Posts Tagged ‘ultra prime’

Whoops! Previous Installer Hung Wallpaper Over Wallpaper

May 24, 2023
Previous installer broke just about all the rules, but the paper has held up wonderfully for nearly 25 years.

I’m going to hang new wallpaper in this hall bathroom, and first must remove the existing paper. But – surprise! When I removed the outlet cover, I discovered that the previous guy hung this floral paper on top of the original paper. Ouch!

Here’s a better view. You can clearly see that other paper underneath there.

An interesting side note … the original paper looks a whole lot like the pattern I had in my powder room for many years. I loved it.

Anyway, both these papers are solid vinyl material, which is, essentially, plastic , and has a slick surface. Wallpaper paste won’t adhere well to this shiny surface. Even without taking the time to strip off the original paper, a primer should have been applied over that vinyl. Yet, as you see, this paper has hung on well for two decades.

He used regular paste, too – not something formulated to stick to a slick surface (which we call VOV or vinyl over vinyl ). Again – amazing that it stuck. And very glad that he didn’t use VOV – be cause that stuff is near impossible to get off!

Another problem with hanging wallpaper over old paper is that the seams of the bottom paper will show through the new paper.

1990’s paperhanger didn’t prime the wall , either.

To remove this wallpaper, I stripped off the top vinyl layer of both layers of wallpaper. That left the paper backing of the original wallpaper still adhered to the wall. Here I’ve soaked that backing with water , using a sponge and bucket of warm water, applied over and over again, until it soaked in and reactivated the paste. 30 year old paste!

Here I am gently scraping it off the drywall . As you can see, no primer was applied to the drywall. Gee, folks! A primer formulated for use under wallpaper should always be applied, to any surface, before hanging new paper. I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime . Besides providing an appropriate surface for the wallpaper paste to bite into , easing installation by allowing slip , and withstanding the tension caused when wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks and tugs at the wall (which could cause seams to come loose ), a primer will seal the drywall and ease removal of the wallpaper when you redecorate down the road.

Without a primer, it’s common for wallpapers to “bond” to uncoated drywall , which makes removal nearly impossible. Like I said, I got really lucky with this one, because the original paper did come off relatively easily and with no damage to the wall surface .

The home is in Houston .

A Really Nice Faux Grasscloth , Suitable for Bathrooms

May 19, 2023
The homeowner wanted the look of grasscloth, but didn’t want the stains that can happen when splashed with water or toiletries.  Another displeasing feature of real grasscloth is the very visible seams , and the likelihood of color differences between panels (called paneling or shading ).  So she opted for this textured vinyl version.  She loves the look.  It is a handsome room!
Original 1990’s paper has been stripped off, Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer has been applied, and we’re now ready for paper!
This material has a pattern that matches from strip to strip, so you don’t get the eye-jarring look of broken fibers at the seams , like with real grasscloth or other natural materials. 
Here’s a close-up, detailing the texture.  About ¼ from the right is a seam – it’s barely noticeable . 
Opposite wall.  For balance, I plotted that the seams fall at the same point on each wall – 18” from the mirror frame
I’m getting ready to hang a strip that will knock against that mirror frame.  To keep paste from slopping onto the molding , I’ve applied this thin, flexible blue plastic tape along the edge.  This will keep paste off the molding while I trim that strip to fit against the molding.  Once that trimming is done, I’ll remove the blue tape and then smooth the wallpaper back into place.
Since this is a dark wallpaper, I worry about the light colored primer peeking out at the seams.  This can happen because sometimes the factory hasn’t trimmed the edges perfectly straight , or the wall may have uneven areas or bows , or some papers shrink a tad when they dry .  So here I’ve plotted where the seams will fall and have striped the area with diluted paint .
I use bottles of craft paint from the hobby store (good old Texas Art Supply !), and apply with a scrap of sponge .  And my trusty Gatorade bottle cap with water, to dip the sponge into to dilute the paint … you don’t want full strength paint under there.  Wallpaper wants to adhere to a primer made for wallpaper – not paint designed to color Christmas ornaments. 
Another and probably more important trick is to color the edges of the wallpaper.  This navy blue wallpaper was printed on a white stock / substrate , and it’s highly likely that the edges of that substrate will show at the seams .  So, again back to Texas Art Supply (or a good hobby store) for chalk or pastel , which I run lightly along the edge from the back so as not to get any color onto the surface of the wallpaper .  That little dark nub you see is my chalk… the stuff breaks easily.  It’s important that you not get oil pastels or use any kind of ink marker, as these will leech into the wallpaper and stain it, leaving you with a nasty dark line down the seam . 
I really liked this product.  It was flexible enough to wrap around a rounded / bull-nosed corner , but stiff enough to not warp .  It’s on a non-woven substrate , which contains polyester , which makes it less likely to shrink .  This stuff is also designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to your wall when you redecorate .  Another advantage of non-wovens is that they can be pasted and hung immediately, with no booking or wait time.  Although I generally prefer to paste the paper , you also have the option to paste the wall with this material.
The non-woven backing won’t be sucking up humidity like the paper backings used years ago (or in modern lower-end products), so greatly reduced chance of seams coming loose if your teenager spends an hour steaming up the bathroom . 
The vinyl surface means that it will be resistant to stains from water , toothpaste , and little (and big!) hands . 
In addition, I liked that the material has a realistic grasscloth look, and a realistic texture , as well as a pattern that could be matched, which helps disguise the seams.  I didn’t match the pattern in the corners, though, to avoid having the horizontal bands running around every wall of the room at the same height.  Looks better to break it up a bit.  Also gave me more flexibility in placement of seams.   
The brand is A Street Prints and is in their Scott Living line  (as in the Scott Brothers of HGTV fame). 
The home is in the Champions Forest area of Houston .   
installer paperhanger

