Posts Tagged ‘smoothing brush’

Jungle Paneled Installation, Italian Product, for a Nursery

June 22, 2019


The top photo shows a sample panel of the wallpaper taped to the wall of the nursery. You can see the sharply sloping ceiling line to the right.

The mother-to-be fell in love with the jungle theme and the colors of this paper. She bought it on-line from an Italian company. Unlike most wallpapers that come in rolls, this product came in sets of panels, each of which was 27″ wide x 39″ long. In the second photo, you see the first three tiered along the left, and the next two strips positioned to the right. Other panels will be filled in above and below, and to the right.

Precious little information was available on how to install this product … and what there was came in Italienglish, which was little help. There was a brief on-line video, plus you could read the experiences of previous DIY clients in the customer reviews section. In such cases, you have to use the scant available information, along with your own experience, to decern an install method.

Turns out, this is similar to the old-school paper murals that come in panels and call for powdered paste. Except this company did not include paste (as most do), nor were the panels meant to be overlapped.

Luckily, I have sources for wheat, cellulose, potato starch, and other powdered wallpaper adhesives. These are mixed up on-site, are less aggressive as far as stickiness goes, and are more wet than the pre-mixed pastes used for most installations today.

More wetness, along with the particular type of paper these murals are printed on, means that the paper will absorb more moisture and can expand substantially. This is why most of these types of murals are designed to be overlapped at the seams. The seams of this product, however, were meant to be butted … which means that when that paper dries, it could shrink, and that could result in gaps at the seams.

Because the mural came in panels instead of continuous strips, the edges of the strips could not be lined up exactly perfectly, neither vertically nor horizontally. And this was exacerbated because each panel absorbed paste and expanded differently from the others, so there could be a difference in width or height between panels of as much as 1/8″.

This meant that there were some pattern mis-matches between strips. It also resulted in some seams overlapping. I left before the paper was completely dry, but I imagine there are areas where the some seams gap, too.

But I tend to overthink things, and fret about minute details that most people never see. The bottom line is, the accent wall looks fantastic, and will set a theme for the new baby’s room.

Note that this paper gets really wet when it’s pasted, and so you see a bit of blotchiness in the photos. This will disappear and the paper will be much lighter and brighter when it’s all good and dry.

The product is also not really technically a “mural.” But it comes in panels like many murals do, so I’m using that term for simplicity’s sake.

Besides the special paste, because this product was printed on a rather flimsy paper, I used a softer brush to apply the paste (as opposed to a roller), and I used a soft, long-bristled smoothing brush.
The video showed the guy using his hands to attempt to smooth the paper into place. If you looked closely, his finished wall had a lot of bubbles and wrinkles. My long soft smoothing brush was much more appropriate.

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Three-Dimensional Square “Dots” on Pale Neutral Grasscloth

April 2, 2019


Thibaut’s “Union Square” wallpaper pattern is a response to the popular Phillip Jeffries’s “Rivets.” Thibaut’s looser design and pattern placement make it much easier to align with the walls and woodwork – including rooms that are out of square and out of plumb. Which is just about every house in every neighborhood in every state.

The 3-D squares are made of some kind of plastic stuff, and are virtually impossible to cut through with a razor blade or a scissors (such as when trimming at the ceiling door or window moldings). I was able to engineer the room so that I did not have to cut through any of those rivets! Because the PJ pattern is much tighter, this would have been virtually impossible.

Also, I found that my soft short-bristled smoothing brush worked well enough to press the material against the wall while skimming over the 3/8″ high square bumps (sorry, for some reason, the photo did not turn out). But my beloved plastic trapezoidal squeegee smoother was just about useless, because it would not accommodate the 3-D “rivets.” So I had to adjust my install tactics a bit, and figure how to get along without the plastic smoother.

This wallcovering is made of grasscloth, which provides the subtle texture that homeowners are loving these days. But because grasscloth is made of natural fibers, there can be a lot of variations between bolts, and even between strips off the same bolt.

