Posts Tagged ‘wall’

Big Pink Flowers for New Baby Girl

August 7, 2019

Here is a nursery accent wall, getting ready for a baby girl in a few months.

I like Spoonflower’s paper, and it’s been a while since I’ve hung it, so today was fun.

Spoonflower is different from other papers. For starters, it comes in strips of certain lengths, so you have to figure out how many strips of each length you need. For an accent wall like this, that was easy – but it can get complicated in chopped up rooms like bathrooms. Each strip comes packaged separately, in it’s own long, skinny zip-top bag.

The paper is pre-pasted, which you don’t see much these days. I find this type much faster to hang. The paper is also designed to be overlapped at the seams (instead of butted). This means you will see a 1/2″ wide ridge from floor to ceiling down either side of each strip. (See third photo.) In the grand scheme of things, this is not very noticeable. (In the old days, all papers were hung this way, and I have some authentic 1940’s paper in my home office to prove it. 🙂 )

The material is thin paper, and it gets very wet when it is pasted, and it expands. When the paper dries, it shrinks a tad. If the seams were butted, you would end up with gaps between the strips. By overlapping the strips a tad, gaps are prevented. This method also puts less tension on the wall, so you have less chance of layers inside the wall delaminating. (Do a search here for more info.)

The composition and the thinness of the paper also make it difficult to cut, because it wants to tear. So you have to keep a supply of sharp, new blades handy.

This paper is very similar to one I blogged about on December 25, 2018. I’m betting it’s made by the same manufacturer, but sold under different brand names.

Note that Spoonflower also offers a peel & stick so-called “removable” option – do NOT go with this one – horrible stuff, that P&S.

This home is in the Heights / Timber Grove area of Houston.

Faking Perfection

July 20, 2019


Even though I carefully centered this trellis pattern on the dining room wall, due to the pattern being a teensy bit off-center on the strip, by the time it reached the right and left corners, the pattern was a tad off. Meaning that the dark vertical elements in this trellis design were about 3/8″ wide on the left side of the wall. But on the right side, the mirror-image elements were no more than 1/8″ wide, and tapered off to nothing at the top of the wall, due to a bow in the wall.

In the top photo, if you look at the bottom right corner, next to my ladder, you can see the difference in width of the vertical lines compared to those at the top of the wall, and at the left side of the room.

If the design had hit the corners in the curved parts of the trellis, no one would have noticed any slight difference in width. But since the pattern landed on a vertical motif that the eye expected to be 3/8″ wide, the right wall with it’s narrower or non-existent vertical motif was kinda noticeable. At least to me.

So I used my straightedge and a razor blade to cut some 3/8″ wide vertical strips. I then pasted these onto the appropriate place in the design. This made the Moroccan “lanterns” look a little narrower than they were supposed to be. But that is not nearly as noticeable as maintaining the width of those vertical strips at the left edge of the wall. See last photo.

I have done this with paper many times. But I was a little nervous trying this trick with a 3-D stringcloth material, because I feared the thickness of the overlay would be eye-catching. I also worried that the adhesive would not adhere to the strings.

But everything worked out nicely. The appliqués stuck without argument, and you really couldn’t notice the thickness of those tiny patches.

All this tweaking took about an extra 45 minutes. I think it was well worth it.

Chinese Hand-Painted Silk Mural

June 27, 2019


Here is some delicious stuff! This is silk wallpaper, hand painted in China with these beautiful bird, butterfly, and botanical motifs. Look at the close-up shots to see the gorgeous paint detail.

There are some historic companies who make these murals, like Zuber, Gracie, Fromental, and de Gournay, and they can run $500-$1200 per panel. (This wall took seven panels.) But my client found another manufacturer who was way more reasonable. http://www.worldsilkroad.com/

The mural was custom-sized to the homeowners’ wall. The studio added 2″ to the top and bottom, and a little more to each side, for trimming, and to accommodate walls that are not perfectly plumb and ceilings that are not perfectly level. (Never order a mural to the exact dimensions of the wall, and always best to have the paperhanger measure before ordering.)

