Posts Tagged ‘tape’

Trick in Hopes to Stave Off Popped Seams from a Crumbly Wall

April 3, 2019


The walls in this powder room in the West U neighborhood of Houston had had many treatments over it’s life, including paint, more paint, skim-floating, wallpaper, and more. Sometimes, and particularly if prep is not done properly, these various layers are not compatible, and won’t adhere to one another well.

When the old wallpaper was removed, this was clear at the seams, where the various layers of the wall had pulled apart, leaving ridges along the length of each seam. This happens because the wallpaper dries and pulls taught and creates tension on the wall; if the wall is unstable, the layers can be pulled apart (delaminate). Sorry, no pics of the “before,” but you can do a search here to see pics of other rooms. This condition can happen over time, as the house fills with humidity and the paper absorbs it, then dries and shrinks again.

I dug out the raised ridges and applied tape over them, sealed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that dries hard. Then I skim-floated over all the walls, to create a smooth surface for the wallpaper. Sanded, wiped dust off with a damp sponge (nothing sticks to dust), and primed all walls with Gardz.

One good way to deal prevent this from happening again is to cross-line the walls with a special liner paper. This is a thin paper that is usually run horizontally before the actual decorative paper is hung. The idea is that if the new paper shrinks and applies tension, it will be distributed by the liner paper, and will not pull at the wall. If the liner shrinks and pulls, the tension is off-set by the decorative paper on top of it. So the two layers are working together to distribute any harmful tension on the wall surface.

Unfortunately, using liner adds a day of labor plus the cost of the material. The homeowner’s budget had already been busted by other factors, so she wanted to keep the job to one day. After collaborating with my colleagues in the Wallcovering Installers Association on our Facebook page, I decided to try this method:

From Office Max I got some plain old cash register tape. I plotted where each seam would fall, and used my laser level to guide placement of a floor-to-ceiling strip of the tape. I adhered it with regular wallpaper paste. At first, I worried that it would soak up moisture and bubble, but once it was smoothed into place, it laid down nice and flat.

Then I hung the wallpaper. The seams fell nicely on top of the tape, held tightly, and looked beautiful. There is the possibility of seeing a very slight ridge under the paper because of the thickness of the tape, but it’s very minimal because the tape is quite thin. And it’s much preferable to popped seams or delaminated walls.

The idea is that the tape will bridge the seam, and distribute tension from the drying paper across the width of the tape, keeping tension away from the wall itself. The tape is very thin, and doesn’t appear to have much tensile strength, but my buddies who have tried this method say it works well.

Time will tell, but I have a lot of confidence in this method.

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Don’t Put Tape On The Wallpaper!

February 13, 2019


This is paper – not vinyl and not non-woven. Someone went and put scotch tape on the wallpaper. But painter’s tape would be just as bad.

When the tape was removed, it pulled some of the inked design right off the paper.

A vinyl or non-woven wallpaper would have held up a little better. But, still – best to NOT put tape on the wallpaper.

Keeping Paste Off The Bookshelf Cubicle Paint (see previous post)

February 4, 2018


In yesterday’s post (below), I talked about pre-trimming pieces of grasscloth, so that two sides and one corner would fit neatly into the bookshelf cubicle’s back. That left me needing to trim excess paper off just two sides (plus the three attached corners).

I measured and pre-trimmed my pieces so that there would be only a 1/2″ excess that needed to be removed. That’s not very much, but, still, paste was on the back, and it would get onto the surrounding wood and paint. It’s easy enough to wipe the paste off of enamel paint. But in the case of grasscloth wallpaper, you really don’t want to get the surface wet (from the damp rag wiping paste off the painted wood), because it can stain, bleed, or lose color.

So I used strips of this cool blue plastic tape that is sold by a colleague of mine, Steve Boggess, a fellow member of the WIA (Wallcovering Installers Association), who imports it from Japan.

In the top photo, you see it applied to the back of the pasted piece of wallpaper. Two sides of the piece will butt against the walls of the cubicle, but the two sides that will overlap onto the painted walls will need to be taped. This tape will prevent paste from getting onto the painted walls.

In the second photo, you see a wee little bit of the tape peeking out from behind the grasscloth. In the third photo, I have made my trim cuts and am removing the excess grasscloth. The blue tape is coming along with it. It’s important to get all the tape off – if not, there will be no paste exposed to the wall to hold the grasscloth onto the wall.

The blue tape is expensive, and it adds extra time. But it saves time by eliminating the need to wipe paste off surfaces. And it keeps both paper and other surfaces absolutely clean and paste-free.

Over-Zealous Installer Scored into the Wall

August 16, 2017

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Windows without trim molding like these have surfaces inside the opening that need to be covered with wallpaper. They are always a little tricky, because you need to paper both the top and the sides, but the strip of wallpaper will fold over to cover only one of these surfaces. So you need to come up with paper to cover the other surface.

The previous installer chose to splice in the additional paper he needed, which is what we call a double cut, and it’s a fine way to get these windows papered. He lapped a new piece of paper over the existing piece and then cut through both layers, removed excess, and had a perfect splice.

The problem is that he pressed so hard that he cut not just through the two layers of paper, but down into the wall – quite deeply, in fact. Then, as the paper dries and gets taught, and years go by, and especially in this case where the exterior wall had a leak and water damaged the drywall all around the window, the layers of drywall split apart a bit, and that’s why you see these gaps and curled edges.

When I double cut, I put a strip of polystyrene plastic under the area to be cut, to prevent the razor blade from digging into the wall.

This type of damage is difficult to fix, because the integrity of the wall itself has been compromised. Even if you repair the surface, the underlying layers may come apart again and create another crack on the surface.

What I did was to use repair tape to bridge over the cut areas, and then joint compound to float over and smooth the area. This way, if the wall should move or try to open up again, hopefully the tape will prevent any gap from showing.

Repainting Woodwork? Don’t Let Painters Tape the Wallpaper!

July 3, 2017

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Bad Crack in Sheetrock

December 23, 2015

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Digital Image


This 1963 ranch-style home in Meyerland (Houston), has seen a lot of structural damage due to the foundation shifting. Part of that is the “gumbo” soil we have here in Houston, and part is due to the major flooding that has plagued this neighborhood for decades.

Cracks in the drywall are a common result of this shifting. This crack is wider than most, and it’s pretty long, too. The surfaces surrounding these cracks are level, which is good, but it’s unusual, because often the surfaces pull apart in two directions, leaving both a gap and uneven surfaces.

Wallpaper will cover the gap, but bumps and ridges might show under the paper. Also, if the foundation continues to shift (which, in Houston, is pretty expected), the wallpaper can tear and gap, too. So it’s a good idea to bridge the gap first, with something that can withstand shifting, or that will continue to bridge the gap and allow the wallpaper to “float” over it without tearing.

The common repair for this is drywall tape and joint compound. But this process takes a long time to dry, and it leaves a noticeable bump on the wall, from the layers of tape and compound.

So today I tried something different. I took paper drywall tape and soaked it in Gardz, a watery, penetrating surface sealer, and used the tape to cover the gap in the Sheetrock. It spanned the gap nicely, stuck tight, it dried nice and flat, with no bubbling, and was very thin.

Because it was so thin, I only needed a light skim float coat of joint compound, to smooth away ridges that might show under the new wallpaper. Once that was dry, I sanded, and then applied another coat of Gardz.

I was very pleased with how this turned out, and will keep it in my stash of tricks, in case another need arises.

Do NOT Put Tape On The Wallpaper!

July 17, 2015
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Digital Image

Sometimes, after I’ve spent many hours wallpapering a room, the home owner will say, “We’re having the painters come tomorrow, to paint the trim and ceiling.”

And I know just what will happen. In order to protect the new wallpaper, and to help get a crisp line with their paint, the painters will put blue tape along the edge of the wallpaper.

Do NOT do this! Never!!

Folks! No matter what you have heard, no matter what the manufacturer says about how their tape will easily peel away from surfaces – IT IS NOT TRUE. At least, not with most wallpapers on the market today.

As you can see in this photo, when tape was removed, the top, inked layer of this wallpaper was pulled away from the backing, leaving a white void. And, no, the wallpaper installer canNOT “fix it.” Well – sometimes. But usually, even with damage to just small areas, often the paper is destroyed, and the only solution is to remove it and replace it – all of it.

Bottom line: If you are going to paint, or do other work in the room, do it beFORE the wallpaper goes up. And, if that’s not possible, at any rate, do NOT put tape on the wallpaper.