Posts Tagged ‘water’

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.

Doing the Opposite Today – Removing Wallpaper

September 30, 2020


The large medallion on soft lavender on all walls of this large bedroom worked well for this gal for many years – but now that she’s an older teen, it was time for an update.

So instead of putting wallpaper up, today I took it down.

Most people think that stripping wallpaper is difficult. But if the walls were prepped properly, and if the paper was hung properly, and if the proper removal steps are followed, it should all go well, with minimal damage to the walls. See my link at right, on how to strip wallpaper.

The most important thing is to separate the top, inked layer of paper from the backing / substrate layer. I find that wetting this top layer with a sponge and plain water helps strengthen the fibers, so the top layer can be pulled off in larger strips.

In the second and third photos, you see how the purple layer has been stripped off, leaving the white backing attached to the wall. This top layer has to be removed, because it has an acrylic (or vinyl) coating, and will not allow water to pass through it.

The next step is to soak the backing with plain water and a sponge (see photo). No chemicals, no additives – just plain warm water. You will have to reapply water several times. The idea is to let water soak through this backing layer, to reactivate the paste underneath. Once that paste is good and wet, it should release from the wall. Sometimes you have to gently scrape the backing from the wall. But in my case today, once that paste was reactivated, the substrate layer came away from the wall in full, intact sheets. Easy peasy!

One photo shows my “dull” 3″ stiff putty knife. I call it “dull,” because it’s old and beaten up. But it’s really rather sharp. I use it to carefully get between the inked top layer of wallpaper and the bottom substrate layer. And then I use it to gently scrape wallpaper from the wall.

In my case today, the previous installer had done a superb job of hanging the wallpaper. He applied a primer before hanging the paper. That primer helped make this whole removal job go well, and it protected the walls from damage.

The family will need to apply a stain blocker to prevent any residual paste from causing the new paint from crackling or flaking off. Once that’s dry, the walls can be textured and / or painted. The room’s resident told me that she is planning to go all white.

This home is in the West University area of Houston.

Special Coating Supposedly Makes Wallpaper Fire-Resistant

September 17, 2020


I’ve heard of coatings to make wallpaper water-resistant. But this is the first time I’ve seen a company claim to be able to make their wallpaper resistant to fire.

This brand is Farrow & Ball, and the material is a typical British pulp substrate.

You Gotta Be Tidy When You Have Wallpaper

August 28, 2020


This home in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston has young children. I’m going to direct the blame for the streaks and drips and stains on the wall toward those children.

You may need to enlarge the photos to see what I’m talking about, but there are stains on the walls probably caused by splashing water (water turned on too hard, people shaking their hands after washing or reaching for a hand towel), or cleaning agents (housekeeper sloshing liquids).

Once the new wallpaper goes up, everyone’s going to have to be more careful and tidy. Water and Windex will stain wallpaper just as easily as they will stain a painted wall.

Rust From Water Damage Will Stain Wallpaper

August 11, 2020

Look to the right of the can. Notice the tiny spots of red. This is rust, and rust is bad because it (along with certain other substances, like ink, tar, oil, tobacco, water stains, wood sap (knots), mold, mildew) will bleed through wallpaper. Maybe not immediately, but, over time, it will work its way through the primer and the paper and to the surface, leaving a spot that cannot be washed off.

Actually, there was a whole lot of rust along the entire height of this wall’s corner. An air conditioning leak had kept the drywall wet for a period of time, and rust had formed along much of the metal corner – called a “bead.”

I skim-floated over the affected area with joint compound, and that buried the rust … for a while. But rust (and other substances), will eventually work their way to the surface, leaving spots on the wallpaper.

So a stain blocker was called for, which will prevent any stains from bleeding through. For this I love KILZ – but only the “Original” oil-based version. The water-borne products just don’t measure up

Some reasons I skim-floated over the area was to provide a buffer space between the rust and the sealer in hopes that the rust would not make it all the way up to the surface, to create more material over the very corner itself that could soak up the sealer, and because the stain blocker would soak into the porous smoothing compound more so than to the sharp corner of the metal bead.

Water Splashes / Stains in Powder Room

July 1, 2020


Look closely, and you can see water streaks and stains running down the wall alongside the vanity in this powder room.

This happens when people reach with their wet hands for a towel, or just shake water off their hands.

I will be hanging wallpaper in this room in a few days.

You can bet that this family is going to get my “Care and Feeding of Your New Wallpaper” lecture, so they learn to take care to not get water on their new wallpaper.

Wallpaper can handle a little water (or toiletries, glass cleaner, air fresheners, etc.), but over time, as you can see, most substances will leave their mark on wallpaper.

Having No Sink Saves Lots of Time

April 14, 2020



In the first photo, the homeowner was kind enough to have her contractor disconnect the sink and pull the vanity out of the room. This eliminated a cut edge of wallpaper along the top of the backsplash, so no worries about splashed water getting under the paper and causing it to curl up.

It also made my job a LOT easier and quicker.

By contrast, in the second photo, cutting around the pedestal sink – and with a delicate paper that crimped easily – took me about an hour and a half.

Repair Needed – Stashed Wallpaper Not Usable

April 5, 2020


I’m about to do a repair to some wallpaper that was damaged flooding during Hurricane Harvey here in Houston. Unfortunately, the left over wallpaper from the original installation was also exposed to the water and humidity of the flood. There is a little bit of water stain and mildew on the back of the paper.

This rendered the paper unusable, because both water stains and mildew will work their way through wallpaper (and paint and other surfaces), and will eventually show up on the printed side.

Luckily, there was enough left over paper for me to discard this stained area and then use undamaged paper for the repair.

Textured Vinyl Faux Grasscloth in West U Powder Room

February 28, 2020


The homeowner waited 13 years to do away with the classic damask wallpaper in the powder room of their home in the West University neighborhood of Houston. That’s what happens to your plans when you buy a home and get sidetracked by kids, career, community, yada.

There was nothing wrong with the original gold damask pattern, but it was dark and it didn’t suit the homeowners’ taste. They were originally looking at grasscloth – but, luckily, listened to my many reasons to avoid that material (see page link at right).

They took my suggestion and went with this textured vinyl faux woven grasscloth by Thibaut called Bankun Raffia.

This material has the texture and depth of color that people are loving these days, but is (mostly) free of the color variations and fragility of real grasscloth.

Bankun Raffia is a commercial-grade material, so it is resistant to dings, splashed water, stains, fingerprints, and little boys with bad aim. 🙂

It’s harder to work with than regular wallcoverings, because it is thick and stiff and hard to cut and hard to make turn corners or work into tight spaces.

The finished look is tailored and serene, and a lot brighter. In the photo with my finger, you can see the textured surface and fauxed color application.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and 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.