Posts Tagged ‘wall’

Fixing Drywall Damage From Where Vanity Was Removed

January 20, 2022
The powder room in this 1990’s home in the Houston Heights is being updated, and that means replacing the wall-to-wall vanity. Here the vanity has been ripped out. The areas where the backsplash was adhered to the wall have pulled the top surface of the drywall off. In addition, the plumber had to cut out a section of drywall in order to gain access to the pipes, so he can install the new faucet and handles. You can see the connections roughed in.
You can’t hang wallpaper over this mess. First of all, it way too uneven – all those bumps will show under the new wallpaper. And the outline of the ” trapdoor ” will leave a big square ridge under the paper. Thankfully, the plumber secured the panel with drywall screws – most plumbers just leave you with a chunk of drywall floating in space, or even just an empty hole.
Back to patching issues … in addition, the torn areas of drywall will absorb moisture from the wallpaper primer and / or paste and expand, creating bubbles that will show under the new paper.
I needed to fill in dips and gouges, even out high areas, and prevent bubbling drywall.
Gardz by Zinsser to the rescue! This is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and then dries hard, binding them together and creating a stable surface, as well as resisting moisture from water-based top coatings.
This picture doesn’t look much different, but here the torn drywall is a little darker, indicating that the Gardz has soaked in and dried. The surface is now ready for a skim-coat.
But first, the trap door needs to be addressed. I covered the cut areas with four strips of self-adhesive mesh drywall tape (no photo).
Then I went over everything (wall to wall) with joint compound (commonly referred to as mud ) (no photo).
Because of the thickness of the high and low areas, this had to be a thick coat of smoothing compound, and would take a long time to dry. So I went to the jobsite two days ahead of our install date, to do these initial repairs.
And – no – you can’t use quick set or hot mud or 5 or 20 minute mud to do these repairs. These products are intended for repairs of small areas. Top coatings like primers, paint, and wallpaper paste do not stick well to them. Don’t let a contractor sweet-talk you into letting him use any of these to smooth a large area of wall.
Here is the wall after my first, heavy, coat of smoothing compound. I use Sheetrock brand’s Plus 3.
The bubbles you see just left of center show that Gardz didn’t 100% do its job of sealing out moisture, as a little expansion and blistering has occurred. Not a biggie. These will disappear when the surface is sanded. There is usually not a problem with these re-appearing.
When I got to work two days later, the smoothing compound had dried. I sanded pretty smooth. Then vacuumed up the dust on the floor, and then used a damp sponge to wipe residual dust off the wall. This is important, because no coating will stick to dust.
The wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth, so I did another skim-coat. This was much thinner, so didn’t need a lot of time to dry. I used a fan and my heat gun to speed things along.
Once that was dry, I sanded it smooth, vacuumed and then wiped off all dust. Then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime. I have the paint store (Murphy Brothers in central Houston) add a little blue tint, so I can see it when I apply it to the wall.
What a transformation! Now this wall is ready for wallpaper!

This Week’s Delaminating Walls – Finished Project

January 16, 2022
Re my two previous posts, once the wall was repaired and a liner hung, the next step was to hang the wallpaper. It went up beautifully, and the seams are invisible. No way the seams can open up again!
This pattern is called Brooklyn Toile, and is by Flavor Paper, and is in their EZ Vapes line, which is a pre-pasted paper that goes up easily and also will strip off the wall easily when you redecorate. I liked it a lot.
And many thanks to Flavor Paper, who helped make the replacement paper a little more affordable for this new family and their precious baby boy.

All told, it took me three days to strip the wallpaper, repair the surface, and replace the paper on just one wall plus a few short strips over two doors. There are, of course, charges for materials and labor to factor in. Much better to anticipate this potential problem ahead of time and take steps to prevent it. Liner, seam tape, overlapped seams are all good options.

More Work on Yesterday’s Delaminating Wall

January 15, 2022
Re yesterday’s post … after I got the wall stabilized, I skim-floated the surface to smooth it. That dried overnight, and today I sanded it smooth, vacuumed up the dust and then wiped residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then primed with good old Gardz. I feel pretty confident that that wall is secure enough to withstand the tension of drying wallpaper. But, just to be sure, I applied a liner. A liner is a special paper that goes on the wall under the decorative wallpaper. In this case, the purpose is to distribute tension so that no stress is placed directly on the wall. So it’s important that the seams of the liner and the decorative wallpaper do not line up or fall on top of each other. This way any tension is dispersed and distributed, and any inner surface that wants to delaminate will be held in place by the layers of paper over it. In this photo, the section to the left has the new white liner, and I am moving toward the right to finish this wall.
t’s important that the liner be flat and that the seams lie down tightly, so no bumps or ridges show under the new wallpaper. I was really pleased with how these seams just melted away.
There are all kinds of liner papers out there. This one is a stiff, somewhat thin non-woven option made in Germany.
Using a liner does add to the cost of the installation, for both material and labor to hang it.

