Posts Tagged ‘Sheetrock’

Sometimes (Rarely) You Have To Hang Over Old Wallpaper

September 18, 2020


It’s always best, for many, many reasons, to remove old existing wallpaper before hanging new. Especially if that old paper is vinyl or non-woven or thick / textured.

But sometimes, it just isn’t feasible. Here, the original installer didn’t use a primer, so his wallpaper bonded to the bare Sheetrock and would not come off without taking the top layer of drywall along with it. I worked at it for an hour, but only removed about 10 square feet – and much of that included damaged drywall.

So, time to try another tact. This method only works with paper (not vinyl or anything thick or textured), and the original paper has to be tightly secured to the wall. First, I removed any loose areas – usually over joints in the drywall that have been coated with joint compound (it’s porous and sucks the paste off of the wallpaper).

Then I took joint compound and skim-floated over any uneven areas or any sections of torn drywall, and all wallpaper seams. Seams may feel flat, but once new wallpaper is on top of them, the vertical lines of seams will telegraph through and be visible.

Once that was dry, I sanded smooth and “feathered out the edges,” then wiped off all dust with a damp sponge. See top photo.

Then I rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer, Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977, and made sure to cut in around the edges with a trim brush. This primer sticks to just about anything, including the light acrylic protective coating on most paper wallpapers, such as what I had today. It doesn’t penetrate the joint compound and cause the torn drywall to stretch or wrinkle. Nor will it allow moisture from the new wallpaper paste to penetrate through. And it’s lightly pigmented, so it works well under thin wallpapers.

Plus, it is formulated to receive and hold wallpaper, makes installation easier in many aspects, resists tension on the wall as wallpaper dries and shrinks, and eases removal of the wallpaper in the future.

Once the primer is dry, the room will be ready for its new wallpaper.

Serena & Lily Wallpaper Too Translucent

September 8, 2020


I guess that Serena & Lily is starting to print on non-woven substrates. I am not a fan (see yesterday’s post).

Besides being very stiff and uncooperative, this material is very translucent. As you see in the photo, the leaves of the second layer of wallpaper are clearly visible through the top layer.

This means that it’s likely that color imperfections on the wall will show through. New Sheetrock, for example, with its grey drywall interspersed with bands of white joint compound. Or hanging this product on a dark painted wall will result in a “dirty” cast underneath the paper, and will not yield the bright, crisp white look that S&L is known for.

As a primer, I like Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, which is a white-pigmented primer, and an ideal choice under thin, see-through material like this. But it is not a heavily-pigmented primer, so there is still the worry that the finished walls will not look as bright as they should.

I do hope that S&L will improve this product. There are tons of nice non-wovens available, so let’s hope they do some research and come up with a better substrate.

Replacing One Wall

April 13, 2019

I hung this sunburst medallion wallpaper in an entry in west Meyerland a year or two ago. Originally, there was a doorway in the middle of this wall that led into the adjoining room. The homeowners had the doorway closed off, and the opening was replaced with a new piece of Sheetrock. This needed to be covered with wallpaper.

New wallpaper could not be patched in, and the damaged areas along the wainscoting could not be readhered, so new paper had to be bought to cover the entire wall – as well as a section over the entry door.

The second and third photos show where the contractor had pulled the paper away from the wall. As you can see, it took some of the primer and the paint below it, too. I wish I knew what the contractor did to have this result, because when I stripped off the rest of the wallpaper, it came off easily and left the wall surface below it perfectly intact.

I suspect that he just yanked the paper, or possibly used heat or some weird chemical. The proper way to strip off wallpaper is to wet it, then separate the top, inked layer from the bottom, substrate layer, and pull the top layer gently off the wall. Then you take a sponge and bucket of water and wet the backing. Once that water reactivates the paste, the paper backing will come away from the wall easily and with little-to-no damage to the wall.

I also suspect that this paper was hung over KILZ Original oil-based primer, which was a superb primer because it stuck tight and because it was not affected or reactivated by the water used to soak the wallpaper backing. Unfortunately, the formula for that product changed due to EPA regulations, and wallpaper paste will no longer stick to it. These days, I’m using two alternative primers – both water-based, and I am curious to see how they hold up when wallpaper is stripped off them.

Back to today’s job … Once I got the paper off, I used joint compound (“mud”) to smooth over the uneven areas between the contractor’s stripping job and mine, then sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, primed, and then hung the new paper.

The wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut, and is called Bahia. It’s a non-woven product, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. As you can see, neither the contractor nor I had success with that. The tried and true separate-the-layers-and-saturate-the-backing-with-water method was the solution.

Hurricane Harvey Is Not Done With Houston

October 28, 2017

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It’s been two months since Hurricane Harvey swept across the South, wreaking destruction over much of the city of Houston (and countless communities to the west and east, along the Gulf Coast).

By now, many of the homes that were damage have been put 60% back together.

