Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wallpaper, how I loathe thee.

In response to my last post Country Folk asked me this question;
We're considering buying a home with wallpaper we don't like. The home is perfect but for the wallpaper. Which is in every room. All three bedrooms, the parlor, the living room, and the dining room. How much of a pain is it to remove it?

My answer is;

Well, it's kind of a pain. Especially when you are a project starter and not a project finisher. I am a project starter. I would do well on a demolition crew because I like to tear things down and then leave. Thank you for having me, it was fun to make a huge mess, see ya.

Then the trouble begins. I get tired of the project, very tired and bored and isn't there something better I should be doing like eating? I start to whine and cry and get mopey and pretend like I don't know what I'm doing and complain and sigh a whole bunch until Clay asks, "Is there something I can do to help?" That's when I point to the project that I started and say, "Look what you made me do!" Then he looks at me and decides which approach will cause him the least amount of grief.

1. Hire someone to finish it. But, then he will have to shell out money and that would cause his wife to feel guilty and he would make her feel guilty and so that's no good.

2. Offer to finish the project. This is ultimately the best decision and most of the time reinvigorates his wife to participate in helping him, but also causes his wife to critique his every move, therefore; beginning the battle of Who's Technique Is Correct. Which means words like; doofus, idiot, dork wad, beef brain, nimrod, moron, butt, pain, git and retard will be used in describing the other person, quite possibly for the next several days. So this is not the best choice if we want to remain good examples of decent human beings in front of our children.

3. Ignore the whole thing. This is the approach we have taken with many of our home improvement projects. We pretend that the project never happened, never started, we can't see it and we don't talk about it. La la la la. Happy happy joy joy. Then someone, like my sister or mother or even better, one of my kids' friends, will walk in our home and say, "Oh! Are you refinishing the walls?" Then the veil is torn and we can't breath, we feel exposed, dirty and ashamed. Oh dear, oh dear what have we done? So, we quickly gather up the tools that have been heaped in the corner for the last four months and miraculously finish the project in twenty minutes. Then we look around and say stupid things like, "Wow! That wasn't so bad, maybe we should renovate the kitchen? It shouldn't take us more than a weekend."

Okay, I realize that didn't answer your question. So, here's the nuts and bolts of it. I really think it depends on the wallpaper, paste and what type of surface the paper was adhered to.

I've torn wallpaper off of walls in two of my houses. Some came off like it was never put on in the first place and some came off in tiny shreds that made me want to scream. The paper I'm working on now is a combination of both situations. The top layer, the decorative part, came off in big sheets, but all the adhesive backing remained. That's what I'm scraping off the walls.

I've used everything; DIF, a rotary tiger-shark tooth- thingy, soapy water, and hot water. Right now I think hot water is doing the best job. I put hot-hot-hot water in a spray bottle, spritz the wall until the paper is completely saturated, wait a couple minutes and then scrape. I'll still need to go back and scrub some of the adhesive residue off the walls before I paint and we are hiring a guy to come patch the walls where the termites had a feast.

Now, with that said, my Mom has painted right over here wallpaper and it looks good. She suggested this over and over to me, but like any belligerent child I did exactly the opposite.

My kitchen is wallpapered with cherries, apples and peaches. I was just getting to the point where I thought I could live with it when one of my nephews walked up to the wall gave it a scratch and said, "Is this scratch and sniff wallpaper? Mmm, I wish we had scratch and sniff wallpaper." I think he actually thought he was smelling cherries coming out of the vinyl or he's just dumb, hard to tell with Rechelle's kids sometimes....oooh, did I say that out loud?

Do I think taking off the wallpaper is worth the trouble? Absolutely. I love a smooth wall.

Will I ever use wallpaper? No. I wallpapered our first house and loved the pattern for about three days, then had to live with it for three years. I fear wallpaper is too trendy for me. It looks so beautiful,timeless, classy and then after you wake up it looks like a dude wearing a mullet. It's much easier and cheaper to repaint over the 90's jewel tones and the 80's mauve than to scrape off paper.

Or, you could do what my college friend Katie's grandma does and put another layer of paper up every winter because you think it helps insulate the house. No matter that her once 2000 square foot home has slowly diminished to a cozy, but warm 900 square feet.

That's my answer. Maybe sometime before I die I'll post before-during-after pictures of the dining room. Hahahahah, oh, hahahaha, I just said that like I was going to run down and finish scraping the paper off. That's rich.

13 comments: said...

EVERY single room of my house was wallpaper'd when I bought it. Warm/hot water and Downy fabric softener worked better (for me) than the steam or the chemical stripper.

Debbie said...

Our house was semi-completely wallpapered with fuzzy and shiny wall paper-gross. We hired someone to come in before we moved in and it was Great!! It didn't cost as much as we thought it would-don't ask me how much it was-it was 15 years and 4 kids ago. All I know and remember is that we both were really glad that we didn't have to do it!!

Cynthia said...

We buy/rehab/sell house. Wallpaper is the scourge of our existence. I believe my husband would divorce me if I ever suggested hanging wallpaper.

I would just say no to wallpaper.

I think I made a similar comment when you talked about or started taking the wallpaper down. said...

By the way, I am completely jealous that you and Rechelle can joke around with each other. Neither of my sisters have a sense of humor and if I made a remark like that, there would be screaming, tears and then silence for months and months. If the 2 of your parents ever decide to add a 3rd child to the brood, I'm avail. Cheap!

KellyJean said...

I am deeeeeeeeep into #3. We did a pretty extensive remodel on our 30 year old house this summer. I stripped the rest of the wallpaper and it was HELL. I've tried everything and found that different things work on different paper. The absolute worst job was one of our bathrooms and I eventually got it of with just hot water. That worked better than the steamer, DIF, or fabric softener. We had torn out some walls and the linoleum so it didn't matter that I slopped water everywhere.

Ugh. We have soooooooo many unfinished things. I makes me absolutely crazy.

Lori Shaffer said...

I too utterly loathe the Jim Carrey grinch sense. "Hate. Hate. Hate. Double-hate. Looooooathe entirely!"

I haven't completed a project for such a long time, I've almost forgotten how good it feels!

april said...


I'll talk to Mom and Dad. I'm not sure you could handle the crazy that is our family. You might find your sisters are quite wonderful after a few days of us.

But, I always wanted younger siblings, so I'll take you and feed you out in the barn and then you can come in and finish all my projects for me and give me computer lessons and decorating advice.

and....tell you're sisters to, "Lighten up Fester!"

Them Country Folk: said...

Oh, I am laughing so hard. I just read your entire post out loud to my dear hubby. He is smiling big time. Thank you for all the information and advice and laughs. Thanks to all the commenters too. Thanks again. Best!

Stephanie said...

I too loathe wallpaper...My mom often used it, but in my house NO WAY!...

Rechelle said...

Clearly - my child sniffing your wall is proof he is a genius.

Robbyn said...

LOLOL...oh man, may the wallpaper muse be with you! I've had to strip wallpaper a few times before and that's one job that is right up there with having your toenails removed slowly one by one with a pair of tweezers...I did one room where there seemed to be TWO layers of the same paper...the upper colored layer came right off but the frail but stubborn under layer was white and thin and SO stubborn to get off with ANYTHING. So you basically had to get your fingernails and peel parts and inch at a time and STILL there would be patches that just stuck there, like it had been tarred and feathered.

So, any wallpaper I use from now on (if that ever happens) I'll know must remain till the next generation wants to peel it off. No More Wallpaper for me!

Anonymous said...

My father-in-law gave me a wallpaper removal tip which saved me from insanity: in your spritz bottle, add vinegar to the water (1:4 ratio). Let it soak into that nasty backing and then scrape. It worked wonders for the nasty backing I was dealing with!

jennifer h said...

We had lovely old-lady wallpaper in our room. I started painting over it, but it was not really sealed well enough for this. So I started to take the wallpaper off one wall. Oh, did I mention the walls were plaster. UGH! So the I stopped ripping paper down, and painted. Eventually the paper will all come down, but the bumpy plaster will require some sort of texturizing. DIY projects give a sense of accomplishment, but they can be a big pain!