Posts Tagged ‘splice’

Good Catch After a Mistake

November 19, 2019

Whoops! Somebody (me 😦 ) cut a wallpaper strip to 6’24” instead of 6’34”.

This William Morris wallpaper is expensive, and I didn’t want to just throw away the too-short piece. So I figured a way to use scraps to save it.

At the bottom of the too-short strip, I trimmed horizontally along an element of the design. From the scrap pile, I found a piece with a corresponding pattern, made sure it was the right length to reach the baseboard, and then trimmed the top horizontally to match up with the design on the piece already on the wall.

The reason I trimmed along the swoopy line of the design is that I wanted to eliminate a straight horizontal ridge showing under the two strips once they were overlapped on the wall. The eye might notice a wide, non-conforming, horizontal ridge, but it won’t notice a narrow overlap that follows the contours of the pattern.

I put the short strip in place, and the pattern matched perfectly.

But there was a slight sheen from above, glinting off of the cut edge of the wallpaper in just a few spots. You can just barely see this in the second-to-last photo.

So I pulled the two strips of wallpaper apart and put them back together, but reversed the sequence, overlapping the top strip onto the lower strip. Now there was no cut edge for light to catch or bounce off of, and now the overlap / ridge is completely invisible.

Note that the surface of this wallpaper was a vinyl (plastic) material. Wallpaper paste won’t stick to plastic very well (it’s too slick). There is a special adhesive called VOV – for Vinyl Over Vinyl – formulated to make this bond. But I don’t always trust it.

So I often use clear caulk, which I call Super Glue for Wallpaper. Under the right conditions, it’s a wonderful solution.

Note: There is a technique called a double-cut, which is a method of splicing two strips of wallpaper together. A double-cut eliminates the possibly-visible ridge that you get when you overlap strips of wallpaper. For various reasons too complicated to get into here, in this case, and especially down low and behind the toilet, I preferred to use the overlap-and-super-glue technique.

Questionable Repair to Stringcloth

November 12, 2019


Some time after the stringcloth wallpaper went up in this powder room, the homeowners installed a new pedestal sink that wasn’t as high as the original one. Or perhaps the stringcloth got stained by water splashing on it.

For whatever was the reason, a portion of the wallpaper had to be replaced.

The installer used some good splicing techniques, and he was working in a very awkward and tight location. However, there were a few things he could have done better.

First and foremost – he should have matched the pattern! He should have made sure the strings lined up correctly.

Second, stringcloth will fray when it’s cut, so this type of splice repair is always going to show a bit of a frayed edge at the cut edges.

A better alternative would have been to strip off and then replace the entire section of wallpaper, from floor to ceiling, and preferably all the way to a corner.

Of course, to do that, you would need enough left over paper.

I Did Not Hang This Wallpaper. How Do I Know?

June 20, 2019


I hung wallpaper in several rooms of this house back in the ’90’s. I thought the homeowners said that I had hung this bathroom, too. But once I got to looking more closely, I knew that I had not.

Top photo – hard to see, but the wallpaper had been wrapped around the inside corner. Wallpaper strips are supposed to be measured, and then split in two vertically, so that one half of the strip wraps a wee 1/8″ or so around the corner. Then the second half of the sheet is hung on the new wall so that it overlaps that 1/8″ bit, and then continues on along the wall.

Also in the top photo, to the right of the corner, the pooching seams on this vinyl wallpaper are probably caused by moisture in a humid room (do a Search here to learn more, or read my page to the right). But I do think that if the original installer had used a more appropriate primer, the paper would have performed better.

Photos 2 & 3 – Some papers can get soggy when wet with paste and become difficult to trim. But, gee, I do hope that I would never leave a homeowner with torn, jagged cuts like this.

Likewise with Photo 4 – See the patch above the window molding and the splice above the backsplash?

Photo 5 – Trimming along shower edges like this is difficult, but I would endeavor to give a straighter cut than the previous installer did.

Last photo – Not my handwriting, not my terminology, and, OMG, my father would roll over in his grave … definitely not my spelling!

Fudging The Pattern To Make It Look Like It Matches

June 15, 2019


Top photo – this wallpaper has a subtle stripe pattern formed by vertical blocks of squares. As I mentioned in the previous post (below), I centered the white stripe pattern on each wall. And that meant that as the wallpaper moved its way across the wall and up over the doorways, the squares making up the pattern would be out of sequence as they met in the center over the doors, resulting in a pattern mis-match.

To further complicate things, I felt the room would look better with the white stripe also centered over each doorway and window.

My challenges were to:

~ Keep the squares positioned so the horizontal lines of the pieces over the doors aligned with the horizontal lines on the full-height strips to either side. That was harder than it sounds, because on two of the doorways, the center point where I started was 6′ away from the target I was trying to line up with. In some cases, I trimmed the edge of a doorway header strip every so slightly at a diagonal, so as to move that top line of the square up or down, so it would match up with the target line.

