Posts Tagged ‘wrinkles’

What Are Those Wrinkles in the Wallpaper?!

January 24, 2023

Un-Plumb, Un-Level

January 24, 2023
Shot of the finished breakfast room , for pattern reference.
Close-up view. The vertical lines are not wrinkles , but shadows cast by the macrame light fixture in this breakfast room .
The problem is, when walls aren’t plumb , and ceiling and floor and chair rail are not level , the pattern motifs won’t march across the wall at the same height on every strip . I’ve learned that, in most cases, it’s more important to match the pattern in the corner , and then allow the pattern to go off-track at ceiling or floor if necessary.
In this photo, note that the humming bird is sitting completely above the chair rail.
Here he’s dropped down to where his tail is swallowed up by the chair rail .
By the time we get to the left corner , half of the bird has dropped down and disappeared .
Here’s another bird motif doing the same disappearing act .
Feet and belly gone.
This house in the Eastwood neighborhood of Houston is nearly 85 years, so you can expect some settling and shifting on its foundation . But even brand new homes can have walls that are out of whack .
This beautiful pattern is by Cole & Son and is called Hummingbirds – it’s very popular and has been around more than 100 years … that’s older than the house!

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

More Peel & Stick Hate

January 17, 2023
so-called peel and stick wallpaper is not nearly what the vendors’ websites make it out to be. It is neither easy to install , nor easy to remove . Nor does it hold up very long. I won’t hang it, neither will most of my colleagues across the country. Even our British counterparts have asked us to not let it slip across the pond!
I won’t work with it, but one of the clients I visited yesterday did attempt to DIY try it on her own, with quite unsatisfactory results. She was kind enough to let me take photos .
Here you can easily see wrinkles next to the door molding .
gap at seam over door, warps along side door.
hard to see, but there are large wrinkles. Plus notice on the right, paper is not adhering to the wall.
seams shrink and gap.
P&S material is not even trying to adhere to the wall.

A lot of these failures are due to the homeowners’ lack of knowledge and experience with peel & stick , and with wallpaper in general. For instance, the textured walls should have been smoothed / skim-coated / skim-floated before applying the material . Wallpaper wants to adhere to a smooth surface – not to the “highs and lows” of a textured wall .
Next, most P&S instructions call for application on a semi-gloss paint , which needs to cure for 6-8 weeks.
Also, read the fine print, and you’ll learn that P&S is meant as a temporary wallpaper …. you can plan on it starting to fail in less than a year. That’s where you get the failure to stick to the wall , and shrinking at the seams . Of course, here you can see that that happened within a few weeks / days.
In this case, the material will be easily removable from the wall. But in most cases, if you’ve installed it on a smooth , primed wall, well, when stripped off, it will take the paint along with it. Leaving you with a nasty , pock-marked mess to have to repair. Click the link to my page on the right, about why to stay away from P&S.

Whimsical Arabian Nights Dance in Powder Room

January 13, 2023
You’ve got to look at this close-up, to notice the antelope and flames / foliage .
You gotta make a decision … The light sconces (they are currently removed, but you can see the electrical boxes where they will be placed) were centered on the vanity top, but the faucet was off-center by about an inch. So I chose to center / balance the pattern on the sconces and countertop. The mirror will be hung between the two light fixtures, so we’ll end up with a pleasing, balanced look. The faucet isn’t exactly in the middle of the design motif, but no biggie – there’s going to be a mirror there, anyway.

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Corner going around shower. Note the window looking into the shower.
Although the website specs said this is a pre-trimmed non-woven material , that was incorrect. Turns out it had an unprinted selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand . Here I’m using my straightedge and razor blade to remove this selvedge. This takes precision and a LOT of time .
The manufacturer usually provides trim guides to help you know where to cut. But it’s usually better to trim to the pattern – determine an element in the design motif that will meet up with the corresponding motif on the opposite side of the strip when the strips are hung on the wall, and use that as your guide . Be sure to trim off the trim guide marks, or they will show on the wall.
The pattern is called Arabian Nights and is by Relativity Textiles . I’ve never worked with this brand before. I was not pleased . In addition to the incorrect information about the pre-trimmed paper , the mfgr’s specs said this was printed on a non-woven substrate . It was not. It wasn’t even printed on standard wallpaper stock . Instead, it was a pulp material – This is a sort of old-fashioned wallpaper , and is very brittle and prone to tearing and dragging (your trimming knife or razor blade will get snagged and you’ll end up with a ” chewed ” jagged cut, instead of a crisp cut . It also tears easily. It also has no coating, so it’s not stain-resistant … Not good in a busy household with a 3-year old toddler , or anyone splashing water or soap or air freshener .
It was also difficult to hang . Applying wet paste to the backing causes the substrate to absorb moisture and expand at a different rate from the ink on the surface. So you end up with wrinkles , waffling , and quilting .
Sponging a light bit of water on the front before pasting helps even out the moisture differential and ease installation . I’ve never before encountered a pulp that had this type of ink on the surface. One clue for this bad stuff is when you open the package and it smells like moth balls . Once I figured out how to work with it, , it went OK – although tedious . The seams did look very nice.
BUT … all this effort would have been unnecessary and the finished room would be more durable if the mfgr had printed on a non-woven substrate (as their on-line specs stated) and had used standard inks instead of this weird , smelly , high-end stuff. In fact, the material would have cost the homeowners a whole lot less $ if it had been normal ink on a non-woven backing .
The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .
installer

