Posts Tagged ‘straightedge’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

Yes, I’m A Little Obsessed

January 19, 2023
Re previous post … This accent wall is in the butler’s pantry , and ends at the corner that turns into the main kitchen area. Since this corner was visible from the great room / family room , I plotted the lay-out so the full motif would fall at that corner . In other words, I butted the right edge of the wallpaper up against the corner of that wall . This left a vertical gold line running the height of the wall. A good stopping point for the eye. Just perfect!
But … the paper came with a teeny bit of black next to that gold line. So there was about 1/16″ of black showing to the right of that vertical gold line. (Sorry, no pic) I thought it was so minor that it wouldn’t be a big deal. But, once that strip got up on the wall, I thought that black edge caught your eye . It bugged the heck out of me!
So I took straightedge and razor blade and trimmed off that miniscule bit of black.
No we have a crisp gold line against the corner.
As the wallpaper hung from right to left, at the final corner, naturally, the pattern didn’t fall exactly along one of the vertical gold lines. For one thing, walls are always wonky . Also, that last section of black trapezoids were less than their full width. But only by about a half an inch. I had measured ahead of time and knew this, and I felt 1/2″ shorter box wouldn’t bother anybody.
But I did think I could make that left edge look crisper , and also wanted it to match the edge on the right side of the wall.
So I took a bit of scrap wallpaper (like what you see lying on the floor on the left), and again my straightedge and razor blade, and trimmed off one of those gold lines. This is about 1/8″ wide .
Next, I pasted it over that left edge, as seen in the photo.
Here is the left edge finished. Nice and sharp , and more ” finished ” than just a black box ending at the wall. Speaking of black blocks … those on the far left are a bit narrower than the ones on the rest of the strips. But, seriously – who cares, and who notices?? What you do notice is the gold strip neatly trimming off the wall corner .
This geometric pattern is in the Jaclyn Smith line by Trend Fabrics . It’s a nice non-woven , paste the wall material , and is durable and stain-resistant . Also, it will strip off the wall easily and with little / no damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate .
The install was in a home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .

Mum Flowers in Heights Entry

January 14, 2023
Painted walls in this new-build in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston have been primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer .
Done
Just the area above the wainscoting / chair rail was papered .
Obstacles to trim around included six doors – with a total of TWELVE corners of decorative molding to trim around. In addition, there were EIGHT terminations of wood ceiling beams , also with uneven edges , to trim around.
Absolutely NO information came with the wallpaper . No run number , no installation instructions , no nuttin’. Confoundingly, the company’s website was malfunctioning, and pop-ups prevented me from getting information , or even from seeing what the pattern looked like on a large wall .
So here I am rolling the paper out on the floor , to get a scope of the pattern and layout .
Note the unprinted selvedge edge , which I’ll have to trim off using a straightedge and a razor blade. See previous posts (do a Search) to learn more about this.
The pattern is called Kanoko and the manufacturer is Relativity Textiles . This material was VERY difficult to work with. More about that in a future post.

Whimsical Arabian Nights Dance in Powder Room

January 13, 2023
You’ve got to look at this close-up, to notice the antelope and flames / foliage .
You gotta make a decision … The light sconces (they are currently removed, but you can see the electrical boxes where they will be placed) were centered on the vanity top, but the faucet was off-center by about an inch. So I chose to center / balance the pattern on the sconces and countertop. The mirror will be hung between the two light fixtures, so we’ll end up with a pleasing, balanced look. The faucet isn’t exactly in the middle of the design motif, but no biggie – there’s going to be a mirror there, anyway.

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Corner going around shower. Note the window looking into the shower.
Although the website specs said this is a pre-trimmed non-woven material , that was incorrect. Turns out it had an unprinted selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand . Here I’m using my straightedge and razor blade to remove this selvedge. This takes precision and a LOT of time .
The manufacturer usually provides trim guides to help you know where to cut. But it’s usually better to trim to the pattern – determine an element in the design motif that will meet up with the corresponding motif on the opposite side of the strip when the strips are hung on the wall, and use that as your guide . Be sure to trim off the trim guide marks, or they will show on the wall.
The pattern is called Arabian Nights and is by Relativity Textiles . I’ve never worked with this brand before. I was not pleased . In addition to the incorrect information about the pre-trimmed paper , the mfgr’s specs said this was printed on a non-woven substrate . It was not. It wasn’t even printed on standard wallpaper stock . Instead, it was a pulp material – This is a sort of old-fashioned wallpaper , and is very brittle and prone to tearing and dragging (your trimming knife or razor blade will get snagged and you’ll end up with a ” chewed ” jagged cut, instead of a crisp cut . It also tears easily. It also has no coating, so it’s not stain-resistant … Not good in a busy household with a 3-year old toddler , or anyone splashing water or soap or air freshener .
It was also difficult to hang . Applying wet paste to the backing causes the substrate to absorb moisture and expand at a different rate from the ink on the surface. So you end up with wrinkles , waffling , and quilting .
Sponging a light bit of water on the front before pasting helps even out the moisture differential and ease installation . I’ve never before encountered a pulp that had this type of ink on the surface. One clue for this bad stuff is when you open the package and it smells like moth balls . Once I figured out how to work with it, , it went OK – although tedious . The seams did look very nice.
BUT … all this effort would have been unnecessary and the finished room would be more durable if the mfgr had printed on a non-woven substrate (as their on-line specs stated) and had used standard inks instead of this weird , smelly , high-end stuff. In fact, the material would have cost the homeowners a whole lot less $ if it had been normal ink on a non-woven backing .
The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .
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Fanciful Mural for Baby’s Crib / Accent Wall

December 23, 2022
Typical textured wall in new homes in suburban Houston has been skim-floated , sanded smooth , and primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer .
All ready for baby Noah! The parents-to-be will spend the weekend bringing in the crib and other furnishings .
This is a 4-panel mural . Here I’ve laid out the panels , to ensure correct placement , and get accurate measurements .
We had some ” issues ” and I wasn’t completely happy with this product / vendor . For starters, they custom-printed custom-sized the material to the exact dimensions I had asked. Problem is, these panels are intended to be overlapped and double-cut ( spliced ). That means losing an inch on every seam . The company should have accommodated for that by providing us with four extra inches. They did not, so I had a real math and juggling match trying to plot how to get enough paper to cover the width of the wall.
The grey colors go nicely with the current trend toward greys and beiges ; the rest of the home follows this color scheme .
i thought this was going to be a pre-trimmed non-woven / paste the wall material. I was caught off guard when I discovered it was a textured vinyl on a paper backing , untrimmed and had to be double cut . See other post and/or do some Searching here for more info on this DC process . I think a better material would have resulted in better seams . But – wallpaper is meant to be viewed from about 5′ away, and from there, the wall is perfect.
Remember the picture of the panels laid out on the floor . The panel on the far right had a cool train near the top. It was a prominent feature in the scene . But, as you see in this photo, that train was cut off by the door. So all you see over the door is blank sky . I really liked that train, and so did the mom . I wanted to put it where she could see it .
So I took the bottom portion of that last panel and found the train. I used a straightedge to cut the bottom edge, and then used a scissors to trim around the top of the train and its trail of smoke .
Vinyl is slick , and wallpaper paste won’t adhere to it. So I applied special paste designed to grab ahold of vinyl. Then I placed it over the door , butting it up against the right where it meets the adjoining wall.
But – dangnabit! I forgot to take a picture of it finished! It looked great. Over the door was no longer all that dead-air blank space. Now there is a streamlined train with wisps of smoke , heading toward the distant castle !
I’m not going to mention where this was purchased from, because it’s one of the sites that I hope people will steer away from – a place that sells batteries , jewelry , fishing tackle , and – oh, yeah – wallpaper, too,,, you’re just better off with one of the established companies that specializes in wallpaper .
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Trimming Bradbury Double Border

December 21, 2022

This wallpaper is about 30″ wide , and the border printed on it is 13.5″ wide. So, the manufacturer has printed two borders side-by-side . Saves paper, saves money .
This brand comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand. Here I am using my scissors to separate the two borders , to get them down to a more manageable width , before trimming off the selvedge .
Using my straightedge and razor blade to trim off the edge. The manufacturer didn’t provide trim guides, so I’m using my eye to cut along the edge of the black line.
The pattern is called Apple Tree Frieze .
The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury in California .
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Wallpaper Inks Easily Marred

December 21, 2022

The rich colors and clay coating give this wallpaper a truly luscious , velvety look. But they’re also fragile and can be damaged easily . Here you see damage caused at the factory simply by folding back the last 2″ or so of paper, before rolling it up. The company does provide and extra foot or two to accommodate this.
You have to be extremely careful handling this stuff. Even a fingernail or your wallpaper tools can cause scratches or marring . Per the manufacturer’s suggestion, I covered my smoothing brush and plastic smoother with microfiber towels , to minimize chances of scratching the paper .
In fact, the manufacturer suggested that, during installation , that you wipe the entire surface uniformly with a damp microfiber rag , to even out any imperfections that might have resulted .
Now, just between you and me – if you know you have a product that’s likely to end up with blemished areas, why not just switch to a better , tried-and-true ink ? SMH Luckily project this is a border that will be butted up under the ceiling , so no one’s going to zero in on a few shiny areas in the matt ink. But , think of all the homes that will have this same material as a wall paper , that will be viewed close-up .
Not all colorways from Bradbury do this. I’ve hung plenty of it and not had a problem with most. In fact, the “fishnet” area you see at the bottom of this picture is not delicate at all. It’s the very matt finish green and brown colors in the center of the border that are so delicate .
The inks and clay coating the manufacturer uses on this particular colorway are very fragile and mar easily , so I’ve used ankle socks to cover the edges of my straightedge, and also a weight I’m using to prevent the paper from rolling around on my table. And that scissors is just there as demonstration for the photo … you can bet that tool was not touching the surface of the border at any other time.
This material has a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand , with a straightedge and razor blade . Normally I set my straightedge on top of the wallpaper , because it’s easier to see where I need to make my cut , and also because the weight of the straightedge helps hold the wallpaper down.
But even with cushioning socks on either edge of the 6′ long tool , and with padding on the underside, I was afraid that it might harm the inks .
So I placed it on the outside edge of the wallpaper. This left very little for the tool to grab on to, so I made sure to press it tightly against my work table , so the wallpaper strip wouldn’t slip around while I was trimming .
The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in historic and period-correct patterns from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cool Trick Going Around Door

December 18, 2022

I’ve finished putting short strips of wallpaper over this wide entry way . My next strip will be a 9.5′ piece going down the left side of the door molding .
The piece above the door ended 1/4″ from the left edge of the door molding. Normally, I would butt my next strip up against the existing piece. Then, as I move down the wall smoothing the paper into place against the wall, there will be a 1/4″ bit of it that laps over against the full length of the molding. I would need to use a straightedge and blade to trim this off. And then use my damp microfiber rag to wipe paste off the molding.
This non-woven wallpaper is thick and stiff , and hard to press tightly against the molding, so a bit tricky to get a sharp , tight trim cut . And also difficult to ensure that exactly 1/4″ is being trimmed off . So it’s easy for the paper to go off-kilter , and for the pattern to not line up perfectly against the molding . Not a big deal on a busy floral pattern , but with a rigid geometric, it might be noticeable .
So I decided to try this. I wanted to pre-trim the strip to take away that 1/4″ . This would save me from having to do any pressing or trimming. And also ensure that the pattern would fall perfectly straight against the doorway molding.
I measured down 16″ (the height of the ” header ” over the doorway , plus a couple of inches for trimming at ceiling and then at the top of the door molding ) .
Then I used my straightedge , razor blade , and fine ruler (from Texas Art Supply ) to measure over 1/4″ and trim it off .
Don’t think this is a simple task … It’s hard to measure exactly the width of the bit above the molding that should be trimmed off. 1/4″? 3/8″? 5/16″?
Also take into consideration that most wallpapers expand when they get wet with paste . So that 1/4″ I cut off could extend to 5/16″ or even more. That would mean a gap along the door molding.
Next, if the strip above the door is not perfectly plumb , or if the door molding below it is not perfectly straight and plumb , the wallpaper won’t butt up properly against it, and may start to show a gap or an overlap.
Sometimes you can manipulate the strip of wallpaper so that it does butt up against the door frame. But that can result in warps and wrinkles , or a pattern mis-match of the next piece . Also, like I said, this particular non-woven product is thick and stiff, and not happy about being asked to twist into another shape. Pasting the paper – instead of pasting the wall – does help to make it more pliable , so you have a better chance of manipulating the paper as you want.
Here is the strip going into place. So far, it’s butting up nicely against the molding. And no need to trim anything or wipe paste off the woodwork – except for that little bit at the top, which was my ” extra ” allowed for trimming .
FYI, that dark stripe you see along the woodwork is a shadow.
Here is the wallpaper as it falls along the side of the molding. The pattern is lining up nice and straight and precise .
To be honest, at the lower 1/3 of the wall, the paper did start to torque out of shape , and wanted to leave a gap at the molding, which was trying to grow from 1/16″ to maybe 1/4.” Not a lot – but it sure would look bad to have a 1/4″ gap between the wallpaper and the woodwork.
Trying to “mush” it to the right to butt up against the woodwork was causing warps and wrinkles .
I was a little surprised, but the paste had caused the stiff material to become softened and pliable – just enough that I was able to gently work out all those warps and wrinkles , so the wallpaper laid nice and flat against the wall. AND the left edge didn’t become distorted, but fell nice and straight enough that the next strip was easily able to butt up against it nice and tightly.
This trellis / Moroccan lantern / onion dome / geometric pattern is by Designer Wallpapers .

Soft and Sweet Pattern for Accent Wall in Baby Girl’s Nursery

November 24, 2022
The crib will go on this wall. Originally it was textured grey paint , as you see on either side .
Here is the wall after I’ve skim-floated / skim-coated it, sanded smooth , and primed with a wallpaper primer called Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime . I have them put a little blue tint in it, so I can see where I’ve rolled it on.
This wallpaper comes in one continuous roll ordered by the yard , as you see on my table , as opposed to double roll bolts as most brands are packaged.
This cute pattern is called Thatcher . It looks like a simple repetitive pattern , but it was actually fairly complicated . Not all those starburst motifs , and especially not the fan shaped lines around them, are the same.
Looks hand painted with a paintbrush .
The paper has a clay coated surface , which give it a beautiful matt finish.
It’s lovely stuff to work with – seams melt away like butter , and trim lines are spot-on. (Many companies’ are not.)
This brand’s papers come with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand.
You use a straightedge and single edge razor blade , and follow the manufacturer’s trim guide lines , to remove the selvedge. Today trimming this one bolt to do one wall took a full hour.
The brand is Pepper Home .
The home is in the Woodland Heights area of Houston .
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Different Rolls = Different Pattern Match

November 17, 2022
It’s important that all your wallpaper rolls have the same run number , also called batch or dye lot . This means that they were printed at the same time with the same ink . Paper printed later with another batch of ink may be every so slightly different in color / shade . Looks bad on the wall.
The same thing can happen with trimming at the factory. Different runs can be trimmed differently from each other.
With this paper that I hung in a dining room last week (see previous post), the labels on all the rolls / bolts listed the same run number . But there was one bolt that was wrapped in not one, but two plastic wrappers. This raised an alarm in my head, because this indicates that it may have been a roll sent back to the factory, for whatever reason, and then repackaged. When this happens, you cannot be absolutely sure that the run number is actually that which is printed on the label. Somebody at the factory could have just grabbed a handy label and stuck it inside the wrapper.
I tried not to use this double-wrapped bolt of wallpaper. But on the last section of wall, I got to a point where I just needed to use it, for just two 6′ strips. I was pleased that the color of both the background and the motifs matched perfectly.
But not happy with this pattern mis-match.
It was easy to see that the factory trimmers had been placed about 1/8″ to one side, from where they had been placed when trimming the previous rolls.
It’s a busy pattern, and, from a distance, this undercut wasn’t all that noticeable.
But on the other side, there was repetition of the motif , and this will really catch your eye.
Happily, this only affected one seam, and since it was a very busy pattern, from just a few feet away you couldn’t notice it. Still, it bothered me.
So I pulled this strip on the left off the wall, laid it on my table, and used my straightedge and razor blade to trim off that repetitive leaf tip – about 1/8″ from the right edge of the strip.
The second strip, since it came off the same roll and had been trimmed the same, matched perfectly . This was also my last strip, so no more drama with mis-matched designs at the seams .
What the overall pattern looks like.
The pattern is by Rifle Paper , which has been finding its way into a lot of homes lately. This brand is usually a good quality non-woven material , and can be hung by pasting the paper or by paste the wall . It is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece, and with minimal damage to the wall , when you’re ready to redecorate . Very cute , cheerful patterns , and good price-point .
Note that the run number is printed on the label.
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