Posts Tagged ‘vanity’

Messy Countertops Make Wallpaper Installation Difficult

December 3, 2017

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A week before I start a job, I send the homeowners information about the installation process and what things I will be needing. One thing I ask is that they clear toiletries, jewelry, paperwork, etc., out of the work area. Well, here are a few households that didn’t get the message. 😦

All this mess is hard for me to work around. And since I often need to sand, even if I cover these items with plastic, they are likely to get a little dusty. And they’ll need to be protected from splatters from the wallpaper primer.

Sometimes I’ll move things out of the way, and then you never know where they will end up – under the vanity, on the bedroom floor, on the dining room table, in the bathtub – anywhere I can find a surface to set them on. That gets them out of my way and keeps them clean, but it puts the homeowners on a search mission later, and they’ll have to try to put everything back the way they had it in the beginning.

Best for the homeowner to take these things out of the room herself, and stash them where she can find them when the wallpaper job is finished.

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Homeowner Tackled the Wallpaper Install – So, How’s That Working Out for You?

August 9, 2017

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The homeowner tried tackling this wallpaper installation herself, without even consulting so much as a YouTube video. She didn’t do an all-out bad job, and the paper is still stuck to the wall after three years. But there are a number of things that were done incorrectly.

1. Walls were not primed with a wallpaper primer

2. Caulk should have been run around the top of the backsplash

3. Paper was wrapped around the edge of door moldings and not trimmed.

4. Seams were overlapped

5. Overlapped areas were not secured with a “vinyl-over-vinyl” adhesive.

6. Pattern was not matched.

7. And, last but very important – a poor choice of wallpapers.

I am not a fan of paper-backed, solid-vinyl wallpapers, especially the pre-pasted, lower-end products. Do a Search here on various terms, and you will learn a lot about the material and its poor performance. IMO

In the meantime, when I take on this job, I will remove all the old paper, scrub the walls to remove paste residue, fix any dings in the walls, prime with an appropriate primer, hang the paper properly, by matching the pattern, butting the seams, and trimming correctly along baseboards and door moldings, etc., and, when finished, I will run clear caulk along the top of the vanity and other key areas, then give the family my “lecture” about leaving the door open and using the exhaust fan and avoiding long steamy showers.

Using 20-Minute “Mud” to Repair Sheetrock Damage

March 31, 2017

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When the homeowners had their powder room vanity top replaced, the shorter new backsplash left a 1″ area of torn drywall around the top of the new backsplash. There was a height difference between the drywall and the wall (which was covered with at least two layers of old wallpaper). This needed to be evened out before the new wallpaper could go up.

Because torn drywall will bubble when it gets wet, I used a penetrating sealer called Gardz to prevent this by sealing the raw area. Once that was dry, I used 20-minute joint compound to “float” over the damaged areas.

The bag says “5” (see photo), but that is misleading. What they mean is that you have five minutes to mix the powdered material with water, stir smooth, and then work with the stuff, before it gets stiff and hard. The actual drying time is more like 10-20 minutes, and sometimes longer.

Once it’s dry, it can be sanded smooth. Wipe off the dust with damp sponge, let dry again. Then it can be sealed with a primer, and I like the penetrating sealer Gardz, once again, to seal this porous joint compound material.

Wallpaper, Vanity, Counter Top – All Beautifully Coordinated

March 12, 2017


“Softly homogeneous” is a perfect description.

This is in a powder room in a new home in Bellaire (Houston).

Adorable Pattern; Difficult Install

January 27, 2017
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Many people love this pattern, but few have the chutzpah to put it on their walls. The owner of a new home in Spring Branch (Houston) took the leap and had me put it in her powder room – and it looks fantastic.

So the finished room looks great – getting the paper up on the walls was another story.

The problem was the extremely stiff non-woven material the wallpaper is printed on. The manufacturer, Cole & Son, uses a softer, more flexible non-woven material for others of their patterns, such as “Woods,” and it’s pretty nice to work with. This stuff I hung today is the opposite.

If you are only hanging wallpaper on an accent wall, this stuff would have been OK. But in real life, you will be working around angled ceilings, light fixtures, door and window moldings, toilets, water supply lines, vanities, and the most trying of all – pedestal sinks. Trying to maneuver and manipulate the stiff and unyielding wallpaper into position without getting any creases or overlaps or gaps or cuts or abraded areas was a huge challenge.

The installation took twice as long as it should have, and there are some aspects I am not happy with. (Don’t worry – the homeowners love it.) I would be happy if I never saw it again.

Oh, did I mention that I am hanging the same paper next week? Well, at least I have been warmed up and know what I’m in for.

This wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, a British company, and is called Acquario.

Electrical Box Placement Throwing A Wrench in Wallpaper Job

January 25, 2017
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Here is a double-sink vanity in a master bathroom (Photo 1). For this post, we are focusing on the right sink and light fixture. In Photo 2, the original light fixture has been removed. It was a “bar” type fixture, meaning that it had a backplate and front cover that were rectangular (bar) shaped, and you can see the outline of that by the different paint color in the Photo 2.

In Photo 2, you also see the electrical box in the wall that supplies power to this light fixture. It is not centered over the sink. That was OK, because the original light fixture was centered over the vanity, not over the individual sink. The electrical box was not centered over the sink. This could be because there is a stud in the way, or because it was centered over a previous, pre-remodel sink that was situated differently, or because the electrician was lazy.

Either way, it didn’t matter, because an extra length of electrical wire was added, and the bar fixture was long enough that it could be moved horizontally to the desired position over the sink, and it was perfectly centered and looked wonderful.

The problem came when my clients, new owners of this ’50’s era, mid century modern ranch style home, wanted to install an updated, sleeker light fixture Photo 3). This new fixture has a canopy (front plate) that is plenty large enough to cover the electrical box. But it is NOT large enough to cover a trip horizontally across the wall to a point centered over the sink.

Which is another way of saying that if this new light fixture is positioned over the sink, as the homeowners want, it will not cover the electrical box, and the electrical box will show. And plus, the connections will not meet safety codes.

This leaves the owners in the hapless position of either living with the new light fixture slightly off-center over their sink. OR they can have the electrical box moved to exactly centered over the sink.

This is sometimes more easily said than done. There may be a wall stud in the way that prevents repositioning the electrical box. If the box can’t be moved, and the electrician elects to run a wire along or through the wall, there will be cut-up Sheetrock, and patches and possibly humps in the wall. Lots more complications that electricians and Sheetrockers know that I don’t.

And it caused the homeowner to have a delay in the installation of their dream wallpaper. I can’t hang wallpaper until the box is moved and the wall is repaired. And more cost top to pay the electrician – on top of the new wallpaper, new towel bars and light fixtures, and labor to install all of this.

Probably the worst part is having the wallpaper install scheduled, then not being able to move forward, and then having to scramble to find a qualified guy who can get the lights positioned correctly, and all with a quick turn-around, so the wallpaper install can happen within a reasonable time of the original install date.

Moral of the Story: If you are going to change light fixtures (or any fixtues), it’s a good idea to do this before the new wallpaper goes up.

New Countertops, Patches on Sheetrock = New Wallpaper

October 6, 2016
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Today I had the pleasure of working for personal friends of mine, and also in a powder room that I had papered twice before, over 20 or so years. The existing paper was a stone-wall-with-ivy effect, that the homeowner loved after having taken a trip to Italy and touring its wine country. But it was pretty 90’s looking, and didn’t go well with the new blue-with-sparkles countertop on the vanity. Plus, they had chunks cut out of the wall due to repiping the waterlines in the house (the white patch you see in the first photo), that ruined the wallpaper.

The existing wallpaper stripped off easily, thanks to my wonderful primer oil-based KILZ Original. The walls were left in perfect condition. Except for the lower 1/4 of the walls … Five years or so ago, these poor homeowners had had a toilet leak, with ensuing flood, that resulted in workers having to cut out and replace the bottom foot or so of Sheetrock. Naturally, the workmen put their patches on top of the wallpaper, which made it impossible for me to strip off the paper. So I had to skim-float the area to try to even out the transition from the thicker wall surface at the bottom of the wall, to the level of the wall above that area.

My floated area had to dry, and then had to be sanded smooth, and then sealed – I used Gardz, a penetrating sealer. Then I was able to hang the new wallpaper. The new pattern is a little “quieter,” and it goes from floor to ceiling, so the look is different from the previous 2-pattern look.

The new wallpaper was pre-pasted, and is in the Easy Walls line by Chesapeake, which is made by Brewster. It was bought at a discounted price from 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.

Brilliant Colors on a Dark Background

June 14, 2016
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This beautiful botanical and bird print is enhanced by rich colors in a matt finish on a deep chocolate background. I hung this in a remodeled powder room in the Galleria area (Houston), and it is just gorgeous.

I usually love Thibaut brand papers, but this one was thick and stiff, the edges had debris left from the machine trimming process, the seams didn’t butt up well, and it should have been printed on dark stock instead of the white backing.

What I did to minimize these things was to use a toothbrush to scrub the ends of the rolls to remove the flakes of paper. I striped dark paint the wall along where the seams would fall, to prevent the white wall from peeking through. I also used artist’s pastel to color the edges of the paper (see photo), to try to cover up the white paper backing. This was somewhat successful.

The seams had what we call “gaps and overlaps,” which means they butted well in some sections, gapped in others (see photo), and overlapped slightly in others. I wasn’t thrilled with the seams, but not every paper cooperates well, and most people don’t see what I see, anyway.

The overall effect is beautiful, and once the new vanity and the light sconces go in place, the room will be stunning. The homeowner is very happy.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Chinoiserie in a Small Bathroom

June 8, 2016
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Here is a classic Chinoiserie (Oriental design) that went in a guest bathroom in a new addition to a 1950’s ranch style Mid-Century Modern home in Shepherd Park Plaza / Oak Forest.

The aqua background coordinates nicely with the grey marble vanity. I lined up the figure holding the umbrella with the center spout on the sink, for a balanced look. The two circles at the top are the bases of light fixtures.

The pattern is called Shantung Silhouette, and is by Schumacher.

Schumacher used to be known for quality, higher-end wallpapers. But these days, the quality has slipped. This install did not have any printing defects, but they are pretty much de rigor with Schumacher products. I did encounter some other problems, though.

For starters, the instructions said this was a paste-the-wall non-woven material. It was not. It was paper, and needed to have paste applied to the back of the wallpaper, not to the wall.

And the material was thick and stiff and difficult to handle on my table, and difficult to manipulate into corners and tight areas. Going around the multiple curves on the backsplash was tricky and time consuming. Pasting the wall did not allow the paper to expand and relax, so bubbles appeared on the wall. Because the paper was dry and stiff, it did not meld to the contours of the vanity top, and was difficult to trim neatly. In fact, I was unhappy with my first attempt, and ripped it off and started over.

A good reminder to always buy a little extra paper.

I also was not happy with the seams. They weren’t bad, but a thinner substrate would have given tighter seams that held closer to the wall.

Overall, though, the room looked wonderful – light and airy with a sense of uplift from the parasols and tight ropes. The monkey adds something to smile at.

The interior designer for this job is Rachel Goetz.

New Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Bathroom

May 3, 2016
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Last week, I stripped off a decade-old botanical and bird wallpaper pattern from my master bathroom, and replaced it with this “Raspberry Bramble,” by Bradbury & Bradbury (http://bradbury.com/), a California-based company that specializes in patterns true to the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts and Victorian periods, along with some Mid-Century Modern and other designs.

This B&B wallpaper was a little tricky to work with. For starters, it has to be hand-trimmed (see photo) to remove the selvedge edge. My go-to pre-mixed adhesive is not a good choice for this material, so I chose a potato-starch paste available from Bradbury, that comes powdered and is mixed with water on-site.

This particular pattern has a lot of ink (smells like moth balls!) on the surface, and, when paste is applied to the back, the backing absorbs paste and swells at a different rate than the inked surface, resulting in wrinkles and bubbles and twists, plus the curled edges you see in the photo, which can prevent the seams from lying down properly. The moisture differential can cause the paper to continue to swell on the wall, causing wired (overlapped or puckered) seams.

I’ve hung a good amount of Bradbury & Bradbury papers, but had never encountered the degree of bubbling and curling as with this paper.

The solution to all this is to mist or damp-sponge the surface of the paper, which puts moisture on the front, and allows the front and back (wet by the paste) to absorb moisture more evenly. Then the paper is folded loosely (booked), and also rolled up like a newspaper. This helps push the curled edges back down. Then the strip of wallpaper is placed in a plastic trash bag to sit for 10-15 minutes, much longer than the booking time for most papers.

All of this took more time, but it resulted in smooth paper with flat seams.

My plan for this room is to achieve a 1700’s French chateau look, so I am also darkening and stenciling my vanity, which has a new “Noche” travertine countertop, will be hanging some frilly antique wall clocks, period artwork, a beautiful chandelier, and adding other features.