Posts Tagged ‘shrink’

Tape Test for Unstable Walls

September 21, 2022

There can be reasons for unstable walls, mostly cheap or poor quality paint, dust, someone applied paint over dust, improper prep, incompatible layers inside the wall built up over years (oil based paint, latex paint, dust, gloss paint, joint compound, etc.).

These can cause problems with wallpaper, mostly with the layers delaminating (coming apart), which causes the wallpaper seams to come away from the wall. Sometimes sheets of wallpaper simply fall off the wall.

This isn’t so much a problem with paint, because it just sits on the surface. But wallpaper shrinks when the paste dries, or expands and contracts with humidity, and can put tension on the seams

Before wallpaper goes up, one way to test for such unstable surfaces is the tape test . Use a razor blade to cut an “X” into the wall, scoring through the paint and maybe into a few layers beneath. Place a strip of blue painters tape over the cut. Pull the tape off the wall.

If paint comes away from the wall along with the tape, or if layers inside the wall come apart, you know you have to do a lot of specialized prep to stabilize the wall before hanging / installing the wallpaper.

This example is an interesting twist. The homeowner used a piece of tape to hold up a wallpaper sample. Then used an ink pen to write notes on it. When removed, the tape took the paint off – in the shape of the writing!

Leopards Prowl Inspired Powder Room

August 5, 2022
Vanity wall was originally textured and painted with a semi-gloss . Here it’s been skim-floated , sanded , and primed – ready for wallpaper.
Finished. There’s a cool light-up mirror that will hang on the brackets under the light fixture .
Opposite corner before.
Finished. This room wouldn’t have half the impact without the black moldings and ceiling. The homeowner said she envisioned a jewel box – all tufted and lined with velvet . Well, I’d say she nailed the look!
As the dark and mysterious wallpaper moved from left to right, the room began to take on a mood . I love the juxtaposition between a clad wall and a bare wall.
Close-up.
Detail.
The husband is handy, and I really appreciate that he removed the vanity and sink . This made it a lot faster and easier for me, and ensured better adhesion of the wallpaper around the plumbing pipes . And also eliminated stress and creases on the paper that can happen when bending and folding to work it around obstacles.
Here is the modern looking vanity that will go into the powder room .
To keep white primer from showing at the seams , I striped black paint on the wall under where each seam would fall. Do a Search here to read previous posts about this technique.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store , a scrap of sponge , and a bottle cap full of water . Do a Search here to read previous posts about the process and materials .
I also run chalk along the edges of the wallpaper, to cover up the white substrate , to ensure there will be no white peeking out at the seams . Again, do a Search on key words to learn more about this technique .
Dang it! I forgot to take a picture of the label! But this wallpaper is by York and is called On The Prowl .
It’s vinyl on a non-woven backing . The instructions said you could paste the wall for installation . But I pasted the paper, and I think with this product it’s better, because it did seem to want to expand a bit. If you paste the wall and then the paper stretches, you’ll end up with buckles at the seams or bubbles within the strips .
The material was fairly flexible , which was nice because it allowed me to “mush” the paper to conform to some pretty un-plumb walls.
Although York is one of my favorite brands , I wasn’t real crazy about this particular wallpaper. Still, it seamed up nicely, didn’t shrink, has a vinyl surface that will resist splashes and fingerprints , and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate .
This is a townhome in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

