Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wallpaper Removal

Today I mastered the art of removing wallpaper. Luckily for us, about 90% of the rooms in the house are wallpapered. I say lucky because removing the wallpaper exposes the original walls and we can assess their condition, and then paint the walls directly, rather than adding another layer of paint.

The one drawback? Neither of us had ever removed wallpaper before. We made a rookie's mistake and bought expensive wallpaper remover from Home Depot. We also purchased one of those large orange Home Depot buckets (a steal at $2.49), a wallpaper remover and a large pack of putty knives. The wallpaper remover was in a spray bottle, and very watery. I would spray it toward the top of the wall, and it would just drip all the way down. And if I sprayed it on top of the wallpaper, it wouldn't do a thing. I had to rip the wallpaper off, leaving the bottom layer of paper/glue, and then spray that. And I had to really get it soaked before it would scrape off. And did I mention how horrible it smelled?! Halfway through the room I had to go find a mask to wear it was so bad.
I did finish about 3/4 of the Dining Room though. The only spots remaining are in the corner where the sill damage is (I was afraid to stand there for too long.. it didn't look like it could support long term standing weight). It was a good room to start on because most of the room is paneling, windows, doors, fireplace, etc.
Dining Room built-in cabinet
Front Dining Room windows
Toward the end of the day, we ventured into the Living Room to assess those walls. Turns out, those won't be as easy. The Living Room walls (or at least what we uncovered today) are all original horsehair plaster. Taking off the bottom layer of paper/glue often resulted in making holes in the plaster and dry sand pouring out of the wall. The walls also are very textured. Not a nice texture, more rigid and bumpy. Which is to be expected for 239 year old walls. They didn't have the tools back then to make them perfectly smooth. Due to the holes (existing and new) and texture, we'll most likely be putting a skim coat of plaster on these walls. I'd much rather do that than tear it all down and replace it with drywall.
Living Room fireplace
Living Room wall

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