Wallpaper Coming Off – Delaminating Wall

January 14, 2022

An Unfortunate Situation

This Brooklyn Toile wallpaper by Flavor Paper on an accent wall in a nursery went up beautifully. The contractor had added new Sheetrock to one wall, and painted the other, old/original wall. I skim-floated both walls and sanded smooth, primed, and hung the wallpaper. Perfect! (Search here to see my original post.) But within less than a month, the homeowner contacted me and said that the wallpaper was ” coming off the wall .” It was a 1920’s bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. And therein lies the brunt of the problem.
The wallpaper itself is not ” coming off the wall .” What’s happening is that the wall surface itself is coming apart – or, delaminating . This is because multiple layers of paint and other substances on the wall may not be compatible. A probably scenario: In 1920 oil-based paint was used. Later someone rolled on a coat of latex paint. Then the homeowners redecorated and used gloss paint. Then some ” flippers ” who had watched too much HGTV slapped on more paint without bothering to de-gloss or prime first. And somewhere in the mix you’ve got cheap paint and dust and other incompatible materials.
Over time, and especially when stress is put on the wall surface, such as when wet wallpaper paste dries and the paper shrinks, this stress can tug at the wall and actually pull these layers apart. There are other contributing factors, too, such as humidity, temperature, and location. I find it interesting that the worst parts of the affected seams were toward the top of the wall. This speaks of heat, humidity, and forced air (either hot or cold) coming out of the air vent just to the right of this wall. This photo is of the area over a door, very close to the air vent.
See how thick that is? It’s not just the wallpaper. There are several layers of wall coming apart. Some layers are clinging to the back of the wallpaper, and some are staying stuck to the wall.
Multiple layers, many years of coatings on this wall.
Easy to see the many layers. The paper itself, my blue primer, my layer of smoothing compound, paint, more paint coming off the wall. Then multiple layers of paint and texture still clinging to the wall. This shot is just below the ceiling.
Same thing happening at the baseboard at the floor.
Layers of paint separating from the wall in chunks. Some pulled off easily, and some I had to chop off with my 3″ putty knife.
Most of the paint and unstable surface material clung to the back of the wallpaper. This pile is just three strips – only half the wall. But it’s thick and stiff and heavy because of the paint stuck to the back of the wallpaper. There was so much and it was so heavy and bulky that I had to carry it out to my van in two trips. When I got home, it totally filled my trash bin.
Here’s the wall once all the other layers came off. Brushing my hand over it revealed a layer of dust. No wonder the paint and other coatings wouldn’t stick. Nothing sticks to dust. It’s like flouring a cake pan… The paint or wallpaper will kinda stick – but won’t really stick. Paint on top may be fine. But add a little stress from drying / shrinking wallpaper, and you may end up with layers that pull apart.
Wiping the walls with a damp sponge removed a lot more dust. But the wall still felt chalky. Whatever type of paint this was, it was not holding together.
I had to stabilize this chalky surface. Enter Gardz, a wonderful product – Gardz is a thin, penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces and binds substances together. It dries hard and creates an intact surface. The darker area in the picture is where I’ve rolled on a test area. Gardz is thin like water, and it runs and drips and splatters. It’s imperative that you cover floors, countertops, and baseboards, and roll carefully, and roll upward rather than downward, to minimize runs and drips. A microfiber roller holds the liquid well, and reduces drips.
Gardz is made by Zinsser.
No photo of the finished wall, but I was very pleased with the stability of the surface. No more chalk or dust. Now, there still could be unstable or incompatible layers deeper inside the wall. (Latex paint over oil without proper prep.) But for now I feel pretty confident that this wall is solid and will hold up to the next process in preparation for getting the new wallpaper up.

” Creative Wiring ” On Powder Room Light Fixture

January 1, 2022

Whoa-ah! No electrical box in the wall, and wires just fished out of a hole … Probably safe, but it’s definitely not up to code. I’m guessing that it was not possible to center the light fixture on the wall, possibly due to the location of studs or other. This light fixture is coming down and will be replaced with something else. What it means to me is, I’ll put up the wallpaper, and will just have to hope that the new light fixture can be placed within the footprint of the existing hole in the wall. To install the new fixture, which may involve inserting a proper electrical box, the electrician may have to cut holes in the wall – and the wallpaper. Even if he manages to do this carefully and with minimal cutting into the wall, it’s very possible that Big Bubba will bumble and get dirt or mess of some kind onto the wallpaper. It’s hard to fix things like this. Often it means stripping off all the wallpaper on that wall, and rehanging the whole wall. Not fun for me, and not economical for the homeowner.
The next day I learned that the homeowner is not going to reuse the light fixture, so I took it down completely, and then was able to remove the mounting plate. Now it’s possible to see what the heck went on. There is, indeed, an electrical box inside the wall. A quarter-moon sliver of the round electrical box is visible at the right. The box was not centered on the wall, possibly due to placement of studs in the wall or some other reason. So when the current light fixture went up, the mounting plate had to be moved to the left, in order to center it over the sink. The electrical wires were fished out of that small gap and were long enough to meet the light fixture a few inches to the left. There must have been a hole in the wall to repair, because I can see a chunk of new drywall that was added at some point.
Of concern to me is that the new light fixture can be installed without mucking up the new wallpaper. Some fixtures have such a small base that they barely cover a standard electrical box. Here the base has to be large enough to cover both the new, centered mounting plate, and the hole in the wall which provides access for the wires. I brought the wallpaper as tightly as possible around that hole; if the electrician needs a larger hole for access, he can simply cut small bits of the wallpaper away. If the new base is a wider rectangle, it will be wide enough to cover that hole and also be centered over the sink – problem solved!
Of course, there is also the worry that the new wallpaper might be soiled or scraped while the new fixture is being put up.

Proof That Primer Protects the Wall

December 8, 2021

This is the wall anchor that holds the toilet paper bracket. When I hung wallpaper in this powder room a few years ago, to save time and allow more time for the primer to dry, I left the towel bars and other hardware in place and primed around them. Then, as the primer was drying, I removed them.

In this photo, I have stripped off the wallpaper, using water to reactivate the paste and loosen the paper backing. The primed area of the walls held up beautifully.

But as you can see in this photo, the area that was not protected by the primer allowed the water to penetrate into the surface. You can see the original builder’s grade paint delaminating from the wall.

A Second Centered Wall In the Same Room – Tricky Feat

December 2, 2021

Re my previous post, about centering the pattern on the fireplace wall … Once a wallpaper pattern has been positioned on the first wall, as subsequent strips are placed around the room, the pattern falls in its proper sequence. Meaning, you have no control over how the design will land on all the other walls.

In this room, I felt it was important for the design to be centered on the fireplace wall (see previous post). But the headboard wall was equally visually prominent, and it would sure look best if the scalloped design could be centered on this wall, too. But the way the wallpaper strips were following each other, the pattern would fall off-center when it hit this wall.

I thought I could make it look better. It took careful engineering, precise measurements, a laser level, some secret tricky techniques, and a whole lot of time (coupla hours). But I got the swoopy design centered behind the bed and between the windows and light fixtures, so the whole area looks perfectly balanced.

To achieve this, I had to ” shrink ” the design above and below the windows. (Do a Search here to see other posts explaining this process.) And I did end up with a pattern mis-match in the corner to the left (sorry, it’s not visible in this photo). But I figured that a mis-match in a corner 17″ from the floor, plus a 4″ high section over a window were a fair trade-off for that beautiful symmetrical headboard wall.

For the record, I worked it out so that the mis-match in the corner was only about 1.5″ off from the actual match. No one’s gonna notice! So sorry I forgot to photograph this.

I will say that the features of this room, as well as the way the pattern was printed on the wallpaper, plus the pattern itself, helped immensely to achieve this balanced outcome.

The design is called Versailles and is by Schumacher.

Dry Strippable Wallpaper

November 7, 2021
Usually when you strip wallpaper, it comes off in two pieces. The top, inked layer peels off first – leaving the backing on the wall. Then you use water to soak the backing and reactivate the paste. See my how-to page to the right. But today I got lucky, because this paper stripped off easily and without needing any water. And – bonus – no damage to the wall at all!
This paper is decades old, but I believe it is an early version of the non-woven papers becoming more and more popular today. In this photo, you can see the top, decorative layer separating from the backing. The fibers showing in that backing, and the fact that I had a hard time tearing it, lead me to believe that it has the polyester fiber content that non-woven wallpapers do. This ability to strip off the wall easily and in one piece is one of the key selling points for this non-woven material. I particularly like this very thin version, because it is pliable and hugs the wall tightly.

Damage to Wall from Double-Cut, Pt I

November 5, 2021

while papering around a window, the previous installer used the double-cut technique, which is a fancy term for splicing two strips together. This is standard procedure, and he did a good job.

BUT … he failed to protect the wall surface beneath the splice. So his razor blade cut deep into the wall. You can see the crack in the photo.

The problem with this is that, now that the wall surface is not intact, it’s quite possible that the layers inside the wall (gypsum, paper, paint, more paint, wallpaper primer, etc.) can come apart from one another when the wallpaper paste dries and tugs at the wall surface.

In this photo, everything has stayed nice and flat. But very often, the split seam will curl back away from the wall. This looks bad and is difficult to repair.

A way to prevent this is to protect the wall before making the splice cut, by padding it with something to prevent the razor from scoring into the wall. Some people use old vinyl or scrap wallpaper. I like to use Boggess strips, which are flexible polycarbonate plastic strips that are impossible to cut through. Do a Search here to learn more about this cool invention.

Fun Hourglass Geometric on Home Office Accent Wall

October 30, 2021
Home office wall before – textured wall was skim-floated and sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, primed, and ready for wallpaper.
Done! The homeowner wanted the “hourglass” pattern centered on where her desk would sit, rather than on the wall itself.
Close up. The silver lines are metallic raised ink, and there is a “grainy” design that gives the impression of a textured surface.
Graham & Brown is a British company that is among my favorites.

Working from home during COVID (and now for good), this homeowner wanted to enliven her workspace and get rid of endless grey walls. This fun pattern certainly did the trick!

This non-woven wallpaper was a lot more stiff and a lot less workable than most G&B papers. I used the paste-the-wall installation method for this simple accent wall, but pasting the paper would have made it more agreeable to work with.

The home is contemporary in style, and is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.