~ Keep the pattern inside the squares looking like they were following the original sequence. In other words, I didn’t want a tan square to land abruptly next to a white square. All those squares had to ease into one another. The pattern was a bit forgiving, because the squares were of varying widths, so the eye wouldn’t notice if some were wider or narrower than originally printed. So I used a straightedge and razor blade to cut some of the header strips apart vertically, eliminating tan or white squares as needed. I could also cut some additional squares and insert them in between strips.

If this were a thin paper-paper, I could have simply trimmed along a vertical line and then overlapped the two pieces. But this non-woven material is thick, and an overlap would show, probably even from 9′ up and over the door moldings. So I used a double-cut (splice) technique.

In the photo, you see the opening I am trying to bridge. In the next photo, I have positioned a piece of paper so that it lines up with the horizontal lines on both the left and right. This piece overlaps an inch or two onto the strip to the right. You can just barely see a bit of the blue plastic tape I am using to keep paste off the piece that it is overlapping.

Now it’s time to make the double-cut. I have placed a strip of polystyrene plastic on the wall under where my splice will take place. This will prevent my razor blade from scoring into the wall surface below. This is important, because an un-intact wall surface may give way when the tension from drying / shrinking wallpaper tugs on it, causing a popped seam.

I found a spot among the vertical lines where I could have the spacing between lines and squares look similar to the natural rhythm of the design. Using a straightedge and new razor blade, I cut vertically through both layers of wallpaper. In the photo, you see the excess paper of the top piece, along with its protective blue plastic, falling away.

Not shown is removal of the excess piece from the strip of paper on the bottom, and also removal of the polystyrene padding strip. The blue tape was also pulled away.

The last shot shows the area over the door after the spliced pieces were smoothed back into place. Perfect!

Nobody would guess that the pattern is a tad out of sequence.

And, yes, all this takes engineering, concentration, and time. There were five sections over the doors and windows, each only 13″ high. I spent more than six hours on just these five sections.

Another Fun Challenge, Disguising a Kill Point

March 16, 2019


If you start hanging wallpaper in a corner, for example, by the time you get around the room and come back to that first corner, the last strip will need to be cut vertically to fit that last space, and pattern will not match up with the pattern on the first wall. This is called the kill point. Usually you try to place it in an inconspicuous place, such as behind a door.

This powder room did not have any hidden corners. I didn’t want to end up with an 8′ high corner of mis-matched pattern, so I decided to put the kill point in a 15″ high area – over the door. A mis-match in the middle of a wall (such as over a door) catches the eye more quickly than a mis-match in a corner. But I knew this pattern would help me minimize that.

What I didn’t expect was that, miraculously, the pattern almost matched itself up perfectly, with only about a 2″ of excess paper. Plus a little tracking due to the crookedness of the walls and ceiling. See second photo.

I did a splice. I matched the strip of paper to the pattern on the right, and then matched it up to the pattern on the left. This left the pouch of excess paper that you see in the second photo. I cut this paper in two vertically, as you see in the second photo.

To prepare for the splice, I took a strip of clear flexible plastic (polystyrene) strip and placed it under the area to be spliced. This would protect the wall from being cut. (Scoring the wall can leave weak areas that could pull loose and delaminate, as the wallpaper dries and pulls taught and puts tension on the wall…. which could cause the seams to curl up.) You can barely see this clear plastic strip at the bottom center of the third photo.

Then I overlapped the strips, took a new, sharp razor blade, and cut through both layers of paper, tracing along the curved elements of the design, such as the tree trunk. A straight cut would have sliced leaves and trees abruptly, but a curved cut helps disguise a pattern mis-match. Also, following along the trunk of the trees maintained the design of the pattern and gave the eye something that it expected to see by maintaining the rhythmic repeat of the design.

Once the cut was made, I pulled away the excess paper from both the top and bottom layers, and removed the lexan strip (which can be washed and reused). I smoothed the two sides of wallpaper together and wiped off residual paste.

In the last photo’s finished view, you can hardly notice any mis-matched pattern.

Clever Kill Point – Eliminating a Pattern Mis-Match, Damask Pattern

January 15, 2019

When you hang wallpaper around a room, usually starting in a corner, the pattern on your last strip will never perfectly match up with the pattern where you first started. So we try to hide this in the least conspicuous place – like behind a door.

But in this room, there were no “hidden corners” that would be obscured by a door. Since all four corners were very visible, I wanted them all to have their pattern match perfectly.

So I had to find another place put that “kill point,” – where the last piece meets up with the first piece. I decided to put that over the door, a 20″ high strip. I figured that would be less noticeable than a 7″ length in a visible corner.

