Posts Tagged ‘sponge’

Smoothing a Textured Wall, Continued

March 3, 2022
Continuing from yesterday’s post … The smoothing compound has dried and I’m ready to sand it smooth. This photo gives an idea of what needs to be sanded down. Some areas, such as around electrical outlets, are more irregular and have more raised areas to be sanded down.
Before I get to the sanding, a 3″ stiff putty knife comes in handy for scraping down high areas.
For decades, contractors wrapped sandpaper around a wooden block and used that to sand walls. Then, about 25 years ago, some genius invented these sanding sponges. They’re soft, flexible, easy-to-hold blocks covered with sanding fibers of various grits. They have angles that aid getting into various corners. I find that the edges can be a bit “pointy” and can gouge into the surface, so I often use a scissors to cut off the corners, as you see in all but the one on the far left.
Held against the actual wall.
Don’t forget a dust mask, to prevent inhaling the fine particles. And, yes, this is an N-95 … The same mask that protects us from ingesting the COVID 19 virus also protects the lungs of us home improvement contractors.
Manufacturers have done a good job of creating joint compound whose dust settles to the floor, rather than going air-borne and sifting all around the room. Still, it’s best to take measures to keep dust out of the rest of the home. Here I’ve hung a sheet of painter’s plastic across the wall, to contain sanding dust.
Once I’m done sanding, I’ll use my Shop Vac to clean up the mess, removing dust from both the floor and the walls.
It’s crucial that all dust be removed from the wall. If not, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper (or paint) will kinda stick – but not really stick. Vacuuming the wall will not remove all dust. The only way to remove all residual dust is to wipe it off the wall with a damp sponge.
Look at how much dust has accumulated on the sponge after only a few swipes.
The sponge needs to be rinsed clean frequently. Once I’m done, I’ll dump this bucket of dusty water down the toilet (not the sink).
Swipes from the damp sponge will leave wet marks on the wall. These need to dry before moving to the priming step, so as not to trap moisture within the wall surface.
Here I’m rolling on my favorite wallpaper primer, Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have my paint store guys add just a bit of blue tint, to help me see where I’ve rolled it on. The short angled brush is for cutting the paint in around corners and edges.
I’ve tacked strips of dropcloth along the top of the baseboards, to prevent splatters.
Finished wall, nice and smooth, primed, and ready for wallpaper.

Rebel Walls Gives You Paste

February 24, 2022
I carry 5-gallon buckets of wallpaper paste in my van. But to make it easy for DIY’ers, rebelwalls.com includes a box of paste with every order. This is powdered paste that needs to be mixed with water. This may be lightweight and easy to ship, but I don’t like to use it when hanging a non-woven material like theirs.
Non-wovens are prone to staining and blushing (look like they’re wet but never dry out) . Most often this is caused by the paste – usually a paste that is too “wet” or, in other words, has a high moisture content. Roman 880 is notorious for this, as is Dynomite (now Roman) 234.
But a paste that you make by mixing powder into water seems even more risky for having a high water content, and causing staining. And so is the practice of dampening the back of the paper with a damp sponge, or a spritz of water from a squirt bottle. In my mind, too much water / moisture = risk of staining or blushing.
I say, skip the anxiety and use a low-moisture pre-mixed vinyl adhesive such as Roman 838 or Dynomite 780 (also now made by Roman). Clay pastes are also known for low water content – but I definitely do not recommend on a non-woven material, as I’ve seen the red clay bleed through far too many wallpaper surfaces.

Dark Wallpaper – Preventing White Gaps Showing at Seams

February 24, 2022
Dark papers are popular right now. But since wallpaper shrinks a tad when it dries, and since it’s usually printed on a white substrate, it’s possible that hairs’-breadth gaps of white wall may show at the seams. One way to prevent that is to stripe the wall under where the seams will fall with a color similar to the background of the wallpaper. Be careful to not get it too dark, as too much pigment may interfere with the wallpaper primer’s ability to perform optimally.
I measured the width of the strips, and then used a laser level to guide my stripes.
I use craft paint from the hobby store, and daub it on with a scrap of sponge (right) and dip into a bit of water, which I keep in a Gatorade bottlecap (left).
To get rid of the white edges of the substrate, I use a bit of chalk (some folks use paint – but make sure it’s water-based …. NEVER use oil-based paint, markers, or chalks, as they will bleed onto the surface of the wallpaper). I run the chalk along the edge of the wallpaper strip, making sure to work from the back side, to prevent the chalk from working its way onto the surface of the wallpaper. Use a light touch, but cover all of the white edge.
Finished wall. Don’t see no stinkin’ white gaps! 🙂
The mural pictured is by RebelWalls.com