But many home owners are still struggling with the aftermath of the storm – sodden Sheetrock, wet studs, mold, warped floors, ruined doors and molding, on and on.

Across the street from where I worked today, ServiceMaster was putting a temporary patch on a roof, to keep out rain brought by the incoming cold front.

I am adding this note on February 4, 2018, five months after the storm.  Many homes are still not fixed / livable, and a whole lot have not even started.   It’s heartbreaking, seeing the families huddled in their upstairs, crammed in with what furniture and possessions they were able to haul up there, with the first floor devoid of drywall, flooring, curtains, not even a kitchen.  Many are still living with relatives or in rentals.  The stress is hard on relationships, too.

It will be a long road back to normalcy.

No Primer Under Wallpaper = Torn Drywall

July 24, 2017

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Today I stripped wallpaper off a kitchen where the previous installer had not bothered to prime the walls first, but hung his paper right on top of new Sheetrock.

This is very bad for many reasons.

` The walls will not have stick, so the new wallpaper will not have a proper surface to cling to – and this can cause curling seams, loose areas, and other problems.

` The walls will not have slip, which will make it much harder to install the new paper.

` With nothing separating the new wallpaper from the drywall, the paper will bond to the drywall, making it darned near impossible to get it off later.

This is what happened today. After I removed the top inked layer, and after I soaked the remaining paper backing for a while, the old wallpaper came away from the sections of the wall that were coated with joint compound or paint or wood stain.

But in areas of the wall that were just uncovered Sheetrock, the wallpaper grabbed tightly and could not be pulled off or scraped off. In stripping the wallpaper off these areas, some of the drywall came away, too, leaving areas that were torn and damaged.

These uneven, torn areas are problematic, because they leave bumps and ridges showing under the new wallpaper, and because, since they have no protective coating, they absorb moisture – from water, wallpaper paste, wallpaper primer, or other, and then they expand and then they bubble. Ridges and bubbles look like Hell under wallpaper.

The first photo is a wall to the right of the kitchen counter, where differing layers of drywall have been pulled off the wall. The dark brown area is the deepest.

The third photo is a newish product that is wonderful for sealing and “repairing” torn drywall. Gardz (by Zinsser) is a penetrating primer / sealer that soaks into the surface, binding things together. It dries quickly. When it is dry, it is impervious to moisture – which means that you can apply a water-borne primer over it, or you can skim-float it with joint compound, and not worry about bubbles appearing.

I applied Gardz to these areas of torn Sheetrock, let it dry, then skim-floated over it with joint compound, and then sanded it all smooth. Then I applied a second coat of Gardz.

In addition to making the surface very stable, Gardz serves as a good primer for wallpaper, because it’s molecular structure on its dry surface is such that the molecules of paste, attached to the new wallpaper, will grab on and hold tight.

In this case, because I like a white pigmented primer, and because I like hanging on it, I went over the walls with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. The last photo shows the wall after all that work. Finally ready for wallpaper!

Spring Time in a Powder Room

July 7, 2017

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I forgot my camera yesterday, the day I stripped off the old paper and prepped the walls, so I cannot show you the 15 year-old wallpaper with its curling seams, due to 1.) being an inexpensive paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper (my least favorite kind – do a Search here), and 2.) the previous installer did not prime the walls but instead hung the wallpaper directly on the new home’s bare Sheetrock, and 3.) age, heat, and humidity. The pattern, however, was not too dissimilar to this one, being a sort of “impressionistic painting” design in the same blue, pink, yellow, and green color scheme.

Anyway, the new powder room looks fantastic. The colors are similar to what the homeowner had before, but this wallpaper should hold up much better. The material is paper (not vinyl), and will hug the wall tightly. I removed every scrap of old paper and sealed the walls with a penetrating sealer named Gardz, and then primed with a wallpaper-specific primer called Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977.

On top of this good foundation, the new wallpaper is a pre-pasted, raised-ink paper by Thibaut, and is one of my favorite products to work with, and I also love it’s dependable performance down the road. The pattern is #6936, and is very similar to their “Augustine” hummingbird design (Do a Search here). I love the barely-discernible texture of these raised-ink papers. A unique printing process results in this effect.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Electrical Box Placement Throwing A Wrench in Wallpaper Job

January 25, 2017
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Here is a double-sink vanity in a master bathroom (Photo 1). For this post, we are focusing on the right sink and light fixture. In Photo 2, the original light fixture has been removed. It was a “bar” type fixture, meaning that it had a backplate and front cover that were rectangular (bar) shaped, and you can see the outline of that by the different paint color in the Photo 2.

In Photo 2, you also see the electrical box in the wall that supplies power to this light fixture. It is not centered over the sink. That was OK, because the original light fixture was centered over the vanity, not over the individual sink. The electrical box was not centered over the sink. This could be because there is a stud in the way, or because it was centered over a previous, pre-remodel sink that was situated differently, or because the electrician was lazy.

