Posts Tagged ‘wallcovering’

COVID Pandemic – Insight re Wallpaper ‘s Impact On Our Homes and Our Psyche

June 17, 2022

Taken from the current issue of The Installer , the newsletter of the Wallcovering Installers Association ( WIA ).

” The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent
shelter-in-place mandates brought home as
never before how crucial interior décor is to our
everyday lives. Surrounded by our own walls,
we learned that bland, dull interiors make for
a boring and dull life, while vibrant interiors
create a sense of energy and liveliness. “

Summer 2022 issue

Wallpaper Woes in Chinese Restaurant

April 10, 2022
While waiting for my order to be ready, I couldn’t help but notice problems ….
Wallpaper starting to curl at the seams.
Wallpaper twisting in corners as the building shifts and drywall moves. This is pretty common in Houston.
Other signs of poorly maintained building and/or climate control issues.
Seam curling back. I believe this to be a lower-end solid vinyl wallpaper on a gritty paper backing – one of my least preferred types.
When the walls are not prepared correctly, and the paper is not hung properly, and when there is a lot of humidity (door left open, steam from kitchen getting into waiting area, A/C not running or turned off at night), humidity can enter into the seams and be wicked up by the paper backing. The paper expands and pushes away from the wall, causing the edges of the wallpaper to curl back.
The next step is that the vinyl surface can actually delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing. This is pretty impossible to repair.
At the very bottom, you can see the vinyl separating from the paper backing.
The wallpaper has been wrapped around this outside corner, and a new piece of paper overlapped on top of it. When this is done, with vinyl material, you’re supposed to use special vinyl-over-vinyl ( VOV ) adhesive, because regular wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to vinyl / plastic .
But even if the installer had used the correct adhesive, under humid conditions or with improper wall prep, the odds are that this wallpaper job will start to fail.
Also note dirt along the ceiling, and along the chair rail in the previous photo. General lack of maintenance and I am really suspecting lack of climate control.
The black smudges appear to be mildew coming from underneath the paper. Again, probably related to humidity.
Vinyl wallpaper is a sheet of plastic, and moisture can be trapped behind it. That can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
So why use vinyl wallpaper? Mainly because the surface is much more washable than most other types of wallpaper. In a business, washability is attractive.
But these property owners chose a low-end vinyl product, most likely skipped proper wall prep such as a wallpaper primer, and have not provided a hospitable environment for the paper.
There are other vinyl wallcoverings that would have held up better. For instance, vinyl on a scrim ( woven fabric ) backing, or the newer backing called non-woven , which has a 20% polyester content, and therefore less likely to wick up humidity.

Peel & Stick = Bad Stuff. Don’t Fall For It!

November 25, 2021
he lure of (false!) claims of easy to install and easy to remove led these homeowners to purchase peel & stick ” wallcovering ” and try to install it themselves. It did not go well. The wall was coated with a gloss paint, as per manufacturer’s instructions. Yet, here you can see that it is not even trying to adhere to the wall.
Many brands come in rectangles of a few square feet, rather than traditional strips that are long enough to reach floor to ceiling. These small rectangles are much harder to keep perfectly lined up, so you are very likely to end up with overlaps or gaps at the seams.
It’s not pliable or malleable, so won’t readily be eased into corners or turns. Here, note wrinkles and warps in the corner in the center of the photo, and at the ceiling line in the center top of the photo.

The wall was not smoothed before applying the paper, so you see unsightly texture. The roughness is also interfering with good adhesion, because the paper is only sticking to the tops of the bumps, instead to the entire surface.
So much for easily removeable. As you can see, trying to take this stuff down – it took the paint along with it.

Cool Wallpaper in Martha Stewart Living Magazine

October 3, 2021
This murky and mysterious pattern is by Trove, a high-end brand. As always, there are similar designs available by more affordable companies.
I love the way the black plays against the rest of the very white bathroom. Look closely and you’ll see bats!
This wallcovering reflects census documents from the 1820’s – the year the home was built. Cool idea!

From the October 2021 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. I do sense a little Halloween flavor in these designs.