Stripping ’00’s Vinyl Wallpaper Off Of ’90’s Wallpaper Off Of Un-Primed Drywall

May 18, 2023
Considering that this previous installer broke just about all the rules of hanging wallpaper , his job looks good, seams are tight , and it’s held up for 20 years .  This is one of the typical materials we were hanging back then, a pre-pasted , paper-backed , solid-vinyl wallcovering .  Not my favorite material at all (often curling at seams , especially in bathrooms and/or when installed without proper wall prep ).  Thankfully, they’re not very prevalent today, outside of the lower-end market.  
Anyway, these are usually fairly easy to strip off the wall .  All you need is water , a putty knife , and patience .
But here’s a wrench in the works – the previous installer hung this vinyl paper over existing wallpaper .  A big no-no!  You can see the original stuff peeking out around the light switch.    
That original wallpaper was installed by the builder in the ‘90’s , and almost always you can bet it’s been hung directly on un-primed / un-sealed Sheetrock .  This can be very difficult to get off, without tearing up the surface of the drywall.  If that original paper is paper instead of vinyl ( plastic ), sometimes it’s OK to leave it on the wall , prep it correctly, and hang the new wallpaper over it.
So that was my original plan.  Strip off the vinyl and its paper backing, and then prep the bottom layer and hang new paper over it.  But, as you can see if you look closely at the edges of the bottom wallpaper, that fuzzy manilla paper backing is telling us that it, too, is a solid vinyl material.  No matter how  you might prep it, we don’t want this thick , slick , plastic stuff under our new wallpaper.
Back to the topic of stripping wallpaper .   Done properly , it’s not a horror show.  All you need is water and patience .  The theory is to reactivate the old paste with water , and it will let go and the paper will come off the wall. 
But water won’t penetrate the vinyl / plastic layer (and it won’t penetrate the thin acrylic coating on other types of wallpaper, either ).  So, the first thing you need to do  is remove that top layer. 
These solid vinyl materials are pretty cooperative.  Simply get under the vinyl with a 3” stiff putty knife and then use your hands to pull it away from its paper backing .  It usually separates and comes off in fairly large pieces.  The same process works for thinner paper wallpapers , too, but it helps a lot if you sponge the surface first with water , as this seems to strengthen the fibers somehow, and you’ll get that top layer off in larger chunks (instead of 1” bits). Sometimes works better pulling from bottom to top, or from right to left…. experiment and see what works best.
Next use a sponge and a bucket of warm water …
… to wet that paper backing .  You’ll want to go over each area several times , to be sure it’s thoroughly saturated .  The idea is to get it wet enough that it will reactivate the wallpaper paste underneath .  Be sure to cover and protect your floor and vanity countertop .
Once that paste has softened , you should be able to use your 3” stiff putty knife to gently scrape the paper backing off the underlying surface .  If you’re really lucky , it will release easily and cleanly and all you’ll have to do is pull with your hands.
Here you can see the original layer of wallpaper underneath.  Since this turned out to be another paper-backed solid vinyl material, it also had to be removed , following the same process outlined above. 
Once that top decorative vinyl layer was removed , the paper backing was left stuck to the wall.  I wetted it , let it soak until the paste was soft, and then gently scraped it off the wall.  Doing so revealed that – what did I tell you?!  – yes, the builder’s wallpaper hanger didn’t prime or seal the wall before hanging the paper.  This is usually disasterous, because  the wallpaper will often actually bond with the drywall surface and be nearly impossible to get off.  So  I was really surprised that I was able to scrape this off with absolute no damage to the drywall .  No peeling surface , no gouges , not even much paste residue (I did sponge off what I could). 
Once all that water evaporated and the Sheetrock dried , I did some minor prep touch-ups , sanded lightly , and then applied my wallpaper primer . 
  I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .

Wallpaper – Poor Adhesion Issue Due to Dusty Walls

May 17, 2023
The existing wallpaper in this sink / vanity room of a hall bathroom is unique, because instead of coming in rolls, it came in pieces of torn paper, each about the size of a paper plate, that were placed on the wall in random ways, with the pieces overlapping each other.  This was a fairly popular wallpaper option back in the ‘90’s. 
I’m to hang new wallpaper in this room, so my first step was to remove the torn paper.  
This started out seeming easy, because the paper was literally falling away from the wall – but only around the top, and only the top 5” or so.  The lower areas were stuck nice and tight to the wall. What’s going on?
The original installer hung his wallpaper directly on new drywall / Sheetrock , with no primer and no other prep.  Turns out that, under this wallpaper, there are actually several different types of wall surfaces related to the new drywall.  
The main part of drywall is grey in color .  But here you see a band of white running along the top of the wall, under the ceiling, about 5” wide.   This is where the joint compound was applied , to smooth over joints , drywall tape , and nail heads . 
But the curious thing is that the wallpaper is adhering to the drywall – but not to this white band of joint compound below the ceiling line.
The reason?  After the drywall guys sanded this area smooth, no one wiped off the dust left over from sanding .  Thus, there was  a layer of dust on the wall, between the wall and the wallpaper.  Well, the wallpaper paste wants to bite into a solid surface, and it can’t get a grip on dust.  That’s why you see this top portion pulling away from the wall. 
I have a lot more prep to do in this room.  But before moving forward, I took a sponge and bucket of water and wiped the dust off that top portion of wall.  Now I’m assured that any smoothing compound or primer or wallcovering or other that is applied, will stick . 
For reference, here’s a shot of the un-primed drywall being uncovered as I strip off wallpaper in another area.  This picture shows the sections of drywall , joint compound , and also paint (from overspraying the woodwork ).  Wallpaper adheres to all these different surfaces in different ways.  Another reason to always use a wallpaper primer – it will adhere to just about any surface, and will create a uniform coating for the wallpaper to adhere to. 
I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