Keeping Dust to a Minimum

February 5, 2022
Most homes in the Houston area have textured walls. These bumps are unsightly under wallpaper, and also interfere with consistent adhesion. So I like to skim-float the walls with drywall joint compound (I use the Plus 3 version) and then sand them smooth.
Sanding this stuff creates lightweight, powdery dust that sifts through the air and gets over everything. Homeowners tend to hate that. 🙂
So here I’ve created a ” tent ” out of painter’s plastic along the walls where I will be sanding. This creates a pretty darned effective barrier that prevents dust from getting into the rest of the room.
Here’s the dust created by smoothing just the top 5′ of wall area. And my ShopVac to clean it all up.
I find it easiest to let the dust fall onto the floor and even the carpet. It’s easy to vacuum dust up off these surfaces. Dropcloths and plastic tend to get sucked up into the vacuum hose, and the dust doesn’t come with it. I once tried protective self-adhesive plastic that’s made to cover carpet … but it was extremely difficult to unroll, plus, it was even more difficult to get back off the floor. I truly feared it would pull off the surface finish of the floor along with it.
The vacuum gets most of the dust. But there is still a fine, invisible layer left on surfaces. So you need to take a damp rag and wipe the floor.
I also vacuum the walls. After the visible dust is gone, it’s imperative that you take a damp sponge and wipe residual dust off the walls. You have to rinse the sponge frequently to get all the dust. If not, it’s like, as I like to say, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper will kinda stick – but not really stick.
Once the walls are perfectly dust-free and dry, follow up with a wallpaper primer.
Then go and hang your wallpaper!

Stripping Wallpaper

February 3, 2022
Wallpaper is comprised of two layers – the top, decorative layer, and the bottom substrate layer. The first step in stripping the paper is to remove the top layer. In this case, the material is a solid vinyl. These solid vinyls usually separate easily from their backing and come off in one large strip.
The next step is to soak the backing with water. I use a bucket of warm water and a sponge. You will need to wet and re-wet the backing several times. This water will reactivate the paste. Once it’s wet enough, the paste will let go, and, if you’re lucky, the backing will pull away from the wall easily and in large pieces.
Sometimes you have to work a little harder, and use a stiff putty knife to gently scrape the paper off the wall. A good primer underneath will facilitate this process, as well as protect the wall. I hung this original paper 30+ years ago, and once it was all off, the walls were in perfect condition, and I was able to hang the new paper with no additional prep. This is the sink room.
In the tub room, the paper was the same brand, but the backing was different. This is a gritty, thicker, manilla type paper backing. This stuff usually absorbs the water nicely and lets go from the wall easily. Not so in this case. First, the top vinyl layer wouldn’t pull off, but had I had to get under it with the putty knife, and then it came off in small pieces, maybe 5″ square.
The backing also didn’t let go easily. Even when very saturated with water, it held tight, and I had to use the putty knife to gently scrape it off the wall – mostly in small chunks. Talk about eating up time!
All you need to remove wallpaper is a bucket of plain water, a sponge, and a stiff, 3″ putty knife. I know some folks are fond of their additives. But I don’t think they speed the process at all. Plus, I don’t want any residual chemicals left on the wall.
Oh, and don’t forget the dropcloths!

Preventing White Wall From Showing

January 23, 2022
Wallpaper expands a bit when it gets wet with wallpaper paste (3/8″ in this case), and then shrinks when it dries. This can result in the white edges of the paper showing, or the wall behind peeking out from teeny gaps. With a dark paper like this, it can be noticeable. I ran a piece of black chalk along both edges of the paper to cover the white substrate (no photo). It’s important to use chalk and not oil pastel, as oil will stain wallpaper.
Then, to keep the the wall from peeping through, I striped the area on the wall under where the seams would fall with black paint. Not shown, I used my heat gun to speed along the drying of this stripe. I don’t make the paint too thick, because you want the wallpaper seams sticking to the wallpaper primer, not to the paint.
All this takes a good bit of time. Also, it’s tricky to plot ahead, because, due to the expansion factor, it’s difficult to know exactly where the seams are going to fall. Non-woven materials don’t expand, but papers like this one will.
I use paint from the hobby store or Texas Art Supply, run along the wall with a small chunk of sponge, dipped in water.

Paint Stripes to Prevent White Wall Peeking Out

January 8, 2022
Sometimes (usually) wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste and then shrinks just a tad when it dries. This can result in hair-breadth gaps at the seams. Usually not a big deal. But when the paper is dark and the sub-surface is light, you can end up with white wall visible at the seams.
So sometimes I’ll paint a stripe of matching color behind where the seams will lie. Measure to plot where the seam will fall, then use a level and pencil, or a laser level, to indicate where, and then run a stripe of paint along that line. Make the stripe wide enough to accommodate slight variations in measurements and wallpaper expansion.
I use craft paint from the hobby store or Texas Art Supply. The photo shows an outdoor paint – not the best option, but it’s what I had in the truck. 🙂 I use a small rectangle of sponge dipped in water and then in the paint.
For extra assurance, on thick papers, dark surface printed on a white backing, you can also use artist’s chalk pastels (chalk only and NOT oil pastels) to color the edges of the seams. Do a Search here (upper right corner) to find previous posts about that.

Nails and Even Pins in the Wall – A Cut Hazard

November 14, 2021

Today I’m stripping old wallpaper off bedroom walls. This involves swiping a wet sponge across the wall surface (to reactivate the old paste and soften it so the wallpaper can be removed easily).

Sometimes homeowners will remove artwork or other hanging items, but forget to take out the nails they were hanging on. Or, if they want to keep the nails in place (so the artwork can be rehung in the same place), they forget to put a sticky note to mark where the nails are.

This can be dangerous, because skinny nails are virtually invisible, and, as I’m wiping my hand across the surface, it’s likely that my hand can be cut when it runs into one of these nails.

In this picture, it’s not a nail but a skinny pin sticking out of the wall – virtually impossible to see!

Paste Stains on Wallpaper and Woodwork

November 6, 2021
This wallpaper has been up for nearly 30 years. Over time, ” shadows ” of wallpaper paste have begun to show.
The stains are most common at the seams. During installation, it’s typical for paste to ooze out at the seams, and for the installer to wipe the paste off with a damp sponge or cloth. If he doesn’t get it all, then, over time, the paste can manifest, as you see here. There are also darker blotches to the right of the seam.
Paste caught in the lightly textured surface, and probably spread around by the installer’s wiping.
Seam opening up, probably due to humidity and / or improper wall prep.
Stains showing over a window. I don’t believe the room looked like this when the installation was completed years ago. I believe that time and humidity and other factors caused the paste to darken and show itself on the surface. I also have a hunch that clay-based paste was used. I don’t like that stuff, particularly for this reason.
One sad thing is that this room didn’t have to look like this. Note this section “before.”
Here is the same section “after.” All I did was wipe with clean water and a sponge and the stains came off easily.
Here are stains from paste that was not completely wiped off the woodwork.
Here is the same woodwork after I wiped for just a half a minute with a damp cloth.

I hate that the homeowner lived for 30 years with gradually worsening staining like this. I guess that if someone had gotten industrious, he could have taken a bucket of clean water (refreshed frequently) and a rag, and spent an afternoon washing down the walls and woodwork, and a few spots on the ceiling.

Even better would be if the original installer had ” worked clean ” – meaning, working carefully so as not to get any paste on the surface of the paper in the first place. And being more fastidious in removing any paste that did get onto the wallpaper or woodwork.

Sanding Dust from Smoothing a Textured Wall

October 26, 2021
Bumps from textured walls look bad under wallpaper, and they interfere with good adhesion. To smooth a textured wall, I skim-float with joint compound (a plaster-like drywall material). Once it’s dry, I sand it smooth. This makes dust. In the photo above, the wall only needed a light skim-coat, so the sanding was minimal. Yet, you can see how much dust was generated. On the right is the “tent” of plastic I ran across the wall to prevent dust from getting to other parts of the room.
Here’s a closer look at the powder that has fallen to the floor. And also the sanding sponge I like. The 90 degree corners tend to be too sharp and can gouge the surface, so I take a scissors and trim that off. That’s the exposed red area you see along the edge there.

The next step is to vacuum up all this dust. Then residual powder must be wiped off the wall with a damp sponge, and you have to rinse the sponge frequently. The next step is applying a wallpaper primer. Once that’s dry, the wall is ready for wallpaper.