Posts Tagged ‘trim’

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.

Saving Paper, Right and Left

August 16, 2022
Here I’m hanging wallpaper , moving from left to right. The wallpaper is 21″ wide . The width between my last strip on the right and the wall is 15″.
That means that I will have to cut off 6″ width of paper – which usually ends up on the trash pile. Here I am using a straightedge to cut that off.
Since that strip of wallpaper is 9′ long, we’re losing 4.5 square feet just in this one small area.
(Another reason to always buy a little extra wallpaper … you can’t use every square foot !)
Note that I’ve actually cut my strip to 15.5″, so I’ll have a little excess for trimming at that right wall.
Back to that 6″ (actually 5.5″) wide strip on the trash pile. I never throw anything away until the job is finished. Because I just might be able to use a piece somewhere. As in this case …
After the right side of the wall was finished, I started moving to the left. When I came to the left corner, my last strip needed to be 1.5″ wide.
Instead of cutting a whole new 9′ long strip off the roll of wallpaper, I reached for that scrap pile and pulled out that narrow 5.5″ piece that had been trimmed off the opposite edge of that strip on the other side of the wall.
This was the correct pattern match to meet up with the strip on the left side of the wall in the photo above.
Here I am trimming a 2″ strip (1.5″ + .5″ for trimming allowance) off the appropriate edge of that scrap piece. Note: Be certain you are trimming from the correct side of that scrap! Or the pattern won’t match and you’ll have to cut a fresh 9′ length after all. 😦
Here the wall is finished. For the two corners, only one strip was used, due to being able to cut both a right and a left piece out of only one strip of wallpaper.
Now I’m going to get into a little more technical stuff, that usually only a paper hanger will understand. The pattern above is what we call a straight match . This means every strip is the same. And that a particular design motif (like the pink flower) hits the top of the wall at the same position on every strip. My right-left trick above only worked because this was a straight pattern match.
But … you can make it work with a drop pattern match, too. A drop match means that every other strip is the same. On a drop match, the pink flower will be at the top of the wall on one strip, but drop down a few inches (half the length of the pattern repeat ) on the second strip. By the third strip, it will be back up at the top of the wall.
This also leads to using A and B strips. Confusing – but we wallpaper installers get it.
Anyway, my trick explained above works for straight matches, with all A strips. But if your right corner of the wall ends in an A strip, and the left corner needs a B strip, your scrap from the A strip won’t match the pattern repeat needed on the left side of the wall. So you’re gonna have to cut a whole new 9′ long strip, just to cover that 1.5″ gap at the left corner.
But – WAIT! – there is a trick to outsmart this. If you plan ahead, and count your strips, and plot the layout, and engineer your project, you can avoid needing that 9′ long strip.
When you’re cutting off from the bolt that last A strip for the right corner, just cut it a little longer. Cut it long enough to include the B pattern match. Do a little math and then do some visual checking to be sure you’ve got it right. Then cut your strip.
When you get to trimming off the 15.5″ wide right edge, it will be a few inches longer than the previous strips. So you’ll throw away a tiny bit more when you trim at the bottom of the wall than if it were a straight match.
Correspondingly, the 5.5″ wide scrap left over, from which you will cut the 2″ wide strip needed for the left corner, will be a few inches longer at the top of the wall than needed.
So by juggling the A & B pattern match / repeat , you’ve saved a whole 9′ long strip. This is good, because you always want a bit left over, in case of need for repairs down the road.
This fun pattern is by Missoni Home , which is made by York . It’s a textured embossed vinyl on a non-woven , paste the wall backing and was a very good paper.
Houston

