Posts Tagged ‘straightedge’

The Big Easy On The Walls

March 5, 2022
West wall smoothed, primed, and ready for wallpaper.
The homeowner used to live in New Orleans, and she tells me that signs like this are very common in local convenience stores and neighborhood dives. Transplanted to Houston, these signs are very dear to her heart as a reminder of her roots – and the funky lifestyle in the Big Easy.
She wanted the signs recreated somehow to cover the walls in their newly-renovated powder room in the Houston Heights. I suggested she contact rebelwalls.com , who custom made the paper and sized it specifically to fit each wall in the room individually. I measured and made drawings, and a designer named Simon at RebelWalls laid it all out.
North wall before. This is the wall with the toilet and sink.
There were a couple of glitches, the first being that the strips were printed about 10″ longer than I requested. No biggie – I’d rather have too much paper than come up short.
But the main glitch being that I had asked for this “sign” to be centered over the toilet, which meant that the center of the sign (I used the middle fleur-de-lis) would land at 17.5″ from the wall to the left. But somehow it got printed to where the left edge of the pattern was 17.5″ from the wall … That left a whole lot of white space between the wall and the design, and also pushed the words too close to the mirror, which will hang over the sink to the right.
After careful measuring, calculating, and testing, I determined that if I used my straightedge and razor blade to take off a 12″ wide slice from the left side, the “sign” would move to the left such that its center would fall over the mid-point of the toilet.
VoilĂ ! As you see in the photo, now the words are nicely balanced on this section of wall, and will not crowd the mirror which will be hung to the right.
The rest of the wallpaper moving to the right is unprinted, so as to leave a blank slate for the mirror to hang on. Here you see that wall, and also the wall to its right. This east wall has the same sign, but in a smaller scale, sized to fit the narrower wall. It’s also placed at a different height
Graphic designer Simon used my drawings and measurements to get the words nicely centered on this wall. The area above the door to the right (not visible) is left blank.
Here is the west wall (on the right) abutting the south / window wall.
The bull-nosed / rounded edges / corners such as you see around the window are really a pain with wallpaper, especially when they go both around the sides and the top, and can lead to some impossibilities. Too complicated to get into here. But I was pleased with the way this worked out. And the placement of the pleated shades toward the front of the opening helped a lot, too.
One interesting thing to note is that the thickness of this non-woven wallcovering (along with the joint compound I used to smooth the textured wall) is enough that it narrows the space inside the window just a tad,,, and that makes it a bit tight for the shades to fit back in,,, and that opens the potential for abrading the wallpaper as the shade is raised and lowered over time.
Another point … even though the widths of the wall spaces to be covered were different, we requested that the size of the font on the “sign” lettering be the same on the west wall and the north / mirror wall, and ditto for the window wall and the door wall.
I also made sure that the “signs” started at the same distance from the ceiling. This then ensured that each “sign” would land at the same distance from the tile below it.
Synchronizing the size of the fonts as well as the spacing between ceiling and tile helps immensely to lend a feeling of unity and order to this room.
I spent a full 2 1/2 hours plotting, measuring, testing mock-ups, and going back to the drawing board, before I ever cut any paper.
Prior to that, there were two visits to the home to get measurements and kick around options with the homeowner. In addition, she spent countless communications with the manufacturer and with our specific designer.
All this futzing is important, because, with murals, there is no second chance. There’s only one of each panel, and if one gets screwed up, there are no more to pull off the bolt, like you’d have with regular rolled goods.
RebelWalls is the manufacturer. I’ve had lots of great installs with this company.
What was inside our box, including Simon’s dimensions and lay-out.
Basic installation instructions. Ours was a bit – a whole lot – more complicated, because it covered not one but four walls. In our case, it worked best to have each wall be a separate mural, so to speak.
RebelWalls includes free wallpaper paste. I prefer to use my own pre-mixed vinyl adhesive, which is SureStik Dynomite 780. Recently bought by Roman, so the name has changed to just 780.
Certain pastes have been known to ” stain ” non-woven wallpapers (areas look wet but never dry out). I think that a high moisture content in the paste has a lot to do with this. So I’m hesitant to use a powdered paste that needs to be mixed with water.
I’ll squirrel away that RebelWalls powdered paste for another, better suited job. For this home’s install, I’m sticking with my tried and true 780.
A coupla more notes.
One, this project was a study in vision, desire, anticipation, and patience. The homeowner first contacted me in July 2021. It took nearly eight months to come to fruition. Granted, they had a whole kitchen remodel in the middle, which also included an update to this powder room. But just speaking for the wallpaper, there were several site visits, many emails, and then innumerable communications with the design team at RW.
In fact, since I’ve hung lots of RebelWalls and am familiar with their process, I thought I could lay out the design. But this project of separate “sign” motifs for each wall section was taxing my skill set. Finally I laid down my pencil and paper and said, “Stop doing what you yell at your clients for doing, which is trying to do something you don’t have expertise in! RebelWalls has designers who are trained to figure all this out. So let THEM do the math and placement and calculating and layout.” So we turned it over to them, and within a short time they had it all worked out perfectly (except for those few glitches I mentioned). Their customer service was amazing.
All this was crucial to ensuring that mural pieces fit the wall perfectly and that the final product looks stunning.
I also want to mention that the RebelWalls quality is excellent. It’s a non-woven material which has many advantages (too numerous to go into here, but you can Search). The seams melt together like butter and are invisible – even on areas with all that bare white space with no pattern. On a simple accent wall, you can paste-the-wall to hang it. In this (and most) cases, I pasted-the-material, which gives more flexibility and also ensures that paste gets into hard-to-reach areas – like behind a toilet.
In addition, the non-woven material is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate.
The company offers scores of patterns, from cute to sophisticated, and, as we did this time around, can make custom creations.
Super customer service, too.