Dwunk Cwitters – Dark Seams

July 29, 2022
Re my previous post , it’s very common for wallpaper to shrink just a tad when the paste dries, and this can leave you with teeny gaps at the seams. So when hanging a dark paper like this, I like to stripe a band of black paint under where the seams will fall. This way, if the paper does gap at the seams, you will see dark, and not the white wallpaper primer .
I measure and plot where each seam will fall and then run a stripe of diluted water-based craft paint (from Michael’s or Texas Art Supply) under where the seam will be. I wet a scrap of sponge and dip it in the paint, adding water as needed. Don’t make it too thick or dark. Because you want the wallpaper adhering to the wallpaper primer underneath all this.
On top of the wallpaper primer, the craft paint dries pretty quickly. But I use a heat gun to be sure the paint is good and dry before hanging each strip.
Don’t paint more than one or two stripes at a time, because wallpaper stretches and expands when it gets wet with paste , and it’s difficult to predict exactly where each seam will fall. For the same reason, be sure your stripes are at least 1/2″ wide, if not a full inch.
Additionally, I’ll take a pastel chalk (NOT an oil pastel – oil stains wallpaper) and run it from the backside along the white edges of the wallpaper, to prevent any white edges from showing at the seams. Do a Search here to see previous posts about that trick .

More William Morris Strawberry Thief in Houston Heights Hall Bathroom

June 24, 2022
Because I feared unstable walls in this 1920’s bungalow in this neighborhood (do a Search for previous posts), before hanging the decorative wallpaper, first I hung a non-woven liner paper on all the walls. That’s the white material you see in the photo.
The liner was hung horizontally so its seams can’t line up with the decorative paper. The idea is to disperse tension from drying wallpaper and changes due to humidity and etc., so as to deflect tension away from sketchy wall surfaces, and thus prevent delamination of multiple unstable layers deep inside the wall. Again, do a Search here to learn more.
Finished vanity area, with pattern centered on the light fixture.
Corner shot.
This colorful and symmetrical pattern is quite popular; I’ve hung it a number of times just this year.
Englishman William Morris designed wallpaper and fabrics during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The styles then were Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts. This design reflects a bit of each.
Wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and then can shrink just a tad as it dries. The liner helps prevent that, but you can still end up with teeny gaps at some seams.
To prevent the white backing from showing through, I run a stripe of dark paint under where each seam will fall.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store, diluted with a little water (in the orange bottle cap) and smeared on the wall with a scrap of sponge. Use a ruler or level and a pencil to mark where you want to stripe the dark paint.
Remember to allow for that expansion as the paper absorbs moisture from the paste. Meaning, if the paper is 20.5″ wide, and expands 1/2″, you’ll want to run your line at about 21.” And make sure that your painted swath is about an inch wide.
I also run a bit of dark chalk along the edges of each strip, to prevent the white substrate from showing at the seams (no photo).
Morris & Co. makes this iconic Strawberry Thief.
Interestingly enough, most times when I’ve hung a Morris paper, it’s been a non-woven paste-the-wall material.
Today’s option was a surprise – a traditional British pulp . This is a pretty basic and somewhat old-fashioned type of substrate . Sort of like construction paper, or the pages of an old family Bible .
The paper is very fragile , and can tear easily. You have to keep using new razor / trimming blades, because the material dulls blades quickly, and when dull they will drag and tear the paper.
Pulp papers also require a soaking / booking time after pasting , to allow time for the material to absorb the paste , soften a bit, and expand . The edges of the strips like to dry out , so I’ve learned to dip about 1/4″ of the booked ends ( booked means the pasted side of the wallpaper strip is folded onto itself, bottom edge folded up and top edge folded down to meet in the middle), into a bucket of clean water.
Then it goes into a black plastic trash bag to soak and relax for a few minutes before hanging. I use this opportunity to paste the next strip.
Non-woven wallpapers have advantages, because they do not expand when wet, and therefor you can get accurate measurements. They also can be pasted and hung immediately, with no waiting time. Alternately, you can paste the wall .

It’s A Misconception That A Liner Will Smooth A Textured Wall

May 25, 2022

A theory has been circulating for decades that a liner disguise texture or imperfections in a wall. A liner is a special paper applied to the walls before the actual decorative wallpaper goes up. It has its purpose – but smoothing walls is not one of them. At least, not in my opinion.

Here you see an area where a pedestal sink has been removed. In so doing, part of the drywall was torn away (the reddish brown area) and the wall surface is left uneven.

