Posts Tagged ‘wallpaper installation houston’

Room Useage Trends in Young Families

August 15, 2012

I blogged some months ago about how many young families are spending their time in the great room of the house, leaving the formal dining and living rooms unused. Many of these families have turned one of those rooms into a play room for the kids.

Where I worked today, the family had done the same thing. But they took it one step further… Directly across the hall from the living room-turned-play room was the dining room – which they had converted into a play room of sorts for the dad.

The room was dominated by a pool table, including a rectangular flourescent light fixture, shelves around the walls for the guy’s collectibles, and, on the largest wall, a huge mural of his favorite movie heros.

If you’re not going to be sitting in your front room sipping tea and thumbing through the latest hot novel, why not turn it into a room you can really use? I think this is a great idea!

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Wallpaper and Hair Permanents

February 14, 2012

I got my hair permed today. Since the van was in the shop (Astro vans are Hell on front end suspension – or should I say CRAPPY HOUSTON STREETS are Hell on suspension systems??!), I road my bicycle, even though it was raining. Simply donned a poncho and road through the rain.

It was still raining when the perm was done and I was ready to go. I slipped into my poncho and headed for the door.

All of a sudden, I saw a look of horror cross my hair stylist’s face. “You canNOT let your hair get wet for three days!” she cried.

I have to admit, I got quite a chuckle out of this. You see, Erica had about the exact same look I get on my face when I finish a wallpaper job I’ve put a lot of time and effort and pride into, and the first thing the homeowner does is walk up and RUN HER HAND OVER THE PAPER…or any other action that could potentially soil, stain, abrade, or otherwise hurt the paper.

I guess Erica and I are both Nervous Nellies about wanting our creations to look and perform their absolute best.

Incidentally, my hair stylist is Erica, the owner of Vertigo Hair Concepts, at 3208 S Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77098, (713) 574-8642. She’s been treating my hair for over a decade, and I wouldn’t trust anyone else. I highly recommend her.





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Clay Paste & Grasscloth – Uh-Oh!!

February 3, 2012

I did a repair job last weekend in a room that had been papered some years back in a white woven grasscloth. Althouth the left over paper in the box was white, all the paper on the walls was a yellowish tan.

When removing the piece I was replacing, I could see that the original installer had used clay-based paste. (Read my previous comments on clay paste in my posts under Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper.)

When hanging grasscloth, a product that stains very easily, it’s crucial that the workman uses a very clear paste, formulated specifically for grasscloth, linen, silk, and other such materials. In addition, extra care must be taken to be sure no paste gets onto the surface of the paper. Otherwise, staining is inevitable.

And EVERY installer knows – or SHOULD know, that clay paste stains just about EVERYthing, and should NEVER be used with grasscloth.

It’s my belief that the clay paste, which is grey/brown/red in color, actually seeped through the backing of the wallpaer, causing the color to transfer to the surface of the grasscloth. What is amazing is that the color was so uniform – no blotching or areas of higher color concentration.

It does happen that stains will work their way through a wallpaper. Ink, blood, rust, water stains, grease, etc., will often eventually come through the paper, if not sealed with a primer such as KILZ. Usually this takes a while.

(People sometimes ask why I don’t eat or drink while I’m working. It’s because I don’t want any chance that grease or sugar will get onto the surface of the wall or the wallpaper. Plus it’s distracting.)

What’s even more amazing in this case, the homeowner said that the discoloration showed up immediately. She said when thhe workmen were finished, she was so disappointed, becasuse she had bought this beautiful white grasscloth, but the finished room turned out to be yellow/tan.




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Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Gratification from the Bottom Up

January 23, 2012

Most people who choose Bradbury & Bradbury paper are going for the Victorian or Arts & Crafts period look. And no wonder – take a look at these gorgeous room sets:

As you look at the photographs, you will see that the beauty of the rooms lies in the combination of several papers, layering borders over fills over dados, with numerous patterns in the same room.

That’s the look the people were going for, in the job I did recently. They have a 1906 house, with dark woodwork and moldings dividing the walls into sections: a top, a middle, and a bottom. Just perfect for the B&B look!

They chose Bird & Anemone for the bottom, Claire’s Willow for the middle, and Claire’s Willow layered with the Prairie Frieze at the top

I started at the bottom, which had strips about 5′ long. Didn’t even need to get on my ladder! : ) As the walls filled with paper, you could begin to see the pattern play around the room.

The next day, I hung the middle section. There was less pattern, but still enough to add character and texture to the room. The theme was building.

The third day, I installed the lower part of the top section first, which was the same pattern as in the middle wall section just below it. The room was getting prettier and prettier as the day went on.

But NOTHING makes a Bradbury & Bradbury room like the final touch – the Bradbury & Bradbury frieze (border).

