Posts Tagged ‘wallpaper’

Contractor Patches On Top Of Wallpaper – Bad Idea

February 19, 2019


This home experienced a water leak, and the bottom 2′ of drywall had to be cut out and replaced. When taping-and-floating in the new drywall, the contractor didn’t bother to remove the existing wallpaper, but put his smoothing compound right over it. This is bad enough if the old paper is paper, but this wallpaper is vinyl – something you really don’t want buried under layers of joint compound and new wallpaper.

Vinyl is shiny, and few materials will stick well to it over a period of time. It is also thick, and that increases the likelihood that seams will pop up, even if they are buried under this “mud,” as we call it.

So I took a razor and cut above the contractor’s patch. Then I stripped off all the wallpaper above the patch. This left a difference in height between the patched area and the newly-stripped area, which would create a visible ridge under the new wallpaper. So then I took my own smoothing compound (joint compound) and floated over his patch and the now-bare wall, to eliminate any uneven areas.

Waited for it to dry, sanded smooth, removed dust, primed with Gardz, and finally was able to hang the new wallpaper.

This took a LOT more time than I originally planned for this job, but it was worth it to keep vinyl wallpaper from being underneath the new paper, and to prevent any bumps or irregularities from showing under the new paper.

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A Nice Faux Grasscloth for Wet Areas – But A Little Difficult to Work With

February 17, 2019


OK, well my “after” shot didn’t turn out, so all I have for you are these close-ups … which do a fine job of showing the texture of this product. It’s made of vinyl, which allows the texture to be embossed into the surface.

In a bathroom, vinyl is a good alternative to real grasscloth, because water splashing on it will not stain it or cause inks to bleed. I run caulk along where the material meets the countertop / backsplash, so that if water pools up along the surface, it can’t be wicked up into the wallpaper (which could cause curling).

This is a fairly thick vinyl on a non-woven backing, and was somewhat difficult to manipulate into areas where it needed to bend – such as pressing tightly against the ceiling or moldings when I needed to trim off excess paper. It took a lot of strength and pushing in order to get a cut that was nice and close to the corner. I just did an accent wall with few obstacles, but this product would have been difficult to work with in a room that had multiple walls to turn around, and things to cut around – windows, cabinets, etc., or outside corners to get the paper to wrap around – you’d probably need to get out the heat gun and spend a bit of time on each such turn.

I used the chalk to color the edges of the dark wallcovering because it had been backed with white material, and also because the edges themselves were a bit burnished.

The faux grasscloth is by Thibaut, and I believe is in one of their new books highlighting textured materials. The home is in Oak Forest (Houston) and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. https://www.cokinosdesign.com/

Sloppy, Lazy Painters

February 16, 2019


Here we are in the master bathroom of a brand newly built home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Before I put the charcoal-colored wallpaper up, this wall was originally painted white. Somewhere along the line, after the wall light sconces were put up, the painters came to add paint to the wall.

They didn’t bother to remove the sconces, or even to put protective blue painter’s tape around the metal base of the sconces. They also were not able to “cut a neat line” with their brush.

Consequentially, as you can see, they got paint slopped onto the bases of all four of these new-and-expensive light fixtures. Not shown, but the glass shades of the fixtures were dotted with scores of paint drips and splatters.

None of this was very noticeable while the wall was painted black. But now that the new dark wallpaper is in place, it’s very easy to see the white paint slopped around the light fixtures.

I hope the homeowners can live with the ring of white paint on the bases of their light sconces. If not, I’m just betting that any attempt made by these guys to clean or remove the paint from the light fixtures will result in damage to the new wallpaper.

Former Dorm Room Goes Farmhouse Modern

February 14, 2019

This large bedroom in an addition to a 1934 home in the West U neighborhood of Houston wasn’t actually a dormitory, but it was home to two boys throughout their childhood. Now that the boys are grown and gone, the homeowner wants to make this into a spare bedroom that feels snug, yet chic.

She’s going for something of the Farmhouse Modern look. Instead of shiplapped wood on the ceiling, she chose wallpaper that mimics the look – and is much more affordable.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Joanna Gaines “Magnolia” line. It is a pre-pasted light non-woven material in their SureStrip line, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. I like this product a lot. And today I appreciated its extra strength, because I did have to reposition the first two strips quite a bit.

I’m running the strips across the ceiling the short way, from right to left (see top photo). This means that the brown stripes that represent the gaps between the wood planks will run parallel to the long wall you see on the right of the photo.