Cool Trick Going Around Door

December 18, 2022

I’ve finished putting short strips of wallpaper over this wide entry way . My next strip will be a 9.5′ piece going down the left side of the door molding .
The piece above the door ended 1/4″ from the left edge of the door molding. Normally, I would butt my next strip up against the existing piece. Then, as I move down the wall smoothing the paper into place against the wall, there will be a 1/4″ bit of it that laps over against the full length of the molding. I would need to use a straightedge and blade to trim this off. And then use my damp microfiber rag to wipe paste off the molding.
This non-woven wallpaper is thick and stiff , and hard to press tightly against the molding, so a bit tricky to get a sharp , tight trim cut . And also difficult to ensure that exactly 1/4″ is being trimmed off . So it’s easy for the paper to go off-kilter , and for the pattern to not line up perfectly against the molding . Not a big deal on a busy floral pattern , but with a rigid geometric, it might be noticeable .
So I decided to try this. I wanted to pre-trim the strip to take away that 1/4″ . This would save me from having to do any pressing or trimming. And also ensure that the pattern would fall perfectly straight against the doorway molding.
I measured down 16″ (the height of the ” header ” over the doorway , plus a couple of inches for trimming at ceiling and then at the top of the door molding ) .
Then I used my straightedge , razor blade , and fine ruler (from Texas Art Supply ) to measure over 1/4″ and trim it off .
Don’t think this is a simple task … It’s hard to measure exactly the width of the bit above the molding that should be trimmed off. 1/4″? 3/8″? 5/16″?
Also take into consideration that most wallpapers expand when they get wet with paste . So that 1/4″ I cut off could extend to 5/16″ or even more. That would mean a gap along the door molding.
Next, if the strip above the door is not perfectly plumb , or if the door molding below it is not perfectly straight and plumb , the wallpaper won’t butt up properly against it, and may start to show a gap or an overlap.
Sometimes you can manipulate the strip of wallpaper so that it does butt up against the door frame. But that can result in warps and wrinkles , or a pattern mis-match of the next piece . Also, like I said, this particular non-woven product is thick and stiff, and not happy about being asked to twist into another shape. Pasting the paper – instead of pasting the wall – does help to make it more pliable , so you have a better chance of manipulating the paper as you want.
Here is the strip going into place. So far, it’s butting up nicely against the molding. And no need to trim anything or wipe paste off the woodwork – except for that little bit at the top, which was my ” extra ” allowed for trimming .
FYI, that dark stripe you see along the woodwork is a shadow.
Here is the wallpaper as it falls along the side of the molding. The pattern is lining up nice and straight and precise .
To be honest, at the lower 1/3 of the wall, the paper did start to torque out of shape , and wanted to leave a gap at the molding, which was trying to grow from 1/16″ to maybe 1/4.” Not a lot – but it sure would look bad to have a 1/4″ gap between the wallpaper and the woodwork.
Trying to “mush” it to the right to butt up against the woodwork was causing warps and wrinkles .
I was a little surprised, but the paste had caused the stiff material to become softened and pliable – just enough that I was able to gently work out all those warps and wrinkles , so the wallpaper laid nice and flat against the wall. AND the left edge didn’t become distorted, but fell nice and straight enough that the next strip was easily able to butt up against it nice and tightly.
This trellis / Moroccan lantern / onion dome / geometric pattern is by Designer Wallpapers .

