity, wallpaper can put stress on the seams, which can cause layers inside the wall to delaminate and come apart.)

To lessen the chance of putting stress on the seams, I used a sponge to put water on the surface of the paper. Because it was paper (not vinyl), water was able to penetrate, and reactivate the paste that was holding the paper to the wall. I made many trips around the room, soaking the paper each time. The more water that was able to soak into the paper, the softer the paste became, and the easier it was to pull the paper away from the wall.

Usually, the inked top layer of paper separates from the paper backing, and then you sponge water onto the backing layer, which reactivates the paste and then it comes away pretty easily. But in this case, the top and backing layers stayed together, and came off in one intact piece. This virtually never happens.

Note that I am pulling down, and not away from the wall. Pulling downwards minimizes stress on the wall. And I am pulling slowly and gently – not yanking.

What’s better – there was absolutely NO damage to the walls. Not one bit of primer pulled away from the surface, not one seam gave way, nothing to patch.

Why? Because when I prepped these walls 20 years ago, I did a proper job. I skim floated the textured walls to smooth them, removed all residual dust with a damp sponge, then primed with oil-based KILZ Original – great stuff, for many reasons. It holds tightly to the surface, it won’t rewet when water is sponged on the surface, it’s strong enough to resist double-cutting (strokes with a razor blade), it dries thin and smooth, and much more.

I wish I could still use KILZ Original. It was a superior primer for wallpaper (as well as stain-blocker). Unfortunately, EPA regulations have required manufacturers to make changes to their product, and wallpaper paste will no longer adhere to it.

I’m using alternatives now, and am pleased with the results. …Although I have not had experience stripping paper off these new products, so time will tell about that.

But these photographs of my experiences yesterday show what a superlative product the original KILZ Original was, and how important it is to take the time to prep a wall properly before hanging wallpaper.

Rolling Roiling Waves on a Heights Dining Room Wall

January 18, 2019


This pen & ink-like drawing of rolling waves is obviously a knock-off of the very popular (and very expensive) “Nuvolette” in the Fornasetti collection by Cole & Son.

I have to say – I think I like this one better. The pattern is more homogeneous and less overpowering. Yet you still get the same feel of movement from the rolling waves. And it has the same scratchy pen-and-ink feel as the other, plus a few seagulls tossed in, too.

This design is by Eijffinger. I hung it in a newly-remodeled and expanded home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. It is a non-woven material, and is designed to be hung via the paste-the-wall method. I did use this method this time, as it was one accent wall in a dining room, with no intricate cuts nor difficult spaces to access. It went up beautifully, with near-invisible seams.

Animal Blocks in a Baby’s Room

December 25, 2018


A new baby will soon be welcomed into the home of this young couple in the Houston Heights neighborhood called Norhill (or Woodland Heights). Mom wanted something gender-neutral, and found this colorful and adorable shapes-and-animals-in-blocks print on line at Lulie Wallace.

This went on just one accent wall of the room, but it is tame enough that it would work OK if put on all four walls.

I skim-floated the walls first, to smooth out the light texture on them, then followed with a primer coat of Gardz.

This wallpaper is a bit atypical, because it is pre-pasted, which means it comes with a thin layer of paste on the back that you activate with water (instead of having to roll paste on the back of every strip). I do like the pre-pasted papers. I do roll a light coat of paste on the wall, to augment the manufacturer’s pre-paste.

Another dissimilarity is that the paper comes packaged in individual strips, rather than traditional rolls with several strips rolled up together.

Even more unusual is that the strips were meant to be overlapped, instead of butted together. Overlapping the seams creates a vertical ridge under the paper which is somewhat visible. You also have to have an adhesive that will stick to the acrylic coating on top of the paper.

There are some good aspects to overlapping seams. For one, this makes for a very strong bond. For another, it takes stress of drying and shrinking paper off the seam and distributes it across that 3/4″ of overlapped area. In this 80-year-old house, with it’s many layers of paint with a history of not sticking to each other, this is important, because it greatly reduces the chances of the tension on the seams causing the paint layers to come apart, which would cause gapping at the seams. See previous post.

Another positive feature about overlapping the seams, and how that worked with this particular pattern, is that, in this 1930 home, with its unlevel ceiling and floor and its greatly-out-of-plumb walls, I was able to manipulate the strips of wallpaper so that they looked straight and plumb – even though they were actually hung quite off-plumb.

This wallpaper pattern is by Lulie Wallace, and was bought on line.

Starburst Diamonds in a North Houston Hall Bath

December 22, 2018


The owners of this 1970’s house in the Cypressdale neighborhood of north Houston have done some outstanding updates that have brought the home right into the modern age.

In this hall bathroom, the larger-scale, rough-surfaced shower tiles work with the sleek, white trough sink to create a clean-yet-warm feel.

A little pizazz on the walls was all that was needed to make the whole room pop!

This fun diamond starburst pattern in a metallic gold on raised-ink (embossed vinyl) covers the walls with the right scale, sheen, and theme.

The wallpaper is by York, and is in their Modern Metals line. I was quite pleased with it. While many wallpapers printed on non-woven substrates are thick and stiff and prone to creasing or having the inks crack and flake off, this one was thin and pliable and happy to hug the wall tightly, and then meld beautifully into turns and intricate cuts (like around detailed moldings). The seams were practically invisible.

What’s more, this wallcovering, with it’s 3-D embossed vinyl surface, will resist water splashes and stains much better than a paper-paper. A little caulk along the top of the sink will prevent water from wicking up under the paper (which could cause the paper to expand and curl and push away from the wall).

