Posts Tagged ‘smooth’

Woeful Walls

October 6, 2022
The walls in this powder room have a sort of sad and even hopeless feel about them.
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why.
The bottom edge where the wall meets the baseboard looks uneven and unstable, with and odd lip running along the top of the baseboard.
And a lot of it has to do with the dull color, and the thick layer of gummy latex paint. The gloss finish adds to the tacky look.
It also doesn’t help that there is a lot of lint and other stuff stuck in the paint, creating a gritty and uneven wall surface.
Oh, and the texture that was rolled on is irregular and icky.
There was a lot of globby stuff – caulk and some loose edges – along the edge of this vanity. I took a razor and putty knife and dug out what I could.
And note the ridge along the top of the baseboard. Can’t expect wallpaper to grab ahold and adhere to that.
Likewise there was a lot of caulk along the top of the vanity backsplash. I dug out what I could of that, too.
And finally I figured out what was causing a large part of the problem … The room had been wallpapered previously. So when it was decided to paint the room, instead of stripping off the paper as they should have, they just painted over it. To me, it looks like there are several layers of thick latex paint on top of the wallpaper.
Yep. Sure enough! Along the electrical outlet you can clearly see the old wallpaper under all this mess.
As you can see, the latex paint is not adhering tightly to the old wallpaper. The wallpaper looks like it could be vinyl … and not much sticks well to vinyl. Think Colorforms.
Stripping off all this paint and the wallpaper under it would make a HUGE mess. So, short of re-drywalling the whole room (and the rest of the house, which has the same treatment), there’s not much that can be done to ensure that the layers inside this wall are stable.
I dug out caulk and pulled off any loose areas. Then I skim-floated the whole room to create a new, smooth layer on top. I’ll post more when that process is finished and the new wallpaper is up.

Florida Toile in Home Office / Cloffice

October 1, 2022
This is a closet tucked under the stairs off the main living area of a nicely renovated and enlarged 1920’s home in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.
Nice and bright, but a little claustrophobic. (That brown vertical thing is my yardstick.)
This two-toned wallpaper with pencil-like sketches immediately visually opens up the room and creates an inviting work space .

The pattern is called Florida Toile .
The manufacturer / vendor is Katie Kime , also known for stationary , home décor , phone cases – and very cute , comfy pajamas !
Their ” City Toile ” wallpaper collection is quite popular , with more than a dozen locales to choose from .
It’s a heavy , smooth vinyl on a non-woven / paste-the-wall backing.
A little too heavy , a little too stretchy , and too easily wrinkled or creased for my taste , but all in all, a nice enough material .
With so many people working from home these days, or just needing space to handle family business or homework , these cloffices have become popular.

Light Texture Showing

September 22, 2022
This wall before wallpaper (on the right) is essentially smooth. But you do see just a tad of texture, from the painter’s roller. This photo is enlarged … in person, the wall is pretty darned smooth. After discussing with the homeowner, we decided to hang the wallpaper over this very light texture. That saves them a day’s labor, as well as the mess and dust of smoothing the wall.
On the left, you can see that a teeny bit of the texture does telegraph (show) through the wallpaper. Note that some of the texture you’re seeing is from the paste which has not dried yet, and also from the wallpaper material itself, which is a thick and fibrous non-woven material.
In person and from 2′ away, you can’t detect any of this.

