Posts Tagged ‘water’

Stripping Wallpaper

February 3, 2022
Wallpaper is comprised of two layers – the top, decorative layer, and the bottom substrate layer. The first step in stripping the paper is to remove the top layer. In this case, the material is a solid vinyl. These solid vinyls usually separate easily from their backing and come off in one large strip.
The next step is to soak the backing with water. I use a bucket of warm water and a sponge. You will need to wet and re-wet the backing several times. This water will reactivate the paste. Once it’s wet enough, the paste will let go, and, if you’re lucky, the backing will pull away from the wall easily and in large pieces.
Sometimes you have to work a little harder, and use a stiff putty knife to gently scrape the paper off the wall. A good primer underneath will facilitate this process, as well as protect the wall. I hung this original paper 30+ years ago, and once it was all off, the walls were in perfect condition, and I was able to hang the new paper with no additional prep. This is the sink room.
In the tub room, the paper was the same brand, but the backing was different. This is a gritty, thicker, manilla type paper backing. This stuff usually absorbs the water nicely and lets go from the wall easily. Not so in this case. First, the top vinyl layer wouldn’t pull off, but had I had to get under it with the putty knife, and then it came off in small pieces, maybe 5″ square.
The backing also didn’t let go easily. Even when very saturated with water, it held tight, and I had to use the putty knife to gently scrape it off the wall – mostly in small chunks. Talk about eating up time!
All you need to remove wallpaper is a bucket of plain water, a sponge, and a stiff, 3″ putty knife. I know some folks are fond of their additives. But I don’t think they speed the process at all. Plus, I don’t want any residual chemicals left on the wall.
Oh, and don’t forget the dropcloths!

Another Calm and Quiet Bathroom

January 29, 2022
Textured walls have been skim-floated and sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, primed, and are ready for wallpaper.
For the master bathroom, the homeowner again chose a symmetrical, fanciful, woodland themed design in muted tones of cream on tan.
The overall look is balanced and calm.
I added the paper towel cushions to the cabinet handles on the left, to prevent them from slamming into and marring the new wallpaper.
Close-up shows the unique light texture of raised ink on this material.
The manufacturer is Schumacher, pattern name is Chenoceau. Usually I don’t like this brand, but this paper was actually pretty nice to work with. It does not have a protective coating, so the homeowner will need to be careful with splashes of water and toiletries to prevent staining, and to not let damp towels hang against the wallpaper.

Calm Forest Frolic

January 27, 2022
Before shot of sink room in hall bathroom in a home in the Energy Corridor / Briar Forest area of west Houston.
Symmetrical flora and frolicking fauna are a popular design concept in wallpaper. Just about everything in this home is white or cream or tan, so the homeowner’s choice of this muted color palette fits in perfectly and lends a serene feel to the space.
Close up. The seam at far right is still wet, and will be less obvious once it dries.
The pattern is called Design Woodland and is by Crown Wallcoverings, a British company. True to its roots, the material is what we call a pulp, which is basically wood pulp and ink … thick, stiff, turns mushy when wet with paste, tears easily, and no protective coating on the surface so my client will have to be careful to avoid splashing toiletries or cleaning agents onto the wallpaper. Even water will stain it over time.

Stripping Wallpaper

December 7, 2021
The contractor removed the wallpaper at the top and right side. Here I have begun pulling off the top layer of paper, to the left of center in the photo.

This shows how wallpaper can be stripped off a wall simply and without damage to the underlying surface. The keys are 1.) water and 2.) patience. Oh, and proper wall prep by the original installer.

First and foremost, don’t start yanking and trying to force the paper off the wall dry.

What you do is use a putty knife to lift an edge of the paper and gently pull off the top, inked layer. It should separate and leave the backing on the wall. In this photo, that’s the white paper. Kinda hard to see, because the wall is also white.

Once the top layer is off, you use a sponge dipped in a bucket of water to soak that backing layer. The idea is to reactivate the paste. Once the paste has wetted a bit, it will loosen and you can then gently pull it off the wall.

In most cases, it will strip off the wall easily, as you see in the photo.

It helps immensely if the wall has been properly primed before the paper went up. In this case, the original installer’s (me!) primer (Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977) held up to the stress of tugging the paper off the wall, and also prevented the water from penetrating through to the original surface.

For more detailed instructions and tips, click the link on the right.

Dry Strippable Wallpaper

November 7, 2021
Usually when you strip wallpaper, it comes off in two pieces. The top, inked layer peels off first – leaving the backing on the wall. Then you use water to soak the backing and reactivate the paste. See my how-to page to the right. But today I got lucky, because this paper stripped off easily and without needing any water. And – bonus – no damage to the wall at all!
This paper is decades old, but I believe it is an early version of the non-woven papers becoming more and more popular today. In this photo, you can see the top, decorative layer separating from the backing. The fibers showing in that backing, and the fact that I had a hard time tearing it, lead me to believe that it has the polyester fiber content that non-woven wallpapers do. This ability to strip off the wall easily and in one piece is one of the key selling points for this non-woven material. I particularly like this very thin version, because it is pliable and hugs the wall tightly.

