Posts Tagged ‘stick’

Wallpaper Coming Off – Delaminating Wall

January 14, 2022

An Unfortunate Situation

This Brooklyn Toile wallpaper by Flavor Paper on an accent wall in a nursery went up beautifully. The contractor had added new Sheetrock to one wall, and painted the other, old/original wall. I skim-floated both walls and sanded smooth, primed, and hung the wallpaper. Perfect! (Search here to see my original post.) But within less than a month, the homeowner contacted me and said that the wallpaper was ” coming off the wall .” It was a 1920’s bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. And therein lies the brunt of the problem.
The wallpaper itself is not ” coming off the wall .” What’s happening is that the wall surface itself is coming apart – or, delaminating . This is because multiple layers of paint and other substances on the wall may not be compatible. A probably scenario: In 1920 oil-based paint was used. Later someone rolled on a coat of latex paint. Then the homeowners redecorated and used gloss paint. Then some ” flippers ” who had watched too much HGTV slapped on more paint without bothering to de-gloss or prime first. And somewhere in the mix you’ve got cheap paint and dust and other incompatible materials.
Over time, and especially when stress is put on the wall surface, such as when wet wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks, this stress can tug at the wall and actually pull these layers apart. There are other contributing factors, too, such as humidity, temperature, and location. I find it interesting that the worst parts of the affected seams were toward the top of the wall. This speaks of heat, humidity, and forced air (either hot or cold) coming out of the air vent just to the right of this wall. This photo is of the area over a door, very close to the air vent.
See how thick that is? It’s not just the wallpaper. There are several layers of wall coming apart. Some layers are clinging to the back of the wallpaper, and some are staying stuck to the wall.
Multiple layers, many years of coatings on this wall.
Easy to see the many layers. The paper itself, my blue primer, my layer of smoothing compound, paint, more paint coming off the wall. Then multiple layers of paint and texture still clinging to the wall. This shot is just below the ceiling.
Same thing happening at the baseboard at the floor.
Layers of paint separating from the wall in chunks. Some pulled off easily, and some I had to chop off with my 3″ putty knife.
Most of the paint and unstable surface material clung to the back of the wallpaper. This pile is just three strips – only half the wall. But it’s thick and stiff and heavy because of the paint stuck to the back of the wallpaper. There was so much and it was so heavy and bulky that I had to carry it out to my van in two trips. When I got home, it totally filled my trash bin.
Here’s the wall once all the other layers came off. Brushing my hand over it revealed a layer of dust. No wonder the paint and other coatings wouldn’t stick. Nothing sticks to dust. It’s like flouring a cake pan… The paint or wallpaper will kinda stick – but won’t really stick. Paint on top may be fine. But add a little stress from drying / shrinking wallpaper, and you may end up with layers that pull apart.
Wiping the walls with a damp sponge removed a lot more dust. But the wall still felt chalky. Whatever type of paint this was, it was not holding together.
I had to stabilize this chalky surface. Enter Gardz, a wonderful product – Gardz is a thin, penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and binds substances together. It dries hard and creates an intact surface. The darker area in the picture is where I’ve rolled on a test area. Gardz is thin like water, and it runs and drips and splatters. It’s imperative that you cover floors, countertops, and baseboards, and roll carefully, and roll upward rather than downward, to minimize runs and drips. A microfiber roller holds the liquid well, and reduces drips.
Gardz is made by Zinsser.
No photo of the finished wall, but I was very pleased with the stability of the surface. No more chalk or dust. Now, there still could be unstable or incompatible layers deeper inside the wall. (Latex paint over oil without proper prep.) But for now I feel pretty confident that this wall is solid and will hold up to the next process in preparation for getting the new wallpaper up.

Peel & Stick = Bad Stuff. Don’t Fall For It!

