Posts Tagged ‘stains’

DON’T Write in INK On the Walls!

January 11, 2019


Today I was prepping a room in a home in Kingwood (far northeast Houston) that was damaged during the flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Look at what some contractor did – he went and wrote on the wall in INK!

Most EVERY workman of any type knows that you NEVER write on walls with ink – nor crayon, Sharpie, lipstick, or other.

Reason being, that these substances will work their way through wallpaper (and paint, joint compound, and other substances, too). It may happen quickly, or it may take a few years, but these materials will show themselves eventually, as ghost-like stains on the wall.

Other things will cause staining, too, like blood, water, rust, oil, grease, food, wood sap (knot holes), and more.

Luckily, there are dependable stain blockers on the market that can be brushed on. I like oil-based KILZ Original, but shellac-based BIN is good, too. Water-based products don’t perform as well, no matter what the label or salesman says.

I like to be extra sure, so, when I can, as in this case, I will take a knife and cut around the stain, then dig into the drywall and remove the top layer, taking the ink with it. This way it is GONE, not just covered up.

Of course, the remaining exposed / torn drywall needs to be sealed, skimmed over, sanded smooth, and then prepped for paint or wallpaper.

But all that is worth it, when you can be assured that no stains will bleed through the finish coat.

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Faux Grasscloth – Vinyl That Is Good In A Bathroom

December 29, 2018


Originally, this powder room in the Galleria / Tanglewood area of Houston had what I call a “ditzy” print on the walls – tiny little figures that repeated themselves all over the wallpaper like a zillion little dots lined up in rows. It was outdated and discolored, and didn’t fill the wall space well.

The new homeowner wanted something modern and serene, that would be durable in an area that’s exposed to water. This Bankun Raffia in a steely medium grey is perfect.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (read the page to the right). Nor do I like solid vinyl wallpapers (see the page to the right “Stay Away From ….). But this is one vinyl paper of which I approve.

The vinyl surface is thick and embossed with texture, so it mimics the feel and look of real grasscloth. But it has none of the color variations and shading / paneling issues or visible seams that make the real stuff so disappointing. In fact, you can hardly find a seam.

The vinyl surface is a lot more resistant to water and stains than most any other type of wallcovering. And the woven fabric backing won’t absorb humidity and curl or delaminate like the lower-end paper backed vinyls will. And that fabric backing makes this product quite durable and strong, and resistant to tears (like you see when a home’s foundation shifts and the corners twist out of alignment).

In fact, this stuff is the same iron-tough material that is used in hotels and hospital corridors, and will withstand dings and bangs and can be cleaned easily.

Being thick and stiff, it is a bit difficult to work with, particularly when turning corners. But the benefits are worth it.

This wallpaper pattern is called Bankun Raffia. It is so popular, now it comes in more than 30 colors! It’s by Thibaut Designs, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Stains from Wood / Furniture Polish Bleed Through Wallpaper

November 24, 2018


Originally, the walls in this West U. living room were smooth and painted. I didn’t notice anything or any stains when I started priming the walls. But almost immediately after the wallpaper primer was applied, I saw some brown stains work their way through the primer. The wall paint must have sealed them adequately, or perhaps I just had not noticed them, but something about the wallpaper primer activated the stains and brought them to the surface.

A large, old (antique) piece of wooden furniture had sat against this wall, and probably leaned against it. I figure the stains are from either wood sap (yes, even after decades) or from oily furniture polish that came into contact with the wall.

Either way, these stains could work their way through the new wallpaper, just as they had worked their way through the primer. They needed to be sealed with a stain blocker.

Many people use a shellac-based stain blocker, like BIN by Zinsser. But I like KILZ Original, the oil-based version (not the newer water-borne).

Once I applied the KILZ to the stains, they did not reappear. Now I am good to go to get the paper up!

Leopards Walk the Room Right

August 19, 2018


I’ll be the first to admit – I love a darkly decorated room. But this all-black powder room in the home of a young couple in the Heights neighborhood of Houston was not making the grade. With shiny black paint on all four walls, there was nothing to define the room. You literally could not even see where one wall ended and another began. And the work had been done poorly, with zillions of bumps and bits of stuff stuck in the paint.

