Posts Tagged ‘skim-floated’

Sweetening an All-White Bathroom / Treating Trials

July 2, 2019



This homeowner was just trying to update her hall bathroom. She chose a new countertop, new tile, and new wallpaper. Unfortunately, some of the workmen who showed up for the job were less than stellar. I won’t say anything about the tile guys or the painters, but in the top photo, you can see how the “I can hang wallpaper” guy prepped the wall… which he proclaimed as “wallpaper-ready.”

I took down the light fixture, removed the remaining old wallpaper, and skim-floated the surface. Because the ridges in the original guy’s float job were so thick, I went there a few days early to get an initial layer of smoothing compound spread on the wall, so it would have time to dry. Then when I came back, I skim-floated the entire room. Because this second coat was thinner, it dried in a few hours (with fans, a space heater (to pull humidity from the air), and the home’s A/C unit cranking dry air through the room.)

I sanded smooth, vacuumed and wiped off the dust, and applied a coat of Gardz, which is my preferred primer for newly smoothed walls.

Mysterious tan dots worked their way through the smoothing compound and the Gardz. I didn’t know what they came from (mold, oil, tobacco, soft drink or food the workers splashed on the walls?), but I knew they would eventually bleed through the new wallpaper. So I rolled on BIN, a shellac-based stain-blocker made by Rust Oleum, to seal the wall.

This effectively sealed the stain, and the wall was nice and white after that.

A week later, I came back to hang the wallpaper. First I applied a coat of Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. For some reason, this product didn’t stick well to the BIN – which is surprising, because one reason I use this primer is because it sticks to anything, even glossy surfaces (the BIN was not particularly glossy). Look closely or enlarge the third photo, and you will see it sliding and dripping down the wall. Well, no fear. I brushed out the worst of the drips, and as the primer dried, it tightened up and clung flat and tight to the wall.

With the wall finally smooth and appropriately primed, I was ready to get that paper up on the wall. This was an old fashioned pulp paper, which the British companies were making before most of them switched to non-woven materials. I was looking forward to working with an authentic pulp paper, because it’s been a while since I’ve come across one.

But this one didn’t behave as most of them do… It was thicker and stiffer, which made trimming and intricate detail work difficult, and increased the potential for creasing (for instance, while fitting the paper into a corner at a ceiling line). And it sucked up paste and dried out way sooner than I could get a strip to the wall. So I ended up using a spray bottle to add extra moisture to the back of the paper while I was applying the paste. This did help a lot.

Some of the edges had been banged up during shipping, so some of the seams looked a little weathered. And the edges had not been cut perfectly straight at the factory, so we had a bit of what we call “gaps and overlaps.”

Still, the finished room looks great. With its sweet flowers and calming colors, the pattern reminds me of the Laura Ashley era. The blue really pops against the white woodwork and tile in the room, and the red roses are nothing short of romantic.

Such a happy turn-around, for a bathroom that started out full of trials and tribulations.

I’m not sure what the brand name is, but the label says “English Florals.” The homeowner found it on-line (free shipping!), and the cost was low – about $60 for a double roll bolt. The home is on the north side of Houston.

Advertisements

Fairytale Wonderland for Young Boy’s West U Bedroom

May 9, 2019


This young family in the West University Place neighborhood of Houston started out with another installation company that was not a good fit. They also started out with a wallpaper selection from a company that I find to be of poor quality (Hygge & West). I was honored that they let me take on the wallpaper install. AND that they listened to my suggestion to explore other manufactuers … the paper they chose is superior in quality, and is a far more charming and fitting design for their young son.

The walls originally had a light texture that I skim-floated over, then sanded smooth, and then primed with Gardz.

The new wallpaper is very similar in color to their original choice of palm leaves, so they could keep the trim and wainscot paint that had already been applied.

Whereas paper from the original manufacturer is known for curling and disappointing “pouches” at the seams, their final selection from Boras Tapeter (a Scandinavian company) is some of the most cooperative and best performing paper I have every worked with.

The seams are invisible, the material doesn’t expand (no pattern distortion or screwed up measurements) and it doesn’t shrink (no gaps at the seams). There is no booking time, so each strip can be pasted and then hung immediately. It can also be hung via the paste-the-wall method. It hugs the wall tightly and turns corners nicely. It doesn’t crease easily, as many thicker non-wovens do. When it’s time to redecorate, this non-woven material is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the wall. And the surface is more washable than most, making it well suited to a young child’s room.

And best of all, the “Wonderland” design, with frolicking animals and whimsical foliage, is much better suited to a child’s room than the original palm leaf option.

This wallpaper pattern is by Boras Tapeter, 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.