November 25, 2021
he lure of (false!) claims of easy to install and easy to remove led these homeowners to purchase peel & stick ” wallcovering ” and try to install it themselves. It did not go well. The wall was coated with a gloss paint, as per manufacturer’s instructions. Yet, here you can see that it is not even trying to adhere to the wall.
Many brands come in rectangles of a few square feet, rather than traditional strips that are long enough to reach floor to ceiling. These small rectangles are much harder to keep perfectly lined up, so you are very likely to end up with overlaps or gaps at the seams.
It’s not pliable or malleable, so won’t readily be eased into corners or turns. Here, note wrinkles and warps in the corner in the center of the photo, and at the ceiling line in the center top of the photo.

The wall was not smoothed before applying the paper, so you see unsightly texture. The roughness is also interfering with good adhesion, because the paper is only sticking to the tops of the bumps, instead to the entire surface.
So much for easily removeable. As you can see, trying to take this stuff down – it took the paint along with it.

Skim-Floating to Smooth a Heavily Textured Wall

November 14, 2021
Texture looks bad under wallpaper, and in interferes with good adhesion. The walls must be smoothed before the paper can go up. Very similar to popcorn texture but not as thick, this sand type finish still sticks out from the wall in some spots as far as 1/4″. That leaves a lot of space between those grains of grit for me to fill in with smoothing compound.
Here I’ve used a putty knife to knock off the tops of those grains of sand. At the top half of the photo I am applying the smoothing compound. I use a trowel to do this. It’s slow and labor-intensive, but it gets my eyes close to my work, and it gives me the best control. This had to be applied so thickly that it will take probably two days to dry. Having the air conditioner or heat running helps pull moisture out of the material. Once it’s dry I will sand it smooth, and then prime it for wallpaper.
I like Sheetrock’s Plus 3 lightweight joint compound for this task. It adheres well and sands easily. The regular version (in the red, white, and green box) is very difficult to sand. Hot mud or quick dry or 20 minute mud should not be used, as primers and pastes don’t stick well to them.

Danger Signs of an Unstable Wall Surface

October 13, 2021
These nails were holding picture hooks to the wall. The hooks had an adhesive backing. When they were removed from the wall, chunks of latex paint stuck to them and pulled away from the wall, revealing a crumbly sub-surface. This is bad news for wallpaper that might be hung on top of this.
Other spots. What happens is, this is a 90 year old house. Over the years, many coats of paint and other surface treatments have been applied to the walls of this dining room. These coatings are not necessarily compatible with each other. Plus they may have been applied without the proper surface preparation. Oil based paint, then latex, then someone rolls on a gloss paint, the next guy follows with latex but neglects to de-gloss the previous layer so the new layer doesn’t really stick well.
Somewhere along the line, something got chalky. Here you see I have wiped crumbly chalky substance from inside the wall. This is why the latex paint is not adhering well and pulled away so easily. Nothing sticks to dust or grit or chalk.
Gardz is cool stuff. It’s a penetrating sealer that soaks in and actually binds crumbly materials together, drying into a hard, solid mass. The problem here is, it won’t penetrate the paint that is on top of the unstable layer, so we’re still dealing with a wall that has potential to come apart (delaminate).
Gardz applied. You can see how it has soaked into the porous areas, but is sitting on top of the latex paint.

The problem with an unstable wall and wallpaper, is that, as wallpaper sits on a wall and the paste dries, the paper shrinks just a tad, and this shrinking puts tension / torque on the wall beneath it. Sometimes this is actually powerful enough to pull the layers inside the wall apart, resulting in seams that split open.

These are not “loose seams,” but the paper actually taking layers of paint and dust along with it. Really can’t be repaired.

So best to find a way to prevent it from happening in the first place. More on that later.

Paint Pulling Off Wall Where Tape Was Removed – Surface Stability Test

May 12, 2021
Paint pulling off wall where tape was removed.
Paint pulling off wall when painters tape was removed.
Paint pulled off wall and stuck to back of tape that was pulled off wall on new construction site.

It’s important to have a stable surface under wallpaper.

That’s because, when wallpaper gets wet with paste, absorbs moisture from the paste, and it expands. Then, as it dries, it lets go of the moisture and shrinks. When wallpaper dries and shrinks, it puts tension / torque on the walls.