I’m using liner in this room for another reason. Here it has been applied over the damaged area. As you can see, the uneven texture of the wall shows right through (we say that it telegraphs ). Once the liner is good and dry, it will shrink and pull even tighter to the wall, and the ridges underneath will be even more visible.
And once the wallpaper goes up, all this will telegraph through the new wallpaper, as well.
Here’s the liner paper I used today. It’s a fairly thick, stiff, non-woven material, so has more ” bridging ” power than other types of liner paper. Still, as you see above, it’s not enough to smooth textured or uneven wall surfaces.
The only way to properly and thoroughly smooth a textured wall, IMO , is to skim-float it and then sand it smooth, and then apply a wallpaper primer. Please do a Search here (upper right corner) to find previous posts on this process.

Manufacturer Prints Dark Paper on Dark Substrate

March 15, 2022
One potential problem with wallpaper is that it can shrink as the paste dries, and that can open up very slight gaps at the seams. If this happens with a dark paper, you can sometimes see the white substrate / backing peeping out from the seam.
Here the manufacturer has gone the extra mile and provided a darker substrate. It’s not as dark as the surface of the wallpaper, but it will sure soften the look if the seams should open a tad.
In the photo, the white paper towel is there to show comparison with the grey backing of the wallpaper.
For more information on this topic and how to deal with it, do a Search of my previous posts using key words.

Paint Not Sticking to Wall

March 13, 2022
Here I’ve covered the wall (pale blue area) with wallpaper primer. Because I want to avoid the light wall from showing between the seams should the paper shrink as it dries, I’ve striped under the seam area with diluted dark paint from the hobby store.
But you can see there are areas where the paint is not adhering. What’s up?
The original surface was a gloss paint. My wallpaper primer will stick to gloss paint. But in this case, some small areas were missed when my paint roller passed over it.
Then when I swiped on the dark paint, it adhered well to the matt finish of my primer. But it could not grab ahold of the small areas of gloss paint peeking out from under my primer.
If this were a large area, I would be worried. Because wallpaper paste doesn’t like to stick to glossy surfaces, either.
But the areas of gloss not covered by my primer are minimal, and won’t interfere with adhesion of the new wallpaper.

Preventing White From Showing At The Seams

March 10, 2022
When wallpaper gets wet with paste, it expands a bit. And when it dries, it can shrink just a tad. That teeny gap at the seams can expose the wall underneath it. This can happen even with the non-woven materials, which are supposed to be dimensionally stable.
In addition, manufacturers usually print on a white substrate, so sometimes you see the edges of the paper at the seams, too.
All this is much more noticeable on a dark paper, such as here.
One thing I do to prevent / minimize this is to strip the wall with dark paint under where the seams will fall. So even if a seam opens up a bit, you’ll see dark, not white.
Since non-woven wallpapers don’t expand (much), it’s easy to measure the width of your strips and plot where the seams will fall, use a level, and then apply the paint.
I use plain old craft paint from the hobby store. I use a scrap of sponge and dip that in water (in my orange bottle cap) then into the paint, and then run my stripe down the plumb line I’ve drawn on the wall or used my laser level to shoot a vertical line.
It’s important to not get the paint too heavy or thick, because the wallpaper paste may not want to grab ahold of paint like it wants to hold on to a wallpaper primer. And definitely don’t use a gloss paint.
Be sure that it’s good and dry before you hang the wallpaper. A heat gun will speed things along if needed.
Not pictured, but you can look up other posts here … I also take a bit of chalk of a corresponding color and run it along the edge of the wallpaper to cover up that white edge. It’s important to apply the chalk from the back, to avoid getting any on the front of the wallpaper. Some colleagues use water markers, pencils, or gouache paint. Whatever you use, do not use anything with oil-based inks or colors. These will bleed and stain your wallpaper.
Chalking the edges is more important than striping the wall, IMO.
This pattern is called Allure and is by Graham & Brown , a brand I like a lot.

