Posts Tagged ‘stain’

Authentic 1920’s Wallpaper!

November 26, 2021

Across the street from where I was working today (in the Houston Heights), this 1925 home was being renovated. I walked myself over to drop off a business card.

I gasped when I saw some vintage wallpaper in a trash pile on the soon-to-be living room floor. I love these old papers, and have a growing collection.

The guys working inside were friendly, and were happy to let me take some scraps. This chunk is from the original kitchen (which, after the home is expanded, will become the living room). It’s probably the most cheerful and animated pattern in my collection.

Back in those days, a loosely-woven fabric (often mistakenly referred to as cheesecloth or muslin) was tacked to the ship-lap walls, and the wallpaper was pasted and hung on top of that. The seams were overlapped.

The ink colors hold up amazingly well over the years. But that cloth backing, and the wallpaper itself, don’t fare as well.

This kitchen wallpaper easily separated from the cloth backing, and the old paper was delicate and brittle. Even with attentive handling, my piece split in two just walking a few yards to my van.

I got it home in one piece (well, really in two pieces). I hope to find a was to affix this to a secure backing, so it can be preserved.

I’m afraid that it won’t hold up to the moisture and stress of pasting, even using with old-fashioned wheat paste. And that spray adhesives might not hold, or may stain the old paper fibers.

I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I feel very lucky to have this!

Client Lets Me Know What To Keep

November 9, 2021

Once the new wallpaper is up, this homeowner wants to rehang her artwork, mirrors, and curtains in the same spots they were originally. So she has left the hangers and nails in place, and marked which ones she wants to keep.

When I put up the new paper, I will be able to put the hangers back in their proper spots, and she can hang her items where they belong.

Note that it’s important to not write on the walls with ink or marker – it will bleed through and stain the wallpaper. So pencil or sticky notes are perfect.

Preventing a Stain from Bleeding Through

July 31, 2021

See that oval ring on the paint? That’s from someone lying on the bed and letting his head rest against the wall. Don’t know whether he used hair tonic or not, but even a clean head of hair will contain oils, and those oils will wick into the paint and cause a stain.

The bad thing about this and wallpaper is that certain substances will bleed through wallpaper, staining the surface. Oil and grease are sure contenders.

To prevent this bleed-through, I painted over the stained area with a stain blocker. My favorite is KILZ Original Oil Based. It stinks to high Heaven and breathing too much will make you high, but it is outstanding at sealing all sorts of nasty substances.

Wallpaper paste will not stick to this, so, once it’s dry, roll your usual wallpaper primer over it.

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.