If the surface under the wallpaper is not stable, the tension of the drying wallpaper can cause the underlying surface to pull away.

This photo is not showing the wallpaper pulling away from the wall. What is happening (usually) is that the paint (or whatever has been applied to the wall), has actually delaminated (come apart) from the wall.

This results in a “curled” seam, or a “popped” seam.

One way to test for this is to apply a strip of tape (blue painters tape, tan masking tape, clear Scotch tape, or other), let it sit a few minutes, and then yank it off. If the tape takes any paint along with it, you have a potential problem of the wallpaper not adhering correctly.

This is why it’s important to:

1, Before applying any coating, you must remove all dust from the wall, using a damp sponge, which must be rinsed frequently

2, Before hanging paper, a primer formulated specifically for wallpaper should be applied / rolled on and cut in to edges

A wallpaper-specific primer is designed to withstand the torque put on the wall as wallpaper dries. And it facilitates installation by allowing sufficient “slip” (maneuvering the paper) and “stick” (adhesion). The chemistry behind all this is fascinating – but too complicated to get into here.

If a wall is too “iffy,” and you don’t feel like the mess and expense of scraping off all the old paint, a liner can be applied before the actual wallpaper is hung.

A liner lessens the drying time of the wallpaper, which reduces the time there will be stress on the wall. A liner also redistributes stress on the wall, so much less chance of having seems detach from the wall.

A liner also adds additional cost to the job – for both material and labor, which may include an additional day(s).

You’ve Gotta Get Dust Off The Walls

September 9, 2020


If you look closely at the right side of the corner, you will notice dust on the textured wall.

Before anything can go on the wall – primer, wallpaper, smoothing compound – all the dust needs to be removed.

This is because nothing sticks to dust. Any sort of stress on the wall, such as new wallpaper drying and shrinking and putting torque / tension on the walls, or wallpaper expanding and contracting with temperature and humidity changes, can cause the material to let go from the wall, most usually at the seams.

My example is that it’s like when you flour a cake pan – the paper will kinda stick, but it won’t really stick.

So before I started to apply my smoothing compound to the walls, I went around the entire master bedroom with a damp sponge and wiped the dust off. A little dust fills up a sponge quickly, so I had to keep rinsing it clean frequently.

Paint Problem

May 30, 2020


Hard to see, but the paint on this wall is crackling. This is most likely because there are unstable and incompatible layers of paint underneath.

In an old house like this (1940’s), there will have been many treatments to the walls over the years. Original oil-based paint, covered by latex paint, gloss paint, dust, more colors and layers of paint. And virtually never does the workman prep the walls properly.

Latex doesn’t like to stick to oil, and most paints don’t like to stick to gloss, plus other factors. So what happens is that all these disparate layers rebel, and sometimes you end up with flaking or peeling.

If wallpaper is applied on top of these unstable walls, when it dries and pulls taught and puts tension on the wall surface, there is the potential for these layers to give way, and you can end up with a curled seam, under which are layers of delaminated wall.

Sticky Dots

May 7, 2020


This grasscloth wallpaper by Thibaut is called Union Square. It has not just the texture from the natural reeds of grass sewn onto the backing, but also 3-D square “dots” of thick plastic or resin or vinyl … Doesn’t matter what the material is … There are raised, textured “dots” marching across this paper in a neat, orderly fashion.

But plastic can be sticky. On all of the bolts, the paper labels stuck to the plastic dots. Unrolling the grasscloth caused the labels to tear off strips, which remained stuck to the plastic dots. These scraps of paper could not be removed, so I had to cut off and discard the top 16″ or so of each bolt.

The really sad thing about this is that the wall height was such that I could have gotten three strips out of each double roll. But with having to discard paper from the start of each bolt, we were left with only enough remaining paper on the bolt for two strips.

Even worse on a few other bolts, the plastic dots stuck to not just the paper label, but to the paper backing of the grasscloth itself. This left strips of paper stuck to the dots, and also peeled bits of paper off of the back of the wallpaper – leaving the possibility of paste leaking through and staining the surface.

