Posts Tagged ‘tool’

Purple Finger

August 25, 2022
I have no idea what’s going on here, but it happens from time to time. I had been rolling on wallpaper primer in two rooms for a few hours . I’m suspecting I held a tool in a certain way for a long time , or somehow blocked circulation to a part of this finger . It doesn’t hurt , but it is a little swollen.
The color got darker and lighter during the rest of the day. I did some shopping on the way home, and the store was cold , and that seemed to exacerbate the issue – finger got cold and numb and really purple . Back at home in my nice warm home office , it’s still discolored , but not as much.

Grasscloth Engineering and Logistics – Technical Details Post

August 21, 2022
Grasscloth is a natural material that cannot be matched from strip to strip, so all the seams will be visible . In addition, there is usually a slight but noticeable color difference between strips / panels (called shading or paneling ) . So it’s important to plot the layout of the strips to give the most visually pleasing overall look. Usually this means balancing the width of strips so they are all equal , at least on the same wall . We call this engineering .
This wall presented particular challenges , due to the widths of the elements. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide . You can use your straightedge and a sharp razor blade and trim it down to any width you want.
The width of both the large wall spaces to the right and left of the bank of windows was 34.” The width of each window was about 35.” The width of the two spaces in between the windows was 7.”
So you’d think I could trim my panels on either side of the windows, and then over the windows, to about 34″-36″ – give or take a few inches (or fractions thereof).
But that would leave me with two 7″ wide strips between these 35″ panels. Although the look would be uniform and mirror-image from the center outward, moving from right to left you’d have: 35,” 35″, 7,” 35,” 7,” 35,” 35,” … those 7″ breaks were just not going to look right.
One option was to determine the width of the wall (189″) and make each strip an equal width. This worked out to six strips, each at 31.5″ Not good, because this would mean a seam down either far side. And since those sides were 34″ wide, that would mean a 31.5″ wide strip and a strip 2.5″ wide. Not attractive at all, and it would use up an extra strip of wallpaper.
This six strips @ 31.5″ wide scenario might also land with a seam smack in the middle of those 7″ wide interludes in between the windows. Not attractive at all.
So I decided to make the two outer strips 35″ wide. That left 119″ of wall space above the windows to be covered with wallpaper. Do some math and you get four panels of 29.75″ wide. This gave a balanced and uniform look to the area over the windows, and also prevented seams from landing between the windows.
Moving right to left, I cut and hung the full length outer strip first. Then I cut and hung the strip over the window on the right. Then I measured to find the centerpoint of the window in the middle. Turns out it was a bit less than 29.75″ away. So I trimmed that next over-window strip accordingly.
Once that was in place, I measured from that center point above the middle window out to where my left full-height panel would fall, 35″ out from the wall. Took the resulting measurement and divided by 2. Lo and behold, each of the next two panels over the window was going to be a bit wider than 30.” No problem. No one (but a paperhanger or maybe an engineer) is going to notice a 1/4″ or even a full 1″ difference in widths between this strips over the windows.
Another thing to point out … it’s important that I took measurements before cutting these strips for this second left-hand section. Because, since grasscloth comes at 36″ (and walls can be wonky), if my strips had been narrower (say, 28″), that last full-height panel on the left might have ended up needing to be 37″ wide – and that wouldn’t work because it only comes 36″ wide – plus you need at least 1/8″ to wrap around the corner.
Luckily I had the flexibility to be able to trim the panels over the windows to any width needed, to accommodate all this.
If you’ve followed all this so far, let me also toss in that we also need to figure how to get paper in between those windows. More on that below.
In this scenario, I’m moving from right to left.
Area beneath the windows needs to be treated in the same way, and preferably with widths that match what’s going on above the windows. In addition, it’s tricky because after you move across 12′ of wall space, the strips above and below the windows are going to twist and torque out of shape, so that last full-length panel on the far left might not butt up perfectly with the last strip under the windows.
The grasscloth is black , and my wallpaper primer is white . It’s common for teeny gaps to appear at the seams . In this case, it’s likely that white wall would peek out from those gaps. So I like to stripe under where the seams will fall with dark (diluted) paint . This takes measuring , plotting , and also a heat gun to get the paint to dry before the wallpaper hits it, to avoid staining. You can do a Search here to read more about this technique .