Here’s one I did in December 2019 that is similar to the Trove (top photo). https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/wacky-abstract-lindsay-cowels-wallpaper/

New York Toile in Hall Bathroom

August 11, 2021

Katie Kime makes this very popular line of city toile wallpapers. There is one for most major cities here and abroad. Not just wallcovering … pajamas, notecards, mugs, all sorts of things.

KK normally prints on a nice non-woven substrate. But these days, due to shortages tied to the COVID pandemic, they can’t the the raw materials, so have switched to a thick, stiff, heavy vinyl product.

It is difficult to work with, on many fronts, and doesn’t look as nice as their original material. IMO

Still, the room is shaping up nicely (will finish it tomorrow), and the client loves it.

My favorite motif is the scene with the lady hailing the taxi, and particularly the little old lady walking the poodle. Straight out of the ’60’s! You can just envision her blue tinted hair and tidy rent-controlled apartment in a ’30’s era building.

Cute As Can Be Pineapples In Clear Lake Powder Room

August 21, 2020


Originally, this powder room in a brand new home in the Clear Lake area south of Houston was painted a taupe-y grey, and the walls were heavily textured. This bright and crisp Pineapple pattern in navy on white really opened up and brightened the room, and made it fitting for a family with two toddlers.

It took a day and a half to smooth the textured walls, and a full day to hang the paper. The extremely un-plumb walls and un-level ceiling and floor and sink, and other features were all obstacles. The homeowner and I decided that it would be better to have the pattern match in the corners, and then let it run crooked along the ceiling and floor lines. Too complicated to get into here. But in the end, the finished room looks great!

I usually love Serena & Lily papers, but this time I encountered several printing defects. There was a slight pattern mis-match at the seams. There was a faint smudge on one motif at the point of every pattern repeat. And one bolt had a line of dark blue ink along the right edge that ran for several feet. AND … this bolt came with no label. I assumed it was a return, and was of a different run, and thus was unusable in this powder room Luckily, I usually have the homeowners order enough paper to accommodate issues like this.

Coincidentally enough, my Wallcovering Installers Association colleagues on our private Facebook page had just been discussing Serena & Lily papers, and a rash of printing defects and other issues that many installers had been experiencing lately.

Other than the printing defects and wonky walls, the paper went up nicely.

Serena & Lily papers (and other home good merchandise) can be bought on-line, or through their paper catalog – which they just mailed out recently.

Using a Uni Tool

June 9, 2020

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image
I first saw this tool at the 2013 paperhangers’ convention, and it was lust at first sight. Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to buy one. It was designed by a member of the paperhangers’ guild (the Wallcovering Installers Association), and serves a number of purposes. The lady’s name is Eunice, so we call her tool a “Euni (or Uni) Tool.”

I’ll spare you the technical details and just focus on what I use it for mostly, which is a straight edge guide for double cutting wallpaper (splicing two pieces). There is a non-slip pad under the left edge, the pointy end allows you to get right up to the ceiling, and then you use the right edge as a guide when cutting. Today I used it when cutting through two layers of wallpaper, and also used it to cut through one layer, by butting it up against the next strip and then resting my blade against the edge of the trimmer.

In the bottom photo, you can see what a nice, tight seam this made.

Silver Cork in Art Niches

April 19, 2020

Digital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageWallpapering just the back of a niche or bookcase is a wonderful way to get maximum impact for little money.

One of the first things the homeowner said when I arrived for work was how expensive this silver cork wallcovering was. The good thing is that we only need one double roll. That provided enough to paper the backs of both niches. One had a barely-noticeable seam down the middle, and the other, which was less than 36″ wide (the width of the material), was seamless.

The homeowners loved it, and are now happily searching for something to put in the niches. I think something three-dimensional would look best … an architectural piece, a statue, some old rusty object, etc.

The pattern is Thibaut #839-T-7047

Nubby Grasscloth / Not-So-Nubby Grasscloth

January 21, 2020


Grasscloth is made from natural fibers, and you never know quite exactly what you will get from bolt to bolt, and even from strip to strip.