My first task was to use Liquid Sandpaper to degloss the shiny paint. Then I skim-floated the walls to smooth over the irregularities. Sanded smooth, wiped off the dust with a damp sponge, then primed with the penetrating sealer Gardz. Sorry, no pic of the prepped walls.

The new homeowner was fine with the dark idea, but she wanted something fun and a little sassy, that would wake you up when you walk into the room. These marching rows of leopards do just that!

The new wallpaper is still dark. But not quite as dark. And because it has pattern and some variations in color, you can easily see the corners, and each individual wall. The room is no longer stark and oppressive, but warm and fun.

This wallpaper design is called Leopard Walk, and is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is a thin and flexible non-woven material with a vinyl surface that will resist splashes and stains better than most papers.

Do Not Use Aerosol Products in Your Wallpapered Room

August 16, 2018


When I finish a wallpaper job, I like to give my clients (and especially their children) a “lecture” about care and feeding. You can read the full version of this on a page found at the right.

For now, I want to explain why not to use spray products in your room.

Avoid the use of any aerosol or air-borne substances such as hair spray, glass cleaner, air freshener, etc. Residue can hang in the air and will eventually find its way onto the wallpaper. Please see the above attached photos, where you can see tiny dots of shiny residue on the middle panel of the door, and in the second photo, on the wallpaper. Instead, use a solid air freshener, or the new “Poo-Pouri” type products that are not air-borne. When applying hair spray, step into the shower so any overspray will land on the tile walls, not on the wallpaper.

For cleaning the mirror, have the housekeeper spray the Windex on her RAG, not onto the MIRROR –this will prevent overspray from getting onto the wallpaper.

Don’t Touch the Wall, and Don’t Cover the Switchplates With Wallpaper

July 22, 2018


A little hard to see in the photo, but there is dirt all around the switch plate, particularly to the left. This wall is painted, but wallpaper will become soiled when touched, too.

Even clean hands have oils in them, and, over time, this can leave stains on painted and papered walls. This is why I always “lecture” my clients to touch the switch, not the paper.

It’s also a good reason to not cover switch plates with wallpaper.

Ink Spots Bleed Through Wallpaper

July 8, 2018


Well, this has been a month of issues with stains on walls! I was smoothing these textured walls with joint compound, and noticed some red splotches on the paint. I studied them, but decided they were paint, which is stable and not a problem. But a little after I had skimmed over the spots, I looked again and noticed that the red color had bled through.

Evidently it was ink, or lipstick, or child’s crayon, or some other such substance. Along with rust, blood, water, oil, mold and mildew, and a few others, these materials will bleed through paint and wallpaper. It might not happen right away, but eventually you will notice stains on the paper.

These stains can be sealed with a stain-blocker. I like oil-based KILZ Original, but the shellac-based BIN primer is good, too. Water-borne sealers may be environmentally-friendly, but I don’t trust them to work as well.

But in this case, I preferred to just get rid of the questionable areas. I took a knife and dug out the part of the wall that had the red spots. Those are the chips I am holding in my hand. Then I skim-floated over the area to smooth it, and proceeded with my wall prep and wallpaper installation.

No more red spots showed their faces. 🙂

Wallpaper on a Window Valance

June 12, 2018


I hung a beautiful grasscloth in the West U. living room of this empty-nester couple a month ago. They were putting the room back together, including hanging the curtains. This window valance had been covered with padded fabric which matched the drapes. Since the drapes are being changed, the valance no longer worked. The couple thought that the valance would look better covered in the same material as the walls.

So … I brought the valance home, along with some left over wallpaper scraps, and covered it.

The photo is deceptive – the thing is about 7′-8′ long. At first I thought I could take it to work with me and do it while I was waiting for primer to dry, for instance. But it’s way too big and loppy to haul into someone else’s home and, would, of course, take more time than anticipated.