Wanderlust? City Maps Wallpaper in Hall Bathroom

November 26, 2022
Original tile in this 1926 home goes beautifully with the colors in this globe-trotting wallpaper . I positioned the pattern to try to get the most names and maps within the area between the tile and ceiling .
The paper turned out to have a complicated multiple drop pattern match . Basically, in a nutshell, most of the time, with a straight match , a particular pattern motif (the word ” Bangkok ” for instance) will appear at the same height , such as the top of the wall , on every strip . Or, with a drop match , it’s at the top of the wall every other strip . These are the two typical pattern match types. But with a multiple drop match , the pattern will fall down and down across the wall further and further , and finally appear back at the top of the wall on the fourth , or, sometimes, more, strip. That’s why in this shot, you see the bottom half of the city names cut off by the tile, instead of the full name.
And the pattern match is different if you’re moving from left to right, or from right to left .
It’s a real head-scratcher to figure out – and you had better notice it before you start cutting strips, or you could end up running short of paper . It also eats up a lot of paper. I always measure to have a little extra , but in this case, we ended up with just barely enough to finish the 2-room bathroom .
City Maps is by Rifle Paper , which is made by York , generally a good company – although starting to have lots of printing defects – which we did experience on this installation. Also, usually, Rifle Paper is an easy non-woven / paste-the-wall material . This time, second time in a month, it was printed on traditional paper. Another surprise that added time to this job , since after pasting , each piece had to be booked and then set in a plastic bag for a few minutes to absorb the paste , expand , and relax . Best to have this occur in the bag, rather than put it immediately on the wall – which would result in wrinkles and bubbles. But it does slow the process down.
This home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .

REALLY Cheerful, Colorful Powder Room

November 3, 2022
Powder room before. Note the blue ceiling . I applied a white pigmented wallpaper primer ( Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime ) to the walls .
Done! So cheery and fun and lively!
These flowers just make you smile when you walk in here!
Toilet corner before.
I’m grateful to the husband for removing the toilet tank, as well as the sink / vanity. This sure saved me a lot of time and squeezing into tight spots.
The red square in the back is wall area that was blocked by the toilet tank, so previous painters were not able to reach that area. It had a heavy sand texture on it, which I took a little extra time to skim-float and then sand smooth. Nobody’s going to see it, but it will help the wallpaper adhere better .
Toilet corner after. The corner you’re looking at was off-plumb by about 1/2″ from top to bottom, so there is a bit of a pattern mis-match as you get closer to the floor. Not a biggie with this wild pattern, plus it’s mostly hidden behind the toilet.
Hard to see, but the focus of the photo is an angled wall under the stairs .
The blue ceiling coordinates perfectly with the colors in the wallpaper .
This is by Rifle Paper , and is called Garden Party .
Every Rifle Paper I’ve hung previously has been on a non-woven substrate , and could be installed by the paste-the-wall method. The label said this was a PTW (see diagram of brush putting paste on the wall) … but it surprised me, because it was NOT! It was on a regular paper stock, and I’m betting it’s the same material that York prints its SureStrip line as well as the Spoonflower brand.
I assumed the directions and diagram were correct, so first I pasted the paper and then took it immediately to the wall, with no booking time. Lo and behold, I got bubbles on the wall.
This happens because the paper is absorbing moisture from the paste and expanding. With no way to escape being trapped between the paper and the wall, the moisture ” off gas es” and pushes away from the wall ,,, resulting in those bubbles.
My solution was to treat the material as a traditional pasted wallpaper. So I pasted the back, folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side (called booking ), and then placed it into a black plastic trash bag for a few minutes. This allows the paper to absorb moisture from the paste, expand, and relax , all before it goes onto the wall.
This is a pretty sure way to prevent the appearance of bubbles or blisters or wrinkles.
The townhome is in the Highland Village / Galleria area of Houston .

Let’s Blame It On The Paperhanger

August 27, 2022
Obviously, this manufacturer has had complaints about their product. So they’ve come up with a CYA paragraph(s) designed to throw blame onto the wallpaper installer.
Only thing is, most all of the above points they are trying to dodge ARE the fault / responsibility of the manufacturer – NOT the paperhanger .
Gaps: poorly trimmed paper at the factory, possibly due to dull or wobbly trim rollers .
Raised edges: poorly trimmed edges, or incompatible inks and substrates.
Blisters: Usually due to off-gassing due to surfaces that don’t breathe and therefor trap moisture. Or to inks and substrates that are incompatible. … The substrate absorbs moisture from the paste and stretches , but the inks do not, resulting in wrinkles , warps , waffling , and / or quilting .
But, hey – instead of doing some research and product development to improve our wallpaper , let’s just blame it on the paperhanger .

Heavily-Inked Papers Need Extra Moisture

August 13, 2022
Something smells like moth balls ! Some high-end hand screened wallpapers are printed with what we call stinky inks . These inks often fight with the substrate they’re printed on. The backing of the wallpaper will absorb moisture from the paste and expand , but the ink on the surface won’t, so you end up with what we call waffling or quilting . Wrinkles in the wallpaper in between the printed inked areas. Do a Search here to see photos and read more about this.
You can reduce or eliminate this by evening out the moisture between front and back. It’s as simple as taking a very lightly damp sponge and wiping the front printed surface of the wallpaper. Then paste the back as normal , book (fold pasted side to pasted side), roll up, place in black trash bag for a few minutes.
Now the wallpaper should be relaxed , and the wrinkles should be evened out . Now you’re ready to hang wallpaper !
This pattern is called Les Touches and is by Brunschwig & Fils , a higher-end designer type brand .