In the first photo, you see a lot of “nubs” or knots – where the individual grass fibers have been tied together. You also see a seam, and see how uniform this particular material is. Quite often, the seams are a lot more visible. (see previous posts)

Back to nubs … In the second photo, a strip taken from the same bolt, there are far fewer knots.

Nothing right or wrong with either scenario – just showing how the material can change in appearance, even within the same bolt.

Personally, me, I prefer the more nubby texture.

Just an aside – most of this stuff is made in China. It is made by hand. And there really are workers who harvest tall reeds of grass, lay them in the sun to dry, and then come the little ladies who sit all day and grab handsfull of the grass and knot the reeds together, so these can then be sewn onto the paper backing and turned into wallcovering.

Peel & Stick = Piece of Sh!t

September 24, 2019


We’re seeing more and more of this peel-and-stick, supposedly “removable” and “repositionable” plastic wallcovering. Unfortunately, many homeowners read the lofty claims by the manufacturers and think it will be a perfect alternative to traditional wallpaper. It is not.

The stuff is awful – I won’t hang it, and most of my friends won’t either.

First of all, you don’t NEED an alternative to traditional wallpaper – you just need quality paper and someone who will properly prep the walls and then properly install the paper.

Getting back to P&S, the stuff is virtually impossible to hang. Imagine a 9’x2′ strip of Contact Paper, trying to position that on a wall without it wrinkling or sticking to itself, and then trying to butt another strip up next to it. Not gonna happen. It also does not “remove easily” … well, it does, but it will tear your wall apart in the process.

These homeowners had some guys doing other work in the nursery, and they said they could hang the wallpaper, too. They weren’t experienced paperhangers, and they weren’t up to the battle against this P&S. Virtually no one is.

First, they should have smoothed out the textured wall. Second, most P&S products spec that the wall should be sealed with a semi-gloss paint, which needs to dry and cure for two weeks. As you can see, this adds time and labor charges to the job.

I’m not sure why there are gaps at the seams (top two photos), but better prep would surely have helped prevent this. The large wrinkles are due to the inflexiblity of the material and its unwillingness to twist or stretch into position. With the baby on the way, the homeowner dad got desperate and used nails to try to tack down the curling paper.

The baby girl arrived, the parents lived with this wall for a while, and, when life settled down, they contacted me. I counseled them to forget the P&S and to choose a traditional wallpaper.

They zoomed in on this butterfly pattern by SuperFresco. This material is one of the newish non-woven materials, which contain a component of fiberglass and thus don’t expand or shrink, and won’t tug at the wall, so fewer worries of seems popping loose. These qualities also make it possible to dry-hang the paper, by pasting the wall instead of pasting the paper. I usually paste the paper, but on a single accent wall such as this (no toilets or sinks or fancy moldings to work around), pasting the wall works beautifully. It also saved me lugging my heavy, bulky work table up to this townhome’s third floor. 🙂

Removing the P&S paper was easy – it is strong and held together while I tugged it off the wall … I could do it all from the floor, without even climbing the ladder. Unfortunately, it took much of the paint along with it. So much for the “removable” claim.

It was still as sticky as the day it was born – so I rolled it all up and stuck it to itself and tossed the whole mess into the trash. Done and gone!

I skim-floated the wall to smooth it, sanded smooth, vacuumed, wiped residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then rolled on Gardz, a penetrating primer-sealer, that also is a great undercoat for wallpaper.

All that (especially waiting for the smoothing compound to dry) took several hours. I think it was about 6:00 before I started hanging wallpaper!

Thin non-wovens generally go up with pleasingly invisible seams, and this one did, too. I was surprised to discover more than a few large wrinkles and bubbles. This could have been because the paper got twisted during installation, because the wall was smooth but not flat, because of some uneven reaction between the substrate and the paste which caused off-gassing (burps!), or some other reason. But it meant that I had to go over the wall several times, checking to be sure all areas were firmly secured to the wall.

The finished accent wall looks great! It’s a gentler pattern and a quieter color, and doesn’t hit you in the face as the original floral pattern did. There’s a little bit of fun shimmer in the scattered pearlized butterflies, and the blue-grey wings coordinate nicely with the three grey walls in the rest of the room.

Finally, Baby Girl is ready to move into her own room!