Posts Tagged ‘wallpaper’

Painter’s Tape Can Pull Off Paint

June 14, 2019


Painter’s tape is definitely useful. But you’ve got to be careful when you remove it. We already know that it can / will pull the inked layer off of wallpaper. (Do a search here.)

But, as this photo shows, it can also pull paint off the wall.

Possibly, if the painter had pulled gently, the tape would not have pulled the paint off the wall.

But it’s also possible that the wall surface beneath the paint was unstable (dusty, or some other factor), and that caused the paint to give way and come apart from the wall.

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Getting Smoothing Compound To Dry

June 13, 2019


The walls in this powder room were textured. (see top photo) To ensure that the new wallpaper looks good, and that it has a solid surface to cling to, the walls need to be smoothed. This is called floating, or skim coating, and I do a lot of it here in Houston. To do that, I trowel on a plaster-like substance, let it dry, then sand it, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then prime.

What takes the most time is waiting for the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound, which we also call “mud”) to dry. If the texture is heavy, often it has to dry overnight. The downside of this is that it adds an extra day of labor and expense. But when the texture is lighter, the drying can be speeded along.

In the second photo, you see some of the ways I get mud to dry more quickly. On the counter* you see two box fans, and on the floor is a much stronger fan. On the counter is also a space heater. Hot air in the room absorbs moisture, sucking it out of the wet smoothing compound. I let the room heat up, and then I have to open the door and let the moist air out – over and over again.

The yellow objet on the floor is a heat gun. A heat gun acts like a hair dryer on steroids, and can get small stubborn areas to dry pretty quickly.

A few other things help speed drying … Walls coated with flat paint will dry more quickly than with glossy paint. And having the air conditioning and / or heat cranking away will help, because, while regulating the temperature, these climate-control systems also pull humidity out of the air. I also like to turn the HVAC system’s fan from “Auto” to “On,” so that air is circulating continuously, which also pulls humidity out of the air and helps the walls to dry.

*I normally keep a dropcloth on the vanity counter. But the vibrating fans can cause the dropcloths to slip, and you don’t want anything crashing down on the homeowner’s countertop. I do have lengths of self-grip shelf liner that help keep the fans from moving around too much.

Water and Hands Stain Walls and Wallpaper

June 12, 2019


See the stains from water drips, finger prints, and smudges? They’re faint, but they’re visible.

These photos were taken in a powder room, right next to the light switches – you know, the spot where everyone touches as soon as he enters the room. And the next two photos are from under the hand towel – you know, right where everyone is shaking water off his hands as he reaches for a towel.

This is pretty normal use in a home where you have children. And even minus the kids, water is likely to get splashed on walls around a sink or when reaching for a towel. And hands fumbling for a light switch will leave stains on the walls (even clean hands contain oils that will stain surfaces).

The point is, learn to live gently in your home, especially when you add wallpaper. Wallpaper is not as cleanable as paint, and can be stained by everyday wear and tear.

For this particular home, the designer has ordered grasscloth. Grasscloth and other natural materials are even more easily stained than plain wallpaper. This home has young children, so, once the new grasscloth goes up, you can bet they will be receiving the Wallpaper Lady’s lecture about not splashing or touching the new paper.

Light-Hued Geometric Updates a Hollywood Bath in West U

June 8, 2019



The kids are grown and gone, so it’s time for an update to this bathroom. The original black & white floral wasn’t bad, but perhaps a bit outdated. And most of the seams had succumbed the curling and pouching that happens when you use the lower-end pre-pasted paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers in humid rooms – like two teenaged girls showering. 🙂 Besides all that, Mom wanted a fresh new look for her empty nest.

I stripped the paper and prepped the walls – both of which took a lot more work than expected, and way more detail than you want to read here. The install also took a long time … Let’s just say it was way after dark when I finished and went home.

The room had its share of complicated elements. But also working with a geometric print requires a lot of extra steps, to keep the design elements plumb and aligned with the ceiling and woodwork (which are not necessarily plumb), and to keep the pattern matched up as it turns corners – most of which are wonky.

Also, it took a certain amount of plotting and measuring to have the pattern look uninterrupted as it played out above and then below the chair rail.

This paper is in the SureStrip line by York, and is one of my favorites to work with. It is a thin non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the walls when it’s time to redecorate. It’s pre-pasted, which means that there is a thin layer of dry adhesive on the back, that is activated by water – you can use several methods to do this. SureStrip is always a nice, cooperative paper to hang, and on the wall, it performs well over time.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Lower-End Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

June 7, 2019

People often think that vinyl wallpaper will be good in a bathroom, because water will roll off it. but in reality, very little water gets splashed on the walls – but a lot of moisture can get wicked into the seams.

