Posts Tagged ‘wallpaper hanger’

Stripping ’00’s Vinyl Wallpaper Off Of ’90’s Wallpaper Off Of Un-Primed Drywall

May 18, 2023
Considering that this previous installer broke just about all the rules of hanging wallpaper , his job looks good, seams are tight , and it’s held up for 20 years .  This is one of the typical materials we were hanging back then, a pre-pasted , paper-backed , solid-vinyl wallcovering .  Not my favorite material at all (often curling at seams , especially in bathrooms and/or when installed without proper wall prep ).  Thankfully, they’re not very prevalent today, outside of the lower-end market.  
Anyway, these are usually fairly easy to strip off the wall .  All you need is water , a putty knife , and patience .
But here’s a wrench in the works – the previous installer hung this vinyl paper over existing wallpaper .  A big no-no!  You can see the original stuff peeking out around the light switch.    
That original wallpaper was installed by the builder in the ‘90’s , and almost always you can bet it’s been hung directly on un-primed / un-sealed Sheetrock .  This can be very difficult to get off, without tearing up the surface of the drywall.  If that original paper is paper instead of vinyl ( plastic ), sometimes it’s OK to leave it on the wall , prep it correctly, and hang the new wallpaper over it.
So that was my original plan.  Strip off the vinyl and its paper backing, and then prep the bottom layer and hang new paper over it.  But, as you can see if you look closely at the edges of the bottom wallpaper, that fuzzy manilla paper backing is telling us that it, too, is a solid vinyl material.  No matter how  you might prep it, we don’t want this thick , slick , plastic stuff under our new wallpaper.
Back to the topic of stripping wallpaper .   Done properly , it’s not a horror show.  All you need is water and patience .  The theory is to reactivate the old paste with water , and it will let go and the paper will come off the wall. 
But water won’t penetrate the vinyl / plastic layer (and it won’t penetrate the thin acrylic coating on other types of wallpaper, either ).  So, the first thing you need to do  is remove that top layer. 
These solid vinyl materials are pretty cooperative.  Simply get under the vinyl with a 3” stiff putty knife and then use your hands to pull it away from its paper backing .  It usually separates and comes off in fairly large pieces.  The same process works for thinner paper wallpapers , too, but it helps a lot if you sponge the surface first with water , as this seems to strengthen the fibers somehow, and you’ll get that top layer off in larger chunks (instead of 1” bits). Sometimes works better pulling from bottom to top, or from right to left…. experiment and see what works best.
Next use a sponge and a bucket of warm water …
… to wet that paper backing .  You’ll want to go over each area several times , to be sure it’s thoroughly saturated .  The idea is to get it wet enough that it will reactivate the wallpaper paste underneath .  Be sure to cover and protect your floor and vanity countertop .
Once that paste has softened , you should be able to use your 3” stiff putty knife to gently scrape the paper backing off the underlying surface .  If you’re really lucky , it will release easily and cleanly and all you’ll have to do is pull with your hands.
Here you can see the original layer of wallpaper underneath.  Since this turned out to be another paper-backed solid vinyl material, it also had to be removed , following the same process outlined above. 
Once that top decorative vinyl layer was removed , the paper backing was left stuck to the wall.  I wetted it , let it soak until the paste was soft, and then gently scraped it off the wall.  Doing so revealed that – what did I tell you?!  – yes, the builder’s wallpaper hanger didn’t prime or seal the wall before hanging the paper.  This is usually disasterous, because  the wallpaper will often actually bond with the drywall surface and be nearly impossible to get off.  So  I was really surprised that I was able to scrape this off with absolute no damage to the drywall .  No peeling surface , no gouges , not even much paste residue (I did sponge off what I could). 
Once all that water evaporated and the Sheetrock dried , I did some minor prep touch-ups , sanded lightly , and then applied my wallpaper primer . 
  I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime .

Preventing Mars on the Wall & Fixtures

April 22, 2020

Digital ImageDigital ImageA step ladder, which is what I normally use, does not touch the wall, so there is no worry of marks or dents. But in this room, with it’s high ceilings and awkwardly placed tub, it was necessary to use my extension ladder, which works by leaning against the wall.

In the first photo, you see how a towel is used to protect the wall and woodwork from the ladder. In the second shot, the tub has been well-padded, before placing the ladder inside (the only way to access the walls above it).