The dining room I did was pretty all along. But as the border went up, the room came positively ALIVE. It added color, it added personality, it added depth and character. It made the room SING “Arts & Crafts.”

Wish I had a picture. Well, just go to the B&B website (link above), and click and scroll through the many patterns and roomsets. You’ll be WOW’ed, too!

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Flaw of the Day

January 21, 2012

Georgetown Design #CG5725

Bashed edges, which is common. Gee, why can’t they put a little BUBBLE WRAP around the edges of the rolls, before cramming them into the paper wrapper and sending them on their way with the big burly UPS guy?

Also, there was one semi-colon shaped smudge of ink near the left edge of one roll. This occurred on a short piece that I was using over the vanity, and I was able to put it on the left end of that wall, which allowed me to cut off that part since the full width was not needed.




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Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Yellow Water

January 20, 2012

Wallpaper manufacturers always include in their instructions admonitions to be sure not to let any paste remain on the surface of the paper, because it can cause the ink to flake off, or otherwise damage the surface of the paper.

Now, you’d think that the scientists in wallpaper factories would figure out a way to keep inks on their paper, especially considering that paste is REQUIRED in order for the paper to stick to the wall. But that’s fodder for another thread….

So we installers are always wiping the surface of wallpaper as it’s hung, to remove any paste that may have gotten onto the surface.

How does paste get on the surface in the first place? From lying face down on the work table while being pasted, and paste that’s brushed to the edges of the paper can get underneath and onto the surface. From being pressed against the wall during installation, and sometimes excess paste is squished out at the seams. From the installer’s hands, if he has not kept them clean. From unfolding a booked sheet (folded pasted side to pasted side) and having a strip flap and knock into the pasted side. From smearing against wooden molding as the sheet is being brought to the wall.

So we wipe those bits of paste off. And most papers hold up to a reasonable amount of this wiping.

I was surprised, then, to find my terry cloth rags taking on the yellow ochre color of the Bradbury wallpaper. Some of the ink was coming off the paper and onto my rags.  Rinsing my rags sent a lot of yellow water down the sink.

Not a big deal, it happens. But if too much of it comes off, you can end up with blotchiness in some areas of the paper.

That’s why it’s important to know how much to wipe the paper, how much pressure to use, in which direction to move, and to try not to allow paste to get on the surface in the first place, especially with porous papers.

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Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Loose Seams

January 20, 2012

For more on this story, read previous posts.

After working through a million types of paste (a slight exaggeration), and finally finding one that worked well with the paper and did not leave staining or “dark seams,” I was happy to have the job finished, and the homeowners reasonably satisfied.

But then a few weeks later came the call: “Julie, the seams are coming loose.”

When a job is well done, wallpaper stays on the wall, usually for years and years. One of the main factors that causes paper to come loose is humidity. (And I’m sure I’ll blog on that biggie some time down the road.) But this B&B was hung in a dining room, not a bathroom, so humidity was not an issue.
I was curious to see what had happened.

When I got to the house, I saw that the paper was, indeed, coming off the wall, with large areas of the seams coming loose, even up to 3″-5″ in spots.

Looking at the back of the paper, I didn’t see paste, which is what you would see if the paste had not held tight. Instead, the paper had a thick feel, and had a thin layer of the white primer adhering to it.

I’ve seen this once before – the primer had delaminated. Meaning, that the primer had come apart in layers, leaving one thin layer on the wall, and one thin layer on the paper, held by the paste.

I have only had this happen one time before, when friends talked me into using a water-based acrylic primer. So I was very surprised to see this happen with my standard oil-based KILZ.

Since the problem was only on the bottom section of the room, which was hung with the clay paste (the upper sections, which were hung with cellulose paste were fine), my surmization is that the failure was caused by an incompatibility between the primer and the clay paste.  Indeed, I have since learned that, due to the “green movement,” polymers in oil-based primers have changed, and pastes no longer stick to them, or at least not as well.  This experience seems to bear that out, as least with respect to clay-based paste.

But to deepen the mystery, the only walls with loose seams were the east and west walls. The north and south walls, and two narrow east and west walls, were perfectly adhered.


Weird or not, mysterious or nor, the homeowners needed to have a proper looking room. So, after carefully measuring and plotting to be sure we had enough left-over paper, all the loose paper on the worst wall was torn off. There was just enough paper left to redo that wall, this time using cellulose-based Ecofix paste purchased from B&B, being careful to place the seams so they did not overlap where the old seams had been (to minimize stress on the wall, and minimize the chances of the seams pulling up – for a whole different reason, which just might be the topic of a future blog!) That took care of the west wall.

The east wall didn’t have as bad of loose seams (pardon the grammar), and we didn’t have any more paper anyway, so I worked the paste into the loose areas to readhere the paper to the wall.

