Posts Tagged ‘smoothing’

Smoothing a Heavily Textured Wall

February 9, 2020

The first photo shows the typical heavy texture that is put on many tract homes in the suburbs around Houston. You can’t hang wallpaper on these walls – it will look bad, and it will not adhere well.

The second photo shows how I have used a trowel to apply smoothing compound (drywall joint compound – I use the lightweight version, because it sands more easily).

Because the texture was so very thick, this had to dry overnight.

In the third photo, I have sanded the walls smooth, and applied a penetrating primer called Gardz.

Gardz works nicely as a wallpaper primer, too, so, once it is dry, I will be ready to hang wallpaper.

Smoothing Knock-Down Textured Wall

December 20, 2019

This newish home in Kingwood (northeast Houston) had a typical suburban tract home knock-down texture. This would look horrible under the new wallpaper, as well as interfere with complete adhesion.

So I skim-floated the wall by troweling on joint compound (like plaster), and then sanded smooth. After wiping sanding dust off the wall with a damp sponge, I primed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer / primer by Zinsser. Sorry, no “during” photos. 😦

The last photo shows the smoothed surface, primed and ready for wallpaper. (The dark spots are where the original texture was thick and therefore peeking out from under the smoothing compound.)

Contractor Patches On Top Of Wallpaper – Bad Idea

February 19, 2019

This home experienced a water leak, and the bottom 2′ of drywall had to be cut out and replaced. When taping-and-floating in the new drywall, the contractor didn’t bother to remove the existing wallpaper, but put his smoothing compound right over it. This is bad enough if the old paper is paper, but this wallpaper is vinyl – something you really don’t want buried under layers of joint compound and new wallpaper.

Vinyl is shiny, and few materials will stick well to it over a period of time. It is also thick, and that increases the likelihood that seams will pop up, even if they are buried under this “mud,” as we call it.

So I took a razor and cut above the contractor’s patch. Then I stripped off all the wallpaper above the patch. This left a difference in height between the patched area and the newly-stripped area, which would create a visible ridge under the new wallpaper. So then I took my own smoothing compound (joint compound) and floated over his patch and the now-bare wall, to eliminate any uneven areas.

Waited for it to dry, sanded smooth, removed dust, primed with Gardz, and finally was able to hang the new wallpaper.

This took a LOT more time than I originally planned for this job, but it was worth it to keep vinyl wallpaper from being underneath the new paper, and to prevent any bumps or irregularities from showing under the new paper.

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.

Smoothing Textured Walls

June 16, 2018

I like walls to be nice and smooth when the wallpaper goes up, first so the texture doesn’t show under the new paper, and second so the paper has an intact, flat surface to grab ahold of. When homes have textured walls, I skim float them with joint compound (which we calls mud) to smooth them.

To skim float, I use a trowel to spread the smoothing compound onto the walls. In the top photo, the upper portion of the wall has been skimmed, and you can see the compound drying around the edges and in high areas. It goes on grey, and when it’s dry, it will turn white. The second photo shows the box that the mud comes in, enclosed in a plastic bag, to retain its moisture.

To help speed the drying process along, I set fans up blowing on the walls, as you see in the second photo. I have three fans, and they will be positioned differently for maximum air blastage. Having the air conditioner cranking away and the house fan on also help to circulate air and pull humidity out of the air. In small powder rooms where the door can be closed and the climate supervised closely, I get a space heater going, which also helps pull humidity out of the air. For stubborn areas, I get out the heat gun – it’s like a hair dryer on steroids. 🙂

Once the mud is dry, I sand the walls smooth, then vacuum up the dust that falls to the floor, then wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then finally prime the walls. For this application, I use Gardz, a penetrating sealer which soaks into the joint compound and binds it together, and which is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on. Sorry, no photo of the Gardz or of the finished wall – but you can Search here to find previous posts.

One More Reason to NOT Let Your Handyman (or Contractor) Prep the Walls

November 6, 2017

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Can you see the vertical line dead-center in this photo? That is the ridge in a swipe of wall-smoothing compound that is showing under the wallpaper.

For various reasons, the homeowners elected to have their contractor’s guys smooth the textured walls of this powder room. They didn’t do a bad job. But, well, I would have done better.

The crew did a good enough job smoothing the center areas of the walls. But when it came to corners and edges, and especially around the ceiling light fixture, they left a lot of rough areas. Rough areas mean that the wallpaper won’t have a sound, solid surface to adhere to. And they mean that these rough, irregular spots will show under the wallpaper.

