Posts Tagged ‘smooth’

Don’t Let The Contractor Prep the Walls for Wallpaper

April 18, 2018


This home was repaired after the flood of Hurricane Harvey. The contractor told the homeowner he would prep the walls for wallpaper. As you can see, his guys did get some parts of the wall nice and smooth. However, they didn’t bother to remove the mirror hooks, light sconces, or electrical switch plates. The result is some pretty gaps that will need to be filled in (by me) before I can hang the wallpaper.

Best to just let the Wallpaper Lady do the prep.

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Heavily Textured Wall – Venetian Plaster

April 13, 2018


A few years ago, this wall finish was quite popular. There are different levels of thickness, but the general name for the style is Venetian Plaster. To me, this looks rustic and “Tuscan,” yet people were putting it in modern homes, and even Victorian styled homes. Today it’s out of style, and people are going back to wallpaper.

The walls will have to be smoothed again, before wallpaper can be applied. Because this particular example is especially thick, it will take a lot of smoothing compound and a lot of drying time.

The second photo shows the wall after I applied the smoothing compound. It had to dry overnight, with three fans set at ‘high’ blowing on it. In the third photo you see all the dust on the baseboard and floor, from sanding the wall smooth. This is way more than usual, because of the thickness of the original texture that I was covering up.

The last photo shows the wall after I sanded it and primed it. It’s now ready for wallpaper!

Prepping Heavily Textured Walls for Wallpaper

February 15, 2017
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Wow. Some DIY remodeler / house flipper loved this textured wall finish, and sprayed it on EVERY WALL AND CEILING in this otherwise-beautifully-updated home near Gessner & Kempwood. The young couple who bought the home want wallpaper in their two daughters’ rooms and in a front room study, plus they want chalkboard paint on one wall in the kitchen.

Wallpaper looks best and sticks best to smooth walls, and the chalkboard wall needs to be perfectly smooth, so I am spending two days smoothing these surfaces. The wallpaper will go up later.

Today I skim-floated the walls with joint compound. (It’s kind of like plaster, and is applied with a trowel.) I went through nearly FIVE boxes of the stuff (see photo). Each box is 44 lbs. Need I say that my arms and shoulders are tired and sore? 🙂

Applying it thickly enough to cover the 1/4″ – 1/2″ bumps means that it will take a looong time to dry, so I have turned on the heat in the house (to help draw moisture out of the smoothing compound) as well as the house fan (to circulate air), set several fans up blowing against the walls, and left it to dry overnight. Tomorrow, I will sand the walls.

Because the skim coat was so thick, even when it is sanded, the surface will not be perfectly smooth, and will also have many holes caused by air bubbles. So I will trowel on a second, much lighter coat, to cover these irregularities. With the heat cranking, and the fans blowing, this second skim coat should dry fairly quickly.

Then I will sand one final time, vacuum up the dust, wipe the walls free of dust with a damp sponge, and finally roll on a sealing primer called Gardz.

The painters can then apply the chalkboard paint to the kitchen wall. And when I come back to hang wallpaper in a month or so, the messy part of the job will be over and done with, so no more dust or mess or smells in the clients’ home – just new, pretty wallpaper for the little girls’s rooms and for Mom’s study.

Wallpaper Wants To Sit On A Smooth Wall

February 8, 2017
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The walls in this powder room were way too heavily textured (Photo 1) to even think about putting wallpaper on them. For one thing, those ugly bumps would show under the paper – and might even poke holes through the surface. For another, the wallpaper would not have a smooth, intact surface to cling to, resulting in poor adhesion.

So I smoothed the walls. To do this, I trowled on joint compound, (we nick name it mud), which is a plaster-like substance used mostly for drywall installations. The initial layer was thick, and had to dry overnight.

In the morning, the surface was dried, as you see in Photo 2. Dry, but way unacceptable for wallpaper … All of those ridges and uneven surfaces would show under the paper.

