Posts Tagged ‘trim’

Out of the Bayou and Onto the Wall – Crocodile Hide!

May 22, 2020


There is a lot going on in the second photo.

After determining the pattern match – which was no small feat on this very eye-crossing design – I am measuring and cutting my strips.

Those that have already been cut are rolled up and placed in the order they will be hung.
There is a piece of dark chalk I am using to color the edges of the paper, to prevent the white backing from peaking out at the seams.

And to keep the white primer from doing the same, you can see that I have plotted out where the seams will fall, and have striped black paint on the wall.

I don’t need my work table for this job, because it’s a paste-the-wall material, so no need for a table to paste on. And there are no corners to turn, so no need for a table to trim on.

The pattern has a crocodile hide look.

This Superfresco brand is by Graham & Brown. It is an embossed (textured) vinyl on a non-woven backing – which has a fibrous, fiber-glass composition, and is made to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This material was a lot more pliable than most non-wovens, so it was quite nice to work with. Although there was some stretching and warping. On a longer wall, that could have caused some panels to develop wrinkles.

I hung this wallpaper in a recessed headboard niche / accent wall in the master bedroom of a newish home in the Rice Village area of Houston.

Trimming Along Bull-Nosed Edged Walls

March 10, 2020


A whole lot of new homes these days have rounded bull-nosed edges on their walls’ outside corners. These might be up to date and pleasing to the eye, but they are bugger-bears to trim wallpaper on.

For one thing, the paper is hanging over the edge, so you can’t see what you are doing or where you are trimming. Next, it’s impossible to get a correctly-positioned or straight cut – especially since you can’t see where you are cutting.

A solution to that is to use a laser level to draw a straight line that you can trim against. The problem with that is that it’s highly unlikely that the wall edge will be perfectly plumb. So if you follow a plumb laser line placed against a wall edge that is slightly off-plumb … Well, you see where we are heading.

Wallcovering Installers Association to the rescue … one of my colleagues in a distant city invented this ingenious device. It is made from the very same “bead” molding that drywall guys use when installing these walls.

I cut one to a size that’s comfortable to fit my hand. Then I cut out notches at various places. Once the gizmo is placed straddling the rounded corner, I choose the notch that corresponds to the position that I want my cut to hit.

The inventor puts a trimming knife in the notch, and then trims along the edge of the wallpaper. But I find that maneuver to be awkward. And I fear that either the gizmo or my blade will slip, resulting in a crooked cut.

So I stick a pencil point into the notch and use that to draw a line along where the cut should be made. Then I remove the guide tool and then use a straightege and razor blade to trim along my pencil line. I have the flexibility to tweak things if anything should get off-kilter.

Bringing COLOR to Wine Niche Cubby Holes

February 25, 2020


Here’s a fun idea! Let’s pull color from the adjacent accent wall and put it in an unexpected place – on the backs of wine cubby holes in the home’s bar area.

This was more tricky to do than it would appear. Those triangular cubbies are NOT all exactly the same size. And the measurements from the front of the cubbies are not the same as at the back wall. So I couldn’t just make a template and cut 16 pieces all the same size and shape.

In addition, you have to take into account the expansion factor when wallpaper gets wet with paste. In further addition, it didn’t work to trim off excess paper as one normally would, because it was virtually impossible to get a hand and razor blade all the way to the back wall inside those tiny cubicles – and even more impossible to be able to maneuver the blade to make any trim cuts.

These 16 triangles took me about three hours, but, when it was all said and done – I got ‘er done!

And in a few days, the homeowner will stuff those cubby holes full of wine bottles …. Sigh …

Faces in Unexpected Places

January 26, 2020

How’s this for something no one else is gonna have?! The homeowner of this Galleria-area home in Houston is a big-personality gal, recently divorced, and she wants her new home to reflect who she is. Everything in the house that could have glitter, shimmer, mirror, or glitz does – including the dog bed and the kitchen backsplash.

This wallpaper in the adjoining powder room (with a huge crystal chandelier!) fits right in with that new life.

This is a sort of mural, composed of rectangular panels about 3′ wide x 2′ high. It was bought on-line, and came with no information or installation instructions.

It was a paper substrate, and was meant to be butted at the seams, as opposed to overlapped, as many mural panels are. After experimenting, I found that a powdered wheat or cellulose paste hydrated the paper best, and that a little of my traditional wallpaper paste added to the mix helped hold the paper tightly to the wall and minimize shrinkage as the panels dried.

The paper curled badly when it was wet with the paste (see third photo), which made it difficult to paste it, book it, and then get it to the wall.

It also expanded a lot when it got wet – almost an inch in each direction. Uneven expansion meant that it developed large wrinkles and warps that were difficult to remove.

In addition, the walls were bowed and uneven in the corners, the walls were not plumb, the ceiling was not level, the crown molding was at different heights on different walls, and we didn’t have a lot of paper to play with.

