Posts Tagged ‘unplumb’

Girl’s Nursery – Last Job Before CoronaVirus Shut Down

March 25, 2020


Most work in the Houston area shutters at midnight. I was delighted that I was able to squeeze in this one accent wall, for a baby girl who is to arrive soon.

Top pic shows the room in its original all gray state. The walls were textured, so I troweled on a layer of skim-coat to smooth them. In the second picture you see my three fans (plus the ceiling fan and the home’s A/C system cranking away), working to dry the smoothing compound.

I killed a whole Texas Highways magazine while it was drying. Once dry, I sanded the wall smooth, vacuumed up dust, wiped dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and primed.

This wallpaper was a non-woven material, and could be hung via the paste-the-wall method. I usually prefer to past the paper, for many reasons, but in the case of a simple accent wall like this (and because it was easier than lugging my 7′ long work table and trestles up the curved staircase), pasting the wall was a better option.

Once the strips are cut, I roll them up backwards and secure with an elastic hairband. See photo. This helps get rid of the “memory” of the paper, so it does not want to stay tightly curled up. It also keeps the front of the paper away from the paste on the wall, which helps keep everything clean during installation.

The walls in this room (in the whole house, the husband tells me) are pretty darned off-plumb. I used a few tricks and kept the pattern straight along the ceiling line. But, since I started by hanging my strips true to plumb, by the time the paper reached the corners and the adjoining un-plumb walls, there was no way to avoid the pattern being uneven from ceiling to floor. Kinda hard to see in the photo, but there is about 3/4″ difference in width from top to bottom.

Luckily, once you stand back, that crookedness is not all that noticeable.

Although the paper is mildly pink, the muted color and more sophisticated geometric design don’t scream “baby’s room.” This is a look that will grow with the little girl into her teen years.

This wallpaper pattern is by Engblad & Co., a Scandinavian company, 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.

The home is in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Notice Anything? – Wonky Wallpaper

January 9, 2020


When I first looked at this picture in Better Homes & Gardens magazine’s December 2019 issue, I wondered why the installer had not positioned the circle motifs so they landed at the top of the wall.

Then I looked closer, and realized that he probably had – at a starting point in another part of the room. If you look at the crown molding line, you notice that the pattern is moving up the wall from left to right.

Often this is because of unplumb walls and/or unlevel ceiliing lines. But I looked closer and saw that the pattern is also crooked as it runs down the side of the window. Again, this could be because the whole house – walls, ceiling, doors, and windows – has shifted out of plumb (foundation issues – if you live in Houston, you know all about that!).

If the installer hung his paper true to plumb, it will always look crooked in house that is not plumb.

Sometimes, there are tricks you can do to make a pattern look straight, even if the house is wonky. Almost always, they involve pattern mis-matches in corners or at seams.

So it’s a toss-up as to which is the lesser of the two evils – pattern getting chopped off as it travels along the ceiling and moldings, or pattern mis-matches at the seams.

What I probably would have done in this case would be to position a half-circle at the top of the wall. This way, if the pattern starts tracking up or down, you don’t readily notice if the half-circle is a little taller or shorter, as compared to the top of a circle getting sliced off.

Measuring for a Mural – Add 2″ Extra to EACH Side

August 3, 2019


One common mistake that homeowners make when ordering custom-sized murals is that they will meticulously measure their wall to the 1/2 inch, and order the mural that size.

What they are supposed to do is to add 2″ of “bleed” to each side – a total of 4″ to each dimension.

This extra paper allows for trimming at the ceiling and baseboard (see photo), and it allows some wiggle room to accommodate crooked or unplumb walls and unlevel floors and ceilings.

Turbulent Intertwined Arboreals

March 16, 2019


I love this pattern. It’s swirly and ominous and woodsy and fun all at the same time. I hung it in the black and white colorway not long ago. It’s very similar to “Daintree” by Thibaut – As I like to say, for every cool pattern, there is someone making a knock-off.

This one is by York, one of my favorite brands, and is in their Dwell Studios line. It is a non-woven material, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method or the paste-the-paper method (I used the latter). Non-woven does not expand, and can be hung immediately after pasting (as opposed to having to sit booked for a few minutes). I colored the edges of the paper with chalk before pasting, so the white backing would not show at the seams.

This went in the powder room of the same MidCentury Modern house as my three previous posts. The walls were equally unplumb, and the ceiling off-level, so it’s good that the pattern was forgiving.

David Hicks’s “Hexagon” in a Master Bathroom – Note the Freestanding Bathtub

March 15, 2019


David Hicks’s “Hexagon” pattern by Cole & Son is a well-loved design. I’ve hung it a number of times. Here it is in a large master bathroom in a very Mid-Century Modern home in the Piney Point (Villages) neighborhood of Houston.

Just this bathtub alcove, along with two small mirror walls over the his-and-hers vanities, received wallpaper.

Just the tub alcove by itself took me over six hours to hang (six single rolls). The complicating issues were unplumb walls, unlevel ceiling and soffit, a geometric pattern that the eye wants to see marching evenly across the walls, thick stiff paper that is hard to manipulate, ink that wants to crack and flake off the paper, complicated room lay-out, and … squeezing behind that tub to put wallpaper on the walls around it!

There are some spots where the pattern match is off a bit, and some areas where the crookedness of the walls is very evident (meaning that the pattern goes off-kilter). But overall, the room turned out great.

The design is called “Hexagon,” and is by David Hicks, designer for Cole & Son, a British company who has been manufacturing wallpaper for way more than a hundred years.

It’s a non-woven material that can be hung by the paste-the-wall method, but I chose to paste the paper, which made it more pliable, and which made it easier to get paste where it needed to be when going around the window areas and behind the tub.

Animal Blocks in a Baby’s Room

December 25, 2018


A new baby will soon be welcomed into the home of this young couple in the Houston Heights neighborhood called Norhill (or Woodland Heights). Mom wanted something gender-neutral, and found this colorful and adorable shapes-and-animals-in-blocks print on line at Lulie Wallace.

This went on just one accent wall of the room, but it is tame enough that it would work OK if put on all four walls.

I skim-floated the walls first, to smooth out the light texture on them, then followed with a primer coat of Gardz.

This wallpaper is a bit atypical, because it is pre-pasted, which means it comes with a thin layer of paste on the back that you activate with water (instead of having to roll paste on the back of every strip). I do like the pre-pasted papers. I do roll a light coat of paste on the wall, to augment the manufacturer’s pre-paste.

Another dissimilarity is that the paper comes packaged in individual strips, rather than traditional rolls with several strips rolled up together.

Even more unusual is that the strips were meant to be overlapped, instead of butted together. Overlapping the seams creates a vertical ridge under the paper which is somewhat visible. You also have to have an adhesive that will stick to the acrylic coating on top of the paper.

There are some good aspects to overlapping seams. For one, this makes for a very strong bond. For another, it takes stress of drying and shrinking paper off the seam and distributes it across that 3/4″ of overlapped area. In this 80-year-old house, with it’s many layers of paint with a history of not sticking to each other, this is important, because it greatly reduces the chances of the tension on the seams causing the paint layers to come apart, which would cause gapping at the seams. See previous post.

Another positive feature about overlapping the seams, and how that worked with this particular pattern, is that, in this 1930 home, with its unlevel ceiling and floor and its greatly-out-of-plumb walls, I was able to manipulate the strips of wallpaper so that they looked straight and plumb – even though they were actually hung quite off-plumb.

This wallpaper pattern is by Lulie Wallace, and was bought on line.

Cozy Accent Wall in a Master Bedroom in the Houston Heights

September 23, 2018


This small, two-color Moroccan lantern style wallpaper pattern is snugging up an accent wall in a master bedroom of an expanded and renovated home in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. Because the design is small and tight, it works as a background, rather than making a statement of its own. Once the new headboard arrives, the bed and bedding will take center stage.

The four windows, along with an unlevel ceiling line and unplumb windows and west wall, combined to create an installation challenge. It’s too complicated for me to explain, but I like to say, “It’s easy for you to look at this wall, but it was darned tricky for me to hang it!”

It was a somewhat thick non-woven material, and was intended to be hung using the paste-the-wall method – but I find the product much easier to work with when the paper itself is pasted. The pattern match was spot-on, and the seams were invisible.

The interior designer for this project was Stacie Cokinos. She does a lot of work with clients who are remodeling older homes, or who are building from the ground up. It’s great to have a designer on board from the beginning, to help choose fixtures, moldings, colors, flooring, appliances, etc. Stacie is one of my favorite designers to work for, too, because she is sharp, knowledgeable, organized, and on time. And her interiors are gorgeous, yet well suited for busy modern families.

Narrow Strip Coming Out of a Corner

August 28, 2018


See that narrow 3/8″ wide strip of wallpaper sitting on my table? That is to be my first piece coming out of this corner.

When you hang wallpaper around an inside corner, you don’t wrap it around the turn, but, rather, split the piece vertically so it wraps 1/16″ around the corner. Then the strip that you cut off is hung on the next wall, butted up into the corner. This avoids twists and wrinkles and bubbled areas caused by walls and corners that are not perfectly straight or plumb.

