Posts Tagged ‘splice’

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.

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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.

“Smoke” On A Floating Wall

January 13, 2017
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This wall in the dining room of a very contemporary new home in the Spring Branch area of Houston “floats” in the middle of the room. This breath of smoke floating across the wall adds a distinctly ethereal feel.

The interior designer on this job is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group, who was expertly assisted by Anthony Stransky. I love working for these guys. And homeowners love their creations, which are crisp, sleek, modern, a bit edgy, yet still warm and comfortable.

The smoke mural was custom made to fit the wall, and came from Murals Your Way https://www.muralsyourway.com/ , a member of the Wallcovering Installers Association (WIA). Their murals can be printed on various materials, and I chose the vinyl on an Osnaburg backing.

Each of the three panels was about 42″ wide, and they were meant to be overlapped and then double-cut (spliced) at the seams. Great care was taken to not get paste on either the surface of the mural or on the ceiling, and to not score the wall while splicing.

I have a specially made 2 1/2″ wide plastic tape that keeps paste off surfaces, and another special 2″ wide polystyrene plastic strip that protects the wall from cuts from the razor blade, and a specially made non-slip straightedge used as a guide while trimming. All of these were invented and made by fellow members of the WIA (Steve Boggess and Eunice Bokstrom). Probably boring for the average blog-reader, but exciting stuff for us paperhangers. These things really helped make this job turn out perfect.

Difficult Grasscloth Install Today

October 23, 2016
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Boy, oh boy, today’s installation was a bear! To begin with, I had a 12′ high accent wall that required using my 8′ ladder, which is unwieldy and can push you away from where you want to work. The wall had a thick texture (typical in new homes in the Houston suburbs – this was near Cypress), that took hours to smooth, dry, sand, and prime.

When it was time to hang the paper, I pasted and booked (folded pasted side to pasted side) and prepared to trim a bit off each edge, which is pretty standard procedure for grass, plus I had planned to trim all the strips to 34.5″, which would make all the strips the same width, which is nice with grass since all the seams are quite visible. I got one seam that looked great. But there was some warping in the material, but I was able to smooth it out.

But when I tried to trim the next strip, the folded edges did not line up, no matter how many times I rebooked it. If the edges don’t line up perfectly, you will not get a straight cut. I dicked around with it for a while, but eventually had to get the strip on the wall, or it would become unusable – and we did not have even one extra strip.

I decided to use the factory edge and leave the strip it’s full width, which was going to screw up my balanced widths of 34.5″. I soon learned that unequal widths of strips was one of the least of my woes that day…

The paper backing had absorbed moisture from the paste, and the whole strip had warped out of shape. No way would the edge butt up perfectly against the previous strip. In the end, I got most of the strip butted and smoothed, but the bottom 1′ or so insisted on overlapping onto the previous strip, so I took a straightedge and very sharp razor blade and cut away the overlap.

This turned out to set the mood for the rest of the job. All the subsequent strips warped significantly, not matter how long or short I booked them. No way would the seams butt up. So I ended up overlapping all the seams and double cutting – the industry term for splicing.

This is not as simple as it sounds, though. For one thing, the newly smoothed wall was soft, and you don’t want to cut into it, or when the paper dries and shrinks a little, the torque it creates can actually pull the wall surface apart, resulting in a curled seam that cannot be pasted back.

So I ran out to my truck and got some special polystyrene strips that are 2″ wide and are placed behind the seam, to protect the wall from the cut. I also grabbed a really nice straightedge that is made just for this purpose, with a handle and a non-slip surface. And some blue plastic tape, because I had to protect the bottom layer of grasscloth from the paste on the strip that was to be overlapped on top of it during the double cut. This is important, because any paste that gets on the surface will stain grasscloth – you have to work absolutely clean.

All three of these special items, by the way, were invented by fellow paperhangers, and fellow members of the Wallpaper Installers Association.

Positioning all these materials took a lot of time. Making the cut itself was intricate, because I could get a good position on it for only a foot or so, then would have to climb down and move the ladder over a little, so I could get right in front of the next couple of feet as I worked my way down the 12′ high strip. Also, two layers of grasscloth are quite thick, and it takes a lot of pressure to do so – while trying not to push myself away from the wall and onto the floor. And you only get one chance to cut, because multiple swipes result in a jagged and ugly seam.

Once the cut was finished, I had to go back and remove the two excess pieces, and the polystyrene strip, and the blue plastic tape, all the while making sure that no paste got onto the surface of the paper. Finally I could take my tool and smooth the two edges together. Double cutting does make a beautiful and perfectly butted seam. But, boy, it sure does take a lot of time, effort, and you need the right equipment.