I pasted the paper, rather than the alternate installation method of paste-the-wall. Pasting the paper made it more supple and gave it more pliability, so it was easier to work with. It also allowed the paper to absorb moisture from the paste and then expand a tad before going to the wall. (Papers that expand after they are placed on the wall are likely to bubble or warp.)

This York wallpaper was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Loose Wallpaper; Wall Layers Delaminating

November 15, 2018


Look closely between the seam of the wallpaper in the top photo. You can see little crumbly things. In the second photo, the issue is even more pronounced.

This is in the upstairs bathroom of a 1950 house in central Houston. Over time, compounded by humidity, poor air circulation, poor air conditioning / heating, and possible influences from the outdoors, various layers inside the wall have let loose of one another.

What are these layers? Originally the walls were probably painted with oil-based paint. Over the years, layers of latex paint, gloss paint, joint compound, and etc. were piled on, probably without proper prep between coats.

Some of these materials are not compatible with one another, and, over time and with stressers like humidity, they can let go of one another.

If just the wallpaper has come loose, as in the second photo, it can be pasted and readhered. But when the wall itself is coming apart, there is no fix, other than to scrap everything down to the original drywall (huge mess) or go over everything with 1/4″ drywall.

In this case, the homeowner had me repaste the few loose areas of paper, and then chose to live with the other visible cracks, chalking it up to an old house full of character and quirks.

Another Courageously Bold Pattern

October 26, 2018


Go BOLD or go home – this homeowner is stickin’ with bold.

This home in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. The homeowner loved the wallpaper in the powder room, and after the renovation, she wanted the same thing.

One disappointment is that the original installer had done a poor job. He was the son of a friend, and reportedly did a “great” job – but his work was not pleasing to the family. So, this time around, they called me. 🙂

The wallpaper pattern is called “Providence,” and is by Thibaut, one of my favorite brands. It was nice to work with, no shrinking at the seams, and the inks are strongly hued and have a rich matt finish.

Large Silvery Metallic Damask in a Down-Sized Home’s Powder Room

September 22, 2018


Apologies for the bad pictures of a beautiful paper!

This couple lost their home in Kingwood (northeast Houston) to the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. They relocated to a new-but-smaller spec house in Somerset Green near central Houston, and are using interior designer Anthony Stransky of L Design Group to decorate their new home, while giving their traditional taste a tad more modern feel.

Damask wallpaper patterns are quite traditional, but the large scale and metallic sheen of this particular selection bring it into the modern age. And the over-sized pattern fills the walls nicely, in this sizeable powder room with 10′ high ceilings.

The pattern is in the Anna French collection by Thibaut Designs. It is printed on a thickish non-woven material. I usually prefer thin papers, but this was quite nice to work with. It didn’t crease like many N-W papers do, the seams were practically invisible, and, once pasted and softened, it was flexible and stretchable enough to accommodate some pretty un-straight and un-plumb walls.

This non-woven paper could have been hung using the paste-the-wall method. But I prefer the pliability that comes when the material itself is pasted. Plus, pasting the material definitely makes it easier when working around pedestal sinks and behind toilets.

The builder coated the walls of this large powder room with a bland dark tan paint. These homeowners had never used wallpaper before, but, once they went for the interior design team’s suggestion, there was no learning curve – They LOVE the newly papered powder room!

Anthony Stransky and founder Neal Leboeuf of L Design Group serve the entire Houston metropolitan area. They assist homeowners with interior design, new home buyers with all choices such as flooring, faucets, window coverings, fixtures, etc., and – when they get breathing room – they do events planning. Super guys, energetic and fun, with a look that’s modern and fun, with an urban edge. See them in a summer 2018 issue of Houston House & Home magazine – on the cover and in a story inside.

Faux Grasscloth / Textured Stringcloth on the Backs of Bookshelves

September 9, 2018


The homeowner wanted to use texture and color to warm up her very large kitchen / breakfast area. This faux grasscloth on the back of a pair of bookshelves that flank the fireplace was the perfect solution.

The shelves are high, and they are deeper than most, which made accessing the top areas difficult – and a little dangerous. So I borrowed the painters’ 3′ ladder, and was able to reach where I needed to.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (click the link to the informative article on the right of this page). So I try to steer clients toward alternatives. This product is about my absolute favorite! It has a realistic grass pattern, and it can be matched from strip to strip, so you never see the seams. The color is consistent, so you don’t have the paneling effect that comes with the real stuff. And it is covered with a vertical stringcloth material, which provides the texture that homeowners are seeking these days. And it’s reasonably-priced.

Wallquest is the manufacturer, and it’s in their EcoChic line. It was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

The home is in the Fall Creek area of northeast Houston, off Beltway 8 and Hwy 59.

Brunschwig & Fils “Bird and Thistle” in a North East Houston Powder Room

September 8, 2018


The homeowner loved this paper, and had to have it somewhere in her family’s new home in Humble, in far northwest Houston. The powder room turned out to be the perfect spot!

Originally the room was faux-finished in a heavy and rough “Tuscan” texture painted a dark reddish brown color. This classic wallpaper pattern changes the whole look, bringing an air of elegance.

The paper has a toned-down silver metallic look, with soft seafoam colored tree trunks, foliage, and birds on it. The ceiling was painted a coordinating soft murky blue, and the wallpaper coordinated beautifully with the tile.

It was quite thin. I like thin papers. The seams were practically invisible, and the paper was somewhat twisty – Sometimes that is good, because you can manipulate a strip to fit slightly off-plumb areas. But sometimes it’s not good, because warps and wrinkles can develop. In the powder room, this was not a big deal, because I never had more than three strips next to one another. But in a larger room with more strips hanging sequentially, it could be a problem.

This design is called Bird & Thistle, and is by Brunschwig & Fils, a British company and a higher-end brand. It was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.