This sticky defect went through the entirety of each bolt, so there were three bolts that were unusable.

This meant that I could not finish wallpapering the remaining walls. And that we’ll have to send back the defective paper, and the homeowner will have to wait for the company to find non-defective paper, and ship it, and for me to have an opening on my schedule to finish the job.

The Thibaut Customer Service rep has told me that the company is aware of and has worked on this problem. (Thibaut is one company that actually LISTENS to us installers, and makes changes as needed.) Their solution is to place thin plastic wrap inside the bolts, to prevent the dots from coming into contact with any other material, like the paper backing.

I hope the replacement paper comes with this new innovation.

Contractor Patches On Top Of Wallpaper – Bad Idea

February 19, 2019


This home experienced a water leak, and the bottom 2′ of drywall had to be cut out and replaced. When taping-and-floating in the new drywall, the contractor didn’t bother to remove the existing wallpaper, but put his smoothing compound right over it. This is bad enough if the old paper is paper, but this wallpaper is vinyl – something you really don’t want buried under layers of joint compound and new wallpaper.

Vinyl is shiny, and few materials will stick well to it over a period of time. It is also thick, and that increases the likelihood that seams will pop up, even if they are buried under this “mud,” as we call it.

So I took a razor and cut above the contractor’s patch. Then I stripped off all the wallpaper above the patch. This left a difference in height between the patched area and the newly-stripped area, which would create a visible ridge under the new wallpaper. So then I took my own smoothing compound (joint compound) and floated over his patch and the now-bare wall, to eliminate any uneven areas.

Waited for it to dry, sanded smooth, removed dust, primed with Gardz, and finally was able to hang the new wallpaper.

This took a LOT more time than I originally planned for this job, but it was worth it to keep vinyl wallpaper from being underneath the new paper, and to prevent any bumps or irregularities from showing under the new paper.

No Primer Under Wallpaper = Torn Drywall

July 24, 2017

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Today I stripped wallpaper off a kitchen where the previous installer had not bothered to prime the walls first, but hung his paper right on top of new Sheetrock.

This is very bad for many reasons.

` The walls will not have stick, so the new wallpaper will not have a proper surface to cling to – and this can cause curling seams, loose areas, and other problems.

` The walls will not have slip, which will make it much harder to install the new paper.

` With nothing separating the new wallpaper from the drywall, the paper will bond to the drywall, making it darned near impossible to get it off later.

This is what happened today. After I removed the top inked layer, and after I soaked the remaining paper backing for a while, the old wallpaper came away from the sections of the wall that were coated with joint compound or paint or wood stain.

But in areas of the wall that were just uncovered Sheetrock, the wallpaper grabbed tightly and could not be pulled off or scraped off. In stripping the wallpaper off these areas, some of the drywall came away, too, leaving areas that were torn and damaged.

These uneven, torn areas are problematic, because they leave bumps and ridges showing under the new wallpaper, and because, since they have no protective coating, they absorb moisture – from water, wallpaper paste, wallpaper primer, or other, and then they expand and then they bubble. Ridges and bubbles look like Hell under wallpaper.

The first photo is a wall to the right of the kitchen counter, where differing layers of drywall have been pulled off the wall. The dark brown area is the deepest.

The third photo is a newish product that is wonderful for sealing and “repairing” torn drywall. Gardz (by Zinsser) is a penetrating primer / sealer that soaks into the surface, binding things together. It dries quickly. When it is dry, it is impervious to moisture – which means that you can apply a water-borne primer over it, or you can skim-float it with joint compound, and not worry about bubbles appearing.

I applied Gardz to these areas of torn Sheetrock, let it dry, then skim-floated over it with joint compound, and then sanded it all smooth. Then I applied a second coat of Gardz.

In addition to making the surface very stable, Gardz serves as a good primer for wallpaper, because it’s molecular structure on its dry surface is such that the molecules of paste, attached to the new wallpaper, will grab on and hold tight.

In this case, because I like a white pigmented primer, and because I like hanging on it, I went over the walls with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. The last photo shows the wall after all that work. Finally ready for wallpaper!