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My Wall Paper Removal Saga (Part 1)

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Eclecticisms: My Wall Paper Removal Saga (Part 1)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Wall Paper Removal Saga (Part 1)

I got a little farther with this blog than I expected to tonight!

I almost didn't even want to write this blog, because I wasn't sure I was quite ready to re-live this project. And what a project! After bruises, messes, stress, chemicals, etc., I'm done. HURRAY! (I just realized that description can almost apply to a crazy rock concert. This was not like a fun concert.).

In case you missed my constant blabbing about this project over the past month or so, here's the DL. Both bedrooms on the first floor have (well...had) very old wallpaper (possibly original, we're talking 50-85 years old) that had been painted over. I'm thinking the room I did was only one coat, but the other room (where my bedroom used to be) has at least 2 or 3 coats of paint so I'm sure that one will be even more fun to do than this first one was. (In case you didn't catch it, that sentence is dripping with sarcasm.) In my usual delusional way, I had originally thought, "Pft. I can get these two rooms knocked out in a weekend." WRONG. Hours and hours and hours later (with the help of others... thank god!) my room is FINALLY done and I'm so excited! This one has way more privacy and just a more overall cozy feel. As I've mentioned before, my bedroom is my sanctuary. No TV, no smoking, and I keep it as calm and comforting as possible. This set up just... well, works.

Here are a few before pictures...

The room was pretty much storage; Just a papasan, a couple bookshelves, a cat box and an exercise bike. Oh, and dust.

Peeling ceiling!

I decided to finally start this project just before my brother moved in. I needed more privacy and it was something I'd been debating on doing for months anyways. After researching online, I found that a ton of sites and people (including a guy from This Old House) recommend using one part liquid fabric softener and one part water when you're working with old wallpaper. You apply it with a spray bottle to a small area (maybe 2' x 2') let it soak a bit, and start scraping. I found the least smelly fabric softener (lavender) and got to work with my brother.

So, we soaked it...

and scraped...

and scraped...

...and scraped.
For 4 hours.
One wall.

Actually, I take that back. We didn't even quite finish that wall because we were totally spent. See how the paint was coming off before the brown remenants of the wall paper? It was taking FOREVER.

I took another hour the next day to work on it and realized there HAD to be an easier way. Apparently steamers can be quite dangerous, as can heat guns. Heat guns can set a fire inside of the plaster wall that can spread quickly and be hard to get to, in order to put it out. Not my idea of something I wanted to risk, so my Dad checked out a paint store, and the guy there recommended DIF gel and a Paper Tiger scorer.

We gave it a try. First, we scored the paper, which makes a HORRIBLY high pitched sound, but you do what you have to do. Then you use the WARM gel mixture (I forget the exact measurements, but you don't use much gel) to spray the wall- about a 4' x 4' area- and let it sit for 15 minutes. Repeat. To keep it warm, you can set the bottle in a pot of hot water (don't leave a flame on or anything) while it soaks. Then you come back and scrape.

I cannot put into words the excitement I felt in my heart on the first scrape. It came off in a chunk! Take a look at that chunk hanging in the picture... now it still took several more hours to finish the entire room, but this stuff saved a LOT of time and frustration, though my hands weren't insanely soft, smelly and soapy anymore. (We had to use gloves and masks with this stuff.)

I also got VERY excited to find out what the wallpaper had looked like when I took off the outlet cover. We also found writing on the wall (measurements) while we scraped. My brother tried to convince me it said "Help me". Ha... nice try!

After some time (I actually lost track of the hours spent) we finally finished but then had to go back again for anything we missed. That was another afternoon. Then... the washing. The guys did most of that, while I scraped wallpaper goo off the floor and swept up. You can see where they stopped the first day... what a difference! If I didn't have help I swear the room would still look like this.


Ok... so the walls were clean and bare now, but the plaster had cracks that needed filling. I want to mention how awesome it is to work on plaster and not drywall. You don't have to worry about it getting too wet (the drywall paper will soak up the liquid and possibly get ruined), which really helps considering how much I soaked those babies.

Get some spackle, fine grit sand paper (I think I used 150?) and a good putty knife. It's super easy to apply. Don't use too much, because you are just going to sand off the excess later. What's most important is that you fill the crack(s) completely and smooth it as much as possible, for easier sanding and better results. Any large cracks or holes you fill will obviously take longer to set.

 Once dry (the kind I had turned from pink to white when it was dry...yay!), sand the patch work.

After you sand,  you're ready to prime and paint! I'm saving that for another post... along with the pictures of how my room turned out.

Oh... and the best music to work to? The deluxe soundtrack to The Big Chill. I was jammin'.

Bed time!


At May 30, 2010 at 2:49 PM , Blogger Leslie said...

That looks like quite the project - I can't wait to see the finished product!!!

At June 4, 2010 at 2:14 PM , Blogger Julee said...

Seriously. I was all enthralled with this post. I was reading it looking forward to the "tada" the "hard work pays off" photo. Sooooo disappointed. I have always just used Wall Paper Liner to cover is MUCH simpler in comparison to your rock concert. I"m following you back from


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