This sounds like a quick fix, but is in itself tricky, because the moisture from the paste, as well as from my rags wiping the surface clean, can cause sections of the paper to swell and lift away from the wall, causing even more problems. The trick is to use enough paste to get the paper to stick, but not enough to allow moisture to wick to other areas of the paper.

This wall also had some shrinkage of the paper, which left very narrow strips of white showing at the seams. Once the paper was repasted, it stretched enough to mostly cover this. To be sure no white showed, though, I painted the wall just beneath each seam, a color that nearly matched the paper.

The replaced west wall looked good, the repaired east wall looked good enough (but I am not confident that the inner sections of the strips, which are still adhered with clay paste, will not eventually start to come away from the wall).

With the furniture placed back in the room, and people looking at the food on the dining room table instead of the walls, everything will be fine.

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Beachside Mural on HGTV

January 17, 2012

Yesterday on a segment of Room Crashers, they redid a guest room that doubles as a den for the family. The homeowners wanted a beachy feel.

There were many facets that contributed to the beach theme, of course. But the most powerful was the use of a photo mural that took up one entire wall. It was the clasic white beach / blue sea / palm tree scenario.

It was beautiful, added depth and color, gave the feel of the beach, and the homeowners loved it.

Now, from a paperhanger’s point of view, I noticed that they had a professional install the mural (a lady, too!) instead of trying to DIY in one hour. Also, atypically, the mural came in full length strips, rather than the eight half-wall-height panels that are more common.

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Flaw of the Day

January 5, 2012

Ecochic by Wallquest Pattern # TA90217

This was a rather odd one…. The room took eight single rolls (four double rolls). One of the double rolls had, just about all the way through it, a sporadic defect …. It appeared as if something got stuck on the printing press and caused the front of the paper to stick to the backside of itself as it was rolled up… Sorry if this sounds complicated; if you work with rolled goods, it makes perfect sense.

Anyway, the result was a 5″ long by 1/8″ wide strip that had the printed design peeled off the face of the paper, smack in the middle of the roll, about every two feet.

It ruined a full 9′ strip of paper, and more, as I had to cut around this defect. There is one place on the wall where I had to leave the defective paper, or there would not have been enough to finish the room. But it’s in a fairly hidden area, and I disguised it with paint, so hopefully, in the dim light of a powder room, it won’t be noticeable.

Would be nice if defects didn’t happen at all, of course. This paper cost the homeowner about $100 per double roll, with shipping, etc.

Also, not really a defect, but it is something that manufacturers could prevent if they wanted to… This paper shrank a little as it dried. This happens commonly on papers (as opposed to solid vinyls) and is not always a problem. But since this particular pattern is a dark brown, the white lines showing up at each seam are noticeable. A quick fix with a little of the right kind of paint makes these lines disappear in a jiffy.

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Flaws & Defects – A Running Journal

December 27, 2011

People, I’m so tired of defects in wallpaper!

Some people say that I’m overly picky – I don’t think so. I think that when people pay good money for paper, they should get reasonably good quality. More and more these days, I find defects that make the goods unuseable.

This seems to be happening more and more, and I’m told that it’s partially because much wallpaper is being made over seas these days. (Can you read “China?” – Hello pet food and Corning Ware and other products whose quality has fallen when they started being manufactured outside the U.S.)

Throwing paper away because of a flaw can mean there won’t be enough to finish the job. Sometimes the company will replace the paper – but only if you catch it before cutting up the roll. Tough luck if most of the room has been hung, and a problem shows up in the middle of a roll.

And even if the company replaces the paper at no charge, it means the customer has to live with an incomplete room for the length of time it takes to hassle with the manufactur, sales rep, retail store, etc., until the new paper arrives and can be installed.

I send a lot of paper back, in hopes that the manufacturers will correct the problem, or at least stop selling the defective run. Often, however, they do nothing. Sometimes the bad paper ends up being sold as an inexpensive close-out to unsuspecting retailers. Many of these papers make their ways into compilation books (I will blog on this in the future) and are labled under different brand names.

Enough ranting. I decided to make note of the various flaws and defects as they come along. Here comes the first one…

Last week, I hung some “Ecochic” paper by Wallquest. I encountered two problems:

1. There were some tiny flecks of black embedded in the pale aqua paper, about half way through one roll, probably stray pieces of dirt or fiber that got into the machinery during the manufacturing process. One I was able to dig mostly out with my razor blade, and disguise the remnants by dabbing on joint compound, which would dry to about the color of the pattern on the paper. It was in a spot where it would not be likely to be noticed. The other black spots were very small and, from a distance, would not catch one’s attention.

2. The other defect was a groove gouged into the edge of the roll of paper. This meant that as the paper unrolled from the bolt, there was a small chip missing every few inches along one edge of the paper. This was small, but it was visible, and made for a poorly butted seam. I saved this roll for last, and luckily was able to hang most of the room without using this particular roll.

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