Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Ongoing Saga of De-Uglifying My House


aka: Adventures in Wallpaper Removal

When we moved into the house, I knew it needed work.  And I wasn't afraid of that.  Fortunately for us, the majority of the work is cosmetic: paint, paint, and yep: more paint.  Unfortunately, our new abode also contains wallpaper.  I am not a fan myself.  I think it mostly looks dated, tacky, and generally hideous.  Particularly when adorned with teacups and green stripes.  Blech.   

We've got one wall in the kitchen with wallpaper. 
This is tucked out of the way, next to the entrance to the garage, so I'm sure it didn't really disturb anyone but me.  Note where it was peeling up.  Klassy!



We also had a large wall in the adjoining dining room covered in wallpaper. Oh, of course there is a border encircling the kitchen and dining room (I will probably forever loathe teacups and sunflowers by the time this is all done). 



Immediately after moving in, I had gotten a little overeager & tried to dry strip the wallpaper.  I was really, really hopeful it was going to just pop right off.  Too bad I wasn't really, really lucky! I ended up with a "giant" on the wall. I've been staring at this for weeks, and after yesterday's Day of Sloth, I decided a little update was in order.



 I rounded up my good friends Hot Water and Vinegar & went to town. 


 First, I scored the wallpaper with one of those "tiger paw" devices.  Then I sprayed on a 50/50 mixture of hot water and vinegar.  The online instructions said to let it sit for 15 minutes.  I found this was much too long, and most of the solution evaporated after 5-10 minutes.  I averaged about 5 minutes, then began scraping with a plastic scraper. 


My first pass.  The big wall had a lot of the vinyl portion of the wallpaper already stripped off, which was a huge help. The solution soaked right into the gluey paper, and scraped off easily.   


If you look closely, you can see where the paper is bubbling up after being soaked with water/vinegar. 


Big pieces of the paper would peel right off.  


One section down....



And Done!

Then, I got ambitious and thought "Hey, that little wall shouldn't be too bad!" ..... and 2.5 hours later I had it done!  Maybe the sunlight shining on the other wall for 15 years had helped the glue to loosen.... because despite the peeling bits on this wall, the rest of the paper was solidly attached.


Done, Part II!
Check out the piles of wet, gluey, vinegary wallpaper scraps. Ugh.  I rolled it all up into the drop cloth and dumped it into a trash bag.  My "new" walls may be scraped and dirty and smell like pickles, but they are wallpaper-free and thus HUGELY improved. The only bummer is that this is Step One in a multi-multi-step process of remodeling the kitchen.  We won't have the money for months, so while I am obviously over-eager to get the changes started, I also have to temper myself with the knowledge that a) This is a project that is far from actually starting and b) You know what?  Forget about B.  I am stoked this is done and I feel like it's totally opened up the kitchen.  So yay me!

PS: I had a chemical wallpaper stripper to use, but thought I would give the water/vinegar solution a try.  With as messy and time-consuming as this process is, I am really glad I didn't have to resort to the chemicals (especially since it's 48 degrees outside & I wasn't willing to open the windows for ventilation).  Lesson learned: give the "natural" solution a try first!    

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