Posts Tagged ‘walls’

Swirly, Cheery, Leafy, and Fun!

March 17, 2018


With drab murky blue paint and not much more, this powder room near the backdoor of a ’70’s era ranch style home in Candlelight Plaza (Houston) was serving its purpose. But the homeowner knew it could live much larger.

I skim-floated the moderately textured walls to smooth them, and then primed with a penetrating sealer called Gardz, which is also a good primer for wallpaper (see first photo).

The wallpaper pattern is called “Priano,” and is by Serena & Lily, and can be bought on-line. The design has a fun circular movement, and an organic leafy motif.

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Visible Seams on Metallic Mylar Wallpaper

March 15, 2018


Today was disappointing. Yesterday I had done all the prep, so today I was supposed to hang wallpaper in the dining room of a cute bungalow in the Houston Heights. But my first seam looked bad – it was way more visible than it should have been. (The seams are more visible in real life than in the photos.)

The paper is by A-Street Prints (by Brewster), and is a thin non-woven with metallic dots forming a Moroccan trellis. I think the dots are actually Mylar, a shiny plastic that was popular in the ’60’s & ’70’s. This material appears to be sandwiched between the non-woven backing and the taupe top layer of the paper.

The problem is that that inner sandwich layer shows at the seams. If you study the photos, you can see the shimmer of the plastic, as well as the gold color of the dots, at the seams.

With wallpaper, you’re always going to have seams. Some seams are more visible than others. But I felt these were to obvious. I didn’t want the homeowners to have these shiny vertical stripes every 20.5″ across their dining room walls.

I called the client and she came home from work, took a look, and agreed. It’s a disappointment, and it will mean hassling with returning the paper, reselecting something new, and then rescheduling for the install.

But, with the money and time invested, they deserve to have a room that looks as close to perfect as possible. I’m eager to see what new pattern they pick out!

(Luckily, these folks purchased from Dorota (see “Where to Buy Wallpaper” page to the right), and she will take care of the return and dealing with the vendor.)

Added April 5:  Dorota has been working with the manufacturer to  1.) alert them to this defect in their product, and  2.) get a refund for the homeowner.   Today I got this information from her:  “The Brewster sales rep came by yesterday to look at the complaint and it looks like they will pull this paper from the inventory so no more would be sold till they fix the problem.”

I am very pleased that they are taking this issue seriously, and are taking steps to fix it.   All too often, manufacturers blame problems on the installer, and refuse to acknowledge that there could be anything wrong with their products.

Wallpapering a – Doorbell?

February 6, 2018


In the top photo, you see the mechanism for a doorbell. I have hung grasscloth wallpaper behind it, and then replaced the doorbell.

I don’t like to put wallpaper on things other than walls, but I have to admit, the plastic cover to the doorbell, which had been painted with some blah flat wall paint, was sad and, well, unattractive.

So I primed the plastic housing and then worked with the stiff grasscloth to get it to wrap around the oddly-shaped box. It took a little persistence to get the grasscloth to stick to the curved box.

It was worth the effort. Once the housing was placed over the dingers, you could barely make out the shape of the cover.

Grasscloth in Tiny Bookshelf Cubicles

February 3, 2018

This neutral-hued grasscloth sure warms up the look of these display shelves, adding both soft color and texture. The homeowner’s books and decorative items stand out much better.

None of the shelves was removable, so I had to cut and install TWENTY FIVE separate pieces of grasscloth wallpaper for the backs of these bookshelves.

To minimize trimming inside those small, tight cubicles, I took careful measurements and then pre-cut my pieces. I used a straight edge, razor blade, and one of those “self-healing” cutting mats that are used for sewing and crafts. The mat was marked both vertically and horizontally in inches (and graduations) and had easy to see right angles.

I cut all my pieces a mere 1/2″ larger than the dimensions of each cubicle. I used the craft mat and straight edge to cut a right angle in the upper left corner of each piece of grasscloth. I could position this in the upper left corner of each cubicle, which also butted it up perfectly against the top and left sides of the cubicle.

Then all I had to do was use my razor knife to trim the grasscloth on the right and bottom sides, to fit into the cubicle.

I spent a full four hours priming, then measuring and labeling each cubicle, and then cutting and pre-trimming each of the 25 pieces of grasscloth. Look at the photo of my measurements!