Sorry, for some reason, my “before” photo disappeared; it was a shot of the gap over the door where the last strip was coming to meet the first strip.

In the top photo above, I have overlapped the two strips, to see how “off” the pattern match will be. I am preparing to splice these two strips together, and will use some tricks to make that pattern mis-match less noticeable.

Next, I padded the wall with some scrap paper. This means that I placed a width of scrap paper behind these two pieces that will be spliced together. This is to protect the wall from being scored when I make my splice. You don’t want to cut into the wall when doing a splice, because, when the wallpaper dries and pulls tight, it can put tension on the wall, sufficient to cause the layers to delaminate and pull apart, creating a “popped” seam.

Next, I took a sharp, new razor blade and cut through both layers of wallpaper, using the swerving lines in the damask design as a guild – a swerving cut will be less noticeable than a straight like that cuts abruptly through the pattern.

This is tricky, because you want to cut through two layers of wallpaper, but not into or through the third layer that is being used to pad and protect the wall.

Second photo – I screwed up! For some reason, I had trouble cutting through the two layers of wallpaper. I tried twice, but each time I only cut through one layer. So I attempted it one last time, making sure to push really hard on the razor blade.

Well, now the razor blade was ready to do its job … But it was too zealous … This third attempt, the blade cut neatly through both layers of wallpaper, which is good. But it also cut through the third layer of wallpaper I had put behind everything, to protect the wall. And into the wall underneath. In the photo, you can see how the drywall was scored. This is bad.

To prevent the drying / shrinking wallpaper from tugging on those cut edges of drywall, I grabbed some special paper tape I keep in the van, and placed strips over the curved cuts in the drywall. These are very difficult to see, but the paper strips are there, in the third photo.

Then I fit the two strips of wallpaper back together, smoothing them into place over the paper tape. Then I made sure to wipe off any paste residue that was left on the surface.

Now, if those two spliced strips of wallpaper should shrink as they dry and put tension on the wall, the tension will not be on the cuts in the wall, but rather on the strips of paper. The strip of paper tape will disperse the tension over it’s 1″ width, and keep it away from the weakened areas of the cut drywall. This should prevent any delaminating of the drywall, and prevent any popped seams.

In the last photo, we are back to hiding that last seam, the “kill point.” From down below, your eye will never pick out any pattern mis-match. Mission Accomplished!

Wild Wallpaper In Frames That Will Be Hung On The Wall

July 31, 2018



Here’s some really cool, custom-made wallpaper that, expectedly, costs a ton. The homeowners wanted to accentuate two rooms (dining room, master bedroom) with these patterns, but, considering the investment, wanted to be able to take it with them, should they move.

After much deliberation and investigation of backings, weight, sturdiness, etc., it was decided to mount each mural on plywood, wrap each of those with a wooden frame, and then mount them on the walls with brackets that attach invisibly to the back.

The largest one, which already has its frame attached, and which you see in the top photo, measures about 7′ x 7′, and weights 80 pounds. Imagine getting that thing up two flights of stairs!

The top photo shows the large mural finished. It consists of two panels spliced in the middle. It was trimmed in place to fit inside the good frame you see around it.

The second photo shows the smaller mural being laid out. It will be applied to the board you seeing lying on the floor in the third photo. The plywood board has been sealed with KILZ, to prevent knotholes from bleeding through, sanded smooth, and then primed with a wallpaper-specific primer. I used Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

These wallpaper panels are custom-made to fit the project’s dimensions, and have a few extra inches “bleed” area on each side to allow for trimming and adjusting for wonky walls. The bordering silver area will be trimmed off, as will an inch or so of the printed area on each side of the mural.

On the smaller, dark mural, someone forgot to add an extra inch for the top and bottom, so the mural was centered as perfectly as possible, but a little bit of the white plywood peeked out on both the top and bottom. Don’t worry – a black frame will be constructed to cover the edges of the plywood, and it will have a lip (rabbet) that will cover this teeny gap.

The last photo shows one page of the instruction sheets, which includes drawings from the manufacturer detailing the layout and dimensions of each mural. The large mural came in two panels, which had to be overlapped in the center, carefully matching the pattern, and then double cut, or spliced.

Double cutting involves overlapping the edges of the two strips of wallpaper, while carefully matching the pattern. Then you take a straight edge and a brand new, very sharp razor blade and cut through both layers of paper. This paper was very thick, so I had to press really hard to get through both layers in one sweep. You want to avoid making multiple cuts if possible.

To keep from scoring into the plywood below (and it’s even more important if you are cutting on a wall made of drywall and / or many layers of paint and primer), I put a strip of polystyrene plastic on the plywood surface to keep the razor blade from cutting into the bottom surface. Once the double cut is made, the excess wallpaper, as well as the polystyrene strip, are removed, and the two edges of wallpaper smoothed into place. This makes for a very perfect seam.

