Posts Tagged ‘ultra prime’

Crumbly / Unstable Wall Issues

June 2, 2021
Starting to strip wallpaper. You see the top, inked layer, the tan backing layer, and the white skim-floated wall beneath.
Wall surfaces delaminating at seams
Gardz, a penetrating sealer that binds surfaces together and dries hard.
My first idea was to just Gardz the lifted areas. The sealer is newly applied and still wet in this photo.
Gardz’ing the whole wall created a more stable surface. This doesn’t look much different from the photo above. But in actuality, the the Gardz has sealed and “locked down” the surface, as well as soaked into the material and sealed the inner layers as well.
Applying a skim-coat to even out the surface levels.
Once this skim-coat is dry, it will be sanded smooth.

The installer of the original paper did a good job of skim-floating the wall and creating a smooth surface. But he didn’t apply a sealer or primer. Thus, when I used water to strip off the old wallpaper, the moisture soaked into his skim-coat (drywall joint compound, a plaster-like substance, which we also refer to as “mud”). Some of the skim-coat came away from the wall,,, particularly in areas of stress, such as where the wallpaper seams had lain.

In fact, long (years) before I began stripping the wallpaper, many of the seams had started to pull away from the wall, taking inner layers of the wall along with them. This is because wallpaper shrinks as it dries, and that creates tension on the wall. If the wall surface is unstable, these layers can delaminate (come apart), and the result is an open seam with chunks of wall material stuck to it.

This can also happen over time, as temperature and humidity changes can cause the wallpaper and / or wall surface to absorb and then let go of moisture. All this puts stress on those wallpaper seams and on the layers inside the wall.

Besides these seam areas that let go, I had one wall where the entire surface came apart in a mottled effect.

Another factor is that the original skim-coat had been applied over a glossy paint. It’s hard for anything to stick to gloss. The guy probably should have rolled on a “bonding primer” before applying his skim-coat.

Of course, all that increases the time and materials needed, and ups the cost to the homeowner.

Gardz is a wonderful product that is designed to soak into surfaces and “bind them together.” It dries hard and is pretty water-resistant. It was originally intended to “lock down” torn drywall. But workmen quickly discovered that it would fix a whole lot of other surfaces – such as my delaminating skim-coated walls.

At first I thought I would just Gardz (we use it as a noun and as a verb!) the areas that were lifting. Once it dried, I intended to skim-float over these areas, sand smooth, and then prime the entire room with my usual wallpaper primer – Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

But I realized that, even after I wiped down the walls with a damp sponge, they were still covered with powder or grit. This was powder from the layer of skim-coat, as well as residue from wallpaper paste. Neither my primer not wallpaper will stick securely to powder.

So I decided to roll Gardz on to all the walls, ceiling to floor.

Fifth photo – I was really pleased with the way the Gardz soaked in and drew all those layers together. There was no more power on the surface, and the inner layers of the walls were all pulled together.

To even over these vacant areas, and to create a pristine new surface, I skim-floated over the entire wall surface – all walls, floor to ceiling. See last photo.

Once that is dry, tomorrow morning, I will sand everything smooth. Next I’ll apply my 977 primer.

Then walls will be stable, and the surface will be ready to take on the new wallpaper.

Worrisome Stains on Wall

April 13, 2021
Drip stains on wall to left of countertop, from splashes and from spray cleaners.
Stain drips show up under my primer.
Dot-shaped stains show up under my wallpaper primer.
These stains were not visible until my primer went onto the wall.
My favorite stain blocker.

Some stains, like the top photo, I saw immediately. Others, like the next three photos, didn’t show up until I had applied my wallpaper primer. The primer adheres to the wall paint differently from how it adheres to the splashed substances.

I’m always worried when I see stains on a wall, because certain substances will bleed through wallpaper (and paint, too). Things like tar, tobacco, water, oil, ink, wax (crayon, candles), smoke, rust, food splatters.

In this bathroom, the splatters and runs are probably from toiletries and cleaning agents. But still, I worry that they may work their way through the new paper. It may not happen immediately, but eventually you may see marks, or maybe just ghostly shadows.

There are water-based stain blockers, but I prefer the old-fashioned shellac-based (BIN by Zinsser) or, my all-time favorite, oil-based KILZ Original.

Wallpaper won’t stick to modern oil-based products. So I had to apply the KILZ, let it dry, and then roll on my wallpaper primer (I like Romans Pro 977 Ultra Prime) and let that dry, before the paper could go up.

Now no worries about mysterious shapes and shadows showing up under the new wallpaper.

Starting Today – More Tomorrow

March 24, 2021

2-3 hours spent covering surfaces and baseboards, and then priming the walls in this large downstairs bathroom in a newish home in the Houston Heights. The primer is my favorite Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977, lightly tinted blue to make it easier to see where I have applied it.

I always think it’s cool to see the pattern as it goes up against the previously-bare walls.

More photos tomorrow!

The wallpaper is by Divine Savages.

