Posts Tagged ‘water tray’

Activating Adhesive on Pre-Pasted Mural Wallpaper

March 20, 2022
Mural panels standing on edge are cut, sequenced, staged, and ready to be pasted.
The panel lying on the floor will be my last strip, and will need to be measured and trimmed narrower before it’s ready to be pasted or hung.
I use several different methods to paste pre-pasted wallpaper, and you can do a Search here to read more.
But for today, I’m using the tried-and-true historic method of running the strip quickly through a water tray .
At the top of the photo, several strips have already been submerged and pulled through the water, then folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side. This is called booking .
Booking allows the adhesive on the back of the wallpaper to absorb the water and become activated. And it allows the wallpaper substrate to absorb moisture, expand, and then contract a little.
This method can sometimes get the material a little too wet, which can lead to over-expansion and then bubbles on the wall. That’s why I’ve placed the booked strips at a slant and over the bucket – so excess water can drain off.
Usually I paste and book one strip and then paste and book the next strip. While I’m hanging one, the second one is booking and waiting its turn to be hung. But with this water tray method and certain brands of pre-pasted material, such as Anewall , York , or Sure Strip , the paper sometimes gets so wet that it needs more time to dry before attempting to hang. So I’m pasting more strips at a time, so they can be drying out a bit while I hang the first strips.
There’s a bit of a risk to this, which is the potential for the paper to over-expand as it sits wet waiting to be hung. Then once it’s on the wall and starts to dry, it can shrink. All wallpaper shrinks when it dries. But if it has expanded too much, then when it dries and shrinks, you can be left with small gaps at the seams. Again, gaps are common with all wallpapers (most all), but can be exaggerated when dealing with over-saturated pre-pasted material as it shrinks.
Back to the method … You see the water tray, filled 3/4 full with clean water. I’ve set it on towels, which are in turn set on top of a thick plastic clear shower curtain. And that’s on top of my usual dropcloths, which are absorbent on the top (blue) side and water-proof on the underside. All this keeps any splashed water from getting onto the clients’ floors.
I also sometimes set the water tray in a bathtub, with towels set over the edge of the tub and on the floor.

Hanging Pre-Pasted Wallpaper

March 8, 2022
Pre-pasted papers come with a thin layer of adhesive on the back. In the old days, we ran the paper through a water tray or trough to activate the paste. I’ll still do that sometimes these days, and also roll a very thin layer of paste onto the wall before hanging the strip.
Alternately, current instructions suggest using a squirt bottle to mist the back side of the paper, wetting enough to activate the paste. That sounds like a whole lot of squeezing and pain in the wrist / hands to me! Additionally, I don’t believe that it will give even coverage of the water.
Instead, I’ll take a small amount of paste from my bucket and roll a very light coat onto the back of the paper. The paste isn’t really needed, but I like the extra assurance.
It’s important that the manufacturer’s adhesive be wetted sufficiently and become activated, so next I’ll take sponge and used it to drip on clean water from a 1-gallon bucket I have sitting on the edge of my pasting table. I sprinkle the water over the back side of the wallpaper, then use my paste roller to gently spread the water over the surface.
This activates the paste, and also allows for the substrate to absorb moisture and fully wet-out . Then the paper is booked (folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side) and set in a plastic trash bag for a few minutes, to allow the paste to become activated and for the paper to expand. If you don’t wait the right amount of time, you will end up with paper expanding on the wall – and that means bubbles and blisters.
To speed the install process, you can paste your next strip while the first one is booking in the trash bag.

Colorful Butterflies Flit Across a School Aged Girl’s Bedroom Accent Wall

August 29, 2020


Seventeen feet is a pretty wide wall – and makes for a very large bedroom for a pre-teen girl. I love the vertical movement created by the foliage in this design, broken up by the colorful butterflies dancing across the wall.

The leaves are a faint bronze metallic, and the butterflies are multi-hued. Yet the overall look is fairly subdued.

This wallpaper is by York, one of my favorite companies, and is in their SureStrip line, also one of my favorites. It is a thin non-woven material that hugs the wall tightly, and then is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. The material comes pre-pasted.

Today I used the tried-and-true method of running the paper through a water tray (see photo) to activate the paste. Just to be prudent, I also rolled a light coat of paste onto the wall, especially under seams and along the baseboards and ceiling line.

The home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston.

Dark Papers – Visible Seams

September 10, 2019


Wallpaper is paper, and when paste is applied to the back, the paper gets wet and expands a little. When it hits the wall, it dries – and often that means it will shrink, even if just a tad. That will leave minute gaps at the seams. If the paper is dark and the wall or the substrate are light , you will most likely see white gaps at the seams.

Some manufacturers combat this by printing dark patterns on a darker substrate. This is what you see in the photo above. But it also helps to color the edges of the wallpaper with a corresponding color of chalk. (You can’t use ink, because ink will bleed and discolor the wallpaper.)