Either way, it didn’t matter, because an extra length of electrical wire was added, and the bar fixture was long enough that it could be moved horizontally to the desired position over the sink, and it was perfectly centered and looked wonderful.

The problem came when my clients, new owners of this ’50’s era, mid century modern ranch style home, wanted to install an updated, sleeker light fixture Photo 3). This new fixture has a canopy (front plate) that is plenty large enough to cover the electrical box. But it is NOT large enough to cover a trip horizontally across the wall to a point centered over the sink.

Which is another way of saying that if this new light fixture is positioned over the sink, as the homeowners want, it will not cover the electrical box, and the electrical box will show. And plus, the connections will not meet safety codes.

This leaves the owners in the hapless position of either living with the new light fixture slightly off-center over their sink. OR they can have the electrical box moved to exactly centered over the sink.

This is sometimes more easily said than done. There may be a wall stud in the way that prevents repositioning the electrical box. If the box can’t be moved, and the electrician elects to run a wire along or through the wall, there will be cut-up Sheetrock, and patches and possibly humps in the wall. Lots more complications that electricians and Sheetrockers know that I don’t.

And it caused the homeowner to have a delay in the installation of their dream wallpaper. I can’t hang wallpaper until the box is moved and the wall is repaired. And more cost top to pay the electrician – on top of the new wallpaper, new towel bars and light fixtures, and labor to install all of this.

Probably the worst part is having the wallpaper install scheduled, then not being able to move forward, and then having to scramble to find a qualified guy who can get the lights positioned correctly, and all with a quick turn-around, so the wallpaper install can happen within a reasonable time of the original install date.

Moral of the Story: If you are going to change light fixtures (or any fixtues), it’s a good idea to do this before the new wallpaper goes up.

Removing Pedestal Sink Tears Sheetrock

December 4, 2016

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These homeowners wanted the new wallpaper to fall seamlessly behind their powder room sink, so there would be no cut edge that could wick up splashed water, which could cause curling. So they had a plumber remove the sink. This also makes it immensely easier for me to hang the paper, because I don’t have to cut around the sink or pipes.

But since the sink was caulked to the wall, when it was pulled away from the wall, some of the drywall also pulled away, leaving torn areas. These torn areas are bad because they cause uneven areas under the wallpaper, and also because the moisture from the wallpaper paste will cause the compromised areas in the drywall to bubble.

So I sealed the torn areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer by Zinsser, which is formulated to soak into porous surfaces, then dries hard, sealing them and preventing moisture from passing through, and thereby preventing bubbling.

The next step was to skim-float over the torn areas, let dry, and then sand smooth, to even out the surface. A final coat of Gardz sealed the patched area.

Wallpaper Repairs

November 26, 2016
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Some people get upset when there is a fair amount of wallpaper left over after the room is finished. This Clear Lake (Houston) couple felt the same, 15 years ago when I papered their kitchen and powder room. Well, come 2016, and the 40-year-old pipes in their ’70’s era home began to fail. Bottom line – they had to have the whole house completely re-piped. And to do that, the plumbers had to cut holes here and there in the drywall. When the drywall gets messed up, so does the wallpaper. Good thing they had extra wallpaper on hand!

The plumbers did a good job of patching the Sheetrock and then floating over the joints where the new patched-in drywall met the old. But there were still some areas that I needed to refloat and / or sand smooth, and then prime, before the wallpaper could be replaced.

The 2nd and 3rd photos show the soffit or fur down over the kitchen cabinets, first with the plumbers’ patch, and then with my new wallpaper repair.

The powder room had a swirly pattern, and had four walls that needed wallpaper repairs. In this room, as shown in the 5th photo, I appliquéd the new paper over the existing paper. Cutting along the design helps disguise the patch by eliminating visual breaks.

There is even a little paper still left over, in case another calamity strikes and more wallpaper repairs are needed. 🙂

Meticulous Craftsmanship vs. Who Gives a Flip?

November 6, 2016
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Last Saturday (see my Glass Beads post), I worked in a new construction home in the Houston Heights built by Ridgewater Homes. I was struck by the high quality of workmanship in every area of the home. I was equally impressed by the time and attention the workers put into prepping sites before beginning any work. As an example, in the powder room where I was hanging wallpaper, every inch of baseboard, the whole vanity top, and even the entire light sconces had been protected by plastic and blue painter’s tape. See first photo.

In contrast, today I worked in a new construction home – by a builder who will not be identified – in Timber Grove, just west of the Heights. They painted without bothering to cover anything with tape or plastic, so, as you see in the second photo, the beautiful stained woodwork and floors are covered with paint splatter.

The third photo is dark, but to the left of the light switch you can see a 3/4″ gap in the wall, and above the switch is a 1/4″ gap. Another photo shows torn and bulging drywall around a light switch, and another shows Sheetrock screws (just two of many) protruding from the wall.

Here you see the difference between a custom home builder, and a custom home craftsman. I would much prefer to live in the home by Ridgewater.