I sanded this surface down, and it was much better – but still not acceptable for wallpaper.

So I skim floated again, with a very thin layer of mud. Once that was dry, I sanded one more time. And ended up with the perfectly smooth walls you see in the 3rd photo.

In the last photo, you see the wallpaper on the wall, perfectly smooth, and with no signs of bumps or texture or ridges or uneven areas.

From Pimply to Smooth

November 2, 2016
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Today I prepped two accent walls, to be ready for wallpaper tomorrow. The first step was getting rid of this fairly heavy stipple texture.

To do that, I take a putty knife and knock off the highest bumps, then trowel on joint compound, which is something like plaster. Once it’s dry, I sand it smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then apply a penetrating primer to seal it and prepare the wall to accept wallpaper.

The second photo shows how nice and smooth the wall is. And, not to toot my own horn, but I am much better at it than most painters or handymen, so no need to hire one of them to smooth the walls – I will most likely have to redo at least part of it anyway. 🙂

Why do the walls need to be smoothed? First of all, the bumps showing under the paper just look bad. Slipshod and uncaring. Second of all, if the wall is textured, then the wallpaper can only adhere to the tops of the bumps, which is not very secure at all. When the wall is nice and smooth, and properly primed, there is a sound surface for the paper to come in contact with and hold tightly.

Faux Grass Lends a Sleek, Mid-Century Air to this Dining Room

June 17, 2016
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I love it when my clients listen to me. This couple near the Highland Village (Houston) was considering grasscloth for their dining room. I discouraged that choice, because of the color variations between strips, and even within strips (called paneling or shading) of natural products like grasscloth. Also, because grasscloth stains easily, it’s not a great choice for an active family with young children and a puppy.

I was happy when they went with this textured vinyl product instead. It has the texture and depth of color that people like these days, but none of the color difference problems, plus it is quite washable and stain-resistant. I think this looks something like a man’s tweed suit – in fact, it is called “Flanders.” The look is sleek and crisp and calming, and will look super with the family’s Mid-Century Modern dining table, buffet, and chandelier.

This is a thick, woven-fabric (scrim) backed vinyl product, and was a little difficult to fit tightly against the moldings; my angled steel plate tool (not pictured) helped greatly with this. I hung every other strip upside down, which minimized color variations by placing the same side of each subsequent strip next to itself.

The wall was lightly textured to begin with, so I skim-floated the walls to smooth the surface, to prevent bumps from showing under the paper and to provide a smooth surface for the wallpaper to grab on to. I also smoothed the wall area below the chair rail, which the family is going to coat with a semi-gloss paint, so it will look like wooden paneling. I primed both areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, #T-14164, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Smoothing Textured Walls Means There Will Be Dust

February 21, 2016

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Wallpaper looks best, and adheres best, when it is hung on a smooth wall. To smooth a textured wall, joint compound (similar to plaster) is troweled onto the wall, allowed to dry, sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, and then primed. Then it’s ready for wallpaper.

The sanding process, though, does make dust. And it’s a fine, white, powdery dust, that sifts and drifts. My ShopVac does a good job of getting it up, and then I wipe up any reside with a damp cloth.

Pencil Stickers in Children’s Playroom – CUTE!

January 10, 2016
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This ultra-cute peel-and-stick mural was made to order, to fit the exact dimensions of the wall. The interior designer even had the pencils on the bottom right go up a little higher than the others, so they would show above the white kiddie table that sits against that part of the wall.

It has been years since I did a peel-and-stick job, and today reminded me of why I prefer regular wallpaper. Unlike regular wallpaper, it is very difficult to smooth out wrinkles. It is somewhat repositionable at first, but once it sits against the wall for a few minutes, it is very difficult to pull it up without stretching or peeling paint off the wall.

The homeowner was concerned that her little ones might get their fingers under the stickers and peel them up, but no chance of that happening – that stuff is up for good! In fact, when they do get around to removing the stickers, they should be prepared to repair some damage to the wall.

