Posts Tagged ‘smoothed’

Cole & Son “Woods” in Pearland Laundry Room

February 6, 2020

North corner walls, originally textured.

North corner walls, smoothed.

North corner walls, papered.

South corner walls, smoothed.

South corner walls, papered.

Close up of paper.

This very popular wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, and is called “Woods.” I have hung it in the black-on-white many times (do a Search here – upper right), but this is the first time to do it in this softer colorway. The décor in this home is all soft and muted greys and taupes, with a lot of natural materials (wood, stone) tossed in, so this pattern and color are a perfect compliment.

The wallpaper material is called non-woven, which has a high fiberglass content. This means it doesn’t expand when wet with paste, so there is no booking time – meaning you can hang each strip as soon as it is pasted. In fact, you can paste the wall and dry-hang the strips, if you choose. Another advantage of non-wovens is that they are dimensionally-stable, and do not expand when wet with paste, like paper wallpapers do. Very handy when measuring and laying out the room.

A disadvantage of non-wovens is that they are prone to staining and blushing. This is where the paper looks like it is wet, but it never dries and disappears. Certain pastes (880, 234) are known to cause staining on these materials, as well as too much pressure while installing, or wetting the paper with water.

This laundry room is in a newish home in Pearland, a suburb in south Houston.

Peel & Stick = Piece of Sh!t

September 24, 2019


We’re seeing more and more of this peel-and-stick, supposedly “removable” and “repositionable” plastic wallcovering. Unfortunately, many homeowners read the lofty claims by the manufacturers and think it will be a perfect alternative to traditional wallpaper. It is not.

The stuff is awful – I won’t hang it, and most of my friends won’t either.

First of all, you don’t NEED an alternative to traditional wallpaper – you just need quality paper and someone who will properly prep the walls and then properly install the paper.

Getting back to P&S, the stuff is virtually impossible to hang. Imagine a 9’x2′ strip of Contact Paper, trying to position that on a wall without it wrinkling or sticking to itself, and then trying to butt another strip up next to it. Not gonna happen. It also does not “remove easily” … well, it does, but it will tear your wall apart in the process.

These homeowners had some guys doing other work in the nursery, and they said they could hang the wallpaper, too. They weren’t experienced paperhangers, and they weren’t up to the battle against this P&S. Virtually no one is.

First, they should have smoothed out the textured wall. Second, most P&S products spec that the wall should be sealed with a semi-gloss paint, which needs to dry and cure for two weeks. As you can see, this adds time and labor charges to the job.

I’m not sure why there are gaps at the seams (top two photos), but better prep would surely have helped prevent this. The large wrinkles are due to the inflexiblity of the material and its unwillingness to twist or stretch into position. With the baby on the way, the homeowner dad got desperate and used nails to try to tack down the curling paper.

The baby girl arrived, the parents lived with this wall for a while, and, when life settled down, they contacted me. I counseled them to forget the P&S and to choose a traditional wallpaper.

They zoomed in on this butterfly pattern by SuperFresco. This material is one of the newish non-woven materials, which contain a component of fiberglass and thus don’t expand or shrink, and won’t tug at the wall, so fewer worries of seems popping loose. These qualities also make it possible to dry-hang the paper, by pasting the wall instead of pasting the paper. I usually paste the paper, but on a single accent wall such as this (no toilets or sinks or fancy moldings to work around), pasting the wall works beautifully. It also saved me lugging my heavy, bulky work table up to this townhome’s third floor. 🙂

Removing the P&S paper was easy – it is strong and held together while I tugged it off the wall … I could do it all from the floor, without even climbing the ladder. Unfortunately, it took much of the paint along with it. So much for the “removable” claim.

It was still as sticky as the day it was born – so I rolled it all up and stuck it to itself and tossed the whole mess into the trash. Done and gone!

I skim-floated the wall to smooth it, sanded smooth, vacuumed, wiped residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then rolled on Gardz, a penetrating primer-sealer, that also is a great undercoat for wallpaper.

All that (especially waiting for the smoothing compound to dry) took several hours. I think it was about 6:00 before I started hanging wallpaper!

Thin non-wovens generally go up with pleasingly invisible seams, and this one did, too. I was surprised to discover more than a few large wrinkles and bubbles. This could have been because the paper got twisted during installation, because the wall was smooth but not flat, because of some uneven reaction between the substrate and the paste which caused off-gassing (burps!), or some other reason. But it meant that I had to go over the wall several times, checking to be sure all areas were firmly secured to the wall.

The finished accent wall looks great! It’s a gentler pattern and a quieter color, and doesn’t hit you in the face as the original floral pattern did. There’s a little bit of fun shimmer in the scattered pearlized butterflies, and the blue-grey wings coordinate nicely with the three grey walls in the rest of the room.

Finally, Baby Girl is ready to move into her own room!

