Posts Tagged ‘waffling’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

Whimsical Arabian Nights Dance in Powder Room

January 13, 2023
You’ve got to look at this close-up, to notice the antelope and flames / foliage .
You gotta make a decision … The light sconces (they are currently removed, but you can see the electrical boxes where they will be placed) were centered on the vanity top, but the faucet was off-center by about an inch. So I chose to center / balance the pattern on the sconces and countertop. The mirror will be hung between the two light fixtures, so we’ll end up with a pleasing, balanced look. The faucet isn’t exactly in the middle of the design motif, but no biggie – there’s going to be a mirror there, anyway.

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Corner going around shower. Note the window looking into the shower.
Although the website specs said this is a pre-trimmed non-woven material , that was incorrect. Turns out it had an unprinted selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand . Here I’m using my straightedge and razor blade to remove this selvedge. This takes precision and a LOT of time .
The manufacturer usually provides trim guides to help you know where to cut. But it’s usually better to trim to the pattern – determine an element in the design motif that will meet up with the corresponding motif on the opposite side of the strip when the strips are hung on the wall, and use that as your guide . Be sure to trim off the trim guide marks, or they will show on the wall.
The pattern is called Arabian Nights and is by Relativity Textiles . I’ve never worked with this brand before. I was not pleased . In addition to the incorrect information about the pre-trimmed paper , the mfgr’s specs said this was printed on a non-woven substrate . It was not. It wasn’t even printed on standard wallpaper stock . Instead, it was a pulp material – This is a sort of old-fashioned wallpaper , and is very brittle and prone to tearing and dragging (your trimming knife or razor blade will get snagged and you’ll end up with a ” chewed ” jagged cut, instead of a crisp cut . It also tears easily. It also has no coating, so it’s not stain-resistant … Not good in a busy household with a 3-year old toddler , or anyone splashing water or soap or air freshener .
It was also difficult to hang . Applying wet paste to the backing causes the substrate to absorb moisture and expand at a different rate from the ink on the surface. So you end up with wrinkles , waffling , and quilting .
Sponging a light bit of water on the front before pasting helps even out the moisture differential and ease installation . I’ve never before encountered a pulp that had this type of ink on the surface. One clue for this bad stuff is when you open the package and it smells like moth balls . Once I figured out how to work with it, , it went OK – although tedious . The seams did look very nice.
BUT … all this effort would have been unnecessary and the finished room would be more durable if the mfgr had printed on a non-woven substrate (as their on-line specs stated) and had used standard inks instead of this weird , smelly , high-end stuff. In fact, the material would have cost the homeowners a whole lot less $ if it had been normal ink on a non-woven backing .
The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .
installer

Meg Braff Bad Printing Job

November 15, 2022
The homeowner very much loves this simple, tone-on-tone shore bird pattern for her dining room – just the top , above the chair rail / wainscoting. Here I’m plotting where to best situate the pattern on the wall , between the chair rail and ceiling , while keeping the most important pattern elements and motifs intact . (no cutting off birds’ heads at the ceiling , nor at the wainscoting ) I’m also checking the pattern match .
It quickly became evident that the pattern match, as laid out by the factory, was incorrect . Match it at the bottom (by my thumb ), but as you move up , the pattern goes a little out of whack . This is actually not all that bad , and is considered acceptable – the industry standard allows for up to 1/8″ – 3/8″ mis-match .
Hand-trim screen-print materials such as this are particularly notable for pattern mis-matches .
For the record, they’re also known for curling edges , puckering , waffling , and other issues that make them difficult to hang , as well as questionability as to how long they’ll perform on your wall before wanting to resort to that curling at the seams .
More pattern mis-matching .
But the situation got worse . These high-end screen prints often come with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand , with a straightedge (the blue metal thing ), a razor blade – and a steady hand.
If the trim guide marks printed on the material by the company are ” off ,” then you’re supposed to ” trim to the pattern .” This means that you find the design element on the left edge of the paper and then find the corresponding element on the right side, and place your straightedge so that your trim cuts will result in the two edges matching up perfectly. (Or at least within that 1/8″ -3/8″)
At this point, the white lines in the design – let’s call them ‘grapes’ – are abutting my blue straightedge , and should meet up perfectly with the corresponding white lines on the grapes on the opposite side of the subsequent strip of wallpaper.
But, unfortunately, with this material, that didn’t work. If I lined my straightedge up with the pattern design elements , as in the photo above this one, by the time I moved down a few feet , as you can see in this photo , the pattern begins moving away from the straightedge . The white grape outlines do not butt up against my straightedge.
The likely reason is that this material has been printed on the bias . That means that the artisan at the factory got his screens out of whompus , for lack of a better term.
” Trim to the pattern .” OK. So here I’m placing my straightedge at 1/8″ away from the ” hook ” in this design .
Still the same distance from the “hook.” But the white lines are starting to move away from the straightedge.
Here they’ve moved farther off. With this design, from a distance , you could maybe live with the white lines not meeting up perfectly.
But what you couldn’t find acceptable is that the tan area between these white elements would be growing wider diagonally as you move both up and down the wall. Look at the photo. You can see the tan area growing larger .
But it gets worse as it spreads farther … As that tan section grows wider like a “V” or a wedge as you move up or down the wall, it additionally pushes the design motifs at the top of the ceiling or at top of the wainscoting either up or down along the horizontal lines of the ceiling and wainscoting .
So not only do you get a widening tan line between each seam , you also get the birds’ heads moving up or down from where they’re supposed to be positioned below the ceiling or above the wainscoting .
I spent an hour and a half trying different placements and trimming methods . I knew the client loved this pattern and that she was willing to accept reasonable flaws in the pattern match and positioning.
But even given that, I wanted her to have a good looking dining room – not one with uneven spacing between strips, or grossly irregular positioning along the horizontal lines in the room.
I even consulted with several (five!) “high-end” installer buddies of mine. No one had a ” tip ” for making an improperly printed design fall correctly on the wall. In fact, all five of them said it couldn’t be done.
I determined that this material was unhangable.
As mentioned, I tried to find an installer buddy who could make this work and get this client’s dining room done in time for Thanksgiving dinner. But no one wanted to take it on.
I don’t know if the manufacturer will replace the paper or refund the $ spend. Manufacturers are usually keen on saying that “it’s the installer’s fault .” I can say that I’ve had similar issues with Meg Braff papers in the past.
The homeowner really loves this pattern. It’s possible – but not assured – that purchasing the same design but in a different run will yield a better factory printing job.
Just a note that printing defects , curling seams , wrinkling / quilting , and more, are somewhat common with hand-screened wallpapers . And here’s another reason why I’m happiest when clients stick with middle-of-the-road, or slightly upper priced , wallpaper options . Email me and request my Info Pack (or see the link on the right) for more information and brand name recommendations.
Sad to bow out and leave this client with an unpapered room, and no viable solution or direction . But better that than to take on something that I can’t assure will look good. I hope she tells me what she ends up doing and how all this turns out.

Let’s Blame It On The Paperhanger

August 27, 2022
Obviously, this manufacturer has had complaints about their product. So they’ve come up with a CYA paragraph(s) designed to throw blame onto the wallpaper installer.
Only thing is, most all of the above points they are trying to dodge ARE the fault / responsibility of the manufacturer – NOT the paperhanger .
Gaps: poorly trimmed paper at the factory, possibly due to dull or wobbly trim rollers .
Raised edges: poorly trimmed edges, or incompatible inks and substrates.
Blisters: Usually due to off-gassing due to surfaces that don’t breathe and therefor trap moisture. Or to inks and substrates that are incompatible. … The substrate absorbs moisture from the paste and stretches , but the inks do not, resulting in wrinkles , warps , waffling , and / or quilting .
But, hey – instead of doing some research and product development to improve our wallpaper , let’s just blame it on the paperhanger .

Heavily-Inked Papers Need Extra Moisture

August 13, 2022
Something smells like moth balls ! Some high-end hand screened wallpapers are printed with what we call stinky inks . These inks often fight with the substrate they’re printed on. The backing of the wallpaper will absorb moisture from the paste and expand , but the ink on the surface won’t, so you end up with what we call waffling or quilting . Wrinkles in the wallpaper in between the printed inked areas. Do a Search here to see photos and read more about this.
You can reduce or eliminate this by evening out the moisture between front and back. It’s as simple as taking a very lightly damp sponge and wiping the front printed surface of the wallpaper. Then paste the back as normal , book (fold pasted side to pasted side), roll up, place in black trash bag for a few minutes.
Now the wallpaper should be relaxed , and the wrinkles should be evened out . Now you’re ready to hang wallpaper !
This pattern is called Les Touches and is by Brunschwig & Fils , a higher-end designer type brand .

Minor Bubbles, Waffling, Quilting on Wallpaper

March 28, 2021

A lot of high-end wallpaper manufacturers use heavy inks (a.k.a. stinky ink). When wet paste is rolled on to the back of the wallpaper, these inks commonly compete with the substrate for moisture. The substrate absorbs more moisture and more quickly than the inked areas.

The result is wrinkles, blisters, bubbles, warps, quilting, waffling – whatever you want to name it, you’ve got a bumpy surface that doesn’t want to lie flat on the wall.

One way to tame this beast is to LIGHTLY sponge water onto the surface of the paper, before pasting. This allows the front to absorb moisture at the same time that the backing is soaking up moisture from the paste. The result is a more even “quilting” of the material.

Another thing to keep in mind is that small blisters like seen in the photo will usually flatten out and disappear as the wallpaper paste dries. A good wallpaper-specific primer underneath is a big help.

Also, a liner paper is often a good choice. The liner is a special, unprinted paper that goes under the decorative wallpaper. The liner absorbs moisture quickly and helps “lock down” bubbles and seams.

A liner also ups the installation price. Because you have to add the cost of the material, plus the labor of at least an additional day to hang the liner, and then let it dry at overnight or longer.

Arts & Crafts Authenticity in a 1908 Heights Home

July 16, 2020


This home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston dates back to the very early 20th Century, back when the Arts & Crafts movement was in full force. The style emphasized nature, earthy colors, blocky features, and stylized designs.

I like this look a lot, so it was really fun to work with the wallpaper and help bring their living room to their vision. They have the period furniture to go with it.

The wallpaper is by Bradbury & Bradbury, a California company that makes wallpaper in vintage and antique designs – Victorian, William Morris, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, Oriental, Atomic Age, ’20’s, and more.

Their paper is a little tricky to work with. First, there is an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off with a 6′ straightedge and razor blade (search here for other posts showing that process).

The manufacturer calls for clay-based paste, which I hate, for various reasons. But to comply with their specs, I bought a $50, 50lb, 5-gallon bucket of it – and used only about 1/2 gallon. Clay is a low-moisture paste, which helps with this material.

When wet with paste, the heavy inks on this paper absorb moisture differently from the paper backing, and the result is “waffling” or “quilting” – which is when you get wrinkles inside the unprinted areas (do a search here for more posts on this issue). To prevent this, it helps to lightly dampen the surface of the paper with a sponge and clean water. This helps even out the moisture ratio. I found that this pattern also fared better with a little water sponged lightly onto the back, as well.

To handle the 20′ long horizontal strips, after pasting, I folded the strips accordion-style. I also added blue plastic tape to the bottom edge, to prevent paste from getting onto the painted woodwork, which would eliminate the need to wipe it off during installation. Then all went into a plastic trash bag to “book” for a few minutes.

I set up two ladders, so I could step between them as I unfolded the accordion pleats, and I also used push pins to hold the booked strip up while I got down and moved the ladders.

The paper adhered nicely to the wall without curling at the edges. There were a few wrinkles in the inked areas, but these disappeared as the paper dried.

A wide decorative border like this, especially dating to this era, is called a “frieze.”

What’s really cool is that the homeowner (a former contractor), added the block wood molding because he wanted to unite the heights of the door molding with that of the windows (both just barely visible in the photos). That was way before they thought of adding a wallpaper border. Once they discovered Bradbury and started hunting for a wallpaper, turns out that the height of the space between the two moldings was exactly the height of the wallpaper frieze.

Even more amazing is that the paint colors were chosen before they went searching for wallpaper – but are magically perfectly harmonious with the colors in the frieze.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Birchwood Frieze,” by Bradbury & Bradbury. They have lots more gorgeous stuff on their website.

Navy & White Schumacher – Finishing Touch to a Harvey Flooded Home

March 27, 2020


Still not completely finished fixing major damage caused by the devastating flood of 2017, this young couple in the Pearland area of Houston has done virtually all the repairs themselves – and done a mighty fine job of it, too…. Way better than most of the work done by “professionals” that I have seen in “Harvey homes.”

With many details still unfinished, the homeowners wanted just one room that would be done. The lady of the house loves this navy and white fauna/botanical print by Schumacher. She envisioned it on just the back wall of the powder room – the room that everyone sees when walking through the first floor.

You get two strips of paper out of one double-roll bolt, and the wall was 2.5″ wider than two strips of paper. Since Schumacher is expensive, the homeowners decided not to buy another bolt of paper to cover those 2.5 inches, but instead to “float” two strips of paper in the middle of the wall, and then use their DIY skills to build a frame around it.

The frame will be painted a very dark blue. I hate to fall back on the overused term “pop,” but that is exactly what the blue frame will do … It will make the wallpaper pop against the white walls, and also stand out from other design features in the home.

Scroll back a few days and you will see my encounters with a very difficult navy and white paper, also by Schumacher. This one was totally different.

The bird design I worked with today was printed with good quality inks on a non-woven substrate. N-W’s have a degree of fiberglass in their content, and thus are “dimensionally stable.” Among other positive features, they do not expand, and thus you have no wrinkling or waffling or puckers.

This paper went up very nicely.

Although, in two of the photos, true to reputation, you can see printing defects. Just par for the course, if you buy a Schumacher product

When the homeowner saw the finished job, she almost broke down into tears – one room finally complete and pretty and all reminders of the flood gone.

It was an honor to help this couple get to this one small milestone.

Schumacher Pyne Hellyhock Hell

March 22, 2020


Pardon my French, but we don’t call this company “Schitmacher” and “Poomacher” for nothing … With so many quality substrates and inks out there, and so many other companies making top-notch papers, why, oh WHY does Schumacher continue to use outdated materials and methods – especially when they’re crappy?!

The wrinkles here are referred to as “waffling” or “quilting.” This is caused by the wallpaper backing (substrate) absorbing moisture at a different rate from the ink on the front. This moisture causes the substrate to expand more than the ink, which creates wrinkled areas.

I had this problem with the Bibliotheque I blogged about last week. But that was not as severe, mostly because the inked area covered most of the paper.

In this Pyne Hollyhock, most of the ink is concentrated down the center of the strip, leaving large un-inked areas along the outer edges.

I was able to smooth out many of the smaller wrinkles in between the blue flowers. Others may disappear when the paper dries.

But the blank / white areas had wrinkles so big that they would not be smoothed out. See third photo. The other thing is, because this white area was twisting and warping so dramatically, you can bet that the edges of the strip will not butt up properly with the next strip.

Sometimes you can double cut (splice) seams that are not butting up correctly. But since this paper also presented the huge wrinkles, it still is gonna look bad at the minimum, and have large gaps at the worst.

A liner might help (do a Search here), but I doubt it would tame the worst wrinkles, especially at the edges. In addition, it adds more material cost and at least another day’s labor.

I did a couple test strips, employing different approaches with each. Such as dampening the front before pasting to even out the moisture distribution. Booking for extended lengths of time. Booking and then opening and repasting. Different smoothing techniques. I even got out the heat gun to speed up drying to see if the wrinkles would flatten.

But I never got a result that I felt was acceptable. And certainly not what this family deserved, nor worth the price they paid for this so-called high-end brand.

It’s not often that a paper beats my butt, but I did end up throwing in the towel on this one.

Too bad, because the homeowner and interior designer really love the pattern, which is one of Schumacher’s most popular. Right now, it’s undecided if they will see if one of my buddies wants to tackle it, or if they will choose something else.

This was to have gone in the dining room of a newly renovated home in the Woodland Heights of Houston.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt II – Waffling, Wrinkling

March 18, 2020


In the top photo, I have used a paint roller to apply paste to the back of this wallpaper. See it wrinkling up? We call this “waffling,” or “quilting.”

This happens because the ink on the surface absorbs moisture from the paste at a different rate from the substrate. So they both expand, but fight each other, which causes the wrinkles you see in the picture.

One way to minimize this is to lightly sponge the surface of the paper with clean water. In the upper left of the top photo you can see my sponge and bucket of water. You can also use a spray bottle.

After pasting, the strip is “booked” and then rolled up like a newspaper and placed into a plastic trash bag to sit for a few minutes. This gives the paper and ink a chance to absorb all that moisture.

Some papers are still cantankerous when they get to the wall. But my experience with Brunchwig & Fils and their Bibliotheque is that, with proper smoothing and minimal manipulation, it smooths and adheres quite nicely to the wall. The wrinkles and quilted areas disappear.

The only wrinkles that remained were inside the horizontal “shelves” (see second picture). Most of these either could be chased out with a smoothing too, or laid flat once the paper dried. A handful of them remained even after the wallpaper was dry, but were not very noticeable.