Paste Stains on Wallpaper and Woodwork

November 6, 2021
This wallpaper has been up for nearly 30 years. Over time, ” shadows ” of wallpaper paste have begun to show.
The stains are most common at the seams. During installation, it’s typical for paste to ooze out at the seams, and for the installer to wipe the paste off with a damp sponge or cloth. If he doesn’t get it all, then, over time, the paste can manifest, as you see here. There are also darker blotches to the right of the seam.
Paste caught in the lightly textured surface, and probably spread around by the installer’s wiping.
Seam opening up, probably due to humidity and / or improper wall prep.
Stains showing over a window. I don’t believe the room looked like this when the installation was completed years ago. I believe that time and humidity and other factors caused the paste to darken and show itself on the surface. I also have a hunch that clay-based paste was used. I don’t like that stuff, particularly for this reason.
One sad thing is that this room didn’t have to look like this. Note this section “before.”
Here is the same section “after.” All I did was wipe with clean water and a sponge and the stains came off easily.
Here are stains from paste that was not completely wiped off the woodwork.
Here is the same woodwork after I wiped for just a half a minute with a damp cloth.

I hate that the homeowner lived for 30 years with gradually worsening staining like this. I guess that if someone had gotten industrious, he could have taken a bucket of clean water (refreshed frequently) and a rag, and spent an afternoon washing down the walls and woodwork, and a few spots on the ceiling.

Even better would be if the original installer had ” worked clean ” – meaning, working carefully so as not to get any paste on the surface of the paper in the first place. And being more fastidious in removing any paste that did get onto the wallpaper or woodwork.

Weird Bubbles Develop on Wall

January 21, 2021

This wall had a slight texture that needed to be skim-floated and then sanded smooth. After I applied the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound), a half hour or so later, these tiny blister bubbles appeared. This is off-gassing. But from what is a mystery.

The only clue is that this area is around where the hand towel was positioned next to the sink. So this area would have received a lot of splashing of water and also soap and other toiletries.

My guess is that some of these substances stuck to the wall. And for whatever reason, when they were covered by the joint compound, they released air / gas, which caused these bubbles.

I’ve seen this before. But this time, some of the bubbles were large enough that they did not sand down smooth and even with the wall surface. So I had to do a light touch-up skim-coat on top.

Once I got the wall smoothed, I wasn’t too concerned. I don’t believe that anything causing these tiny blisters would be something that would bleed through and stain the wallpaper.

Some substances do stain wallpaper, though. For more on that, do a Search here.

Fixing Weird Things That Happen To Wallpaper

December 6, 2020

The top photo shows a stain on the wallpaper that is probably related to a rain or hurricane event a few years ago.

Water stains (and also other substances, like rust, blood, ink, oil, tobacco, tar, cosmetics, and more) will bleed through wallpaper. So, before patching the area, it is imperative to use a stain blocker to seal the problem. My favorite is KILZ Original oil-based.

KILZ will seal off the stain all right. But wallpaper won’t stick to it. So, in the third photo, you see where I have primed over the KILZ with a wallpaper primer (tinted light blue, for visibility). It’s not necessary to prime the entire wall area to be patched, because this type of wallpaper will stick to itself with just plain old adhesive.

The striped pattern made for an easy repair. I took a straightedge and sharp razor blade and trimmed along the striped design, creating a long skinny patch. See fourth photo. You can also see the strip pasted and booked (folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side).

Once that sat and relaxed for a few minutes, I took it to the wall and appliquéd it over the damaged area, going the full height.

There was a very slight color difference between the paper that had been on the wall for 20 years and the paper that had been in a dark closet. Had I placed the white area of the patch next to the white area on the existing paper on the wall, the color difference would have been noticeable. But trimming along the blue stripe gave the eye a logical stopping point, and so the color difference is not detectable.

In the finished photo, you would never guess there had been anything amiss with this wall.

I used this same technique to patch over the bug-bite holes in yesterday’s post.

And another good reminder that it’s always best to order a little extra wallpaper, in case of the need for repairs later. Store the paper in a climate-controlled space … not the garage or attic.

The wallpaper is by Schumacher, and appeared to be an old-school pulp paper material.

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.

Nice Try – But A Miss

October 4, 2020



Top photo: The plumber removed a wall-mounted faucet and handle, to make it easier for me to hang the wallpaper around this area. This would also eliminate a lot of “relief cuts” that I would need to make in order to fit the paper around these obstacles.

The only problem is … He removed a faucet that protrudes 10″ from the wall. And he capped it off with a pipe and nipple that stick out 7″ ! AND … He was unable to remove the handle escutcheon at all.

So … I still had to make multiple relief cuts in order to fit the wallpaper around these objects and flat to the wall. And now the wallpaper sits around the escutcheon, rather than behind it, so there is the worry that splashed water may find its way in behind the wallpaper, and potentially cause it to curl away from the wall.

The second photo shows another job where the plumber removed the faucet and handles all the way down to the stems. So I was able to fit the paper tightly to the pipes. The new fixtures will cover the holes and the wallpaper, eliminating any worries about water causing the paper to come loose.