So it sat in my garage for a couple of weeks, until I finally found a spare moment (three hours, actually) to pull out my tools, set up my table, get out the measuring tape, and slap some paste on that puppy.

The homeowner had removed the upholstery and the padding, and hammered the staples down as flat as possible. Then I sealed the wood with oil-based KILZ Original stain blocker, to prevent any wood sap from bleeding through the wallpaper. Since wallpaper paste won’t stick to most oil-based products I followed that with a coat of wallpaper primer (Ultra Prime, Pro 977 by Roman’s). On the driveway under the June Houston sun, that didn’t take long to dry. 🙂

Then some careful measuring to get panels of equal width, pasting, and applying the grasscloth to the wooden frame. I used a special “super glue for wallpaper” (clear silicone caulk 🙂 ) for the edges, to be sure the grasscloth would be able to grip on to the uneven and rough wooden surfaces.

I was pleased with the way it turned out. And I know the homeowners will be happy to get the valance up on the wall, their curtains up, and their room put back together and ready to enjoy.

Aerosol Products Can Stain Wallpaper

March 28, 2018


See these tiny drops on the wall of this bathroom? I believe these are caused by people using aerosol toiletries, such as hair spray, air freshener, and other such products.

Even if MOST of the material hits its target, SOME of it will remain air-borne, and then will eventually find its way onto the paint or wallpaper.

Most people don’t notice tiny stains like these. But sometimes they’re very visible, and that’s why I recommend that people stay away from air-borne products. For air fresheners, there are solid or wick-type diffusers, and with glass cleaners, it’s preferable to spray the cleaner onto a rag, than to spray it onto the mirror or window.

Mirror Removed – Ready for Wallpaper? NOT!

March 20, 2018


A mirror had been glued to this wall with mastic adhesive (a tar-like substance). When the mirror was pulled off the wall, the adhesive pulled some of the drywall along with it, and in other places it left some of the tar on the wall. Then someone skimmed over the surface with joint compound.

The wet joint compound caused the torn areas of the drywall to absorb moisture and ripple, and the tar worked its way through the joint compound.

Both torn drywall and tar are problems under wallpaper. The ripples from the torn drywall will show under the new wallpaper. And moisture from the wallpaper paste is likely to make the bubbles larger. The black mastic (tar) will bleed through the wallpaper, creating black spots.

If I had been there when they removed the mirror, I would have taken a utility knife and cut the globs of mastic completely out of the wall. Removing it is preferable to trying to cover it up. Yes, this would have torn the drywall, opening it up to wrinkling when it gets wet with primer or paste.

But the penetrating sealer “Gardz” is designed to fix torn drywall. It dries hard and impermeable, so moisture cannot get through. No worries about bubbles or wrinkles! The cut areas could then be skim-floated over and then sanded smooth.

But since I didn’t get to prep from the beginning, I inherited this wall in the top photo, with torn, wrinkly areas, and with tar bleeding through the joint compound.

To prevent additional bubbling, I coated the wall with Gardz. Once that was dry, wanting to both smooth the wall and create an additional barrier to contain the mastic stains, I skim-floated the entire wall, let dry, sanded smooth, and sealed again with Gardz.

Gardz doesn’t protect against stains, though. So, to keep the mastic from bleeding through, I coated the wall with KILZ Original oil-based stain killer and blocker. This worked better having the joint compound under it, because when I’ve put KILZ directly on mastic adhesive, the two petroleum-based products simply melded into one another, and left us with the very real potential for bleeding through wallpaper (or paint, BTW).

So the KILZ should have effectively blocked any stains from the mastic. But the new problem is that wallpaper paste will not stick to modern, EPA-approved, oil-based products. Plus, I was worried that a little of the black tar might still find a way through.

So I skim-floated the wall again, creating yet another layer that would bury those tar stains. After that was sanded smooth and wiped free of dust, I applied another heavy coat of Gardz.

All this took a long time, but it’s good assurance that bubbles will not be seen under the new wallpaper, and that no black spots will grow on its surface.