Theoretically, I should have been able to line the paper up along that far wall. The problem became quickly apparent, though – that the two walls (all four walls, in fact) were woefully out of square with one another. That meant that if the paper was hung parallel to the far wall, the brown line would go off-track as it moved across the long wall on the right.

My first strip, hung parallel to the far wall, was so out of wack with the wall on the right, that I knew that if I continued, that brown line would march very off-parallel away from the wall on the right. That is a 34′ long wall, and very visible when you are standing in the room, so it was important to keep the brown line as parallel as possible. This would have been easy if my strips had been running parallel to the wall. But since I was running the paper in the other direction across the ceiling (perpendicular to the long wall), it was very difficult.

I pulled the first strip off the wall, repasted it lightly to keep the paste activated, put it in a plastic trash bag to keep it damp, and took a new tack.

The distance between the “boards” was 6″. I wanted the first row of boards to look as wide as the other boards, but I needed some play in order to accommodate irregularities in the wall on the right, as well as potential tracking off-kilter. So I decided to have the brown line fall 5″ away from the long wall. That left this row of “boards” only an inch narrower than they should have been, which would not be very noticeable to the eye.

I took a ruler and measured 5″ out from the long wall on the right. Then I took a straightedge and drew a line connecting the marks, to give me a guide line that was parallel to the long wall. Because the long wall was not nearly straight, this line was not exactly 5″ from the wall in every spot. But it was good enough to serve as a guideline for where I wanted my brown line to fall.

Then I went and got that first strip of paper that had been cooling its heels in the plastic bag, along with Strip No. 2, and got them onto the wall. I used my pencil line as a guide to position that brown line. Since you can’t get a very accurate placement with just one 20.5″ wide strip of wallpaper, having the two strips together helped to ensure that the brown line was running along the pencil line. Still, I had to remove and reposition both strips several times, until I got them on my target.

All this is hard enough when you’re working on a wall, but on a ceiling, without the help of gravity holding your paper in place and keeping it free of twists and wrinkles, plus that same gravity trying to pull the paper down around your head, it was quite the feat.

But once I got those two initial strips properly positioned and smoothed, the subsequent strips followed nicely, and the brown line marched along the pencil line beautifully.

In the third photo, you’ll notice that only half the ceiling is done. This is because the homeowner had a little confusion between double and single rolls, and how this particular vendor describes its product, and consequently ended up ordering only half as much as was needed. 😦 I will have to come back and finish later. 😦

I don’t like stopping in the middle of a wall, because wallpaper goes up better when you put a wet strip next to a wet strip, and they can be manipulated together at the seams. But this is a large room, and I wanted to get as much done as possible, to shorten the time needed when I come back later to finish. The vendor promises that they will supply the same run number.

The next post on this room will show the finished ceiling, as well as a thin, tailored, textured woven fiber in chocolate brown that is going on the walls.

As a side note, I have worked in this home for this lovely family several times years ago. The last time I was here, their daughter was an infant. I asked how she was doing today, and was told that, “She’s out running errands, driving Mom’s car.” !!

Don’t Put Tape On The Wallpaper!

February 13, 2019


This is paper – not vinyl and not non-woven. Someone went and put scotch tape on the wallpaper. But painter’s tape would be just as bad.

When the tape was removed, it pulled some of the inked design right off the paper.

A vinyl or non-woven wallpaper would have held up a little better. But, still – best to NOT put tape on the wallpaper.

Stripping Off What I Hung 20+ Years Ago

February 12, 2019


I hung this viny pattern back in the early 2000’s in dining room in the West U neighborhood of Houston. Now that it’s time for a change, I got to strip off what I had hung 20 years ago.

I was amazed at how easy it was, and at how there was NO damage to the walls.

The paper came away from the wall when I simply pulled it dry, but I was afraid of doing damage to the walls, especially at the seams. (When wallpaper dries, or over time with fluctuations in temperature and humidity, wallpaper can put stress on the seams, which can cause layers inside the wall to delaminate and come apart.)

To lessen the chance of putting stress on the seams, I used a sponge to put water on the surface of the paper. Because it was paper (not vinyl), water was able to penetrate, and reactivate the paste that was holding the paper to the wall. I made many trips around the room, soaking the paper each time. The more water that was able to soak into the paper, the softer the paste became, and the easier it was to pull the paper away from the wall.

Usually, the inked top layer of paper separates from the paper backing, and then you sponge water onto the backing layer, which reactivates the paste and then it comes away pretty easily. But in this case, the top and backing layers stayed together, and came off in one intact piece. This virtually never happens.