Re-Doing Accent Wall in Powder Room

May 7, 2023
The homeowner’s contractor’s guy hung this accent wall in an under the stairs powder room . He did a good enough job. But there were some bubbles / wrinkles . Depending on where you’re standing in the room, and where light is coming from, the bubbles were somewhat noticeable , even with this busy patterned wallpaper . It bugged the homeowner , and she wanted it to look better.
Dry-stripping the wallpaper resulted in this. The paper came off in an intact sheet, as the mfgr promises. But it took some of the primer along with it.
Let’s examine this. It’s a good thing, at least, that the previous installer used a primer, and hopefully one made for use under wallpaper. But, to be honest, a wallpaper primer is designed to let go of the wallpaper when you start to strip it off the wall. So maybe this is just paint, or a paint primer .
Second, I have a suspicion that, after skim-floating and then sanding the wall to smooth it, dust was left on the wall , and then trapped between the wall and the primer. That’s a likely reason why the primer / paint pulled away from the wall so easily. Nothing sticks to dust! So it’s imperative that, after vacuuming , you take a damp sponge – rinsed frequently – and wipe down the entire wall, and then let dry , before priming. The primer also has to dry completely, before wallpaper goes up.
I switched to wet-stripping the remaining wallpaper, and had less damage . But was still left with a wall with lots of irregular and un-smooth areas . So to prepare it for wallpaper , I first sealed loose or dusty areas with GARDZ , which is a penetrating and hard-drying sealer for torn drywall or other unstable surfaces . It’s pretty cool stuff.
After that dried, I applied a very thin skim coat of joint compound (which we call mud ). Once that was dry, I sanded smooth , vacuumed , wiped off residual dust with a damp sponge, let dry, and then primed with Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 and let dry.
Here’s what it looked like when I was done with the prep .
And here it is with the new paper up.
I switched to wet-stripping the remaining wallpaper, and had less damage . But was still left with a wall with lots of irregular and un-smooth areas . So to prepare it for wallpaper , I first sealed loose or dusty areas with GARDZ , which is a penetrating and hard-drying sealer for torn drywall or other unstable surfaces . It’s pretty cool stuff.
After that dried, I applied a very thin skim coat of joint compound (which we call mud ). Once that was dry, I sanded smooth , vacuumed , wiped off residual dust with a damp sponge, let dry, and then primed with Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 and let dry.
This single wall was a bit of a challenge, for many reasons. For one thing, we really didn’t have enough paper. Luckily, the previous guy had kept the left over scraps, and I did need to use some of those. It also was OK to mis-match the pattern when necessary, as the design is very forgiving. The rounded bull-nosed edges around and over the window are a PITA. This pattern was forgiving in that respect, too, as well as the layout of the area over the window. There were also some printing defects , which will be addressed in a future blog post .
Oh – and I, also, got bubbles ! In fact, I hung this same brand a few weeks ago and got bubbles then, too. Some I got rid of by making a tiny cut with a razor blade and then pushing the air out with my plastic smoother . But, usually, with these pre-pasted materials, once they get good and dry, small bubbles dry flat and disappear. Not sure why the other guy had problems with this. But I will say that the bubbles were larger than typically show up with these papers.
Close up.
The pattern is called Brownstoner , and is by Flavor Paper . I am not a fan of their vinyl products, and definitely not their peel & stick . But I do like their EZ Papes , which is a pre-pasted material . Not crazy about the bubbles, though.
The home is in the Eastwood neighborhood of Houston .
installer

Primer Drying Inconsistently

April 28, 2023
Here I’ve rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer , Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime . Since I’m going over flat water-based paint, I expected my primer to dry smoothly and quickly.
So I was surprised when I looked back 30 minutes later and saw that some areas were wet and had actually thickened up a bit and pushed away from the wall.
Here is looks like it’s actually sweating . This is most likely due to what is on the surface below – including below that surface. In other words, I think somewhere along the line, the wall was painted with semi-gloss paint. The gloss finish won’t allow moisture to pass through it, so the moisture stays on the surface longer. Possibly also, something in one or more of the base surfaces holds on to moisture , so that it is not allowed to dry and evaporate into the air . These principles would hold true even if another coat paint , even matt finish paint, was applied on top.
I ended up bringing a fan in from my van and aiming some moving air onto that wall to speed dry time .

Phillip Jeffries Flight in Blue Heron in Heights Dining Room

April 21, 2023
Before shot of dining room in a beautifully restored and enlarged 1925 bungalow in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.
Just below dead center of photo, under the stairs – my helper couldn’t be less interested!
Swooping heron , and powerful , roiling, turbulent clouds .
This is a manila hemp product , which is similar to grasscloth , and has a texture d surface . As with most natural materials , the seams are always a bit visible .
The walls in this home were smooth , so no call for skim-floating or sanding … Just a primer was needed . My favorite primer for wallpaper is Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .
This wallpaper comes in panels , and is custom made to order . All of the panels are rolled up into one long bolt , and you have to separate them, as you see here. AND keep them in the correct order / sequence ,
I was lucky that this house had a lot of open floor space , where I could roll out the panels to verify pattern match, panel sequence , and get accurate measurements.
Note that, like many high-end brands, this wallpaper comes with an unprinted selvedge edge , that has to be trimmed off by hand . Once I get the edges trimmed off , the birds you see in the photo above will match perfectly .
I trim against this Big Blue straightedge , and hold a single edge razor blade in my hand .
Sorry, I don’t know how to flip this photo. WordPress used to be easy to work … but some years back they came up with this ” New Editor ” which is, to be honest, a nightmare, and costs me a lot of time every evening.
End of rant. Here is a mock-up provided by the manufacturer , that shows the mural as a six- panel set , including pattern layout and dimensions of each panel .
Here are my drawings from when I first consult ed with the homeowner and we plotted out how the paper was to be install ed. Phillip Jeffries is expensive stuff!
Normally, with a mural , a full-height panel is required for even the 6″ high areas over the door ways. See photo below. This means that you’re paying for a lot – a LOT – of wallpaper that gets cut off and thrown into the trash.
But, since the panels are about 2′ taller than the walls , we figured that the part cut off the bottom of each strip could be used for the areas over the doorways (see next photo) , as well as above and below the windows (see last photo).
This will take no small amount of math and engineering , and the couple will have to live with some paneling / shading , and color variations between strips . But that’s typical of grasscloth type products , anyway. Accepting a few color differences will save this couple a few – thousand – dollars. Yes, I told you that PJ was expensive stuff!
And I’m up for the challenge !
Here’s the one area I’ve done so far, using scraps discarded from the bottoms to piece in over the top of the entryway . This area is only 6″ high , so color variations won’t be very noticeable . Still, it really turned out well.
Getting a similarly pleasing look on this wall , with heights over and under the windows being much higher than 6″ , will be tomorrow’s challenge. Stay tuned!

