Posts Tagged ‘trim to the pattern’

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.


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 .

Meg Braff Bad Printing Job

November 15, 2022
The homeowner very much loves this simple, tone-on-tone shore bird pattern for her dining room – just the top , above the chair rail / wainscoting. Here I’m plotting where to best situate the pattern on the wall , between the chair rail and ceiling , while keeping the most important pattern elements and motifs intact . (no cutting off birds’ heads at the ceiling , nor at the wainscoting ) I’m also checking the pattern match .
It quickly became evident that the pattern match, as laid out by the factory, was incorrect . Match it at the bottom (by my thumb ), but as you move up , the pattern goes a little out of whack . This is actually not all that bad , and is considered acceptable – the industry standard allows for up to 1/8″ – 3/8″ mis-match .
Hand-trim screen-print materials such as this are particularly notable for pattern mis-matches .
For the record, they’re also known for curling edges , puckering , waffling , and other issues that make them difficult to hang , as well as questionability as to how long they’ll perform on your wall before wanting to resort to that curling at the seams .
More pattern mis-matching .
But the situation got worse . These high-end screen prints often come with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand , with a straightedge (the blue metal thing ), a razor blade – and a steady hand.
If the trim guide marks printed on the material by the company are ” off ,” then you’re supposed to ” trim to the pattern .” This means that you find the design element on the left edge of the paper and then find the corresponding element on the right side, and place your straightedge so that your trim cuts will result in the two edges matching up perfectly. (Or at least within that 1/8″ -3/8″)
At this point, the white lines in the design – let’s call them ‘grapes’ – are abutting my blue straightedge , and should meet up perfectly with the corresponding white lines on the grapes on the opposite side of the subsequent strip of wallpaper.
But, unfortunately, with this material, that didn’t work. If I lined my straightedge up with the pattern design elements , as in the photo above this one, by the time I moved down a few feet , as you can see in this photo , the pattern begins moving away from the straightedge . The white grape outlines do not butt up against my straightedge.
The likely reason is that this material has been printed on the bias . That means that the artisan at the factory got his screens out of whompus , for lack of a better term.
” Trim to the pattern .” OK. So here I’m placing my straightedge at 1/8″ away from the ” hook ” in this design .
Still the same distance from the “hook.” But the white lines are starting to move away from the straightedge.
Here they’ve moved farther off. With this design, from a distance , you could maybe live with the white lines not meeting up perfectly.
But what you couldn’t find acceptable is that the tan area between these white elements would be growing wider diagonally as you move both up and down the wall. Look at the photo. You can see the tan area growing larger .
But it gets worse as it spreads farther … As that tan section grows wider like a “V” or a wedge as you move up or down the wall, it additionally pushes the design motifs at the top of the ceiling or at top of the wainscoting either up or down along the horizontal lines of the ceiling and wainscoting .
So not only do you get a widening tan line between each seam , you also get the birds’ heads moving up or down from where they’re supposed to be positioned below the ceiling or above the wainscoting .
I spent an hour and a half trying different placements and trimming methods . I knew the client loved this pattern and that she was willing to accept reasonable flaws in the pattern match and positioning.
But even given that, I wanted her to have a good looking dining room – not one with uneven spacing between strips, or grossly irregular positioning along the horizontal lines in the room.
I even consulted with several (five!) “high-end” installer buddies of mine. No one had a ” tip ” for making an improperly printed design fall correctly on the wall. In fact, all five of them said it couldn’t be done.
I determined that this material was unhangable.
As mentioned, I tried to find an installer buddy who could make this work and get this client’s dining room done in time for Thanksgiving dinner. But no one wanted to take it on.
I don’t know if the manufacturer will replace the paper or refund the $ spend. Manufacturers are usually keen on saying that “it’s the installer’s fault .” I can say that I’ve had similar issues with Meg Braff papers in the past.
The homeowner really loves this pattern. It’s possible – but not assured – that purchasing the same design but in a different run will yield a better factory printing job.
Just a note that printing defects , curling seams , wrinkling / quilting , and more, are somewhat common with hand-screened wallpapers . And here’s another reason why I’m happiest when clients stick with middle-of-the-road, or slightly upper priced , wallpaper options . Email me and request my Info Pack (or see the link on the right) for more information and brand name recommendations.
Sad to bow out and leave this client with an unpapered room, and no viable solution or direction . But better that than to take on something that I can’t assure will look good. I hope she tells me what she ends up doing and how all this turns out.