Welcoming Room for Mother-in-Law

August 24, 2022
This young couple hosts the mother / mother-in-law a few times a year, and are lucky enough to have a private spare bedroom for her. To make it special, they wanted to jazz up the area a little. Enter this fun and whimsical wallpaper pattern .
The room before was a pretty shade of murky teal – but needed personality and warmth.
The wall started out with a light orange peel texture . I skim-floated the wall, and then sanded it smooth .
Along the baseboard at the floor , here’s the dust from sanding , along with the sanding sponge I use – this is a modern take on the idea of wrapping sandpaper around a block of wood .
I tack painter’s plastic across the wall from ceiling to floor to prevent dust from getting into the room or onto the furniture .
Here’s the wall smooth and primed , ready for wallpaper .
Since this is a dark wallpaper and I want to be sure that the white wall does not peek out from behind the seams, I stripe dark paint along the wall under where the seams will fall. Because non-woven papers don’t expand when wet with paste , it’s simple to measure the width of your strips and plot out where each seam will fall. Use the laser level as your guide . Do a Search here (upper right hand corner) to read more about this technique.
I use craft paint from Texas Art Supply (or any hobby store ), diluted with water from a Gatorade bottle cap , and applied with a scrap of sponge .
Further insurance is taking a chalk pastel (never oil pastel – oil bleeds and will stain wallpaper) and running it along the edge of the wallpaper strip – from the backside to avoid staining the surface – to cover the white substrate the wallpaper is printed on. This is to prevent white from peeking out at the seams , which can happen with dark papers.
Centering the first strip in the middle of the wall, and using my laser level to ensure the strip is nice and straight and plumb .
Note: The strip is not centered on the wall. The dominant pattern element is. Notice that the center of the dominant pattern motif – the white circular flower – is 3.5″ to the right of the left edge. This means that I had to position the left edge of the wallpaper 3.5″ to the left of the center of the wall, in order to get the round white flower to fall down the center of the wall.
When you look again at the finished photo, you’ll notice that the white flower falls down the middle of the walls, and that it also appears at equal distance from both the right and left walls.
Most people wouldn’t be able to put their finger on this symmetry , but it is something they subconsciously notice , and it lends a feeling of orderliness to the room.
As orderly as you can be, that is, with pigs dancing around the meadow dandelions !
Finished accent wall . The three other walls painted in blue were a bit of a surprise, because one would think the more dominant color of green would be used. But with so much green in the wallpaper, green on the walls, too, would have been too much, perhaps. I like the cool feeling that the blue creates .
There is plenty of the exact same blue in the wallpaper pattern to tie the walls and wallpaper together.
Close up shows the stamped printing technique .
You’ve gotta love a frolicking pig in a hand-knitted sweater!
This pattern is called Hoppet Folk and is in the Wonderland line by Borastapeter , a Scandinavian company .
It’s a nice, sturdy but flexible non-woven material that can be hung via the paste the wall installation method .
In addition, this product will strip off the wall easily and in one piece , with no damage to your walls, when it’s time to redecorate.
This is a very popular pattern, and I’ve hung it more times than I can count, just in the last two or three years. It does come in other colors – but most people gravitate toward this black version.
The townhome is in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

Working Around a Thermostat

August 22, 2022
Wallpaper looks better and will have fewer wrinkles and relief cuts , plus there will be fewer cut edges to come loose, when it goes behind objects like switch plates and this thermostat.
Here it was a matter of gently pulling off the glass front of the Nest thermostat, then removing two screws on the mounting bracket. I left it connected to the wires in the wall, but pulled the wires out further from the wall so there was more play to work around.
I was able to place the wallpaper over this area, cut an “X” where the thermostat was, and then pull both the thermostat and the back plate through the wallpaper. Note: I wrapped the thermostat in plastic before starting, to protect it from wallpaper paste / adhesive .
Then put the backplate in place, reattach the thermostat, and then replace the glass front. Smooth the wallpaper into place. All looks perfect!

Sneaky Snaky Dining Room Accent Wall

August 6, 2022
Beautiful symmetry …
But look closer – those intertwining lines aren’t fronds of vegetation – they’re snakes !
The wall before. It’s a mid-century home, but the drywall here is new. Per my request, the contractor left it taped and floated , but not painted or covered with any coating .
I had planned to simply prime this wall. But after examining it more closely, the surface was a little grittier than I like. So I ended up applying a very light skim-coat and sanding it smooth .
Here the smoothed wall has been primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .
I’m plotted out the center of the wall and am using my laser level to ensure that the design in my first strip falls right along the center, and also is nice and plumb .
My work table with two strips of wallpaper . Spoonflower packages its wallpaper differently from other companies. It comes in widths of 24″ and lengths of your choice of 3,’ 6,’ 9,’ or 12.’
Get their Pre-Pasted Removable Smooth option, which is water-activated , and is wonderful stuff.
Do NOT get the Peel & Stick , nor the Traditional Pebble . The P&S and the Traditional are both very difficult to work with, and can lead to bubbles and creases on your walls , plus cause damage when the wallpaper is stripped off later.
Back to the photo – the blue cube thing in front is my laser level , shooting its red line at the wall.
Close-up
I’m using this blue plastic tape on the edge of this strip of wallpaper. This will prevent paste from getting onto the wall or ceiling.
The accent wall stops in this left hand corner, so I need to trim off the excess. But I don’t want to get paste onto the un-papered wall. Paste can cause the wall paint to crackle and flake off.
So here you see how the blue tape is keeping paste off the wall. Once I finish trimming, I’ll check the back to make sure all of the blue tape has been removed. Any areas where the blue tape might be still on the back of the wallpaper , the paper won’t adhere to the wall .
This tape is available to paperhangers / installers . If you’re interested, shoot me an email wallpaperlady@att.net
Another thing about Spoonflower , the seams are meant to be overlapped, by 3/4″ . Note that this does create a ridge that runs vertically the length of each seam. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t very noticeable.
Actually, there are advantages to overlapping seams in this manner. No worries about white substrates showing at the seams, nor the paper shrinking and leaving gaps at the seams.
Also, in case of unstable walls that might come apart ( delaminate ) under the tension of the drying / shrinking wallpaper, overlapping disperses the tension and helps prevent wall failure.
This pattern is called Serpents and Apples and is by Spoonflower . Spoonflower has a lot of cute designs , and also a good number of fun avant garde patterns like this one.
The homeowners have some other non-typical décor that will meld perfectly with this wallpaper. Think life-sized skeletons .
… Notice how that light fixture hanging in the center of the wall kinda looks like a skull ? …
The home is in the Oak Forest area of northwest Houston .

Smoothing Over A Mess

August 3, 2022
This kind homeowner had the sink / vanity in this powder room removed. This makes it a LOT easier and faster for me to to get the wallpaper up, and with less stress on the paper and fewer relief cuts .
Removing a sink that’s attached to the wall often damages the surface. Here you can see how the workman used spackle compound to cover the torn drywall and other damage.

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Close-up. This isn’t a very smooth surface, and the wallpaper will have a hard time grabbing ahold and adhering. It’s also way too porous and crumbly to support wallpaper.
In the top photo, you see where I have applied smoothing compound on the upper portion of the wall. I’m working my way down.
Once it’s dry, I will sand and prime it, and it will be nice and smooth.
Here’s a shot of the fresh smoothing compound, before sanding.
Some people use a drywall taping knife or a broad knife to apply the plaster-like substance. I prefer the trowel you see in the photo, because it gives me more control and precision.
The 2″ flexible putty knife is for getting into smaller areas. The 3″ stiff ” Hyde ” putty knife is for knocking off high points or bumps on the wall before applying the smoothing compound.
This process is called skim-floating or skim-coating .
I like to use the Plus 3 lightweight joint compound made by Sheetrock . We just refer to it as mud . Find it in the drywall aisle.
The Plus 3 spreads on easily enough, sands easily , and the dust falls to the floor where it can be vacuumed up easily – as opposed to getting air-borne and drifting all over the place.
This box, which is approximately one cubic foot , weights 32 pounds . Ugh. Try carrying that across a parking lot and then up to the third floor of a townhome!
I like to transfer the material to a 5-gallon bucket. This is what it looks like in the bottom of the bucket.
Easy to scoop out. When I’m finished, I use a wet hand to smooth down the surface, wipe residue off the sides of the bucket, then place a thick sheet of plastic over the surface to keep air from drying it out. Then, of course, I put the lid onto the bucket.