Bird and Blossom Chinoiserie in Adjoining Entry Niche

April 13, 2023
Tnis is a niche over some built-in storage , just to the left of the accent wall I blogged about yesterday. Here it’s been primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer , and I’ve striped dark paint under where the seams of this black paper will fall.
Done. An oval mirror will be hung in the center of this space.
The pattern is in the Ronald Redding line by York , and is a non-woven material that is easy to install , and that will strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to your wall when you redecorate .
The home is in the Meyerland area of Houston .

Ensuring Smoothing Compound Will Adhere to Glossy Surface

March 15, 2023
This wall has a texture on it that will look bad under the new wallpaper, and it will also interfere with adhesion.  So the wall needs to be skim-coated / skim-floated to smooth it.  But the current paint on the wall is glossy, as you can see on the right side of the photo.  The smoothing compound is sticky stuff, but it (like many coatings) cannot be trusted to adhere to a shiny surface.  I say it’s like the toy Colorforms … the new material will kinda stick – but not really stick .
But if the surface is dull , or matt finish , the new coating will be able to grab ahold and adhere .
To make this wall surface dull , I’m rolling on a primer that will dry with a flat / matt finish . 
There are various primers out there that will adhere to a glossy surface and then dry flat.  But I’m using my trusty wallpaper primer , Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .  Yes, this is a wallpaper primer .  But it also checks all the boxes … it sticks to just about anything , it dries quickly, especially with a fan blowing on it, and it dries with a matt finish that wallpaper paste – and smoothing compound  – will adhere to.  At $70 or more per gallon , yes, this stuff is expensive .  But it works , it’s low odor ,  it’s already on my truck , and it saves having to carry around an assortment of of primers and materials.  
Here’s my smoothing compound.  Sheetrock brand Plus 3 joint compound used for working with drywall .  Note that quick-dry formulas , nor spackling compound , are not suitable and won’t hold up under wallpaper .  You can search here for my other posts to see more about the smoothing process for textured walls . 

Dark Cornflower Pattern in Small Powder Room

March 12, 2023
Powder room before.  The original paper dates to the ‘90’s , and was a popular theme at that time.  Fast-forward 30 years and add a young family with active kiddies = time for an update .  For various reasons, the existing wallpaper could not be removed .  So I’m prepping and will hang the new paper over it.  Here I’ve skim-floated over the seams, so there will be no ridges showing under the new paper .  Next I’ll seal with a stain blocker (see previous post) and follow that with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer .
Primed and ready to for wallpaper .
Such a pretty pattern , full of movement and cheer .  The homeowner wanted something dramatic , hence the dark color .  Dark works quite nicely in a small room like a powder room . 
The homeowner also wanted the ceiling papered .
Close up .
From a distance .  A large , sculpted mirror with a heavy white frame will be hung over the sink.  This will contrast against the dark paper , and really stand out .  I like to think that the wallpaper is the star attraction , but I really think the mirror will take center stage
The pattern is Cornflower and is by Rifle Paper , made by York , one of my favorite brands .  This is a non-woven / paste the wall material .  It’s relatively easy to work with , and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece without damage to your walls when it’s time to redecorate .   This was purchased from Dorota at the Sherwin-Williams on University in the Rice Village .  Excellent help in tracking down your perfect paper , and discounted prices , too.  Wed – Sat .  Call before heading over (713) 529-6515 . 
The home of this install is in the West University / West U area of Houston .