Posts Tagged ‘skim float’

Sticking to a Glossy Surface

January 15, 2020


Not many materials like to stick to a glossy surface. So today, when I had to skim-float a wall to smooth it, in order to help the joint compound adhere to the existing paint, I first wiped the wall down with Liquid Sandpaper – a chemical formulated to knock off the gloss and prepare the surface to accept the coating you are wanting to apply on top of it.

Foresty Mural on Med Center Condo Dining Room Accent Wall

January 11, 2020


Don’t you love the way this Bellewood “etched forest” look mural changes the dynamics of this dining area?! The homeowner did a super job of matching the paint below the chair rail to compliment the mural.

In the top photo, I have finished skim-floating the textured wall, and have three fans set in place to encourage quicker drying. Once it’s dry, I will sand and prime the wall.

This product comes as a 6-panel mural, digitally-sized to fit the space. This is great for this 5′ high wall, because it allows the whole pattern to be seen, whereas if it had been a stock 8′ high mural, most of the trees at the lower section would have been cut off.

The mural is called “Bellewood” and is by Rebel Walls. I have hung this several times before, so do a Search to see my previous posts.

The material is a non-woven substrate, which is tear-proof and does not expand, so it can be hung via the paste-the-wall method. This eliminates the need for my big work table, and it is cleaner and a bit quicker, too. The material is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to change decor.

Buy from Rebel Walls on-line. Remember to have the paperhanger measure before you order – murals are tricky.

Unpainted Baseboards – Not Ready for Wallpaper

January 2, 2020


This room is supposedly ‘ready for wallpaper.’ Yet the baseboards have not been painted.

If the painters come to paint the baseboards, I already anticipate what will happen.

I have skim-floated the walls, and will sand them when I come to finish the job later. So some of my smoothing compound has slopped onto the baseboard. No big deal. When I put up the paper and trim at the bottom I will need to wipe paste off the woodwork – and at that time, I will wipe off any residual smoothing compound.

But if the painters come and slap paint on now, I know they will not inspect the baseboards before they paint, and will put their paint right on top of the globs of smoothing compound. Thereverafter, there will be small but unsightly blobs and bumps embedded in the paint.

They will also let their brush run beyond the molding, and onto my smoothing compound. This will make it impossible for me to sand the compound. It will also create a glossy surface that the wallpaper paste will not stick to.

If they use painter’s tape to ‘protect’ the wallpaper, when they remove the tape, they will either take the inked layer along with it, or they will pull the paper itself completely away from the wall.

Again I rant: Have ALL the other work done before the wallpaper goes up.

10″ Head Space – I Can Do It!

December 13, 2019


Not only was there only a mere 10″ of clearance between the cabinet and the ceiling, the niche was way deeper than the typical cabinet, because below it was a 36″ deep refrigerator. Even standing on the very top of my ladder (ya know – the step that OSHA says NOT to stand on!), and contorting my whole torso on top of the cabinet, it was difficult to reach the back wall. And even more difficult to maneuver my hands and tools.

I managed to skim-float the area, sand it smooth, and prime it. Today it was time to get paper onto it.

The fewer tasks I had to do, the easier (and safer) it would be to accomplish.

The first thing I did was to trim the paper horizontally at the point where I wanted it to meet the ceiling. This eliminated the need for me to squeeze in a straightedge and trimming blade and try to manipulate them in the deep, narrow space.

Likewise, I wanted to avoid having to trim in the last corner (on the right). So I measured carefully, and pre-trimmed my last piece to fit. It was 3 7/8″ at the top, but widened to 4″ at the bottom.

After the strip got pasted and booked, it expanded a tad, so I had to trim off a teeny bit from the right edge. And also a little more off the upper right, due to the wall being un-straight at that point.

I was able to get my plastic smoother and damp microfiber cloth into the space, to smooth the strips to the wall and wipe off any paste residue.

Trick in Hopes to Stave Off Popped Seams from a Crumbly Wall

April 3, 2019


The walls in this powder room in the West U neighborhood of Houston had had many treatments over it’s life, including paint, more paint, skim-floating, wallpaper, and more. Sometimes, and particularly if prep is not done properly, these various layers are not compatible, and won’t adhere to one another well.

When the old wallpaper was removed, this was clear at the seams, where the various layers of the wall had pulled apart, leaving ridges along the length of each seam. This happens because the wallpaper dries and pulls taught and creates tension on the wall; if the wall is unstable, the layers can be pulled apart (delaminate). Sorry, no pics of the “before,” but you can do a search here to see pics of other rooms. This condition can happen over time, as the house fills with humidity and the paper absorbs it, then dries and shrinks again.

I dug out the raised ridges and applied tape over them, sealed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that dries hard. Then I skim-floated over all the walls, to create a smooth surface for the wallpaper. Sanded, wiped dust off with a damp sponge (nothing sticks to dust), and primed all walls with Gardz.

One good way to deal prevent this from happening again is to cross-line the walls with a special liner paper. This is a thin paper that is usually run horizontally before the actual decorative paper is hung. The idea is that if the new paper shrinks and applies tension, it will be distributed by the liner paper, and will not pull at the wall. If the liner shrinks and pulls, the tension is off-set by the decorative paper on top of it. So the two layers are working together to distribute any harmful tension on the wall surface.