I was not happy with the way the install was going, because of wrinkles in the material and because it didn’t want to hang straight. So I ended up cutting the pencils apart, so that instead of trying to unpeel and apply and smooth with one 15′ long strip, I cut it into more manageable pieces of two or three pencils each. The ones along the ceiling were easier to work with, probably because they were shorter. I also used a special smoother, which is made of plastic and wrapped with felt, to protect the surface of the material.

The finished room is really cute. I love the way the pencils coordinate with the dots in the playroom rug!

This home is in the Woodlands. I had also hung paper for them in their previous home, also in the Woodlands. That is a mighty nice community for families with young children.

Coordinating Companion Papers in a Powder Room

December 13, 2015
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These homeowners had their painters strip off the old (dark red) wallpaper, and were eager to get the new wallpaper up in time for their annual Christmas Eve party. Even though I am booked up with work through most of March, I had an unexpected opening, and was able to get their paper up today.

It was a little nip-and-tuck, though, because they had ordered their paper without first consulting a paperhanger, and, as commonly happens, they ordered too little. 😦 So, they had to pay mega bucks to get the necessary double roll shipped via 2nd Day Air, smack in the middle of the holiday shipping season. Happily, it got here 12 hours before the install day, and I was able to pick it up from the wallpaper store, to save the client the trip into town. We were also lucky that it was the same run number.

The painters had done a good enough job stripping off the old paper, and originally, I thought all that I would have to do would be to prime the walls. But once I got to scrutinizing the walls, particularly the corners and edges, I knew that the walls could be in better shape. So I skim-floated and sanded just about everything, creating a very smooth, homogenous surface for the new wallpaper. All this added about three hours to my workday, plus some dust from sanding (which I vacuumed and wiped up).

The job would have looked good enough if I had hung the paper on the painters’ “prepped” walls. But I was glad that I had taken the extra time and labor to smooth the walls and ceiling, because the finished job looked fantastic, with no uneven areas or bumps showing under the paper, nor any areas raising questions regarding adhesion.

I am not usually a fan of wallpaper on the ceiling, especially when it’s a dark paper. But in small powder rooms, it can be very appealing – some designers call this sort of treatment in a small room a “jewel box.”

The two wallpaper patterns are by Designer Wallpapers, which is by Seabrook Wallpaper. They are in the same colorway, and are designed to work together, as coordinating, or companion, patterns.

The murky brown, fuzzily striped pattern went on the ceiling. A coordinating brown, hazy pattern went on the walls, and it featured a foggy medallion in a traditional motif. The finished room, with the dark vanity, dark granite countertop, and oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures, looked fantastic. To me, it looked like something out of a 14th Century castle.

Unfortunately, all of these elements don’t show up on the photos (Man, is it difficult to get photographs of tiny rooms!!) But you get the idea. And, I can tell you – this finished powder room looks fantastic.

AND … it will be ready to receive guests at the homeowners’ party on Christmas Eve.

I hung this wallpaper in a powder room in Barker’s Landing, near I-10 / Memorial and Hwy 6, in west Houston. (Interestingly enough, I had done another job, in a dining room, in this same subdivision, just a few months ago.) It is by Designer Wallpapers, which is made by Seabrook, and was unusually nice to work with. Pattern numbers are FR61205 and FR61405. It was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Hiding a White Line

November 1, 2015
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The walls of this bedroom were textured, so, to smooth them, I troweled on white joint compound. To get a smooth and snug “nest” for the wallpaper to lie in, I like to wrap the mud just a little onto the ceiling, and smooth it down with my finger. This creates a good grip for the wallpaper – but it also leaves just a little white compound on the tan ceiling.

I didn’t want that line to show all along the top of the new wallpaper, so I got some craft paints, mixed up a color that matched the wall, thinned it a little, and used a small brush to swipe it on. White line – GONE!