Sticky Subject

20 Jun

Talk about a sticky subject: Wallpaper removal. 

Disclaimer: I have never removed wallpaper before.  But say those words and you hear groans from anyone in the vicinity that has. Look it up on the internet and you hear even more virtual groans. Professionals won’t give final quotes on wallpaper removal until they get into the job to see what they are working with. Apparently the degree of difficulty depends on what kind of wallpaper you are dealing with.

Anything coated like vinyl or acrylic wallpaper or metallic foil looking papers are not porous and more difficult to remove. Also, methods differ depending on the kind of wall the paper is stuck to. Determining which method to use is a difficult enough task. Wait until you begin the back-breaking work of actually doing it.

As I mentioned in the last post, we are starting small. I needed a small victory to keep me inspired. After being off on business last week, I returned home ready to tackle my project. I decided this was the weekend of the bathroom. I became inspired by a Marimekko-ish shower curtain I found (at Target $19, thank you very much versus the $50+ price tag for Marimekko). I often find inspiration for a room in a fabric I am attracted to. I think this is because I know what I like when I see it. I just have no idea what it is at any moment before that. What I love about this fabric is the green of the poppy, very mid-century modern. (This green will reappear with frequency in our house, I think.) I also like the grays. I decided that I would paint the walls the lighter gray and the cabinets the darker. I visited the local True Value stocked up on paint and wallpaper removal supplies and got started. Brett also visited Home Depot that morning as well to pick up a wall-paper steamer to try as well.  He has had luck with that in the past and said works better than the chemicals.

We tried two different chemical solutions: DIF Gel ($4) and WP Chomp ($4.50). We also got a PaperTiger wallpaper scorer (photo with the round object and the shiny round teeth-like things) for $5 and borrowed wall-paper scrapers from our friend Jenn. Finally, we rented the steamer from Home Depot for $35 for the day. (We learned later that the local True Value has them for $25/day.  Shame on us for not shopping local first!)

For removing the wallpaper, the verdict was tied between the DIF Gel and the steamer. Both got it cleanly off the wall. My personal choice was the DIF gel, however. The steamer was big, unwieldy and hot! Areas that were higher up on the wall were more difficult for me to steam and with the DIF gel and a ladder, I made much more progress. Plus, the gel is significantly less expensive. The downside to the gel is the icky blue goo that gummies up the scraper. Keep a wet towel with you and wipe occasionally. The WP Chomp was worthless. Don’t bother. We succeeded in getting the paper down and need to give it a final wipe with TSP (trisodium phosphate $8/box) to remove the glue residue before finally painting. That is another post entirely.

My goal was a finished bathroom by the end of the weekend. (I am such a dreamer!) I realized, or is it rationalized, that when I watch HGTV or any other DIY shows, there are no kids around. The people on the shows go about their business working on their projects with no one needing a snack or a dispute settled or to be run to a friend’s house or to some kind of rehearsal. (In fairness, I had also forgotten that I was volunteering Sunday at the MI Farmer’s Market and that it was Father’s Day!) And because that isn’t masochistic enough for you, I also told Maeve she could paint her room and invite a friend over to help her do it. The answer to the question you are now thinking to yourself is YES. Yes, I am certifiably insane.

Hailey and Hannah also decided to join in the painting fun with Maeve and her friend and at one point we had four girls under the age of 13 with paint trays and rollers in their hands creating a god-awful mess. I did learn through this process that paint (lots of paint) does come off hardwood floors with a scrub sponge and Murphy’s Oil Soap. Getting it off me and the girls was another story. That is not premature gray in my hair. That is paint.  I swear.


Her room went from an unusual orange color to a lovely crisp white (her choice).  More photos later on that.  Brett also installed her new bamboo blinds.  We need some color accents in there and a new rug. (She wants poppy colored accents…yes, she said poppy. Not red, not orange. Poppy.) And then we will have one room completed!

And I thought it would be the bathroom.  But what do I know?


7 Responses to “Sticky Subject”

  1. Kate June 20, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    The reason Maeve’s room was painted and not the bathroom is because Maeve, like those DIY shows, had no children to manage or tasks to complete, other than her room. Like, as complicated as it may seem at the time, is simpler at 13.
    Looks good, Maeve!

  2. Kim Marks June 20, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    Such progress is inspiring, even if it feels like you didn’t get enough done. I’m still dealing with an undone home. The list feels rather unwieldy, but ‘piano, piano’ it will get done. Luckily the Roman attitude helps one remain somewhat ‘tranquille’. That and a lot of wine 🙂 I am so impressed with the wallpaper removal! Truly!

    • Brandy June 20, 2011 at 8:00 am #

      In vino veritas. That’s my inspiration to get to the evenings. Keep at it!


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