A Very Pretty Heights House Renovation

February 10, 2021
New drywall. I draped strips of protective dropcloth paper over the top of the wainscoting, to protect from splatters from my primer.
Notice the “raised ink” and the hand-painted look.

Recent updates reflect respect for the original feel of this 1920 bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. There will be a claw-foot tub, as well as a very cool authentic vintage pedestal sink that the homeowner found on the side of the road, discarded from another older bungalow just a few blocks away. !!

Vintage-look beaded board paneling was added, along with hexagonal floor tile, both in a warm, muddy green that compliments the greens in the wallpaper.

The homeowner has a stunningly beautiful garden, and sought a wallpaper pattern that would bring the feel of nature indoors.

The top photo shows the walls as the contractor left them, in what we call a “Level 4” condition. This is optimal for wallpaper installation. No texture for me to get rid of, and no paint or PVA-based primers under the wallpaper. All I had to do was roll on my wallpaper-specific primer, Romans Pro 977, Ultra Prime.

The wallpaper is called Garden Party and is by York, in the Waverly collection (yes, reviving classic designs from the 1990’s!), and in their SureStrip line – one of my favorite products. It is pre-pasted, goes up nicely, hugs tight and thin to the wall, and performs wonderfully over the years, even under (mildly) humid conditions – such as a bathroom in an old house with poor ventilation.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and whole-house remodels, and mostly in the Heights / Garden Oaks neighborhoods.

New Label Material Allows Drips

December 26, 2020

Here is my favorite wallpaper primer – Ultra Prime Pro 977 by Romans.

It appears the composition of their paper label has changed. Previously, the label was absorbent, so any drips that formed would soak into the paper.

But now, even though the label looks the same, it’s made of a new material that allows drips to run all the way down the side of the can. Even if I wipe them away, they reform and continue to slide down the can.

This means there is great potential for these drips to reach my dropcloths (see photo). The dropcloths will protect the floor, no problem. But once they get a certain amount of drips and splotches, even though they may still be serviceable, they don’t look good in a client’s home, so have to be discarded.

Besides ruining the dropcloths, there is also the chance that an errant drip of primer might find its way to the homeowner’s floor, carpet, countertop, or furniture.

I have written to the Romans company, and I hope they listen to my feedback and go back to their former type of label on their cans.

UPDATE: I chatted with the company rep today, and she confirms that they have, indeed, changed to a new manufacturer, and that company does use a plasticized coating on the label. That explains why the primer slides rather than soaks in.

Sometimes (Rarely) You Have To Hang Over Old Wallpaper

September 18, 2020


It’s always best, for many, many reasons, to remove old existing wallpaper before hanging new. Especially if that old paper is vinyl or non-woven or thick / textured.

But sometimes, it just isn’t feasible. Here, the original installer didn’t use a primer, so his wallpaper bonded to the bare Sheetrock and would not come off without taking the top layer of drywall along with it. I worked at it for an hour, but only removed about 10 square feet – and much of that included damaged drywall.

So, time to try another tact. This method only works with paper (not vinyl or anything thick or textured), and the original paper has to be tightly secured to the wall. First, I removed any loose areas – usually over joints in the drywall that have been coated with joint compound (it’s porous and sucks the paste off of the wallpaper).

Then I took joint compound and skim-floated over any uneven areas or any sections of torn drywall, and all wallpaper seams. Seams may feel flat, but once new wallpaper is on top of them, the vertical lines of seams will telegraph through and be visible.

Once that was dry, I sanded smooth and “feathered out the edges,” then wiped off all dust with a damp sponge. See top photo.

Then I rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer, Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977, and made sure to cut in around the edges with a trim brush. This primer sticks to just about anything, including the light acrylic protective coating on most paper wallpapers, such as what I had today. It doesn’t penetrate the joint compound and cause the torn drywall to stretch or wrinkle. Nor will it allow moisture from the new wallpaper paste to penetrate through. And it’s lightly pigmented, so it works well under thin wallpapers.

Plus, it is formulated to receive and hold wallpaper, makes installation easier in many aspects, resists tension on the wall as wallpaper dries and shrinks, and eases removal of the wallpaper in the future.

Once the primer is dry, the room will be ready for its new wallpaper.

Serena & Lily Wallpaper Too Translucent

September 8, 2020


I guess that Serena & Lily is starting to print on non-woven substrates. I am not a fan (see yesterday’s post).

Besides being very stiff and uncooperative, this material is very translucent. As you see in the photo, the leaves of the second layer of wallpaper are clearly visible through the top layer.

This means that it’s likely that color imperfections on the wall will show through. New Sheetrock, for example, with its grey drywall interspersed with bands of white joint compound. Or hanging this product on a dark painted wall will result in a “dirty” cast underneath the paper, and will not yield the bright, crisp white look that S&L is known for.

As a primer, I like Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, which is a white-pigmented primer, and an ideal choice under thin, see-through material like this. But it is not a heavily-pigmented primer, so there is still the worry that the finished walls will not look as bright as they should.

I do hope that S&L will improve this product. There are tons of nice non-wovens available, so let’s hope they do some research and come up with a better substrate.