For that reason, Thibaut not only notes the run number of a bolt of wallpaper, but also the sequence in which the material was produced (see photo). The idea is that if you hang strips sequentially, you will see less shading or paneling (difference in color between two strips of wallcovering). Thibaut’s insert also includes a LOT of jargon about the color differences inherent to natural products, and the admonishment to use the bolts and strips sequentially.

I used three double rolls / bolts of grasscloth for this entry. Two of the bolts (the first two in the sequence) were pretty homogenous in color. The room was small and had low ceilings, and so I was able to keep the three strips needed for the longest wall all from the same bolt (#1).

I cut my other full-length strips from the second bolt (#2). That left the third bolt (#3) for the many short pieces needed to go over the four doorways in the room. As you can see from the last two photos, even though it was the same run number and printed at the same time, this third bolt was noticeably different in color from the previous two. The background color is the same, but there is a lot – a LOT – more dark brown fibrous material that got worked into the woven grass material.

Keeping these darker strips over the doors was a good way to minimize this color difference. The strips were only 9″ high. If these strips had been placed side-by-side on an 8′ high wall, the color difference would have been abruptly noticeable.

Color variations are to be expected with grasscloth, or any natural product. But helpful labeling by the manufacturer, and careful plotting by the installer, can minimize these differences.

This ’60’s-era ranch-style home in the Briargrove neighborhood of Houston is very much a “sea of tranquility,” as the whole house is entwined in off-whites, creams, and tans, with various textures like rough wood, sisal, and this grasscloth, used to pull in depth and warmth.

The interior designer on this project is Layne Ogden, of Layne Torsch Interiors.

Narrow Strip Coming Out of a Corner – Keeping It Straight & Plumb

March 31, 2018


OK, this is a little difficult to explain, but hopefully you can follow along. I have hung paper above this door from the right and am heading toward the left, and ended in the corner. The next strip will be 9′ high, and will be narrow, having only 3″ on the wall to the left of the corner, plus 4″ wrapping around to the right of the corner and ending up against the door molding.

The problem is, a narrow strip of paper like this, coming out of an inside corner, and especially in homes with un-plumb and un-straight walls (like this one), the left edge of that narrow strip of paper is likely to not fall straight. This will be a problem when trying to get the next strip of paper to butt up against it. I didn’t want any gaps or overlaps or white wall peeking through the seam.

So I pasted up both the narrow first strip, and also the full width second strip that was to go to the left. I positioned the narrow strip, but didn’t press it firmly against the wall. (This is called keeping it open.) Then I positioned the second strip next to it, matching up the pattern, but also not affixing it to the wall.

I used my laser level to shoot a vertical line along the left edge of that second strip of paper (the red line slightly visible in the photo). This ensured me that both strips were hanging plumb. I had to reposition the second strip a bit, to be sure it aligned with the laser’s plumb line. Then I took my smoothing brush and pressed it against the wall.

Then I went back to that still-open narrow strip to the right, and maneuvered it around until the pattern matched and the two edges butted together nicely. I smoothed the 3 inches into place on the wall to the left of the corner, and then did the same with the 4 inches that fell to the right of the corner and met up with the door molding.

Beautiful!

It was actually a little more intricate than that, because of having to keep the pattern matched to the piece already in place above the door, and due to stretching of the paper as it was pulled away from the wall several times, and the shiny surface being prone to blemishes if it got creased or overworked.

It was worth the trouble, though, because keeping the edges straight meant that the seam butted together perfectly, with no gaps and no overlaps. And keeping the paper plumb meant that the whale motif at the top of the wall stayed where I wanted it. (If paper goes off-plumb, a design motif will start moving up or down the ceiling line.)

This fun swimmy pattern is called Melville and is a non-woven, paste-the-wall product, made by Cole & Son.

Cat Takin’ A Nap

January 1, 2018


This guy made himself right at home. Too bad I couldn’t get him to hold a smoothing brush!

