Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wallpaper Hides Many Surprises

I started stripping the wallpaper from the master bedroom several weeks ago. I knew my husband didn't care as much about it, but I really wanted our bedroom walls painted before I started work. I considered it the ugliest room in the house. Here's a picture:

 I was hoping I could just do the job myself. I couldn't. This was, in part, the fault of our daughter who quickly decided that mommy working up high on the ladder instead of playing was simply not okay. But mostly it is the fault of the room itself.

There were two types of wallpaper to deal with, a solid blue layer on the bottom and a weird grassy top layer. The bottom layer pulled off like a dream. Once the wooden trim was removed from the middle of the room, it pulled off in large sheets, leaving no scraps behind. The grassy layer, on the other hand, was stubborn. Sometimes it pulled up just fine, other times it ripped up into a pile of strings that clung to the walls in bits. They weren't hard to get up with the wallpaper remover, most of the time, but there were a lot of little bits.

Still, the job seemed like one I could get done myself, if only my daughter would let me have a little time each day (which she, of course, would not). But then I started scrubbing the walls to get the extra adhesive off. And I scrubbed, and I scrubbed. It was amazing how little I got done in the time I spent. And there were still stubborn little bits of wallpaper here and there that I hadn't gotten to yet. I needed help.So my husband started helping after my daughter went to bed. Part of the reason the scrubbing took so long is that this nasty brown stuff would get our water dirty almost instantly. We asked my father in law about it and he thought we were scrubbing too much and were actually scrubbing off some of the drywall paper, then was puzzled that so much stuff was coming off with water. We discovered the answer on the third wall, when there was finally enough of it in one place to detect a pattern. It was old, decayed wallpaper. Three layers of old decayed wallpaper.

Here's what it looked like on the wall:

And the stuff that flaked off under my sponge:

They not only wallpapered over it, which is standard for these old houses, but in many places plastered over it with drywall mud or something of the