It took a lot of work to keep the pattern matched as well as possible in the corners, to keep the pattern running at the right point below the crown molding, to eliminate the aforementioned wrinkles, to butt the panels, to minimize white showing at the seams due to the panels drying and shrinking, the paper getting saturated and tearing or dragging when I tried to trim it, and lots more challenges.

All this could have been easier if the manufacturer had chosen a better substrate to print on. But – well, hey, we’ve got a digital printer, so let’s just dig up some paper stock, print cool designs on it, and market it as wallpaper.

Actually, this material worked out pretty well in this small powder room. But I would not want to paper a large, wide wall with it.

Most companies who make murals like this, on this type of thin paper substrate, allow for the edges to be overlapped about 3/8″ at each seam. This allows the installer to make adjustments for wonky walls and ceilings, and it eliminates the gapping at seams as paper dries and shrinks. It does, however, leave a ridge along each seam where the edges are overlapped.

Overall, though, I was not unhappy with this product in this room. And working out all the challenges was mighty fun. I was glad to have a nice, quiet, empty house to do all this in. All in all, this medium-sized powder room that I had prepped the weekend before, took me nine hours to hang.

Unpainted Baseboards – Not Ready for Wallpaper

January 2, 2020


This room is supposedly ‘ready for wallpaper.’ Yet the baseboards have not been painted.

If the painters come to paint the baseboards, I already anticipate what will happen.

I have skim-floated the walls, and will sand them when I come to finish the job later. So some of my smoothing compound has slopped onto the baseboard. No big deal. When I put up the paper and trim at the bottom I will need to wipe paste off the woodwork – and at that time, I will wipe off any residual smoothing compound.

But if the painters come and slap paint on now, I know they will not inspect the baseboards before they paint, and will put their paint right on top of the globs of smoothing compound. Thereverafter, there will be small but unsightly blobs and bumps embedded in the paint.

They will also let their brush run beyond the molding, and onto my smoothing compound. This will make it impossible for me to sand the compound. It will also create a glossy surface that the wallpaper paste will not stick to.

If they use painter’s tape to ‘protect’ the wallpaper, when they remove the tape, they will either take the inked layer along with it, or they will pull the paper itself completely away from the wall.

Again I rant: Have ALL the other work done before the wallpaper goes up.

A Little Dazzle in the Dining Room

May 16, 2019


This is the same glam-heavy home as in yesterday’s post. Here we are, looking at an accent wall in the dining room, covered with a shimmery, metallic grasscloth superimposed with a silver metallic vertical stacked circle geometric design. The photos don’t do this paper justice – there is a lot of sparkle and sheen!

A mirrored buffet console will be placed in the center of this wall. Boy, will that set off the look!

I was pretty pleased with this product. It had virtually none of the paneling and shading and color variation problems that are common with most grasscloth wallpapers. It turned both vertical and horizontal outside corners well, and was easier to trim than most grasscloths.

I was NOT as pleased, however, with the support brackets and valance for the sliding barn door. Because they hold a whole lot of weight (just like big-screen TV’s) and are mounted deep into the wall studs, it’s often best to not remove or jack around with them. From the photo, you can’t see how complicated it is, but let’s just say that it took me TWO HOURS to hang just the one 3′ wide strip of paper over the door that went above, below, and around the various brackets, screws, and various pieces of metal that comprise the mounting mechanism. In the end, though, we got ‘er done, and it looks great.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, in the Anna French line, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…

April 10, 2019


This wallpaper is by Anderson Prints. It was more than a little difficult to work with. I hung it in two different colorways, and both were equally cantankerous.

~ Top photo – see the streak of darker color at the tip of my scissors? This defect ruined a 9′ strip of paper.

~ Second photo – look at the left edge of the toilet, from that corner up to the ceiling … see the darker color? Every strip showed a little darker color at the edges. Close up, you don’t notice it, but from a distance, there is a vertical line that catches your eye. This is on every seam, in both colorways. So, from a distance, you see this faint but noticeable vertical line every 27″, all across the room.

~ The substrate sucks up paste, enough so that after pasting and booking for a few minutes, by the time I got it to the wall, there was virtually no paste left to hold it up, and absolutely no paste on the edges. I tried several tricks – rolling paste under the seams, spritzing the edges with water, dipping the edges of the booked strips into water to keep them hydrated, unbooking and repasting, unbooking and spraying the back lightly with water to reactivate the paste, and finally, the best option was to paste the back as normal, but use a squirt bottle to add a bit of water, and then cut the booking time a little.

~ No matter which pasting technique was used, particularly on the tan colorway, in some areas where the ink crossed the seam, the paper wanted to curl back and leave a tiny gap.

~ The pattern matched in most areas, but dropped a little in some of the motifs, resulting in a mis-match. Then it would match up perfectly again as you went further down the wall.