Now let’s talk about getting wallpaper in between those windows.
As you can see in the photo, if I hang a 30″ wide strip, a whole lot of paper is going to be cut off and thrown away. Also, a whole lot of sticky, pasted paper is going to bump against that window molding and maybe even the window glass. A lot to clean up! And unwieldy, to boot.
My solution was to stop the wallpaper just a little below the tops of the windows. Then I would patch in a 7″ wide strip in between the windows. This is trickier than it sounds, because, if it were a paper wallpaper, I could simply cut along a design motif and overlay the 7″ wide piece. But grasscloth is thick and overlaps don’t look good. Also grass has no design elements , and the reeds of grass don’t necessarily fall perfectly horizontal , and even if you cut everything perfectly true to square , if the window molding is a teeny bit off-plumb , then your edges won’t butt up perfectly.
So that’s a good reason for striping the black paint under where the butt join will occur.
Same thing for the sections under the windows. I measured and positioned the strips so that the top edge (which I had trimmed to be perfectly horizontal) fell between the narrowest part of the windowsill molding, for less visibility.
I admit, instead of butting the two pieces, here I did overlap the 7″ wide strip about 1/4″ onto the piece under the window, right at that narrow junction. It’s only about 3″ wide, and I figured no one is going to be examining it that closely, anyway. This saved me about a half an hour of measuring, trimming, testing, repeat, repeat.
This is my second window interlude, and by this time I had realized that it’s hard to trim stiff grasscloth around intricate moldings precisely . So I used paint to fill in the edges around the window molding, just in case there might be any gaps between the grasscloth and the molding, so you would see black instead of the white molding paint. I did this with a small sponge; if I had used an artist’s brush it would have been a bit neater and tighter to the conforms of the molding. But sometimes you’ve gotta relax and realize that no one’s going to be scrutinizing the insides of moldings below shin-level.
Area over windows finished, with drapes back in place.
Turns out this particular grasscloth is so uniform in color (quite unusual, I will add), that you can’t really see the panels , nor their equal widths , anyway. I’m still glad I took the time to do all this math and trimming.
Area below the windows, done. That last seam on the left bears some explanation, too. Moving across the top of the windows, I measured that that last strip – the full-length strip – would need to be exactly 35″ wide. It butted up nicely to the last strip above the windows.
But, due to twisting , shifting , expansion , unlevel and unplumb walls and ceilings , and other factors, there is a really good chance that that last 35″ wide strip would not butt up perfectly with the last 30″ wide strip under the window . So I planned to splice these last two strips together.
Yeah, the drapes are hanging there, I coulda overlapped the two strips about 1/2″ and the drapes would have covered it. With a thin wallpaper, I probably would have done this. But grasscloth is thick, and an overlap would be visible , and also the adhesive / paste can’t be trusted to adhere as well to grass as it would to paper .
So I plotted for a splice. Instead of trimming my last strip under the window to 30″ (read above), I trimmed it to 32″ wide. That way, when I hung the last full-length strip to the left, which was 35″ wide, it overlapped the piece under the window by a few inches. Then I did a double cut and spliced the two pieces. See below for details about that technique.
Grasscloth is 36″ wide, and this wall area is wider than that. So two strips were needed. This means you’re going to have a seam, and since grasscloth seams are always visible, it looks best to plot to have the seam fall down the center. It uses more wallpaper to do this, but it looks much better than having, for example, a 36″ wide strip next to an 8″ wide strip.
As mentioned above, in case you get thin gaps at the seams, a dark stripe of diluted craft paint under where the seam will fall, will prevent white wall from showing through.
Rounded / bull-nosed edges and corners have been popular in new construction for at least 10 years. I wish they’d go away. They’re very difficult to trim around, and hard for the paper to conform to and adhere to.
It’s very hard to trim around that rounded edge, because the paper is hanging over and blocking your view, because grasscloth is thick and stiff and your fingers can’t feel through it, and because the edges aren’t necessarily true and plumb so a laser level or other level won’t help you much.