“Etched” Foresty Look in a Baby’s Nursery

September 22, 2019


This “Bellwood” mural by Rebel Walls is very similar to the “Etched Arcadia” mural by Anthropologie (do a Search here to see my previous installations). Either way, this is a wonderful idea for a nursery, and a cool alternative to the usual pink flowers or dinosaurs that many parents choose.

This mom-to-be was originally uncertain about papering the 3-walled alcove (which will house the changing table) (see third and fourth photos), because someone planted the idea that it would get soiled quickly. I’m glad I convinced her to take the plunge – the room really does look better with both the accent (crib) wall papered, and the changing table nook.

This product is a mural, and came in panels that had to be hung sequentially (as opposed to regular wallpaper with a repeating pattern). No photos of the plotting involved, but you have to roll the panels out on the floor to ensure the correct sequence. I made sure to center the low part of the pattern around the changing table, so the high part of the trees cradled it on either side of the niche. I really like the way this turned out.

Additional plotting was required to plan the area over the door and then the 1 1/2″ wide space to the left of it (not shown). All this measuring and plotting has to be done before the homeowner orders a custom-sized mural like this. Another reason to have the paperhanger see the room BEFORE you order your paper.

This paper is a non-woven material, and has a high fiberglass content. That makes it easy to remove when it’s time to redecorate, but it also makes it easy to clean in the case of accidents.

So this mom should go on to change diapers with confidence, all the while enjoying the unique look of her baby’s nursery.

This home is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

The textured walls were smoothed by the painting company, CertaPro. Usually I insist on doing my own prep, but it worked for the homeowner to have the paint crew get the messy smoothing part out of the way. AND … I know the CertaPro guys, and I knew I could trust them to do a good job. And they did. All I had to do was apply a wallpaper primer, and then hang the paper.

Getting Smoothing Compound To Dry

June 13, 2019


The walls in this powder room were textured. (see top photo) To ensure that the new wallpaper looks good, and that it has a solid surface to cling to, the walls need to be smoothed. This is called floating, or skim coating, and I do a lot of it here in Houston. To do that, I trowel on a plaster-like substance, let it dry, then sand it, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then prime.

What takes the most time is waiting for the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound, which we also call “mud”) to dry. If the texture is heavy, often it has to dry overnight. The downside of this is that it adds an extra day of labor and expense. But when the texture is lighter, the drying can be speeded along.

In the second photo, you see some of the ways I get mud to dry more quickly. On the counter* you see two box fans, and on the floor is a much stronger fan. On the counter is also a space heater. Hot air in the room absorbs moisture, sucking it out of the wet smoothing compound. I let the room heat up, and then I have to open the door and let the moist air out – over and over again.

The yellow objet on the floor is a heat gun. A heat gun acts like a hair dryer on steroids, and can get small stubborn areas to dry pretty quickly.

A few other things help speed drying … Walls coated with flat paint will dry more quickly than with glossy paint. And having the air conditioning and / or heat cranking away will help, because, while regulating the temperature, these climate-control systems also pull humidity out of the air. I also like to turn the HVAC system’s fan from “Auto” to “On,” so that air is circulating continuously, which also pulls humidity out of the air and helps the walls to dry.

*I normally keep a dropcloth on the vanity counter. But the vibrating fans can cause the dropcloths to slip, and you don’t want anything crashing down on the homeowner’s countertop. I do have lengths of self-grip shelf liner that help keep the fans from moving around too much.

Smoothing Sandy Textured Wall

September 11, 2018


Walls in the under-the-stairs powder room of this 1945 home in River Oaks (Houston) were covered with a sand-textured paint. The bumps would look awful under the new wallpaper, and would also interfere with good adhesion. So I needed to smooth the walls.

I troweled on drywall joint compound. Because the sand texture was so thick, the smoothing compound needed fans blowing on it overnight to become completely dry.

Once dry, I sanded it smooth. See second photo. Wiped clean of dust and primed, the walls are now ready for wallpaper.

Drying Walls

July 7, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image


These walls have a thick texture that needed to be smoothed before I could hang the new wallpaper. In the photo, I have finished skim floating the walls with mud (joint compound). Now they need to dry, before I can sand them smooth.

The homeowner has the air conditioning cranking away, which helps to pull humidity and moisture out of the smoothing compound. In addition, I have set up fans to move air around the walls. Two box fans are affixed to the shelves on ladders (secured with bungee cords), and one very powerful fan is sitting on the floor aimed up at the wall.

Sometimes the joint compound can be induced to dry in an hour or two this way. But in this case, because the texture was so thick, and because the semi-gloss paint beneath the smoothing compound slows drying, I needed to let this set-up run for a few hours. The fans sped up the drying process, and once they were turned off, the walls were left overnight to dry further.

Come morning, I was able to proceed with sanding and the rest of the prep and installation of the new wallpaper.