Posts Tagged ‘smoothing’

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.

Strawberry Thief in Spring Branch Powder Room

June 12, 2022
Textured wall before smoothing .
Done!
Shot of a corner, showing more of the pattern. The color is off … see below…
This murky blue is a more accurate depiction of the color. Strawberry Thief comes in many colors.
Striping dark paint on the wall under the seam areas, to prevent the white wall from peeking through, as it’s common for teeny gaps to open at the seams of wallpaper .
I use bottled paint from the craft or art store, diluted with water, and apply with a scrap of sponge, on top of my wallpaper primer. It’s important to not make the paint too thick, as it’s not formulated for wallpaper to grab ahold of.
British Heritage is the brand. William Morris designed Strawberry Thief about the turn of the last century. I’ve noticed a real uptick in interest in Wm. Morris patterns lately. This is my fourth installation of this particular design this season, and have done others recently, too. Do a Search (upper right) to see other jobs I’ve done.
This is a non-woven material, and can be hung by pasting the paper or pasting the wall. It’s durable stuff, more stain-resistant than many other options, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.
wallpaper installer houston

Lots of Gear to Smooth Textured Walls

January 26, 2022

Walls need to be smooth before wallpaper can go up, both for appearance and for good adhesion. Here’s just some of the equipment I carted into this house, to use while smoothing the textured walls of the powder room. In the black bucket is the smoothing / joint compound. To the left of it the grey metal thing is a space heater that pulls moisture out of the air. In front of that the white bucket holds wallpaper paste which will be used later.

The big square box is my Shop Vac, to clean up all the dust created when sanding the walls smooth. And fans – lots of fans – so speed drying of the smoothing compound.

Interestingly, the big black fan and the space heater both pull so much electricity that I cannot use them at the same time – they have been known to trip the circuit breaker!

Hallway Wallpaper Repair – Thibaut Honshu

December 11, 2021
This couple in the West University neighborhood of Houston loves color and avant garde – unexpected and fun! I hung this Honshu wallpaper by Thibaut in their small hallway at the beginning of the pandemic – April 2020. Since then, they decided to change the faucets and showerhead in the bathroom on the other side of this wall. To access the pipes, the plumber had to cut a hole in the drywall. The ‘guy’ that this couple uses did a fantastic job of cutting the drywall, preserving the wallpaper, and then patching the hole. You can even see that his cuts are perfectly level and plumb!
Slapping wallpaper patches over the two holes would have probably sufficed. But I wanted to make it better, so I stripped off and replaced the old wallpaper. This meant patching the guy’s drywall repairs. I didn’t get a photo, but I used drywall tape and joint compound to even out the areas. A heavy duty floor fan plus a heat gun helped get the smoothing compound to dry in a few hours. I sanded smooth and applied wallpaper primer, and ended up with what you see in the photo.
To conserve paper, instead of replacing the entire two strips from ceiling to floor, which could have caused some problems with matching the pattern on the left side, I patched in about one foot down from the ceiling line. To disguise the appliqued area, I used a scissors and trimmed around the wallpaper design, as you see here. This is less visible than a straight horizontal cut.
In this photo, the two strips have been put into place. You could never tell there was a hole (or two) !

Space Heater Speeds Drying Time

November 28, 2021

Whether drying smoothing compound ( drywall joint compound ), or primer, hot, dry, circulating air helps speed the process.

i love this old space heater that I got at a garage sale decades ago. It runs when you tell it to, for as long as you tell it to – without “safety” measures that trip other heaters off after a few minutes. (Don’t worry – I keep an attentive eye on everything!)

The hot air from the space heater helps pull humidity out of the air, which speeds drying time.

Works best in a small room like a powder room. Close the door and let the heat build up. Use fans to move air around the room. You will feel the humidity increase as moisture is drawn from the walls. Periodically open the door and use a fan to circulate moist air out of the room.

One thing to note – which I have learned the hard way – is that this gizmo pulls a lot of electricity. And so do some fans. I can use my two box fans while this heater is running. But if I run my more powerful floor fan while the heater is on, it will trip the electrical circuit. And double-ditto if I try to use my heat gun while the heater is on.

Grasscloth on Bookshelf Backs – Railroaded

July 29, 2021
Before, with my primer in four cubbies, two more to go, and my fan set up to get it to dry faster.
Finished.
“Railroading” means the paper was run horizontally, instead of vertically. With grasscloth, this means the reeds ran up and down, instead of sideways. This technique eliminated seams (run the usual way would have given us a seam smack down the center of the shelf area – a decorating no-no).
I was able to slide the edges of the paper under the back side of the wooden shelves. No trimming needed. And no gaps showing between the wall and the shelves.
For this stiff grasscloth material, instead of my softer, natural-bristle smoothing brush (right), I chose a stiffer, plastic-bristled brush.
Showing the texture and natural material of the grasscloth. And how the dye stained my fingers!
Manufacturer is York, a very good company.

