Posts Tagged ‘walls’

From Textured to Smooth Wall Surface

March 30, 2021

Many homes in Houston have textured walls. In new homes in the suburbs, the texture is often really heavy – the so-called “Tuscan” look.

The texture will look bad under the new paper, plus it interferes with good adhesion. So it needs to be smoothed out before the paper can go up.

I use the process called “skim-floating” or adding a “skim-coat.” You can Search here (upper right corner) to find posts explaining this process.

And don’t pay your painter or handyman to do it – they don’t understand what’s needed for wallpaper. I’m many times better! 🙂

Here are before and after pics of a powder room I smoothed and prepped in the Bellaire neighborhood.

That second photo is enlarged many times – the wall is actually much smoother than the picture makes it look.

Starting Today – More Tomorrow

March 24, 2021

2-3 hours spent covering surfaces and baseboards, and then priming the walls in this large downstairs bathroom in a newish home in the Houston Heights. The primer is my favorite Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977, lightly tinted blue to make it easier to see where I have applied it.

I always think it’s cool to see the pattern as it goes up against the previously-bare walls.

More photos tomorrow!

The wallpaper is by Divine Savages.

Free-Form Rainbow for Baby Due Soon

March 21, 2021
“Before” wall, smoothed and primed.
Measurements done, strip placement plotted, material rolled backward and ready to hang.
Start in the center, to ensure the rainbow lands behind the crib. This is the first three strips.
Although the paper is smooth, the printing method makes it look lightly textured.

Momma chose this soft, water color-y rainbow mural by Anewall for her baby girl’s nursery.

The wall had to be carefully measured, and specific dimensions sent to the manufacturer, to ensure that the custom-printed mural would fit the wall and also have sufficient “bleed” (extra 2″ around EACH side), to allow for trimming and for unlevel and unplumb ceiling and walls.

Don’t let “custom printed” scare you. Modern digital printing makes this easy and affordable.

Just be sure that the paperhanger measures (not Handy Hubby) BEFORE you order.

This was printed on a non-woven material, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method.

The manufacturer is Anewall. I like the products from this company.

They offer several substrate options. I guess I like the non-woven (paste-the-wall) version best. Second to that is the pre-pasted. Not so fond of their vinyl offering, and definitely wouldn’t work with a peel & stick.

The home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston.

Notice Anything?

February 26, 2021

I’ve hung this wallpaper pattern before, and today I spent eight hours getting it onto the walls.

But it wasn’t until I was standing in just the right spot and while the light was hitting the paper in just the optimal way, that I noticed this.

Just left of dead center.

Personally, I find it beautiful and uplifting. In an Earth Mother, Garden of Eden sort of way.

But – shhhh! Don’t tell the homeowners. They have young children!

Over Prepared??

January 16, 2021

I need to smooth the textured walls in this home’s powder room. I told the homeowner that sanding the smoothing compound would involve some dust.

The powder room is down the hall and, of course, I would keep the door closed, vacuum up all the dust, and wipe the walls and floors free of dust.

The night before my arrival, the homeowner – who has had bad experiences with dust during remodels in previous houses – did this.

In two short hours, she plastic ‘ed over nearly every surface on the first and second floors.

She said she had to use up her pent-up nervous energy due to watching the unfolding of the Capitol siege on January 6th.

And, no – my wall smoothing did not begin to get any dust out into the public areas of the home.

But – it never hurts to be prepared. 🙂

Updating from Decorative Paint to Beautiful Wallpaper

November 18, 2020

The walls in this small entry in a pretty original condition 1935 home in the Montrose / Upper Kirby neighborhood of Houston had been painted by an artist with a wide stripe pattern in deep orange and gold, with a darker wash over the surface. It was probably done in the ’90’s, and was a good look then.

But the new homeowner never loved it. As for me, I think the look is too modern to suit the era and style of the home, and also the colors have a sort of dirty cast to them. After living there several years and focusing on career and raising kids, the homeowners were finally ready to bring a new concept to the entry.

The first photo shows the existing wall finish. The white stuff is my smoothing compound, which I have started to apply over the lightly-but-irregularly textured walls.

The next photo shows the walls sanded smooth, vacuumed and then wiped free of dust, primed with a wallpaper primer, and ready for wallpaper.

In the “after” photos, note that the dark or blotchy areas are simply wet with paste or water, and will disappear as the paper dries.

This is a particularly pretty pattern that suits the room well. There is a slight Chinoiserie / Asian feel to the design. And the grey is a good colorway for this home’s décor. I love the arched moldings that frame the passageways to both the living room and the dining room. Typical adorable 1930’s architecture!

The wallpaper is by Anderson Prints. It was pretty nice to work with, but did tend to dry out even before the booking time was up, so presented a bit of a challenge in that respect.