All this effort paid off, because every single piece of material went into its cubbyhole perfectly, and required trimming on just two sides (instead of four). The install still took a full eight hours. But it was fun and challenging, and a different work-out for the brain from hanging paper on tall, flat walls.

This grasscloth wallpaper is by Thibaut. I forgot to take a photo of the label, but it was a really nice paper, and, even though I had only one seam (in the TV niche), for once there was no issue with shading or color differences – in fact, that one seam is all but invisible. I hung this in a living room in a townhouse in the Rice Military / Camp Logan neighborhood of Houston.

Shields and Soldiers

December 30, 2017

OK, this is a wallpaper pattern and a use that you are going to either love or hate. It’s in a boy’s bedroom (all four walls), is by Brunschwig & Fils, and is featured in the December 2017 issue of Southern Living magazine.

Curved Walls, Bull Nosed Edges

December 23, 2017


This is a beautiful entry to a new home in Sugarland. But to a wallpaper hanger, it presents many challenges.

First are the bull-nosed, or rounded, corners. When wallpaper ends on one of these corners, it’s very hard to get straight, neat cuts, because, with the paper hanging over the corner, it’s impossible to see where you are cutting. The walls were far from plumb, so I couldn’t use a level or shoot a line with my laser level. I have a tool that helps as a guide, but it slips and is not 100% accurate. And my pencil line on the dark paper was almost impossible to see.

It’s also hard for the wallpaper to grab and hold tight when it has to turn around a round corner. And double so because, while I smoothed the walls, I was unable to smooth them to the exact vertical line along the rounded corners where the wallpaper would end. That means that the wallpaper was left to adhere to 1/8″ or so of fairly heavily textured wall surface. That leaves less area for the paper to stick to, meaning that there may be some visual gaps, and also the worries that the paper may let go and curl back down the road, as well as some bumps showing under the paper.

The rounded walls made for difficulty, too. It’s fairly easy to make flat walls perfectly flat. But even highly skilled drywallers have a hard time making walls perfectly even all the way around. If you paint the walls, it’s no problem, because paint will go anywhere. But wallpaper wants to fall straight, and won’t conform to walls that have bows or bulges or womps or the like. You can end up with wrinkles or areas that won’t lie flat or edges that warp out of shape.

All this was compounded by the height of the walls – 12′. The greater the wall height, the more chance the walls will be bowed or out of plumb or have other issues.

Regular paper can be stretched a little to accommodate these irregularities, but there’s a chance it will pull apart and gap a tad at the seams when it dries. This particular paper was a non-woven material, which is even less pliable. It was supposed to be a paste-the-wall procedure, but I opted to paste the paper, which wet it more and gave it more flexibility. Sill, I did notice a teeny bit of gapping at the seams as it dried. It will take several days to dry completely, so we will have to wait and see how it holds up.

In case of gapping at the seams, to minimize any of the white wall showing, I striped black paint behind where the seams would fall, as you see in the top photo. That’s a good trick, but it is testy, too, because paint is designed to look pretty, and does not have the type of surface that wallpaper is formulated to grab ahold of. So far, though, my paint is sticking to the wall, and the paper is staying down nice and flat.

Another thing with a circular room is – where is the end point? If there are no corners, where do you end the pattern? I was lucky on this one, because I had about 8′ linear of wall that was only 12″ high. And because the paper was dark and the pattern was pretty small and crazy and hard to see. So on that 12″ high area, I just brought the left side of the paper around the room to meet up with the right side, and overlapped the two last strips and spliced them together. The pattern doesn’t match, but there’s no way anyone could ever see – not from 12′ down on the ground.

This wallpaper is by Eijffinger, and is made to order in the Netherlands and takes several weeks to arrive. It was very nice to work with. I hope that next time I encounter this brand, it will be on a nice, flat, predictable wall. It was bought at below retail price from 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.

Smoothing a Textured Wall

November 18, 2017

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A lot of homes in the Houston area have some type of texture on the walls. In the suburbs, the tract home builders are using a fairly heavy texture, intended to lend a ‘rustic” feel to the home.