lottery , money order , checks cashed , household supplies

Railroading and Fudging the Pattern

March 4, 2022
Well, dang it! Not all my pictures turned out, so you will have to use your imagination to visualize as I try to explain.
This room had two long doorways that had only about 5″ above them where the wallpaper would go. In the photo above, look to the right and see this narrow space.
It would take about four strips of wallpaper to get across that width of space. With the pattern match being about 2′, that would eat up about 8′ of wallpaper, with most of it going in the trash. It also would take a lot of time to hang those four strips, and create seams which always present the potential to come away from the wall at some point.
This wild floral pattern allowed for some playing, so I decided to railroad the material (run it horizontally) over the doorways. This was quick and eliminated seams. Best of all, I could use some scrap wallpaper from the trash pile. In the photo I am using my straightedge and a razor blade to trim a strip that is just 3/4″ higher than the height of the wall space over the door. That extra 3/4″ will accommodate any irregularities in the height of the area, and will be trimmed off once the strip is in place.
Here the strip has been installed over the doorway to the left. I butted it against the crown molding and then trimmed off that extra 3/4″ with a trim guide and razor blade.
Because I cut this strip from a random scrap, and because I ran it horizontally, the flowers didn’t match the pattern on either wall – neither the wall on the left nor the wall on the right. No big deal. As I said, the pattern was forgiving and easy to disguise the mis-match. All I did was to cut around some of the flowers and leaves and then overlap them onto the paper on the wall. In the photo, in the top left corner, it’s the grey peony and the green leaves above and to the right of it, and also the green leaf under it. Trimming around the shape of the flowers looks so much better than making a straight cut.

