Posts Tagged ‘true to plumb’

Playful World Map With Fun Animals for Baby’s Nursery

August 8, 2017

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Couples love this mural for their new baby – I’m betting it’s all over HOUZZ and Pintrest, and that’s where web surfers are finding it. This is the third time I’ve hung it, each time in a different color. The seams were much better this time, having been cut straight so there were not gaps of overlaps, and lying down better. (Search to read my previous posts.)

The mural came from Portugal, and was custom-sized to fit this accent wall in the nursery. The homeowner did the measuring, and he did a good job (as opposed to a prior install – read previous post), and the manufacturer also added a little around all the edges, to allow for trimming at the side walls, floor, and ceiling.

Now, if the homeowner had called me before he ordered that mural, I would have had him get it a little larger. The manufacturer’s guidelines allowed for a scant 1″ at the ceiling and baseboard. In a perfect world, this would be fine.

But in this room (in a beautifully renovated 1940 bungalow in the Houston Heights), the walls were not plumb, and the ceiling was not level. If I had hung the mural true-to-plumb, it would have started tracking off-kilter along the ceiling and floor lines, quickly eating up that 1″ allowance, and quite possibly ending up running out of paper at the top of the wall or at the baseboard. The same thing could happen at the corners, too. (That did happen on one of my other installs.)

Before I pasted a piece, I did a lot of measuring and plotting, to be sure I could position the mural so it would cover the entire height and width of the wall space. Much too complicated to explain. But, in a nutshell, what I did was to hang the mural off-plumb, but parallel with the un-level ceiling.

I started with the center panel, to minimize any tracking on either the left or right sides. I also made sure that the strips falling on either side of that center piece would be wide enough to reach the two wall corners, even if they hung crooked.

My strategy worked, and I ended up trimming off 1 1/4″ from the top, and 3/4″ from the bottom, on each strip. This meant that the mural was running parallel with the ceiling and floor, which was more important than being perfectly plumb. (Note: Usually you’re trimming off 2″ at both top and bottom, so today we were really cutting it close.)

Another complicating factor to this install was that, while most wallpaper widths are 20.5″, 27″, or 36,” these three mural panels were each 4′ wide. I’m 5’3″ tall, and my arm stretch is probably not a full 4,’ so handling, positioning, manipulating the pasted 9′ long strips was very difficult.

Additionally, it was important to “work clean,” because the surface is textured and it’s not easy to remove any paste that might get on the front of the wallpaper.

There’s more: My work table is 33″ wide, so pasting and booking the 48″ wide x 9′ long strips was a challenge. And the pasted strips, which I booked in accordion folds, were heavy and unwieldy.

All that mental plotting and physical gymnastics were worth it, though, because the finished mural looked fantastic, and the mom-and-dad-to-be loved it.

I have a pretty long lead time (4 months), but this couple called at the moment when another job had just postponed due to construction delays, so I had an open day and could get them done right away. That’s really good, because the baby’s coming, and the parents want to get the room furnished and decorated and ready.

I’m glad I was able to help them. 🙂

Keeping Stripes Straight in a Corner

April 19, 2015

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One of the challenges of hanging wallpaper is keeping the pattern straight/plumb/level/all that jazz – especially factoring in Houston’s gumbo soil and shifting foundations. With a striped pattern, even a little variance is noticeable. Often, it’s not so important that the stripes hang true to plumb, but that they hang perpendicular to the corners and moldings in the room.

In the first photo, the corner is a little off-plumb (which is common). If the pattern had ended with the brown field in the corner, all would have been fine. But since the dark line fell in the corner, some of the “balls” in the pattern fell on the right of the corner, and some fell on the left, and that was obvious to the eye.

To disguise this, I cut my next strip and included the entire dark stripe along its left edge. Then I pasted this edge over the stripe in the corner (second photo), tweeking it a little, making sure that the stripes were on the left of the corner and the “balls” were on the right, and nothing was cut off.

Having the stripes absolutely plumb in the corner was not as important as how the stripes fell against the door molding to the right. Here, it had to be straight and parallel (but not necessarily plumb). You can see how I am using a ruler to be sure the length of the stripe is equidistant from the top of the door molding to the bottom.

Whew! Mission accomplished!

But all is not done … We still have the rest of the room to hang. And, as you can see, right above this door molding, the stripe looks like it is going off-plumb. Actually, it is an optical illusion, caused by the un-level-ness of the crown molding. It may be the trim carpenter’s fault, or the framer’s fault, or the Sheetrocker’s, or just blame it on the shifting gumbo soil under Houston. But, still, your eye sees this.

So, instead of butting my next strip of wallpaper against the piece in the photo, which would have committed each strip to being equally off-plumb, I cut the left edge of the strip along the striped design, and then overlapped the stripe of the new strip over the stripe on the existing strip, but, again, tweeking it just a little to make it look perpendicular to the crown molding.

This trick is blessedly easy to do with stripes, not just on headers (the short strips over doors and windows) but also, when necessary, and with a little more finesse, on full-length drops.

To reiterate: Keeping strips parallel with moldings or other key visual elements in a room, is more important than having them hang true to plumb.

It just sometimes takes a little work to reach that goal.