Including prep and installation, this one accent wall with just six single rolls of grasscloth took me a full 12 hours.

So the seams were nicely butted. But, as you see in the photo, the grasscloth displayed the typical color variations that I find so displeasing. We call it shading and paneling. In the top photo, you can clearly see a difference in color between the two strips, even though they are from the same batch. The second photo shows a little more of this. The third photo is dark, but if you look closely, you can see three strips (two seams), and the slightly darker area along one edge, which is quite noticeable because it butts up against the next strip which is lighter in color.

All reasons why I dislike real grasscloth. The faux products are much more uniform, and seams can be invisible.

In addition, this is a pretty finely textured grass, and on a large, tall wall like this in a large room, I really don’t think the texture shows up very much, unless you are standing right at the wall.

The grasscloth product is by Brewster, and the interior designer on this job is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs.

Disguising a Kill Point

September 4, 2016

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When you wallpaper a room, there is almost always a mis-match in the last corner, the point where the last strip of wallpaper meets up with the first strip that was hung. So I try to hide this in an inconspicuous place, like a corner behind a door, for instance.

In this powder room in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston, there were no corners tucked behind doors, so all the corners would be very visible, and a pattern mis-match in these corners might be eye-jarring. Sometimes, that’s your only option.

But today, I got lucky with both a design and with wall dimensions, that allowed me to hide the mis-match in plain sight, so to speak.

The area over the door was only 9″ high, and was not as visible as the corners of the room. So I opted to put the mis-match there. The idea was to splice two strips of wallpaper, each with different design motifs, together, to try to fool the eye so it would not see a mismatch, but instead would see an unbroken pattern design.

The top photo shows the wallpaper pattern (a damask) as the artist designed it. In the second photo, I am moving from the right to the left, preparing to meet the wallpaper to the left (not yet in place, so you see white wall). To prepare for the splice that will take place on the wall (which we call a double cut), I have padded the wall, to protect it, with a piece of scrap wallpaper. (It is important to not let your razor blade cut deeply enough to score into the wall, because an un-intact surface can yield to stress applied by drying (shrinking) wallpaper, and actually pull away from the wall.

The next photo shows the two strips of wallpaper in place and overlapping, with the wall behind them protected, and ready for the splice (double cut).

Instead of making an easy, straight vertical cut through the two layers of wallpaper, which would be fast and mindless, and result in noticeable a pattern mismatch, I opted for what we call an “S-cut.” Meaning, instead of making a straight, ridged cut from top to bottom, if I cut in an “S” pattern, it will be much less visible. Even better, if I cut along an element of the p0attern, such as these swoopy floral things, it all will be much less noticeable. It’s also important to use a fresh, new razor blade for this.

So, in the next photo, I’ve made my cuts – along the curved element in the pattern’s design. Now the strip of waste wallpaper that was used to protect the wall has been removed, and so has the excess paper from the strip beneath our splice. All that remains is to smooth the remaining layers back together … Once this I done, in the final photo, even though the pattern does not technically match, no one is noticing the slight discrepancy, and it looks great

Re-Matching a Mis-Matched Corner

September 7, 2015
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As you hang wallpaper around a room, once you arrive back at the corner where you started out, virtually always, this last corner will have a pattern mis-match, and so you place it in the least conspicuous place.

In this powder room in Montrose, I put the mis-match in the corner over a door. It was a mere 11″ high, and was only off by a half an inch or so. (Photo I) But I knew I could make it look better.

To get the pattern to match, I would have to slide the strip on the left about a half an inch to the right. But doing that would leave a gap on the left side, with the wall showing through.

Since there was no pattern to match across the seam, I didn’t have to worry about a pattern mis-match there. So I decided to “grow the paper,” by splicing in some narrow strips of background colored paper.

I cut the 13.5″ wide strip of wallpaper in half vertically. That allowed me to disperse the spliced area across more space, making it less eye-jarring. I dug some scraps of left over paper out of the trash and trimmed them to 1/4″ wide. These were used a spacers in between the 6.75″ wide strips of wallpaper. Two of them, plus a teeny bit of overlap, were just enough to space out the wallpaper pattern, so that the pattern matched perfectly in the corner on the left, and still maintained the proper pattern in the strips over the door.

From below, you sure cannot tell that some of the white areas are wider than others. And you can’t notice the slight ridge from the overlapped areas, either.

