Posts Tagged ‘zinsser’

Killing Mildew

November 2, 2017

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Yeowee … this wall has a lot of issues with torn Sheetrock (the dark brown areas), but more important – the black stuff that you see in the top photo is mildew.  Not good.  Mildew is a living organism, and it can grow and grow.  It’s powdery, and so as it spreads across the wall, it can separate from the wall (delaminate), which means that the wallpaper is at risk of falling off the wall.  Mildew can also travel right through wallpaper, creating a ghost-like shadow of dark – or sometime pink – discoloration.

Mildew is usually caused by moisture.  It’s not clear what caused the problem in this powder room in a 1957 home in the Tanglewood area of Houston.  It could be a leak in the wall (pipe, window, roof, lawn sprinkler outside hitting the wall).  Or it could be that the solid vinyl surface of the previous wallpaper prevented air from getting to the backing, and so that it could not dry out, and then it held dampness against the wall – which created the perfect breeding ground for mildew.

Getting rid of mildew requires a few steps.  First, it must be wiped and scrubbed with chlorine bleach, then rinsed clean.  Once the wall is dry, a coat of a quality stain-blocker is applied.  I like oil-based KILZ Original, but other options include Zinsser’s B-I-N stain blocker.

Once the stain blocker is dry, the wall can be coated in a wallpaper primer.

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No Primer Under Wallpaper = Torn Drywall

July 24, 2017

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Today I stripped wallpaper off a kitchen where the previous installer had not bothered to prime the walls first, but hung his paper right on top of new Sheetrock.

This is very bad for many reasons.

` The walls will not have stick, so the new wallpaper will not have a proper surface to cling to – and this can cause curling seams, loose areas, and other problems.

` The walls will not have slip, which will make it much harder to install the new paper.

` With nothing separating the new wallpaper from the drywall, the paper will bond to the drywall, making it darned near impossible to get it off later.

This is what happened today. After I removed the top inked layer, and after I soaked the remaining paper backing for a while, the old wallpaper came away from the sections of the wall that were coated with joint compound or paint or wood stain.

But in areas of the wall that were just uncovered Sheetrock, the wallpaper grabbed tightly and could not be pulled off or scraped off. In stripping the wallpaper off these areas, some of the drywall came away, too, leaving areas that were torn and damaged.

These uneven, torn areas are problematic, because they leave bumps and ridges showing under the new wallpaper, and because, since they have no protective coating, they absorb moisture – from water, wallpaper paste, wallpaper primer, or other, and then they expand and then they bubble. Ridges and bubbles look like Hell under wallpaper.

The first photo is a wall to the right of the kitchen counter, where differing layers of drywall have been pulled off the wall. The dark brown area is the deepest.

The third photo is a newish product that is wonderful for sealing and “repairing” torn drywall. Gardz (by Zinsser) is a penetrating primer / sealer that soaks into the surface, binding things together. It dries quickly. When it is dry, it is impervious to moisture – which means that you can apply a water-borne primer over it, or you can skim-float it with joint compound, and not worry about bubbles appearing.

I applied Gardz to these areas of torn Sheetrock, let it dry, then skim-floated over it with joint compound, and then sanded it all smooth. Then I applied a second coat of Gardz.

In addition to making the surface very stable, Gardz serves as a good primer for wallpaper, because it’s molecular structure on its dry surface is such that the molecules of paste, attached to the new wallpaper, will grab on and hold tight.

In this case, because I like a white pigmented primer, and because I like hanging on it, I went over the walls with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. The last photo shows the wall after all that work. Finally ready for wallpaper!

Prepping Walls When Existing Wallpaper Won’t Come Off

July 18, 2017

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Almost always, when homeowners are switching from an outdated wallpaper to a new pattern, I am able to get the old paper off the wall. But twice this week I have run into papers that would not come off the wall – at least, not without causing significant damage to the Sheetrock or creating other problems. Sometimes it’s because they were installed improperly in the first place. And other times it’s just the nature of the beast.

Either way, it is possible to hang wallpaper over old existing wallpaper – IF the walls are prepared correctly.

In these two rooms, I used joint compound (“mud”) to skim float over the seams in the original wallpaper, to ensure that they would not telegraph through and show up as vertical lines under the new wallpaper. These are the white stripes and patches you see in the photos.

Then I sanded the mud smooth, making sure that the edges were feathered out, so the joint compound patch would not be detectable under the new wallpaper. I used a damp sponge to wipe dust off the sanded areas.

The next step was to seal the walls with a penetrating sealer called Gardz (by Zinsser). Gardz is a thin liquid sealer that soaks into the surface and binds it together. It dries hard, and prevents moisture from passing through.

In other words, you can hang wallpaper that is wet with paste on top of this primer, and not worry about moisture passing through and causing the original paste to loosen, or the original paper to swell and bubble away from the wall.

In addition, Gardz dries with a crystalized molecular surface that is ideal for wallpaper and its paste to “bite into” and “get a hold of.”

Bottom line – Gardz is a super fixer of problem walls, it’s a wonderful sealer, and it is a great primer for using under wallpaper.

I’m Scared Of This Blue Dot

June 8, 2017

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I am going to hang grasscloth in this large master bedroom in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston. To smooth the textured walls, I skim-floated the walls with “mud” (joint compound). As I was sanding the compound smooth, I discovered this small blue spot. It might be ink. Or maybe some cleaning solution, or a cosmetic or perfume, or some other agent. SOMEthing was on the wall before I applied the smoothing compound, and bled through.

Whatever it is, it worked its way through the smoothing compound and up onto the wall surface. If a substance works its way through the wall surfaces, you can be sure that it will also work its way through the new wallpaper.

To prevent this, there are a couple of options. One is to cover the area with a stain-blocking sealer. I love oil-based KILZ Original. Another product is BIN by Zinsser, or 123 also by Zinsser.

But in this case, since it is just a tiny dot, I decided to use a Stanley knife to dig out the stain. Gone. Done. No worries about anything bleeding through the wallpaper.

If the new wallpaper had a smooth surface, I would patch over the hole and sand the area smooth, and spot-prime. But since the new wallpaper is a rough-textured grasscloth, this 1/4″ dent in the wall will not be noticeable, so I’m going to leave it as it is. Tomorrow, before hanging paper, I will double check to be sure no additional blue stain has worked its way out from hiding.

Mirror “Tar” Will Bleed Through Wallpaper – Prevention

May 17, 2017

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Originally, this powder room in a newish townhome in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston had a mirror that was glued to the wall. Removing it left globs of mastic (tar-like adhesive) stuck to the wall. See Photo 1.

Mastic is petroleum-based, and it, like other similar substances such as grease, oil, and crayon, as well as other compounds like blood, rust, water, tobacco tar, and others, will work their way from behind the wallpaper up through it and then onto the surface, causing an unsightly stain.

KILZ Original oil-based primer and stain blocker is a superb product for sealing these substances. However, I feel more confident if the suspect material is removed entirely.

The best way to do this is to take a Stanley knife (utility knife / box cutter) and cut around the stain and into the wall. Then you can use a stiff 3″ putty knife to peel up the top layer of drywall, taking the staining material with it.

This leaves a patch of Sheetrock without its protective top layer. See Photo 3. These layers of torn Sheetrock will absorb moisture from anything you put on top (paint, primer, joint compound, etc.), and will swell, creating ugly bubbles that will mar the finished job.

So I brushed on Gardz, a penetrating sealer / primer by Zinsser. This is cool stuff, because it soaks into the surface and then dries hard, binding everything together.

In Photo 4, I have skim-floated over the areas where I have cut out the mastic. To skim-float, I trowel on a smoothing material called joint compound. Once that is dry, I will go back and sand it smooth, creating a perfectly smooth surface ready to accept the new wallpaper.

Stripping Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 17, 2017

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This powder room in a newish townhome in the Galleria area of Houston was originally papered with a deep red, nubby-textured grasscloth wallpaper. It didn’t suit the taste of the new homeowners, so they had me strip it off and replace it with something lighter.

Often, grasscloth can be really hard to get off, because the grass fibers and the netting used to sew them to the backing separate from the backing and come off in tiny handfuls of fiberous messiness.

I was luckier today, because the top layer with the grass fibers and red ink came off the wall fairly easily, and in almost-intact 9′ strips. The paper backing was left on the wall (see 2nd photo). In some areas (see 3rd photo), bits of the red inked layer remained.

The next step was to remove the paper backing. All that’s needed is to use a sponge to soak the backing with warm water. Soak one section, move on and soak the next, then go back and resoak the first section, etc.

Water has a harder time penetrating the patches where the red inked layer was not removed. Soak it a little more, or use a putty knife to get under that layer and pull off the inked material.

Eventually, the moisture from the warm water will reactivate the paste. If you are lucky, you will be able to simply pull the paper backing away from the wall. But if not, all it takes is a little elbow grease and a stiff 3″ putty knife, to gently scrape the paper from the wall.

I was doubly lucky today, because whoever hung the original grasscloth did a good job, including the use of a good primer to seal the walls before he hung any wallpaper. His primer protected the walls, and all my water and tension as I soaked and pulled paper off the walls caused no damage to the subsurface.

All I had to do to prepare the walls for new wallpaper was to wash off old paste residue, and apply a primer, in this case Gardz by Zinsser.

Removing Pedestal Sink Tears Sheetrock

December 4, 2016

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These homeowners wanted the new wallpaper to fall seamlessly behind their powder room sink, so there would be no cut edge that could wick up splashed water, which could cause curling. So they had a plumber remove the sink. This also makes it immensely easier for me to hang the paper, because I don’t have to cut around the sink or pipes.

But since the sink was caulked to the wall, when it was pulled away from the wall, some of the drywall also pulled away, leaving torn areas. These torn areas are bad because they cause uneven areas under the wallpaper, and also because the moisture from the wallpaper paste will cause the compromised areas in the drywall to bubble.

So I sealed the torn areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer by Zinsser, which is formulated to soak into porous surfaces, then dries hard, sealing them and preventing moisture from passing through, and thereby preventing bubbling.

The next step was to skim-float over the torn areas, let dry, and then sand smooth, to even out the surface. A final coat of Gardz sealed the patched area.

Stripping Wallpaper Today

October 28, 2016

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This poor homeowner has been waiting TWO YEARS to get her powder room redone. Every couple of months, some facet of the project gets completed. About two years ago, someone ripped off the red vinyl layer of the existing wallpaper – so they have been living with gritty tan manila paper walls since then. Most recently, the pretty new countertop you see went in. The faucet still needs to be installed. But the room is ready for wallpaper, so here I am …

The red vinyl layer has already been stripped from the wall, so what you are looking at is its tan paper backing that has remained on the wall. This usually comes off pretty easily (depending on the underlying surface) simply by soaking with plain water. The dark tan areas are where I have wet the paper, using the sponge and bucket of warm water in the foreground.

Once that tan paper backing came off, lo and behold – the previous installer hung his red wallpaper over the original floral wallpaper. It’s usually best to remove wallpaper, and not hang over it, but sometimes there are reasons why you can’t, and it looks like this guy did a good job of prepping the surface to accept new wallpaper. The cloudy white you see is his primer, which is a good thing.

I didn’t try to remove that original floral layer, either, knowing that it might well open a whole can of worms that would require a lot of work to repair. It was all adhering tightly to the wall, so I skim-floated over it, sanded smooth, and primed it with the penetrating sealer Gardz, by Zinsser.

By tomorrow, everything will be nice and smooth and sealed, and ready for the new wallpaper. Keep posted!

Got a Call for a “Wallpaper Disaster” Today

June 21, 2016

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Monday: This evening, I got a call from a friend who is a member of the Masonic lodge not far from my house. It seems they are renovating a room – and hope to have it finished in time for an awards luncheon on Saturday. That would be four days from today. They intend to strip wallpaper, paint the walls and a heavily textured ceiling, pull up old carpet, and lay a new laminate floor. And it’s a BIG room.

The top layer of wallpaper was vinyl, and stripped off easily and cleanly. But this bottom layer, which is the original paper from when the lodge was built in 1952, was not cooperating. They had soaked it, used a solvent, and tried scraping, but the paper wasn’t budging. That’s what you see in the photo – some original paper, some scraped off with backing and / or paste left on the wall, and some bare plaster. So my friend called and asked if I could take a look.

I was curious, because this type of wallpaper usually comes off relatively easily, once it is soaked and the old paste reactivates. Especially since the walls appeared to have been properly sealed, which makes removal later easier.

But once I got to playing with it, I realized that the old wallpaper had been coated with a sealer, before the new vinyl was applied. In other words, the original installers did a good job by properly sealing the plaster walls (you don’t see many buildings in Houston that have authentic plaster walls!), and then the next crew did a good job, too, by sealing the original wallpaper before applying the vinyl wallpaper. (Actually, they should have stripped off the original paper, but perhaps they were unable to do so, which sometimes does happen.)

But the sealer kept water from penetrating into the paper and reactivating the paste. So the lodge guys could have soaked the walls all day, but not accomplished much. (They were also using a squirt bottle – my bucket of warm water and a large sponge soaks much more area much faster.)

Sometimes, it’s time to call uncle. If the paper won’t come off, take proper steps to prepare it so you can go over it. So what they’re going to do is skim-float the wall with joint compound, which means they will be troweling on a thin layer of a plaster-like substance. Once that is dry (overnight), they will sand it smooth and then wipe off all dust with a damp sponge rinsed clean frequently. That will leave a very smooth surface, with none of the ridges from the torn wallpaper showing, nor any cracks in the plaster.

To create a uniform surface under their new paint, it is important that they float the entire wall, even areas that do not have torn wallpaper, because their new paint will soak differently into the various surfaces of the wall – plaster, wallpaper, wallpaper with a sealant over it, residue from wallpaper paste, etc. Skim-coating the entire wall, including corners and edges along ceiling and moldings, will create a perfectly uniform surface, that will yield a uniform finish on the new paint.

Before painting, the newly smoothed wall will need to be sealed, and I recommended Gardz by Zinsser. It is a penetrating sealer that soaks into porous surfaces, such as new joint compound. (It is also wonderful – in fact, designed – to seal torn drywall, to prevent bubbling when a water-based product is applied.)

I know you can hang wallpaper on top of Gardz, but they will have to ask the paint store guys if they can paint on top of it, or if it will need a paint primer first.

It’s a lot of work, but the guy there whom I talked to seemed up for the challenge – he was knowledgeable, energetic and enthusiastic, and I got the impression that he didn’t have a day job and so could invest some serious hours at the lodge, getting the room into shape.

They promised to give me an update, later in the week.

Major Transformation – From Dark & Dated to Sleek, Serene & Modern

May 14, 2016
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This under-the-stairs powder room in a townhome in Montrose (Houston) was originally papered in a dark murky blue striped wallpaper – very trendy back in the early ’90’s when this home was built (just like the shiny gold faucet and towel ring 🙂 ).

Neal LeBouef of L Design Group is helping the new homeowners bring their home into the New Millennium, with a sleeker, cleaner, and more contemporary look.

I don’t like grasscloth in bathrooms because it stains and runs when it gets splashed with water, and I really dislike the shading and paneling (color variations between strips) inherent to grasscloth. But I really do like Neal’s choice of this faux grass product! Thibaut Designs’s Bankun Raffia is a faux grasscloth in a woven pattern that has real texture and a subtle shadowing effect. It looks a whole lot like the real thing, but is free of the color defects of real grass, and is much more durable in wet areas.

I have hung this pattern many times, and it always looks crisp and clean and serene and, depending on the color, tailored and handsome. It’s thick, which makes it a little difficult to work around corners, but after many hangs, I’ve got the corners mastered.

In this room, I was unable to get the original wallpaper off the walls. It was coming off in 1″ pieces, and the 1′ square section I did get off took more than an hour, and left the wall a mess. So I opted to smooth over any uneven areas, and then sealed the paper with Gardz, by Zinsser, which soaks into porous materials like this (won’t work on vinyl or anything with a gloss), and then seals it, drying hard. It dries fast, and is suitable for hanging new wallpaper on top of it.

In the second photo, you see one wall in the original dark paper, and the wall to the right covered with the new fake grasscloth. With all the walls covered, the new look is fantastic. The shiny gold faucets will be changed, and a new light fixture and mirror will be added.