In the distant shot, you can make out a sort of hourglass figure in the branches and vines. I plotted the placement so a full “swoop” would display over the doors.

And also so the “hourglass” would play out down the center of the main wall, as shown in the photo. This will look nice as the vines and flowers gently surround the chest of drawers and oval mirror when they are placed back into the room.

Smoothing Suburban Heavily Textured Walls

November 1, 2020


In the tract homes in new subdivision developments all around Houston, it’s very common that the builder will use a heavy wall texture like this. You can’t hang wallpaper on this, because the bumps and dips will look horrible under the paper, and also they will impede good adhesion.

So the walls will need to be smoothed. This is accomplished by “skim-floating” or “skim-coating” the walls with joint compound. I do my own prep. And, as I like to say, I’m better at it than any “guy” you can hire. 🙂

The third photo shows the wall with half in original condition, and half with the smoothing compound applied over it.

Some people use a wide taping knife to spread the “mud,” as we call it. But I prefer the trowel shown in the fourth photo, because I am closer to it and can see everything that I am doing, and also I feel the position of the handle gives me better manual control.

Sometimes, using fans and playing with the A/C or heat systems, the compound will dry in a couple of hours. But with texture this heavy, the material must be left to dry overnight.

Tomorrow morning, I will sand the walls smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then roll on a primer. Once that dries (again, call in the fans!), the wallpaper can go up. The second-to-last photo shows it finished and ready for wallpaper.

The last photo shows the brand I prefer, USG’s Sheetrock brand “Plus 3,” which you can find at most big box stores and most paint stores. It sands a lot more easily than the standard joint compound in the red, white, and green box.

Cute As Can Be Pineapples In Clear Lake Powder Room

August 21, 2020


Originally, this powder room in a brand new home in the Clear Lake area south of Houston was painted a taupe-y grey, and the walls were heavily textured. This bright and crisp Pineapple pattern in navy on white really opened up and brightened the room, and made it fitting for a family with two toddlers.

It took a day and a half to smooth the textured walls, and a full day to hang the paper. The extremely un-plumb walls and un-level ceiling and floor and sink, and other features were all obstacles. The homeowner and I decided that it would be better to have the pattern match in the corners, and then let it run crooked along the ceiling and floor lines. Too complicated to get into here. But in the end, the finished room looks great!

I usually love Serena & Lily papers, but this time I encountered several printing defects. There was a slight pattern mis-match at the seams. There was a faint smudge on one motif at the point of every pattern repeat. And one bolt had a line of dark blue ink along the right edge that ran for several feet. AND … this bolt came with no label. I assumed it was a return, and was of a different run, and thus was unusable in this powder room Luckily, I usually have the homeowners order enough paper to accommodate issues like this.

Coincidentally enough, my Wallcovering Installers Association colleagues on our private Facebook page had just been discussing Serena & Lily papers, and a rash of printing defects and other issues that many installers had been experiencing lately.

Other than the printing defects and wonky walls, the paper went up nicely.

Serena & Lily papers (and other home good merchandise) can be bought on-line, or through their paper catalog – which they just mailed out recently.

Angled Geometric Accent Wall

June 23, 2020


This small first-floor room will serve two purposes … One: The homeowner is a massage therapist, and treats clients in this room. Two: The room will serve as a reception / living room area for guests when the couple entertains.

There will be a kidney bean-shaped, bright orange sofa placed in front of this accent wall, and a dynamic round coffee table with a black & white geometric pattern will sit in front of that.

An invigorating room for sure!

There were a few minor printing defects, as noted in the close-up shots. I had the same thing when I hung this wallpaper pattern before. The homeowners were not bothered by these slight issues – but I have a plan to disguise them (using appliqués) if they wish to do so later.

The townhome is brand new, in a new gated development in the Timbergrove neighborhood of Houston. The walls are textured, and I spent yesterday skim-floating, sanding, and then priming the walls (two different rooms). This morning, the walls were smooth, dry, and ready for wallpaper.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their SureStrip line – one of my favorite brands. It is pre-pasted and goes up on the wall easily. It is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate.

The paper 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.

Paint Problem

May 30, 2020


Hard to see, but the paint on this wall is crackling. This is most likely because there are unstable and incompatible layers of paint underneath.

In an old house like this (1940’s), there will have been many treatments to the walls over the years. Original oil-based paint, covered by latex paint, gloss paint, dust, more colors and layers of paint. And virtually never does the workman prep the walls properly.

Latex doesn’t like to stick to oil, and most paints don’t like to stick to gloss, plus other factors. So what happens is that all these disparate layers rebel, and sometimes you end up with flaking or peeling.

If wallpaper is applied on top of these unstable walls, when it dries and pulls taught and puts tension on the wall surface, there is the potential for these layers to give way, and you can end up with a curled seam, under which are layers of delaminated wall.