Large and Sweet and Pink Floral Mural for a Baby Girl’s Nursery

February 27, 2019


Expectant moms love this over-scaled floral design in pink, grey, and green, mural style wallcovering for their baby girl’s nursery. I’ve hung it (or similar) many times.

This accent wall is where the crib will be placed. The wall had a light texture; the first photo shows the wall after I have skim-floated it smooth and primed it.

Instead of a traditional pattern where the design motifs repeat regularly up and down and across the wall, a mural like this has few or no repeating design elements. Also, instead of being packaged in rolls or bolts, this wallpaper comes as a 6-panel mural.

Unlike most murals, this one did not come marked as to which strip went where, nor was there a photo of the mural included in the packaging. I had to go on-line with my cell phone to find a pic so I new which way was up! In the third photo, you see me laying the six strips out on the floor, to determine which strip went next to which.

Interestingly, the placement of the flowers on the panels did not correspond to where they appeared on the panels in the photo. In other words, the largest flower, which appeared at the top of the wall in the photographs, was dropped down to mid-wall height on the mural I hung today.

The strips are cut to 9′ long, so I guess that whoever engineered the pattern’s design did not sync it to the 9′ measurement. No biggie … the design is wild enough that no one really cares or notices where a particular flower is placed on the wall. Personally, I think that hugest flower looks great right in the middle of the wall – right over where the crib will sit.

As in other times I have hung this mural, there were printing defects, as you see a slight pattern mis-match in the fourth photo. That photo also shows what I think is a bad cut at the factory – I think the trimmer got off-set at an angle, so made a beveled cut on just that left side of that one panel. That’s why you see the white substrate showing all along that seam.

I was able to take my trusty set of chalk pastels and do some light touch-ups, to fill in the white gap with a matching color, and to disguise the spots of mis-matched pattern (no photo).

This sweet mural is by Anewall, and was bought on-line. It is about 12′ wide x 9′ high, which is pretty standard for a wall mural. This wall was a little less than 12′ wide, so I cut off and discarded about 10″ from the right side of the mural. (This side had fewer interesting design elements, so was the best option for editing.)

The material was pre-pasted, so it was needed was a little water to activate the paste on the back. I did roll a light coat of paste onto the wall, as well as cut in paste around the ceiling and baseboard and far edges, to augment the adhesive.

No manufacturer’s name is given, but I do believe this product is made by York, in their Sure Strip line. It is a thin non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when the child grows and it’s time to redecorate the room.

Aside from the minor printing defects, it was nice to work with.

The home is in Spring Branch (Houston).

Contractors and Painters Should NOT Prep Walls for Wallpaper

July 14, 2018


This home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, and has been redone, and is now ready for final touches, like decorating, i.e. – wallpaper!

The first three photos show how the contractor left the walls. It’s hard to conceive how anyone could think these walls are “ready for wallpaper.”

What you are looking at is where the contractor ripped off the top, inked layer of the original wallpaper. Most of them don’t realize that there is a backing layer of paper that is left on the wall, that should be removed, too. Simply soaking this with a wet sponge will reactivate the paste and allow the paper to be removed easily, and with no damage to the wall (esp. if there is a good primer underneath the paper). Read my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper” to see how this should be done.

Instead, this contractor left the paper backing on the wall. Some of this porous backing is exposed. Other areas have been covered with the paint that was used on the woodwork. This solvent-based paint “raises the grain” of the surface it’s applied to – see all the hairy fibers from the wallpaper backing that have gotten stuck in the paint and raised up? Some of them are more than 1/4″ high. They create a gritty feeling on the surface, like really coarse sandpaper.

The surface is uneven, and the bumps will show under the new paper. The unevenness also means that areas of the paper will not be able to contact the wall, so there will be gaps and air bubbles and poor adhesion. The backing of the original wallpaper has been exposed, and when new, wet, pasted wallpaper gets placed on top of that thirsty paper backing, it will absorb moisture, expand, and bubble.

I had three missions. 1.) Seal the surface 2.) Smooth the surface 3.) Prime with a wallpaper-appropriate primer.

I rolled on a coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz to seal the surface, so that my following treatments would not cause the paper backing to bubble. When that was dry, I skim-floated the wall with a coat of joint compound. In the areas where the hairs were 1/4″ high, the skim coat was pretty thick, and took a good while to dry. Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, then vacuumed the dust of off the floor, used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the walls, and then followed up with another coat of Gardz. It will soak into the joint compound and dry hard, forming a stable surface for the new paper to adhere to.

The last photo shows the wall once I finished.