All this takes a lot of time. It would be really cumbersome in a larger or more complicated room. But protecting the subsurface is important, because, once the wallpaper starts drying, it shrinks a little and pulls taught, and if the surface below is not intact (due to a cut from a razor blade, or from something else like dust on the surface or layers of incompatible materials such as old oil based paint covered with latex paint), these layers can come apart (delaminate), and the wallpaper seams will pull apart. This is not the paper “coming loose,” and it cannot be “glued back.” It is actually layers of the wall delaminating.

Anyway, back to today’s project, and, sorry, a little out of sequential order, but all important information. These panels were to be hung on the walls, but had not been hung yet. This allowed me to do them flat on the floor, which I think was easier. The instructions said to paste the paper, but that was extremely difficult because they were much wider than my work table. I didn’t want to crease or damage the material. Most non-woven products can be hung by pasting the wall, so that’s what I opted to do. Except, in this instance, they were laid out on the floor. 🙂

The material was a thick non-woven on a mylar plastic, and was very thick and somewhat difficult to work with. In addition, the panels were much wider than normal wallpaper, and hard for me to manipulate. I was glad that the interior designer was hanging around and was game for helping me position these pieces.

As I said, the material was thick and stiff, and no matter how hard I pushed or what extreme tool I used (metal plate), it would not press tightly into the corners of the gold frame enough for me to get a satisfactory cut – meaning that there was a slight (1/16″ – 1/8″ gap between the material and the frame. No matter… The interior designer was easy going, and said she will add a small piece of molding to the inside of the gold frame, to cover any gap, as well as to prevent the thick material from curling up. On the smaller, dark mural, the black frame to be constructed will include a lip (rabbet) that will cover the open edge and help hold it down, as well as cover the outside edge of the plywood panel.

This gutsy wallpaper is made by Calico, a husband-and-wife team out of New York City that is just a few years old – not many people have this stuff – and even fewer have the balls to put it on their walls!

The interior designer for the project is Elizabeth Maciel, and the location is a newish home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

Spliced Bolt – Woulda Been Nice If They Had Included A Little Extra

March 4, 2018


It’s not all that uncommon for a manufacturer to splice two lengths of wallpaper together, in the middle of a bolt.

However, since this usually means that a lot of the paper will not be useable (because the lengths on either side of the splice will be too short to cover a full-height wall), the manufacturer usually includes some extra yardage.

This time, Cole & Son gave me a spliced roll, but did not include any extra material.

Luckily, we had enough paper that I could finish the room, even though this splice eliminated two full-length strips.

Over-Zealous Installer Scored into the Wall

August 16, 2017

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Windows without trim molding like these have surfaces inside the opening that need to be covered with wallpaper. They are always a little tricky, because you need to paper both the top and the sides, but the strip of wallpaper will fold over to cover only one of these surfaces. So you need to come up with paper to cover the other surface.

The previous installer chose to splice in the additional paper he needed, which is what we call a double cut, and it’s a fine way to get these windows papered. He lapped a new piece of paper over the existing piece and then cut through both layers, removed excess, and had a perfect splice.

The problem is that he pressed so hard that he cut not just through the two layers of paper, but down into the wall – quite deeply, in fact. Then, as the paper dries and gets taught, and years go by, and especially in this case where the exterior wall had a leak and water damaged the drywall all around the window, the layers of drywall split apart a bit, and that’s why you see these gaps and curled edges.

When I double cut, I put a strip of polystyrene plastic under the area to be cut, to prevent the razor blade from digging into the wall.

This type of damage is difficult to fix, because the integrity of the wall itself has been compromised. Even if you repair the surface, the underlying layers may come apart again and create another crack on the surface.

What I did was to use repair tape to bridge over the cut areas, and then joint compound to float over and smooth the area. This way, if the wall should move or try to open up again, hopefully the tape will prevent any gap from showing.

“Sigourney” Wallpaper in China Seas Collection by Quadrille

June 16, 2017

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This “Sigourney” design by Quadrille is a well-loved wallpaper pattern. It comes in a large and a smaller scale. Today I hung the larger pattern.

This went in the large and sunny breakfast area of a new home in Oak Forest (Houston).

The wallpaper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, before the paper could go up. The heavy inks smell like mothballs, and fight against the paper backing, causing the paper to “waffle” (pucker) and the edges of the paper to curl.

My table-trimmed seams curled and didn’t want to lie down against the wall, so I ended up double-cutting (splicing) all the seams. Double-cutting involves a lot more steps and materials than simply butting factory-trimmed seams.

So this job took a lot more time and sweat than expected, but turned out looking fabulous.