Posts Tagged ‘selvedge edge’

Brunschwig & Fils’s Biblioteque in a Heights Library

July 14, 2019


Another installer hung the paper in the first photo. For some unknown reason, two half-walls were left unpapered. I was called in to finish those two areas.

Brunschwig & Fils is a French manufacturer, with a long history. Like many higher-end brands, this product came with a selvedge edge that I had to trim off by hand (see last photo), using a razor blade and a 6′ long straight edge (not shown).

And, like many higher-end brand papers that are printed with ink that smells like mothballs, once paste is applied to the back of the paper, the inked surface absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the back side. When the top inked layer expands at a different rate from the substrate, you get waffling, or quilting. Sorry, no photo, but you can do a Search here to see previous blogs on this topic. Essentially, it’s a wrinkly mess.

One way to deal with this is to even out the moisture differential by lightly sponging water onto the face (inked side) of the wallpaper. The front can then absorb moisture from the sponging at the same time that the substrate is absorbing moisture from the paste.

As I worked with the paper, I discovered that it wanted to dry out quickly. So it helped a lot to also use a sponge to get a little moisture onto the back side of the wallpaper strip, before pasting.

Other tricks to slow drying out are to 1.) Book the paper (fold pasted side to pasted side and then roll up loosely like a newspaper) and then dunk the ends into a bucket of clean water. 2.) Place the booked strip into a black trash bag, which will prevent evaporation during the time the paper books. 3.) When the wait time is up, gently unbook the paper and lightly spritz the back with clean water from a spray bottle. Alternately, you could sponge the surface once again. The idea is to introduce a little more moisture, to loosen up the paste and to make the paper more malleable.

I had been told that this paper was difficult to work with, and that the seams wanted to curl. I had the opposite experience – I thought it was lovely to work with. The seams laid nice and flat, and the paper was easy to manipulate, and it clung tightly to the wall. Applying moisture to the surface and back got rid of the waffling, and any that did remain (there were small puckers in the white horizontal “shelf board” areas) disappeared as the wallpaper dried.

This home is in the Houston Heights neighborhood, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

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“Indian Flower” by Jasper Wallcoverings, Hand Trimmed Goods

April 5, 2019


The selvedge edge of this wallpaper had to be trimmed off by hand, using a paperhanger’s straightedge and a razor blade.

Once that was done, the paper could be pasted, booked, and hung, just like any pre-trimmed paper.

The manufacturer is Jasper, and the pattern is called Indian Flower. I hung it in the dining room of a home in the rapidly-developing area off the Grand Parkway and Birnham Woods, in the Spring area of Houston.

Stroheim Playful Geometric – A Tough Hang Today

March 24, 2019


This colorful and playful geometric pattern went in an elevated “nook” in an open play area in a new home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston. It wakes up an otherwise all-white house, and coordinates perfectly with bright artwork in the room.

The paper is by Stroheim, and was somewhat difficult to work with, especially in a room that presented the challenges it did – wide window, and four cubbyholes around three fixed built-in shelves.

First, the paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, a straight edge, and a razor blade. This is tedious and took about an hour to trim eight single rolls.

Second, any time you have wallpaper whose ink smells like mothballs, you know you are in for a tough day. The ink absorbs moisture from the paste at a slower rate than the substrate, so the paper backing puckers (called waffling or quilting). This doesn’t go away, even after booking and sitting in a closed plastic bag for several minutes – so you end up with wrinkles and blisters on the wall.

One thing that helps with this is lightly wetting the surface of the paper with a damp sponge. This allows the ink to absorb moisture, and relax at the same time the paper backing is expanding and relaxing.

You will also notice in the photo that the edges of the paper are curling toward the front. This is, again, the result of uneven absorption of moisture from the paste. Unfortunately, this continues once the paper is on the wall. I had to keep going over the seams to make sure they were down and that edges were not coming away from the wall. No matter how much paste I put under the seams, or how tacky I let the paste get, it didn’t seem to want to grab those edges.

Once the paper is good and dry, though, usually the seams lie down nice and flat, and any blisters or wrinkles will disappear.

Clay-based paste has less moisture content, and could possibly help reduce the waffling. I hate clay paste, though, because it’s hard to wipe off woodwork and off the surface of the wallpaper, and because it works its way through the paper and casts a tan tinge on the paper.

One thing that will help with issues like these is a liner paper. A liner is a plain paper of a special material that is applied to the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It’s job is to absorb moisture from the paste, which causes the paper to dry more quickly, and to “lock down” the seams quickly. So a liner has its place, but it does add an extra day of labor, plus the cost of the liner material.