Unfortunately, using liner adds a day of labor plus the cost of the material. The homeowner’s budget had already been busted by other factors, so she wanted to keep the job to one day. After collaborating with my colleagues in the Wallcovering Installers Association on our Facebook page, I decided to try this method:

From Office Max I got some plain old cash register tape. I plotted where each seam would fall, and used my laser level to guide placement of a floor-to-ceiling strip of the tape. I adhered it with regular wallpaper paste. At first, I worried that it would soak up moisture and bubble, but once it was smoothed into place, it laid down nice and flat.

Then I hung the wallpaper. The seams fell nicely on top of the tape, held tightly, and looked beautiful. There is the possibility of seeing a very slight ridge under the paper because of the thickness of the tape, but it’s very minimal because the tape is quite thin. And it’s much preferable to popped seams or delaminated walls.

The idea is that the tape will bridge the seam, and distribute tension from the drying paper across the width of the tape, keeping tension away from the wall itself. The tape is very thin, and doesn’t appear to have much tensile strength, but my buddies who have tried this method say it works well.

Time will tell, but I have a lot of confidence in this method.

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.

Leopards Walk the Room Right

August 19, 2018


I’ll be the first to admit – I love a darkly decorated room. But this all-black powder room in the home of a young couple in the Heights neighborhood of Houston was not making the grade. With shiny black paint on all four walls, there was nothing to define the room. You literally could not even see where one wall ended and another began. And the work had been done poorly, with zillions of bumps and bits of stuff stuck in the paint.

My first task was to use Liquid Sandpaper to degloss the shiny paint. Then I skim-floated the walls to smooth over the irregularities. Sanded smooth, wiped off the dust with a damp sponge, then primed with the penetrating sealer Gardz. Sorry, no pic of the prepped walls.

The new homeowner was fine with the dark idea, but she wanted something fun and a little sassy, that would wake you up when you walk into the room. These marching rows of leopards do just that!

The new wallpaper is still dark. But not quite as dark. And because it has pattern and some variations in color, you can easily see the corners, and each individual wall. The room is no longer stark and oppressive, but warm and fun.

This wallpaper design is called Leopard Walk, and is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is a thin and flexible non-woven material with a vinyl surface that will resist splashes and stains better than most papers.

Gently Updating a Sharpstown Dining Room

August 10, 2018


A few years ago, I papered the entry of this mid ’60’s ranch style home in the Sharpstown neighborhood of Houston. Now the homeowners were ready for an update to their dining room. As is typical of the homes from this era, just the top of one wall in this room was papered. The top photo shows the original wallpaper – still in perfect condition.

There were complications to getting the paper off the wall, so I elected to skim-float over it, sand smooth, and then prime with the penetrating sealer called Gardz.

The third shot shows the finished wall. The design has a metallic sheen to it, and an interesting pattern of color that changes subtly as you move around the room.

The homeowner is kicking around the idea of painting the bottom of the wall a darker aqua color, which will balance the wall nicely.  If they get brave enough, they might paint the whole room a soft aqua.  🙂

This wallpaper pattern is by York, and 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.

Smoothing Textured Walls

June 16, 2018


I like walls to be nice and smooth when the wallpaper goes up, first so the texture doesn’t show under the new paper, and second so the paper has an intact, flat surface to grab ahold of. When homes have textured walls, I skim float them with joint compound (which we calls mud) to smooth them.

To skim float, I use a trowel to spread the smoothing compound onto the walls. In the top photo, the upper portion of the wall has been skimmed, and you can see the compound drying around the edges and in high areas. It goes on grey, and when it’s dry, it will turn white. The second photo shows the box that the mud comes in, enclosed in a plastic bag, to retain its moisture.

To help speed the drying process along, I set fans up blowing on the walls, as you see in the second photo. I have three fans, and they will be positioned differently for maximum air blastage. Having the air conditioner cranking away and the house fan on also help to circulate air and pull humidity out of the air. In small powder rooms where the door can be closed and the climate supervised closely, I get a space heater going, which also helps pull humidity out of the air. For stubborn areas, I get out the heat gun – it’s like a hair dryer on steroids. 🙂

Once the mud is dry, I sand the walls smooth, then vacuum up the dust that falls to the floor, then wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then finally prime the walls. For this application, I use Gardz, a penetrating sealer which soaks into the joint compound and binds it together, and which is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on. Sorry, no photo of the Gardz or of the finished wall – but you can Search here to find previous posts.

Bohemian Chic in a Master Bedroom

September 3, 2017

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The walls in this 2nd floor addition to a 1950 ranch style home in west end of the Houston Heights started with a heavy texture and gloss paint.  The project was an 18′ wide accent wall in a master bedroom.

I skim-floated to smooth the wall, and it took a full day of multiple fans blowing at high speed, hitting areas with the heat gun, and alternating between cold air-conditioning and warm forced-air heat to get them to dry.

The third photo shows how they looked after sanding and priming.

The homeowners have a real eclectic taste in decorating, with lots of furnishings and accessories that are vintage, worn, quirky, repurposed, colorful, and the like.  I love this medallion pattern because it goes with the home’s aesthetic… and just look at how it matches the bedspread!

Keeping the medallions straight at the top of the wall took some tweaking, because the walls were not plumb, nor was the crown molding level.  In the end it looks great.

The wallpaper is a non-woven material and a paste-the-wall installation.  The seams were positively invisible.  The paper is by A Street Prints, by Brewster, and came from the U.K.  It 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.