There are a lot of things that make an install like this much more complicated than a traditional wallpaper. For starters, the silk can easily be stained by just about anything … wallpaper paste, water, hands. So it’s important to work absolutely clean. You will NOT be able to wipe off any errant bit of paste. The paper also had a half inch “bleed” of excess paper along the edges that had to be trimmed off by hand (no photo).

The material was thicker than expected, wanted to stay curled up as it had been in its shipping tube, and the backing was very absorbent, which meant that it sucked up paste and was almost dry by the time it was finished booking and got to the wall… So it required extra paste on the edges to get them to stick tight, while, once again, taking care to not get any paste on the surface of the paper.

The company provided precious little information. Well, actually there was information, but it came in Chinesnglish, and, bless their hearts, was virtually indecipherable. The company was very responsive, but, unfortunately, was unable to provide adequate information about paste recommendations, booking time, was a liner spec’ed, if the substrate was paper or non-woven, if the silk had a protective coating, and even whether or not the goods had to be hand-trimmed or came pre-trimmed. There was a lot of other mysterious content on their instruction sheet that ended up best being disregarded.

So I used common sense and traditional installation methods, and it turned out great.

In one photo, I am rolling out the panels, to be sure they are in the correct sequence. Even though the manufacturer had told me the panels were pre-trimmed and ready to butt on the wall, while rolling them out, I discovered that if I did that, the pattern match would be off. This is when I discovered that 1/2″ had to be trimmed off one side of every strip.

This also meant that each strip would be 36″ wide, rather than 36.5″, so my measurements and layout calculations had to be revised. This was particularly important because that first area to the left of the window was barely more than 36″ wide – and I didn’t want to end up having to piece in a 3/8″ wide strip of this delicate material.

Two other pictures show some crinkles in the material. I believe these happened at the factory or during shipping, because the same defects appear in two consecutive panels, at the same position. They were both up high, and, once the material got wet with paste, expanded a little, and then applied to the wall, these flaws were not detectable.

The last photo shows what you should expect from hand-painted products. They probably had one guy working on Panel 6, and another working on Panel 7, and each probably had a different size paint brush, and possibly their stencil (or whatever they use) was a bit off. Either way, this mis-match is not considered a defect, and is part of the beauty of a hand-crafted mural. There were really only two areas that matched this poorly, and they were both low toward the floor. In the upper areas where branches crossed the seams, the pattern matched very nicely. Really, it’s quite incredible that their precision can be as good as it is.

I’ve never worked with this brand before, but overall, I was pleased with the quality and the installation. You can find the manufacturer by Googling World Silk Road. It comes from England, but is made in China. (Gee…. why can’t they have one of those British guys translate the installation instructions?!)

This mural went on one accent wall in a master bedroom of a home in Idylwood, a small, idyllic, and very desirable neighborhood of 1930’s and 1940’s homes on Houston’s east side. The homeowners love vintage as much as I do, and are keeping most of their home true to its original state.

Trouble Brewing? Paint Not Adhering to Wall

June 26, 2019


Top photo: A small circle of paint had been pulled away from the wall. When I picked at it, I was able to easily detach more paint.

Second photo: When I removed the light switch plate, some paint had stuck to it, and pulling the switch plate off the wall took some of the paint underneath along with it.

The exposed wall underneath the paint was gritty and dusty. I could not tell if it was a layer of old paint, drywall, dust, residue from ancient wallpaper paste, or other. I had the feeling that if I had tried, I could have peeled all the paint off the dusty subsurface.

This is not good.

This is an old house, and many layers of paint and other treatments have been added to the walls over the decades (100 years!). Many of these substances are not compatible with each other, and especially not if the walls were not prepped properly before applying another coat of paint.

Latex paint won’t stick to oil based paint. New paint won’t stick to a glossy paint. Nothing sticks to a dusty surface.