Vinyl Wallpaper and Un-Straight Walls

June 1, 2015
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OK, a lot of technical stuff coming up, and a little hard to follow, but I will do my best to explain. Here I am hanging a faux-leather, textured paper-backed solid vinyl wallpaper with no pattern to match. In the left side of the first photo, I have just come from left to right around an outside corner. When you wrap wallpaper around a corner, you can bet that the corner will not be straight or plumb and the wall may even be bowed. That means that you cannot expect the right edge of this strip of wallpaper to be straight, and that means that you cannot expect the next strip of wallpaper to butt up perfectly against it.

Since this paper has no pattern to match, the solution is simple, if not easy. I am going to overlap the next strip and splice it in with the previous strip. But you don’t want to just overlap and slice through both layers with a razor blade. Doing so could: 1.) get paste on the surface of the first strip, which, since it’s a textured paper, would be hard to wipe off, and, 2.) score the wall, and that means that when the paper dries, it shrinks and puts “torque” on the seam / surface – and that could cause the surface to pull away from the the subsurface – keep in mind that here we have Sheetrock, paint, new paint, and wallpaper primer, one on top of another, so there are several layers that can all pull apart from one another. To put is succinctly, the end result is a curled seam – which cannot be glued back down.

So, in the first photo, in preparation for the double cut (splice), I have put a “Boggess pad,” which is a long flexible strip of polystyrene plastic under the seam, to protect the wall. You see a bit of it peeking out on the right side of the photo, and you see the ridge it makes under the paper in the center of the photo.

On the right side of the second photo is the new strip of wallpaper, coming to meet the existing strip. Along the edge of this new strip of wallpaper is a strip of waxed paper, and you can see some of it sticking out on the left edge. This waxed paper will protect the existing strip of wallpaper from the paste that is on the new strip of wallpaper.

In the third photo, the metal tool with the pointy top on the left is a special straight edge that I use for cuts like this. I have already made the cut along its edge, and you can see both the cut and the waxed paper on the left side of the cut. You can see a little bit of the hump created by the polystyrene strip under the vinyl paper, on the right.

In the fourth photo, I have pulled the vinyl strip on the right back a little, so I can pull off the waxed paper from under it. The polystyrene strip is still against the wall, under the vinyl paper on the left. I am about to remove that, too.

All this has taken some time, and another factor playing in here is “open time,” which means how long the paste will stay wet and allow you to fiddle with all this.

In Photo 5, I am about to smooth the two edges of the seam back together.

In Photo 6, you see how perfectly the edges meet. A double cut (splice) really gives you the most perfect seams, because the two pieces of paper are truly melded together. It does take a lot of time and materials, though, and is not really called for except in certain situations.

This room turned out looking great, and the homeowners were pleased. The homeowner did ask me why my price was higher than the guy who had hung paper in another room. From what I saw, the other installer did a good job in that room.

But I’m wondering if he has knowledge of primers and layers of wall surfaces and torque and open time, and if he has waxed paper on his truck and knows when to use it, and if he has a special $125 trim guide and knows how to use it, and if he has ever heard of a Boggess strip or if he just cuts into the wall and hopes it all holds together.

Bottom line … sometimes special situations call for special tools and equipment and skills.
Not saying another guy couldn’t do it his way and have it turn out looking great.
Just saying I’m glad I have these gadgets to use, and the know-how to use them to keep the homeowner’s wallpaper clean and unwrinkled.

“Growing” Paper to Fill a Gap Under a Window

May 12, 2015

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Hanging wallpaper over, around, and under windows can be tricky, because wet wallpaper stretches, crooked walls cause paper to twist, moldings can be unparallel, on and on. In this case, in order to keep the paper straight in the corner (and keep my pattern match spot-on), I had to pull the paper to the right, and that resulted in a 1/4″ gap on its left edge, which was under the window. (Photo 1)

To disguise this, I pieced in another piece of paper, matching the pattern, but “growing” the paper a bit.

In Photo 2, I have cut vertically along the right edge of a design element (a tree trunk) in the pattern, and removed the paper to its right. In Photo 3, I have taken a new strip of wallpaper and butted it against the left edge of the strip on the right. On this new strip, I also cut along the same tree trunk, but along the left edge, so that the two tree trunks would overlap.

This results in a tree trunk that is slightly wider than its supposed to be – but who the heck is going to notice? It also results in a slight ridge along the tree trunk, due to the thickness of the overlapped pieces. It’s a thin paper and will dry quite flat, and, hey, it’s under the window, so not many people are going to notice that, either. But, still, I could make it look better.

So I did what we paperhangers call a double-cut, which is our term for a splice. With a very sharp razor blade, I carefully cut down the middle of the overlapped edges, then removed the excess paper (Photo 4). Once the pieces were smoothed into place, and once they dry, this splice, as well as the extra width, will be practically undetectable.