Note that I am pulling down, and not away from the wall. Pulling downwards minimizes stress on the wall. And I am pulling slowly and gently – not yanking.

What’s better – there was absolutely NO damage to the walls. Not one bit of primer pulled away from the surface, not one seam gave way, nothing to patch.

Why? Because when I prepped these walls 20 years ago, I did a proper job. I skim floated the textured walls to smooth them, removed all residual dust with a damp sponge, then primed with oil-based KILZ Original – great stuff, for many reasons. It holds tightly to the surface, it won’t rewet when water is sponged on the surface, it’s strong enough to resist double-cutting (strokes with a razor blade), it dries thin and smooth, and much more.

I wish I could still use KILZ Original. It was a superior primer for wallpaper (as well as stain-blocker). Unfortunately, EPA regulations have required manufacturers to make changes to their product, and wallpaper paste will no longer adhere to it.

I’m using alternatives now, and am pleased with the results. …Although I have not had experience stripping paper off these new products, so time will tell about that.

But these photographs of my experiences yesterday show what a superlative product the original KILZ Original was, and how important it is to take the time to prep a wall properly before hanging wallpaper.

Don’t Let Your Toddler Handle a Sharpie!

February 11, 2019


So the little girl was innocently playing with an ink Sharpie, and, well, the wall along the bottom of the stairway just happened to get marked up. (Unfortunately, my “before’ photo got lost somewhere.) This is very expensive wallpaper, and, unfortunately, was the first thing you see when you enter this West University home.

I was there to hang paper in the nearby powder room. But every time I walked past this stairwell, the ink marks just kept bothering me.

So, with the homeowners’ go-ahead, I decided to fix it.

First, we checked to be sure there was enough left-over wallpaper. Thank goodness for boxes stashed in the garage apartment!

I didn’t want to strip off the original wallpaper, for fear of scoring the wall and causing seams to lift. So the original wallpaper was left intact.

Then the ink had to be covered with a stain blocker, to prevent them from bleeding through the new wallpaper. I used oil-based KILZ Original. Two coats.

Next, because wallpaper paste will no longer stick to oil-based products, (due to EPA-required changes to the formulas), I primed the whole area with Gardz.

Because it’s not a good idea to have a seam fall on top of a seam, at this time, I placed a strip of seam tape (special stuff made by a colleague of mine) so that it bridged the gap between the two seams of the original wallpaper. The Gardz sealer / primer melded everything together.

Then I took the left-over wallpaper and found the corresponding pattern to match the pattern on the wall. I used a scissors to cut around this design. Because this repair fell on a seam, it required two strips of paper, one on either side of the seam.

Then I pasted the wallpaper patches, allowed to book and sit, then appliquéd them to the wall.

I was surprised at how stretchy and wrinkly the wet wallpaper was. I was glad that I was only doing two 18” high patches – I felt sorry for the guy who had hung a whole 2-story staircase and hallway of this stuff.

Bottom line – the finished patch looked fantastic. You could not tell that there had been any errant marks on the wall.

Here is a link to the wallpaper pattern. It is called Zumba ZigZag. https://www.fschumacher.com/item/5003300

From Fussy Victorian to Serene Home Office

February 10, 2019


Originally, this front bedroom in a 1925 bungalow in the Houston Heights was wallpapered in a dark green and red floral. It was lovely, and went beautifully with the home’s vintage vibe.

But the new homeowners (who have lived here many years, but are just now getting around to decorating this room) want to use this room as a home office, and they wanted something lighter and more modern. In the top photo, you see me stripping off this floral paper.

They were considering grasscloth, but, after reading my warnings about that product (see the page link to the right), they decided to avoid the color variations, staining, and fragility of that material, and instead went with a sort of faux grasscloth – this textured vinyl in a silvery grey color.

The color of the new paper goes perfectly with the gray paint on the woodwork. The paper has vertical lines in a striped pattern, as well as subtle horizontal shading that mimic real grasscloth, but in a more controlled and pleasing way. The commercial-grage vinyl is thick and durable, and will withstand bumps, splashes, and stains way better than most other types of wallcoverings.

On my end, though, the vinyl material was very difficult to work with. It is thick and stiff, and it is on an Osnaburg woven fabric backing, which is much like canvas. It takes a really sharp razor blade and a lot of strength to cut through it.

And because it is so thick, it’s very difficult to get it pressed up tightly against woodwork – so when you trim against the ceiling, doors, or baseboard, it’s very likely to get a gap that lets the wall behind it show. I have a special trim guide that makes a “fat cut,” which helps eliminate that gap.