Wrong Electrical Boxes for These Sconces

August 13, 2022
This is the mounting bracket for a sconce / light fixture . The fixture itself is exactly the same size as the bracket.
So it’s unfortunate that the electrician used an electrical box that is too large . As you can see, the blue box shows on both the left and right sides of the light fixture.
(I will also add that I think this light fixture is narrower than most – I suspect it was made overseas where boxes and codes are different from here.)
In addition, the blue box juts out from the wall and will create a bump under the wallpaper , plus prevent the paper from adhering tightly to the wall . The jaggedly cut drywall will leave impressions under the paper, too.
Here the plastic electrical box is recessed better into the wall. But there are still gaps on the left and right sides of the bracket.
To get the wallpaper around the brackets without gaps showing , I removed the brackets, and then brought the wallpaper in to cover the electrical junction boxes by about 1.” (no photo)
If the electrician needs more space for his wires , he can always trim the wallpaper back a little.
In the instance of the box in the top photo, there will still be wallpaper that can’t sit tight to the drywall , but once the sconce is replaced you really won’t notice.
I also had the option of leaving the mounting brackets in place and then placing the wallpaper over the metal plates. But first of all, I think this is against building Codes. And second, if the sconces are changed out later, or if someone needs to access the electrical connections, removing the mounting plates would most surely tear the wallpaper in the process.
So, best to have the wallpaper behind the plates, rather than pasted on top of them.

Floaty Palm Mural in Master Bedroom

August 12, 2022
Before. Primed and ready for wallpaper .
Done. This image could be positioned so that the palm leaves push up from the floor , or, as in the photo , they hang down from the ceiling. This is a popular look right now, and very fitting to an accent / headboard wall in a bedroom .
Done. The homeowner bought one mural from Russia before she and I consulted , so it would be difficult to get another. In addition, the mural images don’t continue from right to left, so you can’t place two murals next to each other and have palm leaves continue unbroken .
The manufacturer’s picture on-line is misleading, too, because it’s been Photoshopped to look like it fills the whole wall with tropical fronds .
As you can see, the actual mural is a lot narrower than the wall, plus shorter by about a foot and a half.
The mural is placed slightly off-center on the wall , because the homeowner wanted it centered on the bed , which sits a little to the right of center .
Plans are still incubating, but she’ll probably have wooden panels or trim placed on the wall flanking the mural as well as beneath it, to give a finished look.
All in all, I think the room looks dreamy !
Close-up .
The material is vinyl and has a woven fabric – like texture .
The mural came in four panels, each about 3′ wide by about 8.5′ high .
Here I am laying them out so I can get measurements and to be sure they go up in the right sequence.
There were a lot of these little black specks of a chalk – like substance on the back , and even some on one area of the front .
Did I tell you this came from Russia ?!
Sorry, no brand name, but this was thin and very flexible and pretty nice to work with .
This is a popular design concept , and many companies are making similar patterns . Try RebelWalls.com , which is super quality and really good customer service, plus tons of designs and images to cover your walls .

Finished Wall Re-Do – See Previous Post

July 26, 2022
Here’s the wall after I stripped, sealed, skim-floated, sanded, and primed it.
Finished. The birds in the pattern balanced nicely with between the ceiling line and the wainscoting.
I had more success with this install than the previous guy, due to proper prep, and also the material used this time was the user-friendly non-woven , rather than the old fashioned pulp type wallpaper the other guy had to wrestle with.
Strawberry Thief is a very popular pattern right now, and comes in many colorways. Do a Search here to see my other installations of this design.
There were some issues at the top of the wainscoting where the painters had used tape to mask off areas, long with caulk, an it left a rather large (1/8″) unpainted area between the wood molding and the wall. I filled this in with joint compound and primed it, and wallpaper would have adhered just fine. But that would have left a white gap between the wallpaper and the green molding.
I rummaged in my truck for the best matching paint I could come up with, and painted over the white edge. This would have left a bit of a thin brown line between the wallpaper and the green molding. It would have looked OK, but I had an idea to get rid of the gap altogether.
If I had used my regular thin straightedge (the red one), it would have let me trim the bottom edge of the wallpaper nice and close to the wall. But that would have left the aforementioned brown line showing.
So I used the metal plate you see at the upper right of the photo as a trim guide. It’s thicker than my red straightedge, and so gives a fat cut that leaves more wallpaper and less of that brown line.
In fact, the left edge, as you can see, is rolled, and that creates an even thicker edge to trim against, leaving even more wallpaper at the bottom of the cut. See the photo just above, to see how the wallpaper now completely covers the brown line.
These metal plates have a lot of other uses. They are made and sold by a fellow member of the Wallcovering Installers Association . She makes a lot of other cool tools, too. If you are interested, send me an email. wallpaperlady@att.net
The wallpaper design is by William Morris , a famed artist of the Arts & Crafts / Art Nouveau periods . The brand is Morris & Co.
This label is EXACTLY the same as the pulp material the original installer worked with – save for that one word non-woven . Be sure you get the non-woven version, which is also called paste the wall .
The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston .

Pulp Wallpapers – Difficult to Handle

January 30, 2022

I mentioned in my post of January 27, 2022 that this wallpaper is what we call a classic or traditional British pulp material. All wood pulp and a little ink. No synthetic fibers, no protective coating.

When dry, the stuff is quite stiff and brittle, and when wet it can turn to mush. It dries fast, so sometimes can ” freeze ” and stick together when you unbook it – which can actually tear the paper apart.

This makes it difficult to work with it when going around intricate moldings, or into corners, or any time you need to bend or unfold it.

It’s also tricky to cut. It dulls blades quickly. And even a brand new razor blade can get bogged down or snagged. This can easily tear the paper. Another thing that happens is that you get these little ” buggers ” where the top part of the paper trims off, but little bits of the substrate stay behind.

The photo above shows this happening at a trim cut along a baseboard. You have to gently pull the strip away from the wall, being careful not to crease it or tear it. Then use your scissors to snip off these little bits. It’s a real PITA.

The Four Hour Fireplace Wall

December 1, 2021

Why? Getting the pattern centered, working out the logistics of the width of the wallpaper and the width of the wall (left me with 2″ strips on either side), the narrow strips between the firebox and the door molding, and the decorative moldings to trim around, some with as little as 1/2″ clearance.

Foliage Update for Guest Bedroom

November 10, 2021
This small floral print was fashionable when it went up, 30+ years ago. But now it’s dated, and also some stains and dirt are showing. Time for an update!
Old paper has been stripped off, the walls have been primed with my favorite Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime, and ready for wallpaper.
Done! An accent of grasscloth was used on one wall. I love the way the greens match, and everything coordinates with the paneling / wainscoting.
Usually I place the pattern so a prominent design motif sits at the ceiling line. But in a room with wainscoting or chair rail, that horizontal mid point in the wall is more visible. So I plotted to have the bottom of the dark green, most visible flower land just above the top of the chair rail. It looks like it’s growing from the wood! The pattern also just happened to land nicely at the ceiling line, with no major design elements getting cut in half.
The material has woven fabric look to it – but that’s just the printing. It’s actually a very flat paper. It was very thin, and reminded me of papers from decades ago. It hugs the wall very tightly. I liked it a lot.
Exclusive Wallcoverings
The grasscloth accent wall. All four strips were reverse-hung, and hung in the sequence they came off the bolt. Yet you see a color difference (called paneling or shading ) between some strips. This is quite typical of natural products like grasscloth and sisal.
Close up. Bad photo … the color is actually an attractive green. The material is more of a thin balsa wood about 1/2″ wide, rather than traditional grass or reeds. I feared it would be difficult to cut through, but it turned out to work very nicely. But it would not have been good in a room with corners or intricate details to trim around.

The home is in League City, a southern suburb of Houston.

Nice Trim Solution for Bull-Nosed Corners

July 7, 2021
To the left is the wall to be papered. The white area to the right is the rounded edge of the wall corner. The brown strip is the wood trim.
The white on the left is the rounded corner of the wall. The wood trim makes a nice, straight edge against which to trim the wallpaper. It also eliminates the possibility of the paper curling away from the rounded edge.

These bull-nosed or rounded corners have been popular in new homes for more than 10 years now. They may look trendy, but they are the dickens to trim wallpaper along.

You can’t see where you’re trying to trim, it’s hard to trim straight, some thick or stiff papers don’t want to adhere to rounded edges, a textured wall can’t be smoothed exactly to where the trimming will take place – just for starters.

Today’s client had a good idea; to have a strip of wooden trim added along both the sides and the top of this door opening. It made my day much easier, and it ensures a neat trim line and removes worries of the paper pulling loose.

I’m going to keep the photo, in hopes of encouraging other homeowners to try this.

Balancing Strips of Grasscloth to Fit Wall

November 23, 2020

With grasscloth or other products that mimic it, where the seams and individual panels will be visible and obvious, I like to “balance” the width of strips and the placement of seams, so they fit onto the wall in a uniform and pleasing way.

Often this means I have to trim the strips of wallpaper vertically, so they will all be the same width.

In this photo, you see a bit of that process.