I use this little gadget as a trim guide. It’s actually a small section of the same corner bead material that drywallers use when they assemble these walls. Cut to about 1″ long and notched in different places where you might trim along the edge of the wall.
It’s intended that you place your trimming knife in one of the notches and slide the gizmo along the edge and make your cut. I find that awkward and also inaccurate. So I prefer to use the notches as a guide and mark where I plan to trim with a pencil. Since this wallpaper is black, I used this marking pencil from my home sewing kit instead. Chalk might work, but I was afraid it might now wipe off completely.
The pink pencil line was barely visible, but it was enough for me to use a scissors to trim along the grasscloth. I like this better than using a razor blade as I can see better, and also less chance of scoring into the primer or wall. Which raises its own set of issues – do a search here to find previous posts.
Inside view of the trim guide.
Finished arch. Note the four panels of equal width above the arch. And two flanking full-height panels also the same widths.
I was lucky that there was no pattern to match, so I was able to butt my two flanking strips right up to the edge of the bull-nosed corner. No trimming needed! Then I measured the remaining width between these two strips (the area over the arch), divided by four, and cut four strips of equal widths.
I hung the two on the left, and then one on the far right. This left one strip still to be positioned to the right of center. So the pieces are going to meet over the arch, rather than the last strip falling in a corner.
Same as the last strip under the window (discussed above), it’s really difficult to get your last piece to fit in here perfectly. I’ve done it, but it takes a lot of measuring, trimming, testing, retrimming, and often starting all over again.
So I did a double-cut / splice.
A double cut involves cutting each strip an inch or so wider than it should be, and overlapping the two. Then you take a straight edge and sharp razor blade and cut through both layers. This handy tool is a wonderful non-slip guide for this process. It was invented by an installer colleague in the Wallcovering Installers Association ( WIA ) and she has them fabricated in various lengths (along with other cool tools ) and sells them on-line. Contact me if you’re interested.
Anyway, it takes a lot of strength to cut through two layers of grasscloth, so somewhat difficult for lil’ ol’ me.
You also want to be sure to not cut / score into the wall, because the tension of drying wallpaper can tug at the wall and cause it to actually come apart, leaving an open seam that’s difficult to repair.
So you’ve got to put some padding under the wall where the cut will take place. I use special strips of polystyrene (hard but flexible plastic) to pad the wall. Also invented by a colleague in the WIA , who also sells other cool tools and supplies. Contact me if you’re interested.
This black grasscloth was printed on a white substrate. If the seams aren’t absolutely tight, there can be worries about the backing showing through to the front. So sometimes we’ll take a piece of chalk or pastel (never oil pastel or permanent markers because they bleed and stain ) and run it along the edge of the paper – from the back, and taking care to not get chalk on the surface.
I do this frequently with dark papers ( do a search here to see previous posts ) but opted not to do it with this grasscloth. It wasn’t necessary, and might have stained the porous reeds of the grass. It was beneficial, though, to have striped dark paint on the wall under the seams, as mentioned above.
Ugh. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide, and this section of wall is 38″ wide. It’s not visually pleasing, nor is it easy from an installation point of view, to have a 36″ wide strip next to a 2″ wide strip. Or to use scraps and put a 25″ wide strip next to a 13″ wide strip.
So best to plan two strips of equal widths. Two strips, each 19″ wide, with the seam down the middle.
Actually, the strip on the left was 19″ wide, but I trimmed the strip on the right to 21″, because I like the wallpaper to extend 2″ over the top of the door molding. This provides a more stable surface in case of shifting foundation or walls, and less likelihood (knock on wood) of the seam opening up should the house / drywall experience shifting.
Note that design “rules” caution against seams down the middle of spaces. But it would have been more visually distracting (and used up more paper) to have made three strips of each 12.75″ wide. And would have looked even dumber to have used scraps left from other walls and put together two strips of disparate widths.
So the homeowner and I discussed during our initial consultation , and she was happy with the center seam. Once it was all finished, this particular grasscloth was so even in tone that you barely see the seams, anyway. Win-win!
This did use up additional paper, though, as noted in a previous photo above.