Because the wallcovering is made of vinyl, it traps moisture behind it, so when the paste behind it dries, there is nowhere for the moisture to go, so you get off gassing – which is a nice way of saying that the paper “burps” and creates bubbles. I had to continually go back and chase bubbles out of the drying paper.

The design has a textured raised vertical stripe pattern. I had cut my first several strips with the intention to start hanging. Then I started measuring the wall, plotting the layout, and counting stripes. They were not laying out properly across the wall. After studying the paper’s pattern for a while, I realized that the stripes on the ends of the paper would not be spaced correctly – unless paper was trimmed off the edges of the wallpaper strips.

By removing 2.5″ from the edge, the stripes would be spaced correctly. I could trim this 2.5″ off, using my work table, a ruler, and my 6′ straightedge.

But the manufacturer’s trimming roller had left a slight beveled edge where it cut the paper. Since my hand-cut edge would be straight up, you would see an odd junction where my straight cut met against the manufacturer’s beveled cut at each seam.

So the only option for a very smooth seam was for me to trim some off both edges of the wallpaper. This worked out to 1.5″ off one side and 1″ off the other. Which was complicated further by the fact that some of the bolts of wallpaper were 1/4″ – 1/2″ narrower than others. So much for quality control at the factory!

But what this meant to me was that I had to carefully measure the width of each bolt of paper, compare that to the rhythm of the stripes crossing the paper horizontally, and determine how much to trim off each edge, in order to have the stripes be spaced correctly across the room.

In real life, most people are not going to notice a spacing difference of 1/2,” or even 1.” Especially in a room with very dim lighting and tons of shadows, and a pattern that is difficult to see in the first place.

But since I had to trim the paper’s edges anyway, it just made sense to trim it so that the spacing of the stripes fell as perfectly spaced as possible.

Try as hard as you may, hand-trimming wallpaper, especially thick, heavy, fabric-backed vinyl, is not as accurate as what they do at the factory. Thus there is always the potential for slight gaps or overlaps at the seams. With a thin paper, it’s possible to stretch and manipulate the material to make a good seam. But with this thick vinyl, I expected to see these gaps and overlaps. However, I was amazed that the vinyl was more malleable than expected – every single seam melted together perfectly.

Although the specs said that the trimmed paper would be 25″ – 26″ wide, by the time both edges were trimmed off and the stripes spaced as they should be, the paper was actually only 24″ wide (give or take an extra 1/4″ or so). Lose 2″ on each of eight strips going across a wide wall … and that can screw up your engineering of the wall and your plans of the number of strips needed and how many bolts of paper will be required.

All of this fiddlin’ and futzin’ took a lot of time, and I was only able to trim and hang paper on two walls each day. So, with prepping the walls and hanging the paper in this … it was something like a 16 single roll room… it took me a full three days. Which is what I had planned on, so we stayed right on schedule.

There was no brand name, so I don’t know the manufacturer, but the label said “JL 8008.” This commercial-grade paper is available in the 27″ width (which is what I can work with) or the wider 54″ (which is more for commercial settings). It was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Different Runs

February 8, 2019


Look at the center of the photo. See that slight color difference between the strip on the left and the strip on the right? This is most likely due to the two strips coming from two different run numbers. These can also be called batch numbers or dye lots.

This means that all paper that is printed from one batch of ink is given a run number. Three months later, when the manufacturer is ready to print another lot of wallpaper, a new pot of ink is mixed up. Chances are that that new kettle of ink won’t be exactly-dactly the very same shade as what was used previously.

This means that the two batches of wallpaper will be ever so slightly different in color. If strips of paper from the two different runs are put on the wall next to each other, you will notice the color difference. So each batch of ink, and the paper that is printed with it, is given a run number.

That way, the installer can be sure that all the wallpaper for his job will be printed at the same time, of the same run number, and all the same shade.

Checking for run number is the first thing every installer should do, before starting to hang wallpaper. In fact, in my “how to prepare for install day” info pack, I ask my clients to check to be sure all bolts are of the same run number. That way, if there is a problem, there will be time to return the bolts and get new paper that is all of the same dye lot.

If you end up with a broken run (two or more different run numbers), it is possible to use the paper, but you have to keep the different runs on separate walls… your eye will not notice a subtle color difference if the papers are on different walls. But this uses up a lot more paper.

Wallpaper Ideas In Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

February 5, 2019


From the current issue of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine.