Miss me? I know you did. I wish I had some fancy updates for you. Alas, I do not, but rather general summer malaise that takes its toll. So, there is only one thing to do to beat those summer doldrums.
Swimming? Beach? Of course not! It’s wallpaper stripping time!
When A. and I bought our house, we knew we were in for a challenge. Every room had wallpaper. Every. Single. Room. I could barely wait to get my hands on that paper and start ripping away. In fact, immediately after closing, A. and I drove over to the house, whereas I started ripping paper off the wall.
My original plan was to strip wallpaper and paint the entire house within the first year we moved in. Then I actually got down and dirty and started the work. Needless to say, that anniversary has come and gone, and we still have rooms we haven’t touched.
Wallpaper stripping sucks.
It’s messy. It’s time consuming. When you finish taking off the wallpaper, you need to patch, sand, prime, and paint before you feel like you aren’t walking into a warzone or an episode of Hoarders. But, fear not, it does get better. I am going to give you tips and tricks to help you cope.
1. See what kind of wallpaper you have. If you have paper dating from the 1950s, well, this is going to suck big time. Invest in tarps, a paper tiger, a paper scraper, and a few squirt bottles. Tarp your ENTIRE room. (Hell, even tarp yourself). Using the paper tiger, score the crap out of your walls. When you think you are done, you’re not. Score some more. Then, fill your little squirt bottle halfway with unscented fabric softener (I stress the unscented part, unless you enjoy getting migraines), and hot water and completely wet your walls. Then scrape. If your walls are plaster, be prepared to damage them and curse loudly. You can buy wallpaper solvents, like Dif, etc. but they don’t work, and they smell horrible. Trust me on the fabric softener.
If you are lucky, your wallpaper will be slightly newer and will have a vinyl front and paper backing (also known as Sanitas wallpaper) – removing this also sucks. However, you don’t need all the gizmos to remove this wallpaper. Depending on how much it is glued on, you can use a fingernail to grab and edge and then rip that sucker off. Don’t be fooled though, chances are the paper backing is still on your wall. If that backing seems to be clinging to that wall, you might want to invest in a steamer (which will run you about fifty bucks at your local big box home improvement store) – you will burn yourself. However, the paper will come off in big chunks making you feel like the hulk.
2. This is the part that really sucks. The wallpaper is off and you think you are done. Oh but you ain’t – you now have to wash your walls. Yep. Nothing like giving your walls a sponge bath. And it won’t even buy you dinner. I recommend buying kitchen sink scrubbers, and slowly and methodically wash your walls, to make sure you remove the glue.
3. Clean up the mess you have now made. Yep. You aren’t done but you still have to clean in the middle. This might be the best part.
4. Using a pencil circle all the gouges that you made and any cracks that are in your wall. If you have money to burn, you may want to hire someone to skimcoat your walls. If you are like me, and are cheap, you can do this yourself by mixing a little plaster of paris, and slowly and gingerly filling in the cracks.
5. Using a sanding block sand your walls until it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. You will notice there is still some paper on your walls. Remove it while cursing under your breath that there is a conspiracy against you.
6. Wash your walls again, and clean your floor. Make sure you create enough dust for you to have an allergy attack.
7. Now you can prime. I recommend Kilz. Yeah it isn’t cheap, but if there are any small gouges, Kilz usually goes on thick enough to camouflage them. However, it is really thick and a pain in the arse to apply. Right now, my blisters have blisters from wielding a paintbrush. Oh, and you will find even more paper that has somehow managed to evade your clutches.
8. Paint! Hope that you like the color. Find one more piece of paper that is now fossilized under primer. Ignore it and hope it somehow vanishes on its own.
9. Clean again. Put your furniture back. Ignore the rest of the wallpaper in your house.
10. Have a drink. Preferably one that will make your unborn children grow gills.