The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

An English (Scots) Country Garden

July 17, 2021
In 2014, I hung this fun and cheerful pattern in a 2nd floor hallway in a 1940’s home of a young family in the Garden Oaks neighorhood of Houston. Seven years later, it’s time for a change.
In addition to changing the pattern in the upstairs hall, the homeowner wanted to paper this lower, adjoining wall. Here I’m applying smoothing compound to the textured surface. Once it is dry, I will sand it smooth, and then roll on a wallpaper primer.
Finished. The homeowners are contemplating more updates to the home. … And will probably opt to change the color on the wall above … I am rooting for murky green or muddy brown / gold.
Detail.
Close-up. I love the way the motifs look as if they were cut from a magazine and then decoupaged into place. The flowers look hand-painted. But the bees look like photographs.
Lola Design is the manufacturer.

No all-white, minimalist décor for these homeowners! Hailing from the British island of Scotland, and being artists at heart, they crave color, life, activity, and joy. This “Mixed Bee” design is the perfect mix of classic British floral interior décor and outdoor garden lushness.

The manufacturer is Lola Design. The material is non-woven, and can be hung via the paste-the-wall method,,,, although I preferred the softness and flexibility produced by pasting the paper.

Smoothing Textured Walls = Sanding Dust

May 19, 2021

This master bedroom had textured walls that needed to be smoothed before the wallpaper could go up. (Texture looks bad under the new wallpaper, plus it interferes with good adhesion.)

I “skim-floated” the walls with drywall joint compound (what we call “mud”). This is akin to troweling on plaster.

Once that was dry, I sanded the walls smooth. In the first photo, you see the amount of dust that is created!

In the second photo are my “sanding sponges.” Some are coarse, some are fine, and one is angled, all with specific uses. These became available maybe 25 years ago, and are a huge improvement over the sandpaper-wrapped-around-a-block-of-wood that everyone used previously.

The putty knife is used to knock off big globs or high ridges, before hitting the wall with the sanding sponges.

Actually, I used to use a hand-held electric sander. That tool was fast, but it put a whole lot of dust into the air, and it traveled all over the room.

The sanding sponges are hand-operated and don’t throw dust up into the air. Also, manufacturers have made improvements to the joint compound formula which encourage the dust to sink to the floor rather than become air-borne.

You still end up with a lot of dust, though. And it does sift all over the room.

No problem. I simply bring in my Shop Vac (not pictured) and vacuum up all the dust. There’s still residual dust, so I use a damp rag to wipe dust off the floor, and a damp sponge to remove dust from the walls. (Important, because wallpaper will not adhere to a dusty wall).

Note that the photo shows an empty room. In rooms that have furniture, I cover it with painter’s plastic. And in most situations, which are usually one accent wall, I put up a sheet of plastic along the wall, draped from ceiling to floor, which contains dust to the 3′ along the wall, and prevents dust from getting to the rest of the room.

I also want to note that I am a big proponent of drop cloths. The reason you don’t see them in this scenario is because you can’t vacuum dust off a dropcloth, because the dropcloth gets sucked up into the vacuum nozzel. Much easier to vacuum dust up off a solid floor, and then wipe up any residue.

I also want to note that all my ladders wear “booties” / baby socks on the feet, to cushion the client’s floors and protect against scratches.

Challenges With 40″ Wide, Thin Vinyl Mural

March 13, 2021

See other recent post(s) for more info on this material and its install.

When ordering, from the materials offered, the homeowner chose this vinyl option, because she loved the slightly textured, “pebbled” surface. I would have much preferred she went with the more predictable and cooperative non-woven material.

The instructions said to paste the wall. Which is what I did. But I believe this material would have performed better if they had said to paste the product.

Pasting the product would have evened out moisture absorption from the paste, as well as expansion as the substrate wetted-out. That may well have eliminated the wrinkles you see in the photo.

It took a lot of patient work with both the smoothing brush and the plastic squeegee to work these wrinkles and bubbles out of the wallpaper. The resulting flat surface was not necessarily the Holy Grail … because often the far edge of the wallpaper will get distorted and / or warped / bowed.

It’s really difficult to hang a new, subsequent strip next to a strip with a warped edge. It’s hard to butt the seams, and plus additional strips get more and more warped. Eventually, you get to where the resulting wrinkles are so large that you cannot work them out.

This is one reason why you start hanging from the midpoint of the wall. This helps disperse any such wrinkles or other imperfections equally across both the right and the left sides of the wall.

I was lucky that I had only four panels and three seams on this install.

As mentioned above, a non-woven substrate would must surely have eliminated the wrinkle problem. Non-wovens are made of synthetic fibers (including fiberglass), so they do not expand when wetted by paste or water. So you can paste the wall and then apply the wallpaper, without worries about the paper stretching out of shape