Kill Point Over Door, Ridge, More

February 25, 2022
After you’ve hung wallpaper on all the walls in a room, the point where your last strip meets up with the first strip is called the kill point . This virtually always ends up in a pattern mis-match. That’s why you engineer to place it in an inconspicuous place, such as behind a door.
This powder room, though, had no hidden corner or handy door. That meant that I would have a pattern mis-match a full 5′ high, to the left of the toilet you see here. I prefer to have the pattern match in a corner like this. As you can see – it does. I will explain how I accomplished that.
I decided to place the kill point over the door. Even though this space is 2′ high and a mis-match might be noticeable, not many people are looking up over the door, so it’s a better choice than in a 5′ or 9′ long corner.
The dark smudges on the wall in the photo are where I’ve spread paint, to prevent white walls from peeking out, should the dark wallpaper shrink as the paste dries.
Here I’ve positioned the strip on the left. This leaves a gap of about 3″. Once I match the new strip up to the piece on the right, its pattern will not match perfectly with the strip on the left.
Now I’ve positioned both strips, and the one on the right is overlapping the one on the left.
Here’s an idea of what the pattern mis-match will look like. To be honest, it’s not all that bad, with this busy pattern and being up over the door. Still, I thought I could make it look better.
I’m going to do a double cut , which is our installers’ fancy term for a splice. I’m going to cut through the two strips, splicing them together, cutting along the vertical foliage elements, to minimize cut-off motifs and to disguise the splice.
When double cutting on the wall, it’s really important that you slice through the two layers of wallpaper only , and not cut into the primer or wall surface beneath. This is because, if the wall surface becomes scored or compromised, when the wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks and pulls taught, it can put tension on the wall surface. If the surface is not intact, it can give way and actually come apart ( delaminate ), resulting in wallpaper that comes away from the wall – and there’s nothing beneath it to paste it back to.
I’ve blogged about this before, so do a Search here to learn more. It’s important!
Anyway, to protect the wall beneath where I will make my splice cut, I’ve placed three layers of scrap wallpaper, to pad the wall. I figure I can cut through the two top layers, but not all five.
Note that three layers of non-woven material have some thickness, and can “throw off” the splice cut and prevent the top two strips from fitting together perfectly. In this case, the paper is flexible enough that I’m not worried about that particular scenario.
The strips are in place, and I’m ready to make my cut. I prefer to use a single-edged razor blade held in my fingers, rather than a blade-holder. What’s most important is that the blade be brand new and spankin’ sharp!
Here I’ve made my cut and am removing excess paper from the right side of the top strip. Look carefully and you can see how my razor blade followed the contours of the vertical foliage design elements.
Here I’ve removed the excess paper from the left edge of the bottom strip. You can see they are poised to fit together nicely.
Before fitting the two strips back together, though, I’m examining the wall surface. Check the photo carefully, and you’ll see that I did, after all, score into the primer. 😦 The surface below is skim-coat that was used to smooth a textured wall – and another potential layer that may come apart when exposed to tension from the drying wallpaper.
Shoulda used a Boggess Strip. https://www.steveboggesspaperhanging.com/lexanpage.htm
One way to prevent the wall from delaminating is to put something over the compromised area, to distribute the tension of the drying paper and take it away from the cut wall. Here I’ve taken a scrap of wallpaper, which is a tough non-woven material, and carefully peeled the printed surface from the white substrate (no pic of that process). Now I have a thin material that I can use to pad the wall.
I’m using the black printed side facing out, in case the spliced strips shrink a little – anything peeping out will be black and not noticeable.
Here is the bit of paper in place, spanning across the cut on the wall.
Now I’ve smoothed the two top strips back into place. Since my double cut followed along the vertical foliage elements as much as possible, and because I cut around the gold flowers to keep them full and round, the pattern looks like it matches up just about perfectly.
But wait! … What’s that lump / ridge under the wallpaper, the full height of the seam? That’s my seam padding! Doesn’t look great.
I’m really surprised at this. The non-woven wallpaper material is thick. But that’s why I pulled the top and bottom layers apart, to make my patch piece thinner. I guess not thin enough. Once dried, this ridge is going to be obvious.
But, to be honest, this is up over a door where no one’s going to be spending much time looking. In addition, once I get my 100 watt light bulb out of there and replace the homeowners’ original, small light fixture, this bump under the wallpaper will be pretty much indiscernable.
Still, that lump was buggin’ me. Another invention from my colleague Steve Bogges to the rescue! Pictured is his seam tape , which was made specifically for this type situation. This is very thin – yet strong – paper tape that is used to bridge cut areas like this, and prevent tension from drying wallpaper from tugging at unstable walls.
The tape has a pre-pasted side (the gloss you see), and feathered edges, to make it less noticeable under wallpaper.
Hard to see, but here I’ve placed the seam tape over the cut wall areas
Now the two top strips have been smoothed back into place. Amazingly, no bump from the seam tape beneath shows. And the pattern mis-match is barely visible, too.
Win-win!
All that’s left to do is to wipe paste off the surface of the wallpaper. This overlapping and splicing does mean that wallpaper paste will get on the surface of the strip underneath. Actually, there is a way to prevent that, and it also involves products from Steve Boggess
But … that’s a blog post for another day …
This pattern is called Peonies and is by Rifle Paper.