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More Reasons NOT to Let the Painters Prep the Walls for Wallpaper

May 16, 2016

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This week, I got at least three calls / e-mails that declared: “Our painters prepped the walls for you, so everything is ready to go.” NOT TRUE! Painters are good at painting, and at prepping walls and woodwork for paint. For PAINT. So why would you have them prep the walls for WALLPAPER?

I run into this a lot. I think the painters are at the house working on something else (like PAINT), and they want to pick up a little extra money, so they tell the homeowners that they can prep the walls for the paperhanger. Folks – don’t fall for it. Let the wallpaper professional do what he / she is good at. Let the WALLPAPER HANGER prep the walls, not the painter (or anyone else).

Here’s what I encountered today. The walls in this bathroom were originally textured. The painters (or contractor or some other worker) skim floated the walls to smooth them. They did a decent job. In the middle of the walls.

But look closer. These guys did not bother to remove the switch plates or the light fixtures (top photo), so there are rough areas under where the new wallpaper will go, plus a difference in height of the wall surface. I always remove towel bars and light fixtures and smooth the wall as completely as possible.

They also did not get the smoothing compound tightly into corners or along the ceiling and baseboards (second photo). This leaves a gap or jagged area where the wallpaper is supposed to be trying to hold onto the wall. Not good at all. I ask myself, “Is this a good bed for the wallpaper to lie in?” What you see in the photo is not. I always squish the smoothing compound into the corner, and then take my finger and run it along there, like you would with caulk, creating a smooth transition, which gives the wallpaper something solid to grab ahold of.

The painters did a good job of sanding the walls smooth, but they did not wipe dust off the walls. Nothing sticks to dust. Not paint, not primer, and not wallpaper. These things will “kinda” stick, but once tension / torque is put on the wall (by drying / shrinking paint or wallpaper), the subsurface is likely to let go, resulting in peeling paint or curling seams. It is imperative that sanding dust be wiped off the wall with a damp sponge, rinsed frequently, before paint or wallpaper are applied.

One e-mail I got the week stated that the painters had “prepped the walls” (whatever that means), and then applied KILZ 2 as a primer. “These guys prep walls for a high-end interior designer all the time, and this is what they use.” But why would you not ask the paperhanger who is going to hang the paper which primer he / she prefers? KILZ 2 is a sealer and stain blocker. It is not a wallpaper primer. It was developed as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to KILZ Original, but is not nearly as good. It is also latex, which is not a good choice under wallpaper.

Once a product is on the wall, it’s on there. You can’t get it off. So you can only go over it with something more suitable. This results in more and more layers piled up on the wall, some of which may be compatible and may adhere to one another, and some of which may not. Now put paste, wallpaper, and tension-while-drying on top of that. See where this is going?

If you want to have your painter prep the walls for wallpaper – go ahead. But as I tell my clients: You can pay your painter to “prep the walls,” but you’re going to pay me to do it over again.

“There Are No Paperhangers in Katy”

July 23, 2013

A client called me today and said she lives in Katy and was having a Devil of a time finding someone to hang wallpaper for her.

She said she couldn’t find a local paperhanger, and then she had contacted a number of painters, and even interior designers, and everyone told her that they either didn’t install wallpaper, or were taking it down – not putting it up.

Well, all those painters and decorators must be behind the times, because wallpaper is very much in style – it’s all over HGTV and in all the “shelter” magazines.

Hey, Katy residents! I am here, I hang wallpaper, and I work in Katy! If you’re looking to pump up the decorating volume in your home with a little pattern and color, please call or e-mail me!

Think It’s Time for New Truck Signs?!

July 23, 2013

Digital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageHaving your name and what you do displayed on your vehicle is a very valuable marketing tool. I get calls all the time from people who have seen my van around town. And, if someone sees you parked in front of his neighbor’s house all day, they figure the neighbor has done research to hire a good wallpaper hanger, and so they’re likely to call me, too.

The old signs were about 10 years old, so I think they served me well. They only started curling and crumbling six months ago or so, so they didn’t look quite this bad for very long.

I got the original ones at Fast Signs. I went there again to get the new ones, but they had a screwy rule that I had to sign a commitment to buy the signs BEFORE they would show me what they would look like. Phooey on that!

I ended up buying from a shop in Brenham, Texas. And guess what? The cost was 1/3 cheaper than Fast Signs. 🙂

I wish I had asked her to make the lettering a little fatter, to be more easily readable from a distance. But all in all, I think they look great.