These photos (you may want to scroll to enlarge them) show how the lower-end, paper-backed, solid-vinyl wallpapers tend to perform poorly in humid rooms like bathrooms. The problem is that moisture gets in between the seams and into the paper backing. That backing absorbs moisture and expands, curling away from the wall. The backing can actually go a step further and delaminate from the top vinyl layer.

This type of paper often performs like this when you’ve got people taking steamy showers, forgetting to turn on the vent fan, forgetting to keep the door open for air circulation, etc. Neither of these situations can be fixed. You will be stuck with these slightly curled seams.

The thing is, there are plenty of nice, paper or non-woven wallpapers out there, that will hold up a lot better in bathrooms.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Metal Light Fixtures

June 7, 2019


This is the same bathroom that showed the curling / delaminating wallpaper seams, probably caused by humidity.

This photo is of the base of an over-the-mirror light fixture. See the little dots? I believe these are specs of rust starting to work their way out through the finish. Most likely also caused by humidity.

Keep heat and A/C systems running, limit steamy showers, keep the exhaust fans on, and keep doors open!

Better Homes & Gardens Magazine Features Wallpaper, June 2019

June 6, 2019


This popular pattern is called “Queen of Spain” and is by Schumacher. In addition to the horizontal stripe formed by the droplet motifs, it has a vertical stripe pattern – but you need a larger wall to see that design play out.


You can get away with a really bold pattern in a small powder room. If they could have gotten a better shot inside this small room, you could see the full effect of this fun design.


Look closely – the wallpaper is on the ceiling. I believe this is “Channels” by Kelly Wearstler, another popular pattern.


Can’t say I love wallpaper on a ceiling, especially such a bold pattern and wild color – I think this cramps down the ceiling and closes in the room. Your thoughts?


This small background pattern behind the headboard is by Quadrille.

All of these papers pictured are higher-end brands. If you like the look but are on a budget, there is always something similar at a lower price. See my “Where to Buy Wallpaper” page to the right.

Double Rolls, Single Rolls, Too Many Rolls

June 4, 2019


This homeowner was supposed to buy 10 single rolls of wallpaper. So that’s what she ordered – 10 rolls of paper.

But what she got was 10 double rolls of wallpaper. That’s 20 single rolls – twice as much as she needed.

Each of those bolts you see in the box in the photo is a double roll. Double rolls are a good thing. It is typical (and desirable) for two single rolls of paper to be uncut and rolled together as one double roll bolt. You usually get an extra strip of paper out of a double roll bolt.

This is the traditional American way of packaging and referring to wallpaper.

But … some companies use different terminology. These would be most all of the British manufacturers, as well as some American companies who are new to the wallpaper game, and who do not manufacturer their own papers, but get them from outside sources. Some of these are Serena & Lily, Hygge & West, Anthropologie, and middle-man retailers like Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, etc.

For these companies, what most of us call a double roll, they refer to it as single roll. It’s the same amount of paper, the same sized package – it’s just referred to differently.

If you’re not savvy and knowledgeable about the terminology of single and double roll bolts, and about the various companies that use conflicting terminology, you could end up with twice as much paper as you need – or, worse yet, with only half as much as you need.

This company, Graham & Brown, is based in the U.K. Hence their single roll is what I call a double roll. The company is very large, though, and has offices here in the U.S. – so they almost seem American. My client ordered her paper on-line, instead from my favorite source (see page to the right), and so there was no human eye overseeing the single/double roll conundrum.

Bottom line – she got caught in the conundrum, and ended up with twice as much paper as needed.

This is one reason I ask my clients to run their brand and pattern selections by me before they make their purchases. That way (hopefully), I can catch snafus like this, as well as figure in factors like pattern repeat, multiple drop matches, extra-wide material, and etc.

Textured Walls Show Under Wallpaper

June 3, 2019


The powder room walls in this ’90’s home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston had a light texture. Wishing to conserve time, money, and mess, the homeowner chose to skip having the walls smoothed, and asked to have the wallpaper hung over the walls as they were.

The original wallpaper selection was thick and spongy and would have disguised the wall texture a bit. But the original choice was not available, and the alternate turned out to be thinner and smoother and glossier – all recipes for telegraphing the wall texture through to the surface of the wallpaper.

I admit, this does not look bad, and it is something that I probably notice more than the homeowners do.

But still, I don’t like the way it looks. Next time – even if it takes more time, costs more money, and results in a little dust – I will insist on smoothing the walls.

Retro ’50’s Wallpaper

June 3, 2019

Click the link!

Inside a classic-interior 1952 round time capsule house — “One of the landmarks of Gladewater” Texas