Dark and Moody Bedroom Accent Wall

August 4, 2022
The wall has been skim-floated and sanded smooth , primed , and is ready for wallpaper .
The homeowner did a great job coordinating the wall and ceiling paint with the colors in the wallpaper.
This is a room that’s made for sleeping!

At first I thought the pattern scale was too small for the large wall. But once I saw it on the wall, I really like the way it fills the space.
To me, this pattern has a sort of calico look.
Close-up shows the light texture on the paper.
This is a non-woven material, so I’m installing via the paste the wall method . Here I’ve cut and arranged all my strips in the order in which they will be hung . This is a drop match pattern , which some folks think of as A and B strips. Meaning, for instance, an orange flower appears at the top of the wall on Strip A . But the next strip, Strip B, has a yellow flower at the top. When you get to the third strip, we are back to an A and an orange flower. Next comes another B strip – and so on.
I’ve rolled the strips backward , with the top of the strip coming off first. This will prevent the printed face of the wallpaper from bumping into the pasted wall during installation .
Wallpaper often shrinks a tad when the paste dries , and this can result in very minute gaps at the seams . With dark wallpapers , it’s pretty important to take steps to prevent white from showing at these gaps. Here I’ve measured out where each seam will fall, and taken diluted black paint to make a dark stripe under each seam . I don’t make the paint full-strength, because wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to paint. I want the wallpaper adhering to the primer I’ve applied. That’s also the reason why you don’t want to roll paint over the whole wall.
Also, I have only striped some of the seam areas, and will wait until some strips are up on the wall before striping more lines. This is because wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, which can make it difficult to plot the exact width of each strip as you move across the wall.

I use acrylic craft paint from the hobby store, applied with a bit of sponge. I keep a small dish of water to dip the sponge into, which dilutes the paint a bit.
You also see a stick of chalk pastel . See next photo.
Besides the wall peeking out from behind the wallpaper seams , it’s also possible / probable that the white edges of the wallpaper backing / substrate will show at the seams. I take a stick of chalk and run it along the edges, making sure to apply from the backside, to avoid getting chalk onto the surface of the wallpaper.
Be sure to use chalk pastels and not oil pastels – oil will bleed and stain wallpaper. Some installers use liquid paint or markers – again, be sure to use water-based or acrylic , and never oil based or permanent markers .
BN Walls is the brand. Altogether, this was a pretty nice product to work with. It was thin and very soft and flexible (many non-wovens are not).
I wasn’t happy with all the seams, though. I believe the paper was cut with dull or wobbly wheels at the factory, because the edges seemed to not be perfectly straight . So I ended up with gaps and overlaps in some areas. Here you can see the wallpaper edges pouching up a bit due to excess paper.
But, as I mentioned, this material was quite flexible, so it was pretty easy to spread these edges apart an use a tool to push them apart and then down to prevent them from pouching up again. Once the paste started to dry, these areas held nice and tight and flat.
This is a townhome in the Rice Military neighborhood of central Houston .

Cute Toilet Protector

July 31, 2022
To protect the toilet from primer splatters, and the occasional tool that gets set on it.
I tried the fuzzy covers they make for your grandmother’s toilet lids, but they were too bulky and didn’t fit right.
Enter little kids’ T-shirts! They fit perfectly, are easy to transport with my dropcloths, come in cute colors and slogans, and, at 50c or so from Value Village (my favorite thrift shop in Houston), they can be replaced when they get too soiled.

Trimming on Rounded Corners and Bull Nose Arches

April 15, 2020

Bull-Nose Arch, Brassfield I

Bull-Nose Arch, Brassfield II

Bull-Nose Arch, Brassfield III

Bull-Nose End in Window Return

So many of the new homes have these rounded corners and bull-nosed arches. It is tricky to get a neat, even trim along those edges.

I have a special tool that helps me get a straight trim line (do a Search here to see previous posts). But still, it’s not perfect.

In the last photo, the homeowners had the builder install wooden molding inside the window return, which is a much neater way to finish the window, IMO.

Fuzzy Stuff vs. Toothbrush

September 23, 2017

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See the fuzzy stuff on the edge of this paper?  This roll by Designer Wallpapers has shards of paper left by the factory’s trimming process.  If left in place, they could cause gaps or rough looking seams.

A toothbrush has turned out to be a handy tool for scrubbing off these minute particles of paper.

A Tight Squeeze

June 15, 2016

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Look at how close this pedestal sink is to the wall on the right. There is literally only about 1/2″ of space – and I need to get wallpaper on that wall, as well as down that little narrow gap on the sink wall!

As I like to say, “If you can’t get your hand in there, then find a tool that will do the job for you.” Bottom line, I did get the two spaces covered with wallpaper.

But … next time, I just might have the homeowners remove the sink. This would make the whole job easier and faster, and it would result in a neater look. And a lot less cussing. 🙂