But when the piece that is to be the first strip on the new wall is this narrow, it presents problems, because it’s very likely to not hang straight, and you can’t hang the next strip of wallpaper against a crooked edge because you will get gaps and overlaps.

Adding to the dilemma is that this narrow strip had already been pasted. I had finished for the day, and intended to hang the window wall to the left the next day. The strip was already pasted, but I couldn’t hang it because of the aforementioned issues, plus, you are supposed to hang a whole wall at a time, because all of the strips have to “meld” together – you can’t hang a wet piece against a dry piece.

My solution was to wash the paste off this narrow strip, and hang it up to dry overnight. I just had to hope that the water would not cause it to expand too much, or warp, or other.

The next day, I pasted this narrow 3/8″ wide strip, along with the strip that would be placed next to it. Then I hung them together, as if they were all one piece of wallpaper. That way, I could work them into the corner snugly, and keep the seam between them nice and tight.

When coming out of corners, it’s common for the wallpaper to go off-plumb, because the corner might be out of wack. So you can (barely) see the red line of my laser level on the left edge of the strip of wallpaper, ensuring that the new strip falls plumb.

Dining in the Meadow

August 26, 2018


Such a beautiful pattern really transformed this dining room in the Highland Village area of Houston.

The homeowner started out wanting the whole dining room papered, but the material (by Peter Fasano, called “Meadow”) is crazy expensive. So she toyed with the idea of papering just the fireplace wall. Then she decided to paper that fireplace wall, and also the mirror-image fireplace wall in the living room directly across the hallway.

But as we approached the install date, she decided that she wouldn’t be completely happy unless she had what she really wanted, which was her original vision for the room – all four walls.

Now she’s crazy happy. And her husband is happy, too – he likes the wallpapered look so much that he is ready to do another room. 🙂

From my point of view, this is one of the nicest papers I’ve ever worked with. It had to be hand-trimmed to remove the unprinted selvedge, and the trim marks were spot-on. The paper took the adhesive well, and it was easy to smooth into place. It would stretch when needed, and wrinkles of excess paper could be eliminated, which helped a lot when accommodating for unplumb walls. There was minimal shrinking as it dried. It is thin and hugs the wall tightly, and was easy to turn corners.

The design is a soft black line drawing on a slightly off-white pearlized background.

Fudging the Kill Point to Fool the Eye

May 26, 2018


My two previous posts dealt with a wallpaper pattern of stacked blocks in a room with crooked, unplumb walls and an unlevel ceiling. Besides keeping the pattern level, and having all the horizontal lines match in all four corners (note my pencil guide-line near the top of the wall in the first photo), it was important to keep the blocks all the same size. Or at least make it look like they are all the same size.

A kill point is the last corner or join in a room – where the last strip meets up with the first strip. This almost always ends in a pattern mis-match. So you try to hide it in an un-obvious corner. This room, however, had no hidden corners, and no good place for the kill point.

So I decided to put it over the door. It took some work to keep those gold lines at the same height all the way around the room. The pencil line you see near the top of the first photo helped with that.

But I also wanted to keep the boxes all about the same width. The manufacturer had set the width at 21.” But as the design worked its way around the room, the final space (over the door) was going to end up at 24.5″ wide. I could make that last block 24.5″ wide, if I spliced in a bit of scrap paper. But that would throw off the pattern match a bit, and those 3.5 extra inches of width would be likely to catch the eye.

So I decided to “shrink” that last panel over the door instead, but by only about 1,” which would be less detectable to the eye.

To “shrink” the last panel to 20,” I would have to add some inches elsewhere. I decided to add it in the corners.

When you hang wallpaper around inside corners, you cut the paper in the corner, allowing 1/16″ or 1/8″ to wrap around the corner. Then the new strip of paper overlaps that thin wrapped area. Obviously, a small amount of the wallpaper pattern / design is lost in the process.

If I have plenty of paper, I can cut a new strip in such a way that the pattern will match pretty much perfectly. With a design like these blocks, I would measure what the width of each block was supposed to be (21″), and then cut the new piece so its width, when added with the width of the existing half-block, would work out to 21.”

I also have the option of making the new half of the block a little wider or narrower. I measured carefully around the room, and figured that if I “grew” the blocks in each of the four corners by about 1,” by the time the paper worked its way around to that final strip over the door, that 3.5″ gap would be gone, and I’d have an excess of about 3/4.” A difference in width of 3/4″ is much less noticeable than a strip that is overly wide by 3.5,” so I decided to go with that.

I spliced the two strips together at the point where they met, and then appliquéd on one portion of vertical gold line (which had been cut off during the splice).

The photograph’s angle distorts the size and shape of the blocks a bit, but, from a distance, they all look very much like they are the exact same width. Ditto for the blocks in the corner in the original post.