Sometimes you can go back and color in the seams with hobby paint or chalk, which sounds simple but actually takes some technique and finesse, to color the areas adequately and avoid staining the paper.

Painting the wall the color of the paper is a thought, but not as feasible as it sounds, because wallpaper wants to stick to wallpaper primer, not paint. And I’ve seen paint lift off the wall when the wallpaper dried and put tension on it – so, not using that trick again.

Paint with a clear wallpaper primer over it is another idea – but it adds an extra day (or two) and more labor and material costs.

What I did in this case, was to try different pasting methods. This wallpaper, from the Historic Homes Collection by Thibaut, is pre-pasted and engineered to be run through a water tray to activate the paste on the back of the paper.

This method works super with most of their colors. But, because the water tray adds a lot of moisture to the wallpaper, the amount of expansion and then shrinkage results in tiny gaps at the seams – not a big deal with a white or light-colored wallpaper. But with this black paper, it was showing too much white at the seams. Yes, a 1/64th” is too much, when you are looking at white between black.

So instead of running the paper through the water tray, I experimented with pasting the back of the paper. I knew this method would allow the paper to expand less, dry faster, and shrink minimally.

But wallpaper that has a thin layer of pre-paste on the back does not respond well to the installer applying paste to the back on top of the pre-paste. You are greeted with a thick, dry, gummy mess that is hard to manipulate on the wall.

There were also a lot of bubbles and blisters under the surface. Yes, you can be assured that these will disappear as the paper dries – but it sure makes you nervous while you are looking at them!

Spraying the back of the paper with water from a mister didn’t work, either, because the spray bottle spread water unevenly, water sloshed onto my work table, and there was nothing to enhance the “stickiness” of the manufacturer’s pre-paste.

After experimenting, what worked best was to apply paste to the back, full strength, and then quickly spritz the back with water and roll it around, to thin down the paste I had just applied, and to add enough moisture to activate the pre-paste.

The wallpaper strips with this pasting concoction were thick and muddy and difficult to maneuver, but the drier paste did lock down at the seams more quickly. I didn’t have issues with shrinking or gapping seams after I started using this pasting method.

Historic “Lafayette” Bird Pattern in Galleria Area Powder Room

July 12, 2019


With a black granite floor, a black toilet, a dark wood vanity, and a dark granite countertop, adding black wallpaper to this under-the-stairs powder room seemed like a bold venture. But the gutsiness paid off – the finished room looks fantastic. And there is nothing dark or brooding about it.

In fact, the light color of the birds, along with the uplifiting feel of the vertical foliage in the design work together to give the room light and movement. Ditto the new paint color on the ceiling.

Sorry there is no photo, but this room, which is tucked under the stairway, has a deeply sloped ceiling. Originally, the homeowners considered papering the slope and the flat ceiling areas, too. But I told them that would make the room far too dark and closed-in. I suggested they pull a color from the wallpaper and dilute it to what I call a “whisper color” – almost white, but with just a whisper of color.

They could have gone with a light shade of tan (birds’ wings), green (plants), purple (birds), or salmon (birds, flowers). After consulting with the gal who sells the wallpaper (read below), they decided on a pale orangey-pink shade. I love the choice!

The ceiling does not look “pink.” Yet the hint of peachy pink adds warmth, while all the while pulls your eye up and adds a feeling of openness and even joy.

Fourth photo – the tan paint from the original faux finish wall treatment wrapped around onto the top of the backsplash. Once the dark paper went up, I didn’t want to have a gold stripe running around the top of the backsplash. So I used artist’s craft paint and a small brush to paint it black, to blend in with the granite backsplash. Once the wallpaper was up, to protect both the paint and the bottom edge of the wallpaer, I ran a bead of clear caulk along the top of the backsplash. This will prevent splashes of water that land on top of the backsplash from being wicked up under the paper – which could cause curling.

This historic “Lafayette” wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and dates back to the 1800’s. In fact, it is 2″ narrower than most wallpapers, and I’m told that that is because it is printed with the same engraved rollers as were used back then. It’s a raised-ink printing process, and the material is pre-pasted. I experimented with a couple of pasting techniques, and found that the old-fashioned method of pulling the strips through a water tray resulted in even saturation and activation of the paste, and the flattest seams.

This 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 (inner loop Houston). (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.

Change Perspective, Change Dimension

March 20, 2019


When looking at this wallpaper pattern from a reasonably close distance, it looks like elongated diamonds. But look at it in an alcove from a distance, and you see a horizontal striped effect.

A good reason to always look at the pattern in a room-set photo before purchasing, so you can see what it looks like played out on a full wall.

Either way, I like it. And it really makes this tall room look taller.

This wallpaper is by York, in their SureStrip line, one of my favorite papers to hang. It’s a thin non-woven material, is designed to strip off the wall easily and cleanly, and comes pre-pasted. This time, instead of their silly squirt bottle suggestion (which provides splotchy and inadequate coverage), or rolling diluted paste onto the back (which reacts with the pre-paste and forms a thick, gummy mess that dries too fast and traps air bubbles), I used the old-fashioned water tray method. I find this wets the paper and the paste better, and makes for a smooth surface, and the paper does not dry out before I get it to the wall (as it does when pasted the traditional way). I then rolled a thin layer of paste on the wall, to augment the pre-paste, eliminate blisters and bubbles, and reduce the chance of shrinkage.

This powder room is in a new home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly with new builds, or with homes undergoing major renovations. Her look is clean and open and calming … and I am seeing a little farmhouse look creeping in here and there.

Prepasted Wallpapers

August 3, 2018


Yesterday’s post was regarding a pre-pasted wallpaper. A lot of my colleagues scoff at pre-pasted papers, because they are lower-priced and because they are targeted to the DIY crowd.

But I like them! As long as they are paper or the newer non-woven materials (and not vinyl, which is horrible low-end stuff!), I think they are fabulous products, as well as much faster to apply. Please read yesterday’s post for more reasons why I like these papers.

In the photo, you see the water tray I use. I roll the strip up and run it through the water to activate the thin layer of paste which the manufacturer has applied to the back. As the paper comes out of the water, I fold the pasted sides together – this is called booking. The paper is set aside for a few minutes so the paste can activate, the paper can absorb moisture and expand, and to let excess water can drain off.

I will often roll on and cut into the edges a very light coat of paste, just to augment the adhesive already on the paper.

Then the paper is applied to the wall. Because a lot of water comes in contact with the surface, it’s important to wipe the surface completely, and to rinse your cloths frequently.

Bold Watercolor Floral for a Toddler Girl’s Bedroom Accent Wall

July 27, 2018


Here’s a bolder twist on pastel flowers for a 2-year-old girl’s room. I’ve hung similar patterns for other little girls (do a Search here) done in this water-colory look, but in “sweeter” colors of pink and peach.

Interestingly, these all appear to be made by the same manufacturer (Sure-Strip, by York), but the design and colors have been changed just a bit, and then distributed through different vendors. Today’s was sold by Caitlin Wilson, but most of the others came from Anthropologie.

No matter who makes it and what brand is put on the label, this pattern is a wonderful choice for this young gal. The charcoal greys “grow it up” a little. It is not “babyish” and will grow with her, and can last well into her teen, and even college age, years.

The paper is wonderful to work with. It’s pre-pasted, which means it has paste on the back that is activated by running it through a water tray – as opposed to having to apply paste with a brush or roller to the back of the paper. It’s printed on a “non-woven” substrate, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. Yet, unlike many non-woven materials, this one is thin and pliable and the seams lie very flat.

I hung this on one accent or feature wall in a newish home in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

My Solution for Yesterday’s Cantankerous Wallpaper

June 27, 2018


Here’s what I ended up doing with the Norwall pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpaper that was featured in my previous post. This brand is known for curling seams, as well as seams that just don’t lie down nice and flat, but appear to be “pouched” just a tad. I experimented with several pasting techniques, hoping to get nice, flat seams.

… It didn’t do well when I pasted it with full strength paste, as it got gummy and dried out too quickly. And it didn’t do well when I pasted it with diluted paste. Nor was it happy when I ran it through a water tray as per mfgr’s instructions (and then rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall); it went up great and looked good … but look back at it after 10 minutes and discover that it has bubbled. What worked best was to wet it in the water tray and then unbook the strips and let them hang to dry out for 10-15 minutes or more. This left enough moisture for the paper to grab ahold of the paste I had rolled onto the wall, but eliminated the excess moisture that was causing the off-gassing and bubbles.

I wet a bunch of strips at a time… I had them hanging over the shower rod, on the towel bars, over the door, and the small ones got set on the toilet to dry.

Playful Pencil Line Flowers on an Accent Wall

June 19, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This light-hearted pattern looks like line drawings of flowers. It went on an entry wall that faces you immediately when you enter the home. The homeowner bought her paper more than a year ago, and has had the three double rolls in their box, leaning up against the wall, ever since. Family coming for a summer visit was the incentive to finally get the paper up!

This cute pattern is from Waverly, an older, somewhat flowery brand that has been reincarnated (and updated) by York. It is in the SureStrip line, which is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. This brand performs beautifully, during installation and during the time it’s up on the wall, and I like it a lot.

This product is pre-pasted, which means that the manufacturer has put a dry paste on the back that is activated by running the strips through a water tray. See third photo. I augment that by spreading a thin layer of wallpaper paste on the wall and along the ceiling and baseboard lines.

The 50’s era home is in the Willow Meadows neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner is an artsy sort of person who is not afraid of color or avant garde decorating, so the flowery wall fit perfectly with her décor. She originally intended to cover the wall with family photos and other artwork – but once she saw the paper up and realized how much she loved it, she quickly became reticent to cover it up. 🙂

The wallpaper 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.