Wall Prep Ahead of Wall Re-Do

July 20, 2022
This wallpaper in a Houston Heights townhome’s breakfast area was hung by “the contractor’s guy ” and he ran into some problems. First, I suspect the wall had not been adequately coated with a primer designed for use under wallpaper . This may be a large part of why the paper has come loose from the wall in places, and shrunk and gaps at the seams.
The wallpaper is an old-fashioned British pulp material , which is quite different from the non-woven material that this company usually prints on. If the installer was not familiar with hanging a pulp, yes, he can have a tough time of it.
There are other issues that the homeowner is unhappy with, such as tears, slices, patches, and, of course, these un-stuck seams. I’ve posted more pics previously, if you can Search to find them.
My task is to get the paper off and then prep the wall for hanging new material.
Most of the paper pulled off the wall easily. But there were areas where the guy had used a stronger adhesive to try to hold the edges down. Those would not come off the wall without causing damage to the wall. So I pulled off the top, inked layer and left the paper backing on the wall.
This stuff is porous and will bubble when coated with a water-borne primer , and with wallpaper wet with paste.
So I sealed these areas – I sealed the entire wall, in fact – with Gardz (by Zinsser ). This stuff is pretty incredible. It’s a thin, watery primer / sealer that soaks into the surface and binds loose components together, then dries hard and solid .
Latex paints and other water-based products (usually) won’t penetrate it, so won’t cause the underlying material to re-wet, expand , and bubble .
Just a note … due to pandemic and other supply chain related shortages , Gardz has become difficult to find. This can was about 1/4 full and I had it sitting behind my trash can, intending for weeks to toss it out. Now I’m glad that I procrastinated!
Once the Gardz sealer was dry, I skim-floated over it with joint compound , a.k.a. ” mud .” In most areas of the wall, my skim coat was as thin as possible, but I did have to make it much thicker over the areas with the paper backing stuck to the wall.
I set up three fans , and also used my heat gun , to get the smoothing compound to dry. I like the Plus 3 version made by the Sheetrock company. It sands easily and doesn’t make too much air-borne dust.
It took a couple of hours to dry. Then I sanded it smooth , vacuumed up the dust with my Shop Vac , used a damp sponge to get residual dust off the wall , and then let the wall dry once again.
Finally I applied a coat of my favorite wallpaper primer, Pro 977 Ultra Prime by Roman. I used a paint roller to roll it on to the main areas, and an angled trim brush to cut in around the ceiling and moldings.
Here is the wall all smoothed and primed .
Originally I had planned to strip , prep , and hang this half-wall all in one day. But ended up the prep took more time than I anticipated (about 8 hours ) , so we’ll let the primer dry overnight and save the wallpaper installation for another day.
The wallpaper pattern is called Strawberry Thief and is by the famous William Morris designer from the very early 1900’s . I’m sure seeing a surge in interest in his patterns, particularly this one. Do a Search to see other jobs I’ve done with it.

Romantic Vintage Look Rose Bedroom Accent Wall

June 26, 2022
Textured wall has been skim-floated smooth , primed , and ready for wallpaper .
This pattern is called Smoky Rose and also London Rose . Both are appropriate!
Charcoal on an off-white background . Up close, it looks like water color strokes.
The wallpaper is by House of Hackney . Most of their wallpapers are the user-friendly non-woven material. This one surprised me being a British pulp. This is a rather old-fashioned basic paper material with no protective coating. It’s brittle when dry and gets soggy when wet with paste, making it tear easily or to drag when the razor blade runs across it. Definitely takes a different approach during installation .
I was lucky enough to have hung a pulp just the day before, so was in good practice!
Although not resistant to stains and tricky to work with, I do like the matt finish and how the paper dries tight and flat to the wall.

For All You Dreamers Who Think That Liner Will Smooth Texture Walls … NOT!

June 23, 2022
Some people have spent too much time on YouTube or DIY websites. There is a misconception that liner paper will smooth out textured walls.
Nope, sorry, it ain’t happenin.’
The special type of paper called liner is used under some wallpaper s, and serves certain functions. Smoothing walls is not one of them.
If you’re planning to hang wallpaper over textured walls, liner paper cannot be used as a replacement for skim-floating , sanding , priming , and properly prepping the walls .
As you can see in the photo, liner paper shrinks as the paste dries, and pulls tight against the wall. This means that little imperfections will show through.
In the photo above, a towel bar had been removed, and the support bracket had been stuck / recessed into the wall paint , so the indentation and ridges from the bracket were still evident on the wall.
Covering them with a wallpaper liner helped mitigate them a bit … but, as you can see, the raised outline of the mounting bracket is still visible.
The issue is that this raised area, covered with liner or not, will still ” telegraph ” through the new wallpaper, creating a noticeable and unpleasing look.
To properly smooth a textured wall before hanging wallpaper, the surface must be skim-floated with joint compound (also referred to as mud ), sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, and then primed. Now the wall should be smooth enough to provide a good surface for the new wallpaper.