Interestingly, the Stroheim instructions did not spec a liner; only a good quality wallpaper primer (which I did use). They also did not spec clay-based paste, but recommended three different types of clear pastes (vinyl, wheat, or cellulose), each of which is distinctly different and contains different moisture contents. I would think wheat or cellulose to be too thin and weak to adequately adhere this particular material.

I’ve hung plenty of their products and had no problems with waffling or curling seams; it’s clear that the company has a blanket set of instructions that they stuff into every roll, with no regard to the substrate it’s printed on or the type of ink that was used.

The other thing is, most of the time, you don’t know what you’re going to be working with until you show up at the job site. Even if you research the brand and pattern number ahead of time, there will likely be no mention of the type of substrate or the “mothball” smelling ink. If I had known, I would probably have suggested that this homeowner use a liner. Beyond that, it’s good to have your truck stocked with a variety of primers and adhesives.

Back to the difficult room … I always say that a window like that is easy for you to look at, but very difficult for me to get paper around, at least while keeping the pattern straight and properly lined up. That’s because papers stretch and twist when they get wet with paste, and can contort out of whack. And the wider the obstacle you are working around, the more the paper can go off-kilter. So you can start perfectly lined up on the left of the window, but by the time you get to the right side, the strip coming down from the top of the wall may not line up with the pattern coming across horizontally below, and the two edges may not butt up perfectly, either.

It didn’t help that the pattern had an irregular hand-drawn look, so I couldn’t use a ruler to make sure every horizontal line was equidistant from the window molding. So that window wall took about two hours in itself.

Then there was the wall on the right, with the four cubbyholes in between the three shelves. I had to get two strips of paper on the backs of each of those cubbies, keep the seams from curling, and keep the pattern straight, continuing to four more strips on the wall to the right (the inside side of the wall you see on the right of the photo next to the door molding), so that all four of those strips would line up with one long piece coming down from the ceiling. Oh, and did I mention the extremely unlevel ceiling? This wall in itself took about three hours.

Actually, the irregular hand-drawn look of the pattern helped immensely, because the pattern didn’t have to line up exactly perfectly. Also, the way it was printed on the paper, the design motifs didn’t cross a seam, so that allowed me to raise or lower a strip slightly, to keep the pattern where I wanted it, without disrupting the look of the design. In fact, it was possible to not follow the correct pattern match, and the eye really couldn’t detect it. I could also cut strips vertically to narrower widths, to suit the area I was working in.

There were a few other tricks I pulled out of my hat, in lining up the design after coming around the window and shelf walls, to plumb up the pattern after turning a corner, and to disguise the very unlevel ceiling. The kill point (last strip meets up with first strip) turned out amazingly undetectable, with very little tweaking from me.

In the end, the nook turned out fantastic, and is ready to host children’s performances, reading marathons, or just gazing out the window.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and on whole-house remodels, and is a great resource for finding and coordinating all the details – tile, plumbing and light fixtures, rugs, furniture, lamps, accessories, paint colors, and, of course – wallpaper. 🙂

A Kaleidoscope of Mid-Century Modern, Frank Lloyd Wright – Wild

July 7, 2018

What a fun pattern from Bradbury & Bradbury, in their newish line of “Atomic Age,” Mid Century Modern, in the theme of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright!

The young couple that bought this mint-condition, Mid-Century home in the Medical Center / Reliant Stadium neighborhood of Houston is way crazy about the modern look, and wanted an accent wall in the kitchen breakfast nook to both play up that theme, as well as bring color into the room.

There are four bright orange molded plastic “mod” chairs that will ring around that round table.

The pattern is called Kaleidoscope. The wallpaper is custom made, but is not outrageously expensive. It comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand. (Do a search here for pics and more info on this process.) The paper is normally hung vertically, but the homeowners liked the design better run horizontally (called railroading in wallpaper terms).

It took a lot of trimming, plotting, planning, and engineering, plus plenty of time with the laser level (see second photo), to get the pattern matched correctly and then laid out on the wall so everything lined up perfectly. I also took steps to keep as much paste off the woodwork and shutters as possible. Yeah, it wipes off relatively easily. But always best to keep it off in the first place.

Hand Trimming A Patterned Grasscloth

June 7, 2018

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Most wallpapers come with their edges pre-trimmed by the manufacturer. But some – usually the higher-end products – come with the selvedge edge intact, which means the installer has to hand-trim the material to remove this unprinted edge.

This is done with a straightedge (not shown in the photo), a single-edge razor blade (lots of them!), an appropriate surface to cut into, and a steady hand.