But when the homeowners want wallpaper, the texture has to be smoothed over, so the bumps won’t show under the new wallpaper, and so the new wallpaper has a flat, sound surface to hold on to.

In the first photo you see the texture of the walls in a new home in Fulshear (far west Houston). In the second photo, I have applied an initial coat of joint compound (smoothing compound). Once it is dry (tomorrow), I will go back and sand it smooth.

The next two photos show how much dust is generated by the sanding process. The plastic did a good job of containing it and keeping it off the homeowners’ floor.

In the last photo, you see how smooth the finished surface was.

Then the walls were wiped with a damp sponge to remove dust. Next came a primer. Once the primer is good and dry, it will be time to hang the new wallpaper.

Ogee Print in a West U. Powder Room

September 24, 2017

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How can such a small room be so difficult to cover with wallpaper?  Well, factor in low ceilings, cramped quarters, a pedestal sink (always tricky), bowed walls, un-plumb walls, un-level ceiling, an under-stair build-out with some wacky angles – and a geometric print wallpaper, which the eye wants to see marching nice and straight across the walls.

I spent 10 hours hanging this 12-roll bathroom.  (Shoulda taken 6-7 hours.)  In the end, it looks fabulous.  The pattern may not be hanging true-to-plumb, but it looks plumb.  And it matches in all the corners, which is more important than marching straight across the ceiling line.

The design is called an ogee, and is from Waverly, a company that was popular in the ’90’s, disappeared, and was later bought and resurrected by York, one of my favorite wallpaper manufacturers.  It is thin and workable, and was really nice to work with, and will hug the walls nice and tight for many years to come.

The interior designer for this job is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs, assisted by Joni Karnowsky and Danna Smith.  The home is in West University Place, in Houston.

Getting the Walls Smooth, Cont’d.

February 16, 2017
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Yesterday’s post showed you the extremely heavy texture on the walls that needed to be smoothed before wallpaper can go up. In the first photo above, you see the walls after I applied the first coat of smoothing compound.

Once that had dried overnight, I sanded it. Since it started out so thick and uneven, it was impossible to sand it completely smooth, as you see in the second photo. Some paperhangers would hang on this, but I want the walls to be a perfectly smooth as possible, so no bumps show under the paper.

So floated the walls again, this time with a very light skim coat. It dried relatively quickly, and I sanded the walls a final time. The third photo shows how smooth they turned out.

A lot of work, some sore muscles, and SIX BOXES of joint compound!

Prepping Heavily Textured Walls for Wallpaper

February 15, 2017
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Wow. Some DIY remodeler / house flipper loved this textured wall finish, and sprayed it on EVERY WALL AND CEILING in this otherwise-beautifully-updated home near Gessner & Kempwood. The young couple who bought the home want wallpaper in their two daughters’ rooms and in a front room study, plus they want chalkboard paint on one wall in the kitchen.

Wallpaper looks best and sticks best to smooth walls, and the chalkboard wall needs to be perfectly smooth, so I am spending two days smoothing these surfaces. The wallpaper will go up later.

Today I skim-floated the walls with joint compound. (It’s kind of like plaster, and is applied with a trowel.) I went through nearly FIVE boxes of the stuff (see photo). Each box is 44 lbs. Need I say that my arms and shoulders are tired and sore? 🙂

Applying it thickly enough to cover the 1/4″ – 1/2″ bumps means that it will take a looong time to dry, so I have turned on the heat in the house (to help draw moisture out of the smoothing compound) as well as the house fan (to circulate air), set several fans up blowing against the walls, and left it to dry overnight. Tomorrow, I will sand the walls.

Because the skim coat was so thick, even when it is sanded, the surface will not be perfectly smooth, and will also have many holes caused by air bubbles. So I will trowel on a second, much lighter coat, to cover these irregularities. With the heat cranking, and the fans blowing, this second skim coat should dry fairly quickly.

Then I will sand one final time, vacuum up the dust, wipe the walls free of dust with a damp sponge, and finally roll on a sealing primer called Gardz.

The painters can then apply the chalkboard paint to the kitchen wall. And when I come back to hang wallpaper in a month or so, the messy part of the job will be over and done with, so no more dust or mess or smells in the clients’ home – just new, pretty wallpaper for the little girls’s rooms and for Mom’s study.