All these various materials will adhere to one another – for a while. But when a stressor is added to the formula, there is the potential for the layers to delaminate (come apart). That’s what happened in the two areas above, when a bit of a tug was all it took to peel several layers of paint away from the wall.

The issue here is that wallpaper comes with its own stressors. Wallpaper gets wet when it’s pasted, expands a bit, and then when the paste dries, the paper shrinks a tad and puts tension on the walls. Over time, with changes in temperature and humidity, foundations shifting, and just plain old passage of time, this tension could cause the paint to give way from the walls – this usually manifests at along a seam.

I use a wallpaper-specific primer, and among its attributes is the ability to withstand this type of tension.

Let’s hope that over the years, the many layers of paint, the new coat of primer, and the wallpaper all work together to stay nice and tight to the wall.

Note: If I had known about the wall condition earlier, and if the homeowners’ budget had allowed, a liner would have been a good option in this case. A liner is a special type of paper that is applied to the primed wall the day before the paper goes up. It serves several purposes, but one is to distribute tension across the wall. Because the seams of the liner do not line up with the seams of the wallpaper, drying and shrinking wallpaper puts tension on the liner, and not onto the unstable wall itself, thus pretty well eliminating the chance that the wallpaper seams could cause the wall to delaminate.

The downside is that using a liner adds an extra day (or more) of labor, plus the cost of material.

Keeping Ahead

April 20, 2019


Re the Papillion de Nuit wallpaper pattern in my other post, I couldn’t avoid decapitating this moth at the bottom of this wall.

I’m thinking of appliquéing his body onto the wooden trim.

What do YOU think?

Update two days later … The interior designer loved the idea, so … it’s done!

The homeowner moves in in a week, and we’ll learn then what she thinks.

Trick in Hopes to Stave Off Popped Seams from a Crumbly Wall

April 3, 2019


The walls in this powder room in the West U neighborhood of Houston had had many treatments over it’s life, including paint, more paint, skim-floating, wallpaper, and more. Sometimes, and particularly if prep is not done properly, these various layers are not compatible, and won’t adhere to one another well.

When the old wallpaper was removed, this was clear at the seams, where the various layers of the wall had pulled apart, leaving ridges along the length of each seam. This happens because the wallpaper dries and pulls taught and creates tension on the wall; if the wall is unstable, the layers can be pulled apart (delaminate). Sorry, no pics of the “before,” but you can do a search here to see pics of other rooms. This condition can happen over time, as the house fills with humidity and the paper absorbs it, then dries and shrinks again.

I dug out the raised ridges and applied tape over them, sealed with Gardz, a penetrating sealer that dries hard. Then I skim-floated over all the walls, to create a smooth surface for the wallpaper. Sanded, wiped dust off with a damp sponge (nothing sticks to dust), and primed all walls with Gardz.

One good way to deal prevent this from happening again is to cross-line the walls with a special liner paper. This is a thin paper that is usually run horizontally before the actual decorative paper is hung. The idea is that if the new paper shrinks and applies tension, it will be distributed by the liner paper, and will not pull at the wall. If the liner shrinks and pulls, the tension is off-set by the decorative paper on top of it. So the two layers are working together to distribute any harmful tension on the wall surface.

Unfortunately, using liner adds a day of labor plus the cost of the material. The homeowner’s budget had already been busted by other factors, so she wanted to keep the job to one day. After collaborating with my colleagues in the Wallcovering Installers Association on our Facebook page, I decided to try this method:

From Office Max I got some plain old cash register tape. I plotted where each seam would fall, and used my laser level to guide placement of a floor-to-ceiling strip of the tape. I adhered it with regular wallpaper paste. At first, I worried that it would soak up moisture and bubble, but once it was smoothed into place, it laid down nice and flat.

Then I hung the wallpaper. The seams fell nicely on top of the tape, held tightly, and looked beautiful. There is the possibility of seeing a very slight ridge under the paper because of the thickness of the tape, but it’s very minimal because the tape is quite thin. And it’s much preferable to popped seams or delaminated walls.

The idea is that the tape will bridge the seam, and distribute tension from the drying paper across the width of the tape, keeping tension away from the wall itself. The tape is very thin, and doesn’t appear to have much tensile strength, but my buddies who have tried this method say it works well.

Time will tell, but I have a lot of confidence in this method.

’90’s Check to Magnolia Buffalo Check

February 2, 2019


The differences in the before and after photos are subtle, so look carefully!

This laundry room in a far-north neighborhood of Houston (Louetta & I-45 area) happily sported it’s black & white checkered pattern for many years. The wallpaper dated to the ’90’s, but still looked fresh, and the homeowner loved it.

But an unfortunate water leak caused damage to the window wall, and a poor repair job left a very visible pattern mis-match over the window. Then another water leak required new drywall to be patched in behind the washer and dryer (see top photo). So once the repairs were made, the homeowner wanted to redo the room, and do a little updating along the way.

I stripped the old wallpaper, performed necessary patching and prep, primed the walls with Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 wallcovering primer, and came back the next day to hang the new paper.

The new pattern is also a black & white checkered design, but it’s larger-scaled, and is just large enough to be called a “buffalo check.”

It’s also a freer design – meaning that the wavy edges of the vertical and horizontal pattern, along with the watercolor features of the ink, afforded me some breathing room while dealing with walls and ceiling that were not perfectly plumb and level.

This pattern is in the Magnolia Home collection (Joanna Gaines) by York Wall. It 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.

“It Makes My Heart Happy To Walk In Here”

November 7, 2018


“It makes my heart happy to walk in here. I’ve had neutral pallets for so long, I was ready for something cheerful and colorful and happy.” That’s what the mom of this 11-day-old baby girl said when she saw the transformation of her infant’s nursery. Originally all the walls had been painted a soft pink. Three walls are still pink, but the fourth accent wall is abuzz with color and critters.

This cute pattern by Anthropologie (sorry, I musta forgotten to take a photo of the label) has colorful flowers in shades of salmon pink, and foliage in shades of green – but is also dotted with butterflies, grasshoppers, and other whimsical cuties. The mom noted how the design makes the room look larger.

This wallpaper is sold by Anthropologie, and is made by York Wall, in their Sure Strip line. It is pre-pasted (water-activated), is thin and pliable and hugs the wall nicely, and is on a non-woven substrate which is designed to strip off the wall easily and with little-to-no damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate. Sure Strip is one of my favorite products to hang. Most of what York makes is mighty nice, too.

Originally this family was prepared to wait a few months for my next opening (I stay pretty booked with work), but I had a last-minute schedule change and was able to get their job worked in with – literally – only about 10 hours’ notice. Happy baby girl!

Calming Faux Grasscloth on a TV / Fireplace Accent Wall

October 16, 2018


If you’ve read this blog for long, or if you’ve read my informative page on grasscloth to the right, you know that I am not a fan of this material. So when clients want texture and an earthy, organic feel, I suggest some alternatives.

One of my favorite alternatives to real grasscloth is this textured vinyl product, called Bankun Raffia, made by Thibaut. It has none of the visible seams, shading, paneling, or color variations of the real stuff. What’s more, it is strong and durable, just about tear- and water-proof, and it is stain resistant.

The homeowner wisely chose this product to use as two panels flanking the fireplace wall (which is also the TV wall). The faux grasscloth adds warmth and texture and subtle color. It will hold up well against daily use, and it will be easy to remove when they are ready to redecorate.

Beautiful, Funky 1960’s Mural

August 30, 2018


This mural is on the wall of a dining room in a 1960’s home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston. It is actually larger than it appears in the photos. It’s original to the home, in perfect condition, and the ink colors are as vibrant today as they were the day it was hung.