The manufacturer will print marks (trim guides) on the wallpaper, so you know where to trim. But these are not always accurate, so often you have to go by an element in the design (1/4″ away from the tip of the red dog’s nose).

You also have to use a tape measure to make certain that the width of the strip is the same along it’s entire length. If it’s not, you will end up with a trapezoid, or a strip with one or both edges that are shaped like a boomerang – and no strip of wallpaper will butt up against a boomerang!

Hand-trimming is tedious and time-consuming and precise. It’s important to have the right equipment, to pay attention, to take your time, and to have a steady hand.

Stinky Ink = Curling Seams

March 25, 2018


Some higher-end wallpapers are screen-printed with an ink that smells like moth balls. We call this stinky ink. And it’s a stinker to work with – because the edges curl badly. The inked surface of the paper absorbs moisture from the paste differently from the backing, so the backing swells and expands, pushing the inked surface away… resulting in curled edges. The top photo shows the edges curling on the pasted and booked strip, and the second photo shows the edges curling on the wall. I tried a lot of tacts, but could not get the seam to lie down.

This paper has a selvedge edge that is to be trimmed off by the installer(straight edge and razor blade and a steady hand). When I tried this standard technique, the seams curled and would not lie flat.

So I tried another approach. I put the pasted but un-trimmed paper on the wall, and then used the double-cut technique. A double cut is essentially a splice – you position one strip, then position the next strip, overlapping an inch or so of the second strip vertically over the edge of the first strip, all while lining up the pattern.

More clearly, you’re overlapping the left edge of the new strip onto the right edge of the existing strip.

Then, using the custom-made trim guide tool seen in the photo, and with a strip of 3″ wide heavy polystyrene plastic (called a Boggess strip, after the guy who invented and sells it) on the wall to protect it from being scored, I used a new single-edged razor blade to carefully cut through both layers of wallpaper.

In the third-to-last photo, I am removing the excess paper left at the seams after this trimming. In the second-to-last photo, I am smoothing the paper back into place. It’s also important to wipe off all paste residue left on the surface of the paper.

Who knows why, but this technique results in nice, flat, tight seams, with edges that do not curl.

Same paper, same paste, same wall – but no curl. Go figure.

Double-cutting takes more time, patience, material, and equipment. But when it’s called for, it might be the salvation for a contrary paper.

Selvedge Edge Needs To Be Trimmed Off By Hand

March 24, 2018


The wallpaper mentioned in my previous post had an unprinted selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand. I used my heavy brass-bound straight edge (not shown) as a guide. This takes a lot more time and precision than hanging pre-trimmed goods.

Fireworks Light Up A Baby’s Ceiling

November 10, 2017

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This soon-to-be-new-mom has loved this wallpaper pattern for eons. I worked for the couple in their previous home, and she really wanted to use it, but could not find the right space. Now, in a larger home and with a baby girl on the way, Mom finally found the perfect place to showcase this fun pattern.

The fireworks pattern spreads out sensationally across the ceiling of this nursery. It really pulls your eye up, yet doesn’t compete with the other décor in the room. Mom is going to use some bright pops of blue accents through out the room, as well as one large painting that pulls in the blue color.

This wallpaper is a product that had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, which is tedious and time-consuming. It is made by Donghia, and was bought at below retail price from 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.

“Sigourney” Wallpaper in China Seas Collection by Quadrille

June 16, 2017

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This “Sigourney” design by Quadrille is a well-loved wallpaper pattern. It comes in a large and a smaller scale. Today I hung the larger pattern.

This went in the large and sunny breakfast area of a new home in Oak Forest (Houston).

The wallpaper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, before the paper could go up. The heavy inks smell like mothballs, and fight against the paper backing, causing the paper to “waffle” (pucker) and the edges of the paper to curl.

My table-trimmed seams curled and didn’t want to lie down against the wall, so I ended up double-cutting (splicing) all the seams. Double-cutting involves a lot more steps and materials than simply butting factory-trimmed seams.

So this job took a lot more time and sweat than expected, but turned out looking fabulous.

Hand-Trimming Jill Malek Elephant Wallpaper

May 3, 2017

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This Jill Malek wallpaper came with a selvedge edge, just like most fabrics. See the first photo. The edges had to be trimmed off before the paper could go up.

In the second photo, I am using my 6′ straight edge and a sharp, new razor blade to trim off this selvedge.

It’s important that this be done carefully and precisely, so that the pattern matches correctly, and so that the seams will butt nicely with no gapping or overlapping. This process is tedious and time consuming.

Many of the higher-end brands furnish their paper in this way.