Ink Spots Bleed Through Wallpaper

July 8, 2018


Well, this has been a month of issues with stains on walls! I was smoothing these textured walls with joint compound, and noticed some red splotches on the paint. I studied them, but decided they were paint, which is stable and not a problem. But a little after I had skimmed over the spots, I looked again and noticed that the red color had bled through.

Evidently it was ink, or lipstick, or child’s crayon, or some other such substance. Along with rust, blood, water, oil, mold and mildew, and a few others, these materials will bleed through paint and wallpaper. It might not happen right away, but eventually you will notice stains on the paper.

These stains can be sealed with a stain-blocker. I like oil-based KILZ Original, but the shellac-based BIN primer is good, too. Water-borne sealers may be environmentally-friendly, but I don’t trust them to work as well.

But in this case, I preferred to just get rid of the questionable areas. I took a knife and dug out the part of the wall that had the red spots. Those are the chips I am holding in my hand. Then I skim-floated over the area to smooth it, and proceeded with my wall prep and wallpaper installation.

No more red spots showed their faces. 🙂

Someone Hung Wallpaper over Textured Walls

June 19, 2018

The texture on this wall is not heavy, but it can still be seen under the wallpaper. In the second photo, I am stripping off the wallpaper, and you can see the wall texture underneath.

I removed the top vinyl layer of the wallpaper, then removed the paper backing. Then I skim-floated and sanded the wall to smooth it (no picture). Follow up with a primer, and the wall was smooth as a baby’s bottom and ready for the new wallpaper.

Air Bubbles from Latex Paint

June 13, 2018

The walls had a light texture covered with latex paint, so I skim floated over the walls to smooth them. When the wet smoothing compound got onto the wall, the latex paint absorbed moisture, expanded, and created these bubbles. It’s called “off gassing.”

After the mud dried and was sanded, most of the bubbles disappeared, but some rings were still visible. When I primed with Gardz, a water-borne penetrating sealer, many of the bubbles raised their heads again.

I will have to see if they dry flat over night, or if I will have to use my putty knife to knock them off in the morning. I don’t want bumps showing under the new wallpaper!

Geometric Pattern in a Powder Room – Flooded Home

May 20, 2018


This home in the Energy Corridor area of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August. A lower section of drywall had been cut out and replaced. The contractor’s wallpaper hanger put up this identical pattern. The homeowner wasn’t pleased with the job. To be honest, the installer did a pretty good job, in a room that was very difficult to hang. There were a few minor things that could have been done differently.

But what bothered the homeowner most was that the walls had not been smoothed properly before the paper went up. With that west-facing window blasting angled sunlight into the room, those irregular surface flaws were quite obvious. See the top two photos. (You may need to enlarge them.)

I stripped off the original paper and skim-floated the walls to make them as perfectly smooth as possible. I followed with a primer. (The previous installer had not primed the walls.) See third photo for walls that are ready to go.

This room was a major bugger bear to hang. For starters, there was a large metal mirror that protruded about 4″ from the wall, that could not be removed. This was directly over a pedestal sink. (The previous installer had the luxury of hanging the room before the sink was in place.) It’s hard to explain, but the logistics of winding wallpaper around these three-dimensional objects, preventing the paper from tearing, having the ridged and unforgiving pattern match on all planes, keeping the edges plumb, and keeping the edges straight so they would butt up with the next strip, all while fighting edges of the wallpaper that wanted to curl backwards, were extremely difficult.

In addition, the corners of the room were out of plumb, which pretty much guaranteed pattern mis-matches in all the corners. On a wild floral pattern, no one would notice. But with a geometric pattern like this trellis, the eye would catch even minor mis-matches.

Compounding all of that was the fact that nothing in the room was centered. The window was not in the center of the wall, nor was the toilet – and they were not aligned with each other, either. The sink was not centered on the mirror, the faucet was not in the center of the sink, and the spout was off-set from the handle. I finally decided to balance the trellis design on the mirror, and it did fall perfectly symmetrically on either side. The kicker is that the room is so narrow that you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate all my efforts. 😦

I probably spent 40 minutes plotting how to tackle the first wall, and then a full two hours hanging the first two strips (the ones around the mirror and sink) (sorry – the room was too small to get good pics). The longer I worked, the more appreciation I had for the previous installer and the job she had done.

In the end, the walls I had prepped were smooth, and there were no objectionable bumps or gouges showing under the paper. I pulled some tricks out of my hat and got the pattern to match in the corners pretty darned well.

That window with it’s danged strong light still was a foe, though. The wallpaper seams butted together just about perfectly. Yet because of the way the edges curled back when they got wet with paste, I fought to keep them down tight to the wall. Once dried, they were nice and flat. I was pretty content. But when the sun moved and light came through that window from a different angle – some of those seams looked positively horrid! The light was casting shadows and making it look like the seams were overlapped. Yet they were perfectly flat. The inclination is to go over and over the seams with various tools and try to “force” them to lie flatter – but this can burnish or otherwise damage the wallpaper or the underlying surface. The good news is that as the sun moved, and as the louvers on the shutters were adjusted, the shadows disappeared and the seams looked good.

Let’s hope that the homeowners see this room only in the most positive light. 🙂

This wallpaper is by York Wall, one of my favorite brands. Interestingly, the paper came with the correct label, but the instruction insert was for another line made by this same company. I’m glad that I was familiar with both products, and had the sense to disregard the info that was not relative.

Another Reason to Not Let the Contractor Prep the Walls for Paper

May 10, 2018


Folks, please do NOT let your contractor or painter “prep the walls for wallpaper.” They simply don’t know how to remove wallpaper properly, and they don’t know what is required to prepare the surface for the new paper. Do a Search here (upper right corner) for more examples.

In this case, “I know that he removed the old paper, because I saw piles of it on the floor,” said the homeowner. But this photo proves that he didn’t. Nor did he bother to remove the towel bar, because when it was removed later, you can see the old wallpaper still under it.

I put the original wallpaper up back in the ’90’s, so I know that, with my good primer underneath, with a bucket of warm water and a little time, that paper would have come off easily and left the wall in perfect condition for new paper.

Instead of properly removing the old paper, this contractor skim-floated over it. That’s the thick white stuff you see in the photo. After sanding the wall smooth (which he did OK in most of the room, but, as usual, did a less than stellar job in corners and around moldings and door trim), he should have removed dust from the walls with a damp sponge – but virtually no contractor bothers with this step.

Removing dust is crucial, because if dust is left on the wall, it may hold up OK under paint, but when wallpaper is applied on top of it, when the paste dries, the paper shrinks a tad and puts torque / tension on the wall. When the walls are dusty, there is the potential for the surfaces to delaminate (come apart), leaving you with seams that gap and curl back. These cannot be glued back down, because the surface underneath is unstable and provides nothing for the paste to adhere to.

So next the contractor primed the walls. There was no mention of what primer he used. But I can tell you that primers formulated for paint are not advisable under wallpaper. PVA-based primers are commonly used under paint; they are designed to keep the paint from flashing. But they are soft and don’t provide a stable surface for wallpaper.

Primers formulated for wallpaper are designed to 1.) adhere to the underlying surface, 2.) provide a “crystalized” surface that the wallpaper paste can bite into and grab ahold of, 3.) provide a surface with “slip,” which will ease installation of the new wallpaper, 4.) allow for easier removal of the wallpaper later, with minimal damage to the wall, and 5.) withstand the torque / tension created by the drying wallpaper.

Ask a contractor or painter if he knows any of the information in the paragraph above. You will receive a blank stare.

All more reasons to NOT let the contractor prep the walls for paint.

Mid Century Modern Bookshelves Get Grasscloth on Back

May 6, 2018


This 1960 ranch style home in the Westbury neighborhood of Houston is like a time capsule of Mid Century Modern design. The doors, windows, moldings, cabinetry, and even most of the bathrooms are original – and in mint condition. The homeowners love the look, and wanted to honor that, while updating some of the rooms. Grasscloth was all the rage in the ’60’s, so it was the perfect choice for the backs of these bookshelves in the family room.

I have to tell ya, covering this beautiful, original, perfectly maintained 1960 wood paneling with mud and a primer just about killed me. But since the wallcovering choice was grasscloth, the new look would be in keeping with the original feel of the house.

I don’t usually like grasscloth, because of the color variations (and many more reasons – do a Search – upper right corner) – But I was pleased with today’s product. The color was very uniform, and the material was very soft and pliable, as well as thin. It turned corners nicely and hugged the wall tightly.

This particular grasscloth has a bit more of a “nubby” texture than those with straight reeds, and this one had a nice sheen, too.

I wanted to avoid getting paste on that pristine wood, because I was afraid it might not wipe off without leaving residue, and also because I didn’t want to run a damp rag along the grasscloth, for fear of staining or bleeding. So I used my craft store cutting mat and a couple of different straightedges, to pre-trim the pieces to perfect right angels, so they would fit into the bookshelf alcoves, and also butt up against one another precisely.

I also used blue plastic tape (not shown) on the edges of certain pieces, to keep paste off the wood bookcase.

This grasscloth wallpaper is by Phillip Jeffries, a higher-end brand, 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.