Fitting a Wide Strip into a Narrow Wall Space in a Corner

February 18, 2022
I have to cover 15″ width of wall with a strip of wallpaper that is 27″ wide. Working with that 27″ wide strip and pushing it into the corner, and getting paste all over the woodwork, and trying to not get creases in the paper … all very difficult.
My solution is to trim the wallpaper to fit the corner. Here the strip has already been cut, pasted, and booked (folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side). I’ve determined that I want the new strip to be 15″ wide. This will allow enough to cover the wall space, plus the 1/2″ inside the little space between the wall and the door trim.
Because wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, to get an accurate measurement, I’m trimming after the strip has been cut, pasted, and booked for a few minutes, and has expanded to its maximum.
This is called wet trimming. Alternately, dry trimming is when you measure and trim an unpasted and unfolded strip.
My straightedge is set at 15″ from the left edge of the wallpaper. I’ve used a single edge razor blade to make the cut.
Here is the strip in position on the wall. I’m using a plastic trapezoid squeegee wallpaper smoother to push the right edge into the small space between the wall and the door molding.
You can see how nicely the wallpaper wraps around the corner and tucks into that narrow space.
The pattern is called Garden Party and is by Rifle Paper, which is made by York, one of my favorite companies.

Hand Trimming Lindsay Cowels Wallpaper

February 16, 2022
Like many high-end designer wallpapers, this one comes with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand before the paper can be hung. Usually the manufacturer prints trim guide marks to aid you. But these guys didn’t, so I am having to use my eye to match the pattern and also carefully measuring. Here I’m using my new straight edge and a razor blade to trim off the selvedge along with 1/8″ of the printed area.
I’m excited to be using this straightedge, as it’s brand new to me. AND it appears to actually be true ( straight ). I own three – THREE – other straightedges, and not a one of them is truly straight. So far, Big Blue is delivering on his promise.
I think that high handle has a lot to do with keeping the thing straight. It’s awkward and a pain to work around it, but if it means that I will get straight cuts, I’ll happily work with it.
In addition, the aluminum material is lightweight, and there is a non-slip pad on the underside.
Purchase one, along with a lot of other cool wallpaper tools, here https://www.wallpapertoolstore.com/straight-edges/page/2

” Shrinking ” a Strip to Make for a Good Corner

February 5, 2022
I’m hanging wallpaper moving from right to left. The wallpaper is 21″ wide. The width between my last strip (over the door) and the corner is 19″ wide. This means that my next strip is going to wrap around the corner by 2″.
This is not good. You never want to wrap wallpaper around an inside corner, especially a tiny amount like 2″. Corners are never straight, and thus the wrapped bit will be warped and un-straight. The next strip will never butt up correctly with it, leaving gaps and overlaps. You will also end up with a new strip that is not hanging plumb.
Also, wrapping around corners doesn’t allow for movement in the corner as the temperature changes in the room, or as the house shifts on its foundation.
The goal is to wrap the corner by about 1/16″ – 1/8″, and then overlap the new strip on top of that narrow wrap.

This is how I want my strip to land in the left corner.
Bottom line – if I want my next strip to wrap just 1/8″ around the corner on the left, then it’s going to overlap by 2″ onto the existing strip on the right. If that happens, we’ll lose 2″ of the pattern and have some eye-jarring cut-off pattern motifs.
So, somewhere, I need to “lose” 2″ of paper. Looking at the short seam above this window, I see where I can remove some paper without messing up the pattern too much.
I’ve removed the strip and used my straightedge and a razor blade to slice off 3/4″ of paper.
The blue plastic is there to keep paste off my table, and the shiny thing is a protective plastic strip I use to keep from cutting into the wooden table.
3/4″ removed.
Slid back together, you don’t much notice the very minor pattern mis-match created by the absence of the narrow strip.
This could work on a longer strip as well, depending on the pattern motifs.
Now the left corner is how I want it.
But the right edge of the strip is overlapping 1″ or more over the existing strip over the window. You can see there is a pattern mis-match, not to mention a bump where these two pieces overlap. So I’m going to do a double cut and splice these two strips together.
Splicing means you press hard to cut through both layers of wallpaper. Your blade will probably cut a bit deeper and dig into the wall, scoring the surface. This is bad, because an un-intact surface can give way when wallpaper paste dries and the material shrinks, tugging at the surface. This can actually cause layers of the wall to come apart ( delaminate ), which means the wallpaper will come up at the seam. Do a Search here to learn more.
To prevent this, I’m using a Boggess Strip (a clear, thin, flexible strip of polycarbonate Lexon plastic padding ) to put under where the splice will take place, to protect the wall. You can’t cut through this stuff!
The strip in place.
I’ve smoothed the left strip back into place overlapping the existing strip. Next I’ve used a short straightedge and a sharp (important) new (important) single edged razor blade to slice through both layers of wallpaper. Here I’m removing the top strip of excess cut-off paper.
Now I’ve pulled back part of the strip on the left so I can remove the excess wallpaper on the bottom. Note that the cut is a little uneven in areas, to cut around the leaves in the design.
Removing the Boggess Strip. This does put tension on your wall, so you’ve got to have a good wallpaper primer underneath, applied over a sound surface.
The two strips smoothed back together.
The view from below.
I used a pencil to touch up the edges of the leaves, to make them look more rounded and natural.

