Friday, December 28, 2012

Wallpaper Hell

'Twas the day after Christmas and my parents were here for a holiday visit.  It's really amazing that they keep coming back, considering that every time they're here, they find themselves knee deep in painter's tape and sawdust.  But in our defense, they keep showing up with suitcases full of grungy work clothes, so they're kind of asking for it. Either that or those are just their everyday clothes, but that would warrant a whole different blog.

But this time was supposed to be different.  My dad emailed me last week and asked if he needed to bring his Little Giant ladder (the Cadillac of ladders, mind you) and his painting clothes.  "Of course not!" I said.  "We're just so tired these days, I think we just need a nice relaxing Winter Break.  No projects this time!"  Cut to December 27, a chilly, calm winter's morn.  Everyone's sitting in the living room in our cozy pj's, drinkin' coffee, relaxin' all cool.......when the next thing I know, we're all in the foyer, surrounded by strips of torn down wallpaper (still wearing pj's).  I don't even know how it happened!  I think there was a conversation about re-doing the foyer, stairway, and upstairs hallway, and then someone (it was not me, I swear!) spied a loose corner of wallpaper and gave it a curious pull, "just to see how easily it comes off."
                                         (the very "before" picture- from the real estate listing)

At first, the paper was coming off with the greatest of ease.  It seemed it had only been fastened to the walls at the seams, so the parts between the seams practically floated off the walls.  All we needed to do was use a little wallpaper stripper for the glued-on parts, and we'd be ready to prime and paint by nightfall!

This brings me to fun fact #1 of the day: old wallpaper was never intended to come down.  Unlike the silly newfangled wallpaper glues of today, this stuff was designed to withstand a nuclear attack.  And, as it turns out, commercial wallpaper stripper, liquid fabric softener, hot water, coarse sandpaper, the Paper Tiger scoring tool, and profanity.  After HOURS of scraping with little to no results, I finally did what I should have done in the first place: I Googled "removing old wallpaper."  And within minutes, I had the answer.  VINEGAR (this is fun fact of the day #2).

I already knew vinegar had a myriad of household uses, and we always have at least a gallon of it on hand.  It's great for removing lyme deposits from glassware, unclogging drains, cleaning the gunk out of coffee makers, and 100 other things.  And when you add 1 part vinegar to 1 part hot water, it becomes a miracle wallpaper stripper.  Just use a spray bottle or a sponge to apply it to the wall, let it soak in, and the old wallpaper glue just peels right off.  Like freaking MAGIC.

The not so magic part is all of the huge cracks in the plaster that we discovered behind the wallpaper, which we will now need to repair..........

1 comment:

  1. I would like to add a couple things to this post. First, we often work on the house in pajamas and when you have the brand-new, super-soft fleece it is hard to put on the scratchy old jeans and shirts you may have hung in the closet or resting in a dresser. Also, Kristin forget to share our hidden treasure we discovered. One topic of conversation that came about was the great mystery of "What's under the linoleum?" We entered the crawl space under the stares where there is an even older strip of linoleum featuring a floral motif. Luckily, this acid-in-the-eye piece was not adhered, so we lifted to see some plywood boards with newspapers on top. Investigation revealed about a dozen Milwaukee Journal Sentinels and Daily Citizens (Beaver Dam, WI) from 1932. This led to some good reading for the remainder of the first evening.