~ The paper, particularly the silver colorway, twisted and warped horribly. I would butt a strip up against the previous strip, matching the pattern, then go to smooth the rest of the strip against the wall – only to find HUGE puckers and warps. OK, you can tease away minor wrinkles. But when you have several warped areas that are each protruding 1/2″ away from the wall, it’s really difficult to get that strip of paper to lie flat against the wall. I spent at least 20 minutes working and easing the puckers out of one strip and getting the paper to lie flat. To be honest, I’m astonished that I was able to do that. This particular wall had only three 7′ high strips … Because the warping increases as you hang subsequent strips, if I had had to hang many strips in a row, and taller strips, such as on a bedroom accent wall, I don’t think it could have been done without making some relief cuts or double cuts and resulting in some serious pattern mis-matching.

~ The tan colorway was reasonably durable, plus minor creases would pretty much disappear when the paste dried and the paper pulled flat to the wall. But the silver colorway was very delicate, and was prone to creasing at the drop of a hat. Don’t fold it, don’t wet-trim it, unbooking a pasted strip was very likely to cause a crease, and ditto when pressing the paper into a corner to trim … and working around that toilet was the prime area to put stress on the paper and cause more creases. This toilet was butted up against the wall, so it was impossible to slip the paper behind it, so it was necessary to cut the paper to fit around it. That’s hard enough to do with an electrical outlet that protrudes a half an inch from the wall, but veeery difficult when you have something as three-dimensional as a toilet. I must have spent the better part of an hour working the paper around and behind and under that toilet. Note to Self: Next time, make the homeowner pull the toilet out of the room!

~ The silver colorway had a metallic sheen, and every way the light hit it made the pattern look different. It was literally impossible to see the pattern match in some instances, particularly when turning a corner. What looked like a tan line on the right wall would literally show up as a silver line on the left wall. Look at all the horizontal and vertical lines in this design… It was virtually impossible to tell if I had the right line matching up with its proper partner. Trimming on the table (such as when I needed to split a strip) was equally difficult. I was just about impossible to tell design from shadow, and to know if I was cutting straight along the pattern.

~ Metal left marks on the paper. So I had to be very careful while using my straightedge, as well as other tools such as scissors, trim guide, etc.

~ The paper wouldn’t slide around on the wall as most do, so it was difficult to get each strip perfectly positioned.

~ It ate razor blades like crazy. The paper somehow dulled blades faster than even heavy vinyls.

~ When I cut a strip off the bolt, it wanted to stay rolled up. This made it very difficult to trim or paste the strip. So I had to roll all the strips backwards, until the paper relaxed and got rid of the “memory” to curl.

Most of these issues have to do with the substrate used by the manufacturer, but toss in the metallic ink and whatever engineer screwed up the pattern match.

Don’t Let Painters Tape the Wallpaper

December 13, 2018

Digital Image

Digital Image


The painters were to paint the ceiling, and, to keep paint off the wallpaper, they put blue painter’s tape along the area they did not want to get paint on.

O.K. – that trick works with painted walls and woodwork. But it does not work with wallpaper.

Because, when the painters removed the tape, they also pulled off the top layer of wallpaper.

See the damage they did all along the top of the walls in this kitchen in the first photo, and then look at the close-up of the torn paper in the second photo.

A really good painter won’t need to use tape to protect surfaces. A really good painter will have a good quality angled trim / sash brush, and will be able to “cut a neat line” with it, spreading paint only where he wants it, and keeping it off other surfaces.

Subtle Pattern, Shimmer Brighten a Dining Rooom

June 17, 2018


This dining room in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston was originally painted grey, and the walls pretty much blended in with the paneling and window moldings. Boring. The wife wanted something a little more dramatic – but the husband wasn’t going for it. So they found this wonderful compromise.

The pattern is so subtle that it can’t be seen in the two distant shots. But you can see how the lighter color is brightening up the room, and how the contrast between the walls and trim show off the pretty moldings in the room.

It’s a pearlized silver ink on a white ground in a triangular geometric pattern. This pattern is meant to be a background, rather than stand on its own. There will be some large artwork, or perhaps a showy mirror hung on the walls, which will become the main focus.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Interestingly, this house is an exact clone of a home a few blocks away, where I hung wallpaper last year – yes, in the dining room!

Finishing Touches to the Stacks of Blocks (Previous Post)

May 25, 2018


Because walls are never plumb, and because ceiling lines are never perfectly level, and because wallpaper can twist and distort once it gets wet with paste, with a pattern like in the previous post, it’s not advisable to place a key element, such as the gold horizontal line, at the top of the wall. It will begin to run crooked – either up into the ceiling, or fall down below it. So for this install, I raised the pattern so that the horizontal gold line would be cut off. This made that top block about 3/4″ shorter than the blocks below it. Not a biggie – at 10′ up, no one is going to notice this small discrepancy.

I did want to make the blocks look more homogenous, though. I thought that having a gold frame around all sides of the top blocks would make them blend in better with the other blocks all around the room.

So I used my straightedge to trim some narrow strips of the gold double-stripe out of left over wallpaper scrapes. Then I appliqu├ęd them on top of the paper, just at the ceiling line.