Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wall Art Review

Recently I was contacted to try out a new product. I actually enjoy being a product tester. Sometimes I'm familiar with the brand or product but many times it's something that's new to me. I know I tend to do a lot of online research before I spend my money and I greatly appreciate honest reviews of products.

 Like these Wall Art Panels from CSI Wall Panels:

First I was given the option of choosing MDF wood pulp or Sugarcane fiber paper pulp panels. If you go to their website there is shop by material option. Leather would be nice in an office or den.

I was able to choose from a limited selection of designs but there are many options available on their website. You do need to click around a bit because they have the designs separated by collections, materials, rooms, etc.  I chose "Splashes" because I liked the recessed areas and the bubble feel to the panels.

I had to choose the sugar cane panels. I do love recycled materials but I based my decision on the fact that my father had a row of sugar cane along the edge of his property as a wind barrier. When my kids were younger my father always cut down a stalk for them so they could eat the sugar straight from the cane. I definitely make decisions based on memories and emotions.

Here is the information for my box of panels:

Panel Size: 19.68" x 19.68", 275g
Material: Sugarcane fiber (Bagasse) Paper pulp.
Thickness: 1.5mm on flat areas, .50" on Dimension areas.
Features: DIY Product, flexible, Lightweight & Paintable
Package: 12 panels/Box. Covers 32.29 sqft/box
Color: Comes only in its Natural off white color

These panels are very light weight. You can feel that they are a paper type product and are a recycled material. They remind me of those recycled paper trays from cafeterias or those drink carriers from fast food joints. 

The back is a bit rougher than the front but if you chose to you could honestly use either side. Of course the front is smoother as you would expect. These panels come to you in their raw form and are meant to be painted. Each panel is identical so they nestle in their box nicely. My box was shipped to me and each and every panel arrived perfectly fine and undamaged.

In my box was a sheet of basic directions on how to hang the tiles and these spacers. They're basically the same as you would use for ceramic floor tiles.

I'm not exactly sure how I want to use my tiles. I don't need to hang them all on one wall though. I want to use them in a few different rooms and I'm not sure what colors I wish to paint them so for now they are staying natural. My plan at the moment is to go up to Lowe's and pick out some paint samples and paint each group based on the room they will go in. Once they are painted I will pop back in with an update post. Some bloggers have used them as head boards while others have hung them on the ceilings of smaller rooms. I love both ideas but the one I'm drawn to is to hang them either as a group of 2 or 3 and use them as art as if they were paintings. I like the idea of 3 in a row with the wall color showing between each tile.

I wanted to see what you could do with this type of material so I took one panel and played around a bit with it.

I went ahead and taped off a couple of the bubble puddle areas. When I chose this design I thought it might be fun to have a white background and then paint the "hills and valleys". The acrylic craft paint I used went on smoothly with no trouble. 1 or 2 coats would be plenty.

I thought I was being smart by using painters tape to mark off the areas I painted. Nope. I forgot that these are not primed and are basically paper.

When I removed the tape it pulled off some of the paper too. Rookie mistake. A recycled paper product definitely needs to have a base coat applied first. It seals the panel and makes the other paint colors easier to apply and let's them pop.

I also thought mod podging fabric or pictures in the valleys might be fun for a playroom or craft room.  It was a bit difficult cutting the fabric and magazine picture to fit perfectly though. Maybe measure from the back of the panel?

Since I was using this as a test panel I thought why not try markers or Sharpies?

Markers are not the best option if you are coloring in a design. If you wanted to sign a panel or write some words the black Sharpie would work nicely.

My next test was spray paint. I had two options in my paint stash. I have to say I much prefer the Valspar spray paint. It sprays evenly and doesn't drip. I am a novice spray painter and I need all the help I can get and Valspar made it a simple process.

The white paint didn't spray well and it dripped a lot.

The directions say to spray paint your tiles after you hang them but I think that might be meant more for new construction because they were using one of those commercial sprayers. I would not feel comfortable spray painting them in the house. I don't see any reason why they couldn't be painted before you hang them. Here is a YouTube video that shows the basic installation process of a similar tile.

I had some grey touch up paint left over from painting the grey room so I gave that a try. It's a semi-gloss paint but looks more like a flat paint on the tile. I imagine it's because the tile is a bit porous. A base coat could solve that problem.

When I took the two tiles out to lean them on the table for pics one of the tiles slipped down between the table and the wall and hit the floor. It's tough to see but the very tip of the corner is a bit dinged and dented. The big fold is something I did to see if you could fix the tile if it did get dinged or bent. When I unbent the corner you could still see the "wrinkles" so it's best to be careful with the paper tiles.

When you hang the tiles all the "hills" don't match up so I thought I would try cutting the tile in case someone wanted to match the hills and valleys a bit better. It was very easy to cut with my craft room scissors but I don't think I would bother messing with cutting the tiles just to make them fit better. It would be hard to get a nice straight cut. If it bothers you that everything doesn't match then choose a design where it isn't noticeable.

Installation is pretty straight forward. Like most products you want to put them in the room they will installed 48 hours before installation. This way they can acclimate to that room's normal temperature. That might be more important for the wood panels but it doesn't hurt to let the paper ones sit for a couple days. The surface you are applying them to needs to be smooth and clean. I think these tiles attached to plywood or the back of a bookcase would make a nice room divider.

You add adhesive to the back and using the spacers stick it to the wall. Then you can caulk the spaces in between the tiles. After this is when they say you can spray or roller paint the tiles.

They show someone using those tubes of adhesive like tough as nails in a calk gun but since these panels are only paper and light weight you can also use Command strips. Then they wouldn't be permanent or damage your walls. Perfect for renters.

Not that I recommend this but it is super easy to stick a push pin through the panel. It will leave a hole in the panel and your wall of course. I plan on using the Command strips to hang mine.

Yes, I know my panels are crooked. I just quickly placed these on the wall so you can see what they look like hanging up. As part of full disclosure these two panels are hung with a couple rolled pieces of masking tape on the backs. I told you they were light weight. Of course the tape won't hold for long but it does give you an idea of how light they are.

Over all I really like these panels and I would consider purchasing some in the future.

Here are some social media places so you can see more:

I was sent a pack of 12 panels to try free of charge from CSI Wall Panels but all opinions are mine.