Kitchen With Burst Pipe Water Damage Fixed and Finished

December 24, 2021
This kitchen in the Spring area of north Houston suffered severe water damage from burst pipes during the hard freeze in February 2021. Nearly a year later, they are almost finished with repairs, including new drywall on bottom of walls, new cabinets, new plumbing, cabinets, electrical, and more. Here you see the contractor’s repair work on top of some of the original wallpaper, which dates to the early 1980’s! It was a good brand, and the installer did a great job. For various reasons, I opted to leave this wallpaper in place, and so skimmed over uneven areas and then primed on top of it with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.
The homeowner’s new choice is very similar to the previous paper, but with a more springy feel and a lot of upward movement. The area below the chair rail will receive another coat of paint to better define the correct yellow color. Or, the homeowner may switch to a green pulled from the leaves in the pattern.
This wall with the fir-down / soffit was a real bugger, for various reasons, and took me about four hours.
Looks so sharp against the white paint and tile!
The wallpaper was printed on a white substrate, so I ran black chalk along the edges of each strip, to try to prevent white from showing at the seams. Still, some of the strips shrank just a half a tad, and that did allow some white to show. This wallpaper is a non-woven material, which has a high polyester content, and is not supposed to stretch or shrink, so this is disappointing. Pasting the wall and dry-hanging the material would have probably helped. But the material was extremely thick and stiff, and plus the room had way too many turns and bends and angles, so pasting the paper made the most sense. These gaps are very minor, and only visible when viewed from straight on; from an angle you can’t even see them. On some papers, I can pull some tricks out of my bag and camouflage them. But with this non-woven material, don’t even try anything with paint, marker, chalk or anything else – it will surely stain the material.
The walls are smooth. The slight texture you see is the non-woven material. When an edge is torn, you can actually see the polyester fibers – a lot like fiberglass. This material is very strong, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.
Manufacturer is Mind The Gap out of Transylvania (!), and the design is called Aquafleur, in the Anthracite color. The material comes as a 3-panel set, which they call one “roll.” The overall width of the A, B, and C panels side-by-side is about 5′, and the height is just under 10′. The height of the wall was less than 5,’ and the strips were nearly 10′ long, so at least 5′ was lost of each strip. Because the pattern was a mural type, rather than a typical repeating wallpaper design, even more paper was lost in working around the configurations of the room – for instance, a full 10′ strip would be needed to paper just one 9″ high strip above the door. So there was an incredible amount of waste – and this is a higher-priced boutique brand. But the lady of the house really loves it, and so she went with her heart.