Saturday, September 11, 2010

Houses Have Walls

Our new bedroom came with some pretty fugly wallpaper. This isn't it. See the gray stuff in the photo below? Yeah. That's it.

We knew right away that the paper had to go. Naturally, we wanted to find a cheap and safe method for removing the stuff. Our housemate said she'd just helped her friends de-paper an entire house, and they had used a mixture of fabric softener and hot water in a spray bottle to make removal easier. I must have been hypnotized by the hideousness of the wall covering, because this sounded like a fantastic idea to me. I ran to the convenience store, bought a bottle of Downy, threw it in a spray bottle, and sprayed down an entire wall before it hit me--this stuff smells AWFUL, and I just covered my wall with it.

We had to run the fan for about a week before the perfume smell dissipated. In that time, I suffered some pretty severe headaches whenever I spent time in the room (I'm sensitive to perfumes, you see).

In any event, the vinyl paper turned out to be pretty easy to remove by hand with little or no treatment. I used vinegar and hot water in the stubborn spots, but it mostly peeled right off, revealing a 2nd layer below. I think the second layer may have been original to the house (1930s) because there's nothing underneath it, just raw unpainted plaster. I actually rather like the pattern, and I was a bit sad that it was so badly ruined in the process of removing the evil stuff someone thought would somehow look better. We even pondered living with the damaged stuff, sort of a gray gardens chic, if you will. But alas, there were just too many large gaping holes to make it livable.

This layer has been harder to remove than the first, but we are chipping away at it slowly. We're planning to try a homemade milk paint in its place.


nlhe said...

You can get a wallpaper steamer for about $50 that will make quick work of most wallpaper removal. I de-papered 10 layers of wallpaper from an entire 1920s rowhome in about a week. Good luck!

HermitJim said...

I just don't care for wall paper! Rather have a painted or plaster wall...!

My favorite would be an all natural wood wall, but that's a lot harder to find!

Good luck on the removal!

Laughter Incorporated said...

Ooooo, fabric softener? Yikes! So sorry you had to go through that! Downy is pretty evil stuff!

Anyway, welcome back to WMA, and please send our best to the dear old Valley!

We are still here in Santa Fe, and will actually be in Amherst after Thanksgiving to go through our storage unit and ship its remaining contents back to New Mexico!

Happy homecoming and have a wonderful New England autumn!

seventh sister said...

Have you used milk paint before? If not, I suggest you try a smaller project before tackling a whole room. It is very messy and if you get it on any woodwork you didn't intend to get it on, you may not be able to get it off.

Patamomma said...

Spray the wallpaper with hot water or just water and then run a heater in the room to steam it looser. We also did the softener route once. I am also highly sensitive to smells, perfumes, cigars, etc.