In the case of what you see in the photo above, they must have forgotten to sand the smoothing compound, because the ridge between swipes of their trowel is still there. Depending on how the light hits it, it is not – or is – visible.

Smoothing a Textured Wall

June 16, 2017

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The bumps on textured walls (see top photo) will show under wallpaper and look horrible, and the texture also impedes good adhesion. So I “skim-coat” the walls with joint compound (“mud”), which is much like plaster, let dry, and then sand smooth (see middle photo).

The walls need to be sealed before wallpaper can go up, and for this, I like Gardz, a penetrating sealer that soaks into the surface, binds everything together, and dries hard. It’s also a wonderful primer to hanging wallpaper on.

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

August 30, 2016

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Here in Houston, many homes have textured walls. Texture prevents good adhesion of the wallpaper, and it looks, well, it looks cheesy under the wallpaper. So I do a lot of what we call “skim floating,” to smooth the wall. This involves skimming the wall with a plaster-like substance (joint compound, also referred to as “mud”).

Nothing can progress until that mud is dry. It will dry overnight, but then the homeowner would have to pay for a second day of labor. So I try to speed the process so that everything can be done in one day. Here you see my two box fans and one heavy duty fan, all aimed at this one short accent wall. The texture was heavy, and so it took a longer than usual time for the joint compound to dry.

Turning the air conditioner down (or the heat up) and having the house fan set to “on” also helps to circulate dry air through the room and pull moisture out of the wall. In a small room like a powder room, I use a space heater and close the door to keep in the heat. I also have a heat gun that can be used to spot dry stubborn areas.

Note that the black fan and the heaters all pull a lot of power, so they cannot be used at the same time or they might trip the circuit breaker. So it becomes a juggling match of turning something on and off, moving the fans to different positions, opening the door to let hot humid air out, etc.

Once the smoothing compound is dry, I sand it, then vacuum up the dust, then wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, rinsing it frequently. Then the wall has to dry again briefly, and then the primer gets rolled on. That needs to dry for about an hour, and then the wall is finally ready for wallpaper.

Gorgeous Gold & Aqua Grasscloth

January 24, 2016
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When I originally met with this young family, for their dining room, they were looking at a very finely textured, pale aqua grasscloth from a company I’m not familiar with. I told them I thought the texture and color were both too diminutive, and from a distance, the walls would not look like much of anything. I also hesitate with unfamiliar companies, worrying if their products will have the unpleasant shading and paneling that plague grasscloth decorating.

The homeowner took my suggestion to visit my favorite place to buy wallpaper (below). The result is this beautiful, beautiful grasscloth. The stronger texture shows up nicely, even from across the room, and it has more of the sparkle the homeowner was seeking.

The paper has more color and impact than their first choice, but does not overwhelm the room, plus it blends perfectly with other aqua accents in other rooms around the home. It’s great with their paint color, too. Now the room looks something like a day at the beach, with the colors of sand and water and sky and a little shimmer, like light dancing on waves.

And I was happy with the quality of the product. There is no shading or paneling (color variations from strip to strip, or within a strip). And even though grasscloth cannot be matched across the seams, the seams are nearly invisible (2nd photo).

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

This job was in Bellaire (Houston), and took two days. The first day I spent smoothing and priming the textured walls. The second day I hung the paper, a little over 10 single rolls.

Priming a Newly Smoothed Wall

November 4, 2015
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My previous post talked about smoothing a textured wall, so that the new wallpaper would have an intact surface to hold on to, and so that ugly bumps would not show under the new paper. I did the same thing today, in a large powder room with 10′ high ceilings, in a new home off Fannin, south of Loop 610 in Houston.

Once the walls were sanded and wiped free of dust with a damp sponge (rinsed frequently) (a crucial step, because any dust left on the wall can, when paint or primer or wallpaper is applied, delaminate, which means to pull away from the wall, which results in curling or loose seams on the wallpaper).

Anyway, once the walls were wiped and then dried, I rolled on a primer. While I use different primers for different situations, when I have newly floated walls, as in this case, I like to use Gardz (see photo). Gardz is thin and watery and soaks into porous surfaces, such as the thirsty joint compound in this newly smoothed wall. Then it dries very hard and solid, binding everything together, and doing a super job sealing the surface.

It also lends a wonderful surface for wallpaper to adhere to.

In the photo, the areas that are white are unprimed, and where the Gardz has been applied but has not yet dired, you see grey. When the Gardz dries, it will be clear. The surface will look a little irregular, because you see white areas where the join compound is thicker, and the paint color where the joint compound is just thin enough to skim over the high points of the textured wall.