The polycarbonate strips are named after the inventor, Steve Boggess, a colleague and fellow member of the Wallcovering Installers Association. Get them here: https://www.steveboggesspaperhanging.com/lexanpage.htm

Mural’s Too Short – Filling The Gap

January 19, 2022
The homeowner purchased this graffiti mural before consulting with me, and didn’t realize that it was not tall enough to fit the 9′ high walls in her sons’ room. So here you see the 4.5″ gap along the bottom. At first she was just going to leave it, because once the beds got pushed back into place, most of this gap would be hidden.
But I wanted to cover up the gap. The mural was too short for the wall, but it was also too wide. That meant we had a full unused 29″ wide panel to play with. There was a section that had a lot of asphalt area. So I took my straightedge and a razor blade and ruler and trimmed strips that were 5″ high.
Here I am applying the strips over the gap. I’m using clear adhesive latex caulk along the top edge of the strips where they overlap 1/2″ along the bottom of the mural … The surface of the mural is vinyl, and wallpaper paste doesn’t like to stick to a slippery surface like vinyl. The section that matched the asphalt in the mural best I placed in the center of the wall, where there would be a small space between the two beds. The beds look like race cars, BTW.
Here it is finished. From a distance, you would never think that the bottom was pieced in.

Solution to Spacing Discrepancy

January 8, 2022
Re previous post ,,, this wallpaper came with an 1/8″ strip of pattern on the right side of the paper. That little diagonal nub of an arm was posed to complicate matching the pattern to the next strip. Too complicated to get into here. I determined that it would be easier and faster to match the pattern and hang the paper if that nub were not there. And losing 1/8″ of black background would not be noticeable.s
My solution was to take my fancy new straightedge and a razor blade and trim off that 1/8″. This gave me a new edge that ended right along the outer side of the gold line.
Trimming 12 rolls (six double roll bolts) is meticulous work and it took me about an hour and a half. But it saved me time in matching up the pattern, and eliminated minute mis-matches at the seams.

Fun Kill Point With Schumacher Versailles

December 3, 2021
The kill point is your last corner in a room, where your last strip of wallpaper meets up with the first strip you hung hours ago. This virtually always results in a pattern mis-match, In the photo above, if I were to add the next strip of wallpaper to the right of the striped section, in the order it’s supposed to be hung, a mis-match would result when that design lands in the corner and bumps against the leaves and flowers to the right.
I thought I could make it look better. Instead of matching the pattern in proper sequence coming from the left, I decided to cut a fresh strip and match it with the strip on the right.
This gave me a perfect pattern match. But left me with a 1″ gap between the strips.
I could fill that gap in with a strip of plain blue paper, cut from scrap wallpaper in the trash pile. But this particular pattern didn’t have any areas with 1″ width of unprinted paper. So I used my straightedge and a razor blade and cut two 1/2″ wide strips of paper the height of this area over the door.
Here I have placed the first of these next to the strip on the right.
Here I have butted the second 1/2″ strip up against the first one, and am tucking it underneath the striped strip to its left. The vertical lines in the design will disguise any ridges caused by the overlap. Besides – who’s gonna notice this 9′ up, anyway?
Here it is, finished and smoothed into place. Note that these strips are still wet, and will be homogeneous in color once they all dry.
Here’s the finished corner. Remember – it still needs to dry. You can’t notice that there’s an inch of extra blue space in there.
From a distance.

Clever Over-the-Door Kill Point

October 2, 2021
When you hang wallpaper on all four walls of a room, you get to the point where your last strip meets up with the first strip you hung. We call that the kill point. That last strip gets split vertically in order to bridge the width of the distance to meet up with the first strip. The cut-off part gets thrown away. This virtually always results in a pattern mismatch in the corner where the first and last strips come together. So, when possible, you hide this mismatch in a corner behind a door, or somewhere else that is not noticeable. But in this powder room, ALL the corners were out in the open and very visible. But I think the corners look better when the pattern matches exactly, as shown in this photo.
But there is still going to be SOME point in the room where the last strip meets the first strip – and where the pattern will not match. I chose the least conspicuous place in this room – over the door. After all, not many people spend much time looking 10′ up over a door that’s behind them. Still, a pattern mismatch here would be very noticeable; maybe more broken up and obvious than in a corner. But I had a plan …
Moving from right to left, I plotted where my next strip would fall. The sequence of “high” and “low” maps at the ceiling line was in sync with the strips on either side. But I’m going to end up with a 5 1/2″ gap on the left side. Since the figures / maps were about 8″ wide, cutting one down to 5 1/2″ wide would distort it too much. So instead I decided to “grow” the white areas in between the map figures.
I could do this because there were “stripes” of white areas in between the maps that were uninterrupted from top to bottom; if there had been a motif that crossed horizontally, this would have been much more difficult. I took that strip of wallpaper slated for over the door and slit it vertically along the “empty” white area into three parts.
Then I took some scrap paper from the waste pile (always buy a little extra paper!) and used my straightedge to trim off slices that had no printing on them. Each of these ended up being only about 1″ wide. I was looking for about 6,” so I made six slices, plus one more for good measure. Because these slices were all white, and because the backing was also white, I put a pencil mark on the back side, so I could tell which side to put the paste on. Because the paper was thin and somewhat transparent, I had to remember to make my marks lighter than usual. Going back to the third photo, you will notice a tiny bit of ink on the far left edge of the piece mocked up above the door; I used my straightedge to trim off this 1/4″ wide area, too.
Here is how the all-white strips would be placed in between the printed sections. In actuality, each gap took two 1″ strips, not the single one shown in the photo.
Here is the first printed section going in next to the strip to its right. I couldn’t use a 1″ strip in between these two because there was a tad of pattern that had to be matched between the two strips, due to various logistics. But I could add two of the 1″ strips to the left of the new printed section, as shown here. Moving to the left, I did that two more times, with two more sections and two more sets of 1″ wide strips. At the last juncture, I did do a vertical overlap of the excess 1/2″ resulting from the gap of 5 1/2″ and the six 1″ wide fill-in strips. I could have done a double-cut (splice), but the strips were awfully narrow to work with, I wanted to avoid scoring damage to the wall, and the overlap would be obscured by the vertical elements in the pattern motifs. Plus, it was 10′ up, after all.
Here is the finished look. The seams will be less visible once the paper is dry. The three spaces between these three map motifs are 2″ wider than the spaces between the maps around the rest of the room. But the difference is virtually undetectable. And, like I said, who’s looking way up there, anyway? And … it’s a whole lot more attractive than the other option – of having a pattern mismatch running the entire 10′ height of a corner in the room.
The pattern is “City Maps” and is by Rifle Paper, which is made by York, one of my favorite brands.

Hand Trimming Wallpaper

May 13, 2021

Some wallpapers (usually the higher-end brands) are not pre-trimmed at the factory. They come with an unprinted selvedge edge, much like fabric. This needs to be trimmed off before the paper can go up on the wall.

If you’re lucky, the manufacturer will have provided printed trim guides / marks. And if you’re really lucky, the trim guides will be “true” (accurate).

Trimming off this selvedge takes concentration, precision, and the right tools. Here you see my table, protective polystyrene strip, brass-bound straightedge, plus a good old trusty single edge razor blade.