The saga of the wallpaper begins with a house painter, Joe, who was not well. He was planning for a job at my house, so I asked him how I could help. He said, “You could remove the wallpaper.” Clearly, wallpaper was not his favorite thing. Something I had never done before and had put into the “too hard basket” in the past now lurched into my future.
Procrastination can be your friend. I got a lot of housework and odds and ends done before I settled into tackling a project that was entirely foreign to me.
I need to organize a project mentally before I am able to tackle it. I was always the kid who asked “why?” and I do need to have my why’s answered before I can feel confident about proceeding.
At the paint store, the clerk knew about DIF which Joe had advised getting. Joe also stipulated that I would need two buckets of water, for a sponge and for Scotch-brite. He said it was important not to leave any paste on the walls. Consultation with an accomplished house-fixing friend added a wallpaper scoring tool, a plastic (not metal) putty knife, a spray bottle and drop cloths to the list.
The first wall was trial and a little error (not enough DIF). The peeling was tentative and patchy but the scrub down after removal, with Scotch-brite to remove any leftover paper and paste, and the wet sponging left a surprisingly shiny clean wall.
After the first wall, I had it down to a routine of scoring the paper, soaking every inch with DIF solution via spray bottle, allowing 15-20 minutes for the DIF to work, and then peeling off the paper. Joe had suggested doing one patch about 3 feet square, and letting it sit while I prepared another patch, and to start at the top. By the end of the project I went whole hog and scored, soaked and stripped an entire panel at one time.
There was one moment of pure joy, as I went through the scoring and soaking, and on a whim, gently pulled from the bottom of the paper and was able to get the entire single panel off, all the way up and across the top at the ceiling, in one piece. I felt like I should frame it.
It took days to do this, a few hours at a time. 12-24 hours after each stripping, I went back to check for residual paper or paste. I found it, and removed it with more DIF solution. The lighting in the room changed during the day, and had to be just so in order to see the bits and pieces that had been left.
It feels good (to me) to take on a job I have never done before, to understand it, work with it, and be successful. By the time I had finished the three formerly wallpapered walls, I was ready to take on more. I’ll have to save that impulse for another time, maybe another place.
Photos: procrastination time –> first wall progress –> last wall, done!