Mirror Tar Bleeds Through Wallpaper – Prevention

June 18, 2020



The owner of this newish home in the Woodland Heights (Houston) had her handyman remove the powder room mirror and its surrounding built-in wooden frame. Mirrors are often adhered to the wall with mastic, a tar-like substance. When the mirror comes off, some of the tar residue invariably remains.

In the top photo, you can see where removing the mirror took the blobs of mastic along with it, as well as round sections of the drywall. But there are small smudges of tar still remaining on the wall.

The problem is that tar (among a lot of other substances) will bleed through wallpaper (as well as paint, and a lot of other materials).

There are stain blockers like my beloved KILZ Original Oil Based, BIN shellac based, or others, that are designed to block these stains. But I don’t trust them. For water, rust, blood, wood sap, etc., yes. But for oil-based substances like tar, I want more assurance. The best way to prevent bleed-through is not to cover the stain, but to remove it.

So I take a Stanley knife and cut into the drywall and then peel up the top layer of drywall, taking along the offending tar residue.

So now the dangerous tar is gone. But you’re left with torn drywall. This is bad for several reasons. For one thing, you have an uneven surface that will look bad under the new wallpaper (or paint). And since the top, protective layer of drywall is gone, any moisture (such as from wallpaper paste or from latex paint) will penetrate into the torn paper layer – which will swell and cause bubbling.

All of which looks pretty bad under wallpaper or paint.

So I used the product Gardz to seal the torn drywall. It is formulated to soak into the paper; then it dries hard and acts as a sealer and moisture-blocker. It won’t block stains, but it will prevent moisture from penetrating the paper and causing bubbling.

Once that was dry, I skim-floated over the entire area with joint compound. It looks rough in the photo, but once it’s dry, I’ll sand it smooth. Then I’ll give it another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. See last photo. Once that is dry, I’ll cover it with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 wallpaper primer, when I prime the other walls in this powder room.

All of these various products do take a while to dry, especially the joint compound as thick as I applied it. So I went to this job site a few days before the install date, to do the initial prep, so it would have plenty of time to dry before I come back for the final prep and wallpaper hang.

Stripping Wallpaper

January 30, 2020


Eeewww – I’m stripping wallpaper off the walls of a bathroom. What a mess!

(Don’t worry – there are dropcloths under there.)

For a few years now, I’ve been using Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer, and this was my first chance to remove paper that has been hung on it. I must say – I was very pleased.

The paper came off nicely enough, and the primer stayed stuck to the wall. It did not rewet or bubble. There was NO damage to the walls, and no need for repairs, nor any need to reprime.

One key to this is to wet-strip the paper. You cannot come in and just try to yank the paper off the wall. First of all, that won’t work. But if it does, it is likely that the paper will take some of the primer and even some of the wall or drywall along with it.

The proper, more gentle way to strip wallpaper is …

You’ve gotta understand that wallpaper is made of at least two layers – the top, inked layer, and the underlying substrate layer.

I use plain water and a 3″ stiff putty knife to strip paper. The water will re-wet the paste on the back of the paper, and once it is wet and softened, the paper will (usually) peel away from the wall easily and in large pieces.

The thing is, water will not penetrate the top, inked layer of wallpaper. That’s because the manufacturer has applied a coating to protect the paper from stains, and it is resistant to water.

So I take that putty knife and use it to get under the top layer of wallpaper – withOUT gouging into the substrate or into the wall. Then I peel off that top layer of paper. I have found that wetting the surface with a sponge helps strengthen the fibers, so that larger chunks of paper come off. You will also find that there is a “nap” to the material, and it will pull off in larger chunks once you figure out if it wants to be pulled from top to bottom and / or from left to right – or vise versa.

It will separate and leave the backing / substrate stuck to the wall.

Once that top layer is off, I use a sponge and a bucket of hot water to wet the backing. Over and over as needed. The backing is porous and the water will soak through, allowing the paste to reactivate. Once that paste gets wet enough, it will let you pull the backing away from the wall.

You will have the most success with this if the walls were properly prepped and primed before the original wallpaper went up.

That’s it in a nutshell. Time consuming, but sort of methodic and meditative. And it will leave your walls in good condition to receive the new wallpaper.

Primer Choices

December 12, 2019


Today I was priming the backs of some bar cabinets. My preferred primer, Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, which usually sticks to anything, was beading up and sweating off of the Formica surface. Even if it dried, it would leave beads and bumps under the wallpaper. I had to take a paper towel and wipe it all off.

Luckily, I had some Zinsser 123 in my van. This stuff sticks to just about anything. It rolled on with no problems.

It’s OK to hang wallpaper over 123, but I prefer to hang on a product made specifically for wallpaper. So, once the 123 was dry (it dries quickly, and for good measure, I set a fan blowing on it), I rolled on a coat of Ultra Prime.

This is all very timely, because I was looking at that can of 123 just the other day, which was bought exactly a year ago and which I virtually never use, and was about to toss it out. I’m glad I kept it.