These new signs were made by Andrea Fischer, of the Ink Link, in Brenham, Texas.

Clarification Please!

August 11, 2012

This was on the instruction sheet that came with pattern #768435, a Barbara Becker paper by Rasch:

“Apply paste (special paste) directly onto the wall with a lambskin roller.”

Note that there is absolutely NO reference as to WHAT the heck IS this “special paste!”

So I punted, and used my regular paste (this time, it was Roman’s 838), and the installation went just fine.

I hope to have pics soon. This went on an accent wall behind the counter and display case of Gusto, a soon-to-be-open shop on S. Shepherd offering home made Mediterrean food ready to take home, heat, and eat.

I got samples today, and I can attest – these folks can COOK!

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Manufacturer’s Imperfect Seams

August 10, 2012

Click the image to see a larger view…

Danged manufacturers can’t cut their paper straight.  If they can’t produce a straight edge, how can I get a perfectly butted seam?

The problem, which I hope you can see in the pics, is that in places the paper overlaps just a tiny bit, and in other places it gaps.

If I try to push the paper to close the gaps, it increases the overlapped part.   And all this pushing stresses the paper – which is only going to dry and shrink back to the size it wants to be, anyway.  You can tell the flaw is on the manufacturing end, because the gap and the overlap appear at the same spot on the pattern every time it repeats on the strip.

Most customers don’t notice this, but it’s frustrating, because I’d like to give a perfect installation.  But when the manufacturer won’t / can’t cut perfectly, it’s impossible.  I’ve called and talked to manufacturers, and they freely admit that they can’t cut the paper absolutely straight – that’s why, with a striped patern, you never find a seam plotted exactly on the edge of a stripe….it’s always in the middle of a stripe.

And don’t worry,,,  While I could not close the slight gap, I did not leave this paper overlapped.  Once  I finished taking the photo, I worked the seam to be nice and flat.

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Commerce Coincidence

June 26, 2012

A wallpaper hanger buddy of mine (Don Dye), did a job a month or so ago in a loft-style townhome on Commerce Street in a developing area a bit east of downtown.

Don had transported some tape and materials for me, so I drove over to his work site to pick them up. This also gave me a chance to spy on my buddy and his job – which involved a 2-story wall over a fireplace. It’s always fun seeing how someone else works, his techniques, tools, materials, etc.

Well, last week I got a call to come look at a job in a new townhome a little east of downtown …. on Commerce Street. When I got there yesterday to do the bid, it turned out to be just one townhome complex away from where Don’s job was.

Small world!

Nice people, too, BTW, with some cool decorating ideas and innovative colors and patterns. It will be fun working on that job!





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Saving the Wall Texture

November 27, 2011

In a recent post, I talked about stripping off a mural that had hung on a dining room accent wall for more than a decade, so the homeowners could repaint the wall and show off a large piece of artwork.

The mural came off fairly easily, and with no damage to the wall, which pleased me.

Once I started getting pieces of the wallpaper off, I was able to see how the original guy had done the installation. He had “skim floated” the textured walls with “mud” (drywall joint compound, the same plaster-like material used to cover joints and seams in new wallboard), and then sanded the mud smooth, so the surface would be absolutely smooth and flat, with no bumps to mar the surface of the new mural.

I do the exact same thing; however, I always coat the new surface with a primer before hanging any wallpaper.

But the previous installer had not used a primer. This was good for me in two ways… For one thing, it’s usually very easy to get old wallpaper off a wall surface consisting of joint compound. It simply doesn’t hold paste as tightly as a primed or painted wall would.

Second, since the joint compound had not been sealed, it was easy to reactivate it with plain water. That meant that the joint compound could be wiped off the wall – revealing the original paint color and even the original wall texture.

Because the homeowners intended to paint the wall once the mural was removed, they would have to retexture it, and hopefully get the new texture to match the original texture that was on the other three walls of the dining room. This is very tough to do, even for an experienced painter, because the original texture had been blown on, which is quite difficult and costly to do in a room that has furniture, drapes, carpeting, and other things you don’t want covered with texture!

But in this case, I was able to easily wipe off the joint compound, revealing the original texture, which, of course, perfectly matched the existing texture on the remaining three walls.

This meant the homeowners had a room where all four walls matched, and they didn’t have to pay a painter to redo the texturing.

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