Posts Tagged ‘stain’

The Right Air Freshener for a Wallpapered Room

June 9, 2021

Wallpaper can be stained by a lot of things, including aerosol or air-borne substances – glass cleaner, hair spray, perfume, and air freshener.

Even if these are not sprayed directly on the wall, the droplets can become suspended in the air and eventually find their way to land on the walls, causing little tiny stains. Over time, these can build up until they become noticeable, or simply create a dingy cast to the surface.

A diffuser type air freshener is a good alternative. Just be sure the reeds don’t touch the wall, because the oils will stain the wallpaper.

Grasscloth Repair Today

April 14, 2021
Whoops! Somebody dropped a bottle of nail polish and look what happened!
Damaged area removed.
First approach – trimming replacement piece along horizontal grass reeds.
A better approach – splicing in the replacement piece. Blue plastic tape keeps paste off the paper on the wall.
Splice has been made, excess grasscloth and its paper backing below the splice have been removed, and I begin smoothing the patch into place.

The spliced area is undetectable.
Bottom is trimmed at the baseboard, push pins removed – done!

Good thing this family kept their scraps left over from the original install. They had a roll that had about two 8′ strips on it, plus a shorter piece that was maybe 4′ long.

Often, a repair means that you replace the whole wall, from corner to corner. For one thing, it eliminates the worries of color differences due to the existing paper fading from exposure to light over time. And the potential of buggering up one strip while removing the damaged strip next to it. And other issues like variables in the rate of expansion of wallpaper when it gets wet with paste, between what’s on the wall compared to the new replacement piece. Lots of factors.

Replacing the whole wall also would have eaten up all of the left over paper. I wanted then to keep that paper, in case something else happens down the road.

So I figured a way to use just 18″ or so of the shorter scrap they had left over.

First I took a razor blade and trimmed along a horizontal grass fiber, from the seam on the right, moving to the left and around the corner to where the paper meets the vanity. Then I peeled off the top layer, which was the grasscloth. That left the paper backing remaining on the wall.

I used a sponge to apply water to this backing, being very careful to touch only the paper and not the grasscloth that was to be left on the wall – water will stain grasscloth. After a while, the water reactivated the paste, and I was able to use my “dull” stiff 3″ putty knife to gently scrape the paper backing off the wall, making sure to get every bit that butted up to the grasscloth left on the wall, to be sure the replacement paper would sit flat against the wall and not on top of bumps of paper residue. All the while making sure to not damage the existing paper.

I cut a piece of replacement paper off the 4′ roll, cutting it a little longer than I might need, because I wasn’t sure if my first technique would work, and I wanted to avoid having to cut a whole new strip from that precious 4′ roll.

My first approach was to trim the replacement piece horizontally along the top reeds of grass. I hoped that this would butt up against the bottom of the strip on the wall. It did not. This is because the reeds of grass are uneven, and there were undulations between the top and bottom pieces that left gaps and overlaps between the two strips. (sorry, no photo)

I have used this technique successfully in the past. But that was with grasscloth that was coarser and had more distance between the reeds, so the eye would see the gaps as “normal.” Didn’t work with this finer textured grasscloth.

So my next option was to do a splice. What we in the trade call a double cut. A double cut will give you a perfectly fitted seam. But I try to avoid them, because there is the potential to score into the wall, which can cause an un-intact area that may delaminate over time, resulting in a “popped” seam.

(When hanging new wallpaper (not doing a repair to paper already adhered to the wall), it is possible to use polystyrene strips under the seam area to protect the wall when you make your cut. You can do a Search here to learn more about that.)

So a double cut was my best option. I had cut the replacement piece long enough that, after the failed attempt at butting the strips, I still had enough length to do the splice. I pasted the strip, let it book a few minutes to relax, and then unfolded it and ran a strip of blue plastic tape along the top edge. This tape will keep paste off the existing wallpaper. (Remember – grasscloth stains easily, and it’s difficult to wash, so it’s important to keep paste and other substances off of it.)

(The blue tape, and also the polystyrene strips and a lot of other cool tools, are available from fellow paperhanger Steve Boggess in Virginia. http://boggesspaperhangingtools.com/index.php )

Then I put the replacement strip in place, butting it up against the existing strip to the right, and overlapping the strip above it by about 3/4.” I used push pins to keep the strip from sliding. See 4th photo.

Next I took a single-edged razor blade and cut horizontally through both strips. Grasscloth is much thicker and harder than regular wallpaper, so I had to press hard to get through both layers – while still trying to not cut into the wall itself underneath.

Normally I would use a straightedge as a guide, but because the grass reeds are not straight themselves, I chose to free-hand the cut, following the horizontal line of one of the fibers of grass.

Once the cut was made, I removed the sections of paper that had been cut off. On the original piece that was already adhered to the wall, I had to pull off the grass, and then, once again, use my sponge and water to wet the remaining paper backing, reactivate the paste, and then carefully scrape that backing off the wall.

Once all that was done, as you see in the 5th photo, I peeled away the blue tape, and smoothed the two pieces together. They butted together perfectly!

The homeowner is going to paint over the little dabs of nail polish on the baseboard. (I told her I’d read her the riot act if she used remover or solvent and got any on that delicate grasscloth! 🙂 )

Trading in a Slew of Stubbies

March 23, 2021

No wonder I can’t fit a screwdriver into my toolbox – these too-small-to-hold-on-to nubs and stubs are taking up all the space. No more!

A trip to the dollar store yielded me these two long-lived and easy-to-hold #2 pencils – plus 10 more for back-up.

Note: We contractors always write on the wall and on our materials with pencil or chalk. Ink, marker, grease pencil, or other such materials will bleed through and stain wallpaper and paint and most other substances.

Addendum: Old habits are hard to break … I might hold on to the two on the right.

Mirror Tar – Bad For Wallpaper

January 24, 2021

Mirrors are commonly attached to walls with mastic – a sort of tar adhesive. When installing this new mirror, the workmen got some of the tar smeared on the wall below.

This is bad. Tar, like many other substances, will bleed through paint and wallpaper.

So this stain will need to be sealed over with a stain blocker. Or, better, cut out of the wall entirely, and then the damaged wall will have to be repaired. Learn more on this by doing a Search in the upper right corner.

Weird Bubbles Develop on Wall

January 21, 2021

This wall had a slight texture that needed to be skim-floated and then sanded smooth. After I applied the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound), a half hour or so later, these tiny blister bubbles appeared. This is off-gassing. But from what is a mystery.

The only clue is that this area is around where the hand towel was positioned next to the sink. So this area would have received a lot of splashing of water and also soap and other toiletries.

My guess is that some of these substances stuck to the wall. And for whatever reason, when they were covered by the joint compound, they released air / gas, which caused these bubbles.

I’ve seen this before. But this time, some of the bubbles were large enough that they did not sand down smooth and even with the wall surface. So I had to do a light touch-up skim-coat on top.

Once I got the wall smoothed, I wasn’t too concerned. I don’t believe that anything causing these tiny blisters would be something that would bleed through and stain the wallpaper.

Some substances do stain wallpaper, though. For more on that, do a Search here.

You Gotta Be Tidy When You Have Wallpaper

August 28, 2020


This home in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston has young children. I’m going to direct the blame for the streaks and drips and stains on the wall toward those children.

You may need to enlarge the photos to see what I’m talking about, but there are stains on the walls probably caused by splashing water (water turned on too hard, people shaking their hands after washing or reaching for a hand towel), or cleaning agents (housekeeper sloshing liquids).

Once the new wallpaper goes up, everyone’s going to have to be more careful and tidy. Water and Windex will stain wallpaper just as easily as they will stain a painted wall.

Rust From Water Damage Will Stain Wallpaper

August 11, 2020

Look to the right of the can. Notice the tiny spots of red. This is rust, and rust is bad because it (along with certain other substances, like ink, tar, oil, tobacco, water stains, wood sap (knots), mold, mildew) will bleed through wallpaper. Maybe not immediately, but, over time, it will work its way through the primer and the paper and to the surface, leaving a spot that cannot be washed off.

Actually, there was a whole lot of rust along the entire height of this wall’s corner. An air conditioning leak had kept the drywall wet for a period of time, and rust had formed along much of the metal corner – called a “bead.”

I skim-floated over the affected area with joint compound, and that buried the rust … for a while. But rust (and other substances), will eventually work their way to the surface, leaving spots on the wallpaper.

So a stain blocker was called for, which will prevent any stains from bleeding through. For this I love KILZ – but only the “Original” oil-based version. The water-borne products just don’t measure up

Some reasons I skim-floated over the area was to provide a buffer space between the rust and the sealer in hopes that the rust would not make it all the way up to the surface, to create more material over the very corner itself that could soak up the sealer, and because the stain blocker would soak into the porous smoothing compound more so than to the sharp corner of the metal bead.

Mirror Tar Bleeds Through Wallpaper – Prevention

June 18, 2020



The owner of this newish home in the Woodland Heights (Houston) had her handyman remove the powder room mirror and its surrounding built-in wooden frame. Mirrors are often adhered to the wall with mastic, a tar-like substance. When the mirror comes off, some of the tar residue invariably remains.

In the top photo, you can see where removing the mirror took the blobs of mastic along with it, as well as round sections of the drywall. But there are small smudges of tar still remaining on the wall.

The problem is that tar (among a lot of other substances) will bleed through wallpaper (as well as paint, and a lot of other materials).

There are stain blockers like my beloved KILZ Original Oil Based, BIN shellac based, or others, that are designed to block these stains. But I don’t trust them. For water, rust, blood, wood sap, etc., yes. But for oil-based substances like tar, I want more assurance. The best way to prevent bleed-through is not to cover the stain, but to remove it.

So I take a Stanley knife and cut into the drywall and then peel up the top layer of drywall, taking along the offending tar residue.

So now the dangerous tar is gone. But you’re left with torn drywall. This is bad for several reasons. For one thing, you have an uneven surface that will look bad under the new wallpaper (or paint). And since the top, protective layer of drywall is gone, any moisture (such as from wallpaper paste or from latex paint) will penetrate into the torn paper layer – which will swell and cause bubbling.

All of which looks pretty bad under wallpaper or paint.

So I used the product Gardz to seal the torn drywall. It is formulated to soak into the paper; then it dries hard and acts as a sealer and moisture-blocker. It won’t block stains, but it will prevent moisture from penetrating the paper and causing bubbling.

Once that was dry, I skim-floated over the entire area with joint compound. It looks rough in the photo, but once it’s dry, I’ll sand it smooth. Then I’ll give it another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. See last photo. Once that is dry, I’ll cover it with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 wallpaper primer, when I prime the other walls in this powder room.

All of these various products do take a while to dry, especially the joint compound as thick as I applied it. So I went to this job site a few days before the install date, to do the initial prep, so it would have plenty of time to dry before I come back for the final prep and wallpaper hang.

Non-Slip Mat Mars Countertop

April 4, 2020


In a bathroom with high ceilings, I needed to set my trusty 5-gallon bucket on the countertop, so I could set a foot on it to maintain my balance while I worked on the wall above it. To prevent it from slipping, I placed a non-slip shelf liner underneath – something I’ve done a zillion times before.

But this time, a little while after all the apparatus was removed, this circular spot appeared.

I believe the countertop is made of soapstone.

We are still researching why this happened. I do know that the soapstone had not been sealed when it was installed, nor had it been maintained with regular applications of oil as is recommended.

It could be that oil or other substances from the shelf liner leached into the soapstone. Or that the liner somehow wicked some substance from within the soapstone up to the surface.

I am hoping that, in time, the stain will dissipate, much as a drop of oil will gradually absorb into a leather jacket.

Other ideas are that, because soapstone is an impervious material, the stain is simply sitting on top, and so talcum powder or cornstarch sprinkled on top may absorb it.

Another suggestion is to apply mineral oil, as the conditioner that should have been applied regularly all along, and it may soak in and minimize and / or disperse the ring.

Marker Bleeds Through Wallpaper – Prevention

February 19, 2020


Whoops! Whoever hung the mirror used an ink marker to indicate where the hooks would go. Ink bleeds through wallpaper – and paint and other substances, too.

I had not seen the stains on the painted wall before I started to smooth the walls. But, as you can see, in just a few hours, it worked its way through my rough skim-float, then after this was sanded and primed, the ink bled through again.

KILZ Original oil-based primer / sealer / stain blocker is my solution for this. I don’t trust any latex or water-borne products.

No “after” picture, but I daubed a fingertip full of KILZ on top of each green spot, and am confident that the stain will not come through the new wallpaper.