The Best Tool To Tackle Wrinkles

October 25, 2016
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When hanging wallpaper, you can end up with little wrinkles, for many reasons. Oftentimes, these will disappear as the paper dries. But there can be times when you want to be sure the wrinkles are gone before the paper gets a chance to dry.

Your first option for smoothing a paper against the wall is a smoothing brush, as shown in the first photo. I like a short-napped brush, although many installers use brushes with longer bristles. In this scenario, the bristles were too soft to remove the wrinkles from the wallpaper.

So I grabbed what I call a trapezoidial “squeegee” and used that to chase out those last little wrinkles. The squeegee worked fine for this purpose.

But you have to be careful, because it is not intended to smooth entire strips against a wall. If you try to use it for that, it can twist and stretch and distort the wallpaper, and you could end up with worse wrinkles and warps, and an edge that is off-plumb or even unstraight, so that the next strip will not butt up against it as it should.

This is a lively colorway of a popular pattern, called “Feathers,” by Serena & Lily, an on-line company. I hung it in a guest bedroom of an older bungalow in the Houston Heights.

New Wallpaper Toys – Errr… Tools

September 25, 2016

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I came back from the wallpaper hangers’ convention this year with a few new tools. These come from a colleague who imports well-engineered tools from Japan, and who also has had a few items custom-made for our industry. Here are some of them.

I love the scissors. They are sharp, tight, accurate, and come apart for cleaning. And I really love the smoothing brush. It’s softer than the one I have been using, but still short-napped and assertive.

The blue tape was conceived and developed by my paperhanger friend. It’s used for keeping paste off the ceiling and off the face of wallpaper when doing certain operations, such as a double cut.

Imported tools are pricy, but well worth the investment.

Vinyl Papers and Bubbling

June 25, 2014

Digital ImageIf you look closely to the left of the mirror, you can see little air bubbles under the wallpaper. This is called “off-gassing” – I just call it “burps.” 🙂

This happens mostly with pre-pasted paper-backed solid-vinyl wallpapers, and is a result of the wet backing trying to dry, but the moisture being trapped between the wall and the vinyl. Usually, small bubbles like those in the photo disappear as the paper dries.

But sometimes, like with this paper, very large, even fist-sized air pockets will develop. So I always go back over the room a few times, chasing these bubbles out with my smoothing brush or squeegee.

I usually recommend against these paper-backed solid-vinyl papers, and this is one reason why. Another reason is that, in humid rooms such as bathrooms, the backing tends to absorb moisture, which leads to curling at the seams, something that cannot be reglued or repaired.

Different Strokes for Different – Brushes DRAFT

June 15, 2014

Digital ImageThese are smoothing brushes, used to press wallpaper against the wall, and to chase out bubbles or wrinkles. I usually use the one with the shorter bristles.

But sometimes you need something that is softer and more suited for delicate papers. For hanging my authentic 1930’s wallpaper from Hannah’s Treasurers (do a Search – upper right hand corner), since the paper was so fragile, and since I was using a thinner wheat paste, a gentler touch was called for. So I used the longer bristled brush on the left.

I also have one with even shorter bristles, in a stiffer material, which I use rarely, mostly for heavy vinyl material.

Smoothing Brush for Delicate Papers

April 28, 2014

Digital ImageI usually use a fairly stiff smoothing brush, which works nicely with most papers I hang. Some people use a flat plastic smoother, and I do, too, at times, but I like a brush because the bristles will push the paper against a wall that is not perfectly flat.

But for the 1930’s vintage wallpaper I hung in my entry on Friday (see previous post and pics), as well as the bat wallpaper that I put in my powder room (no pics yet), I wanted something softer, that had less chance of bruising or abrading the paper. Besides, these two papers were so flexible (and also the special extra wet paste used for the vintage paper), less force was needed to smooth them against the wall and brush out wrinkles and bubbles.

So I used the yellow brush, with the longer bristles. Worked great.