Wall Finishes: Expecting the unexpected.

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in DOING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME | No Comments

The fastest way to end up with a league-leading case of buyer’s remorse is to buy something expecting one thing and getting another. This happens to us once in awhile at the car wash. We pay for the “works,” but there always seems to a few details that gets missed in the detailing, a bug smear on the grill, brake dust left on the rims, or smudges on the windshield. These are minor afflictions and easily remedied. But correcting issues after the fact with wall finishes? Not so much.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

With a painted wall, pretty much what you see is what you get.  You can simplify your wall finish issues if you have the architect specify a level 3, 4, or 5 painted surface. But in a renovation, things do not always go that smoothly. In addition, when you are dealing with vinyl wallcovering (VWC), you can pretty much guarantee things are not what they appear.

With VWC you really do not know what kind of wall preparation you are in for until the old VWC has been fully removed. It could be hiding all kinds of nasty surprises, including delamination, condensation, rotten drywall, and mold—all of which require substantially more preparation and potentially extensive wall repairs. That is not even the worst of it. If these issues are not addressed for one reason or another during the renovation, they could end up returning to haunt you days, weeks, or even months after your renovation is “completed.”









Vinyl wallcovering can hide a multitude of sins, so it is better find them first, instead of being unpleasantly surprised later.

Look first, and ask a lot of questions.

On the projects that Top Shelf manages we take a two-pronged approach to ensure you get the best possible end result.

First, we inspect the property like it was our own.

We have years of hospitality experience overseeing the renovation of thousands of guestrooms, so we know what to look for.  While you cannot find every hidden issue without peeling back a lot of VWC, it is amazing what you can learn by studying the wall surfaces, baseboards, and the surrounding areas, especially in commonly known trouble spots. We also interview the property staff. They have been living with this property and they know about past repairs and any persistent problems. Then, we review the as-built plans, looking for the likely causes of any issues we might find. Finally, we put a plan in place to correct any problems found, and include an extra 20% wall preparation for those areas to establish a “fail-safe” margin of financial risk on the needed repairs.

Second, we make sure the repairs are done right.

When we manage a project we are on-site during demolition and walking the areas we have identified with the contractor, examining the actual wall surface ourselves after the VWC is removed. We also review any areas that require excess preparation, replacement, or remediation. We have eyes on every area to determine with the contractor how much of that extra 20% wall preparation contingency we are actually going to need. In addition, we recommend establishing unit prices for all of the possible wall preparation issues in the contractor’s contract. That way, in the unlikely event we find something really off the wall, so to speak, we can control any costs required to rectify the issue.

Right the first time.

At Top Shelf, our clients don not get buyer’s remorse. That is because we take the time to understand the risks, in detail, on every project and make the best plan possible to address them while delivering a finish level that meets expectations.

This is not our first rodeo, either. We have got a lot more tips that can help you speed up your project and keep costs down, and we are going to share them with you to help you get your project done right the first time.

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about our recommendations for wall finishes, you can reach out to a Top Shelf Project Manager @ infographicquestions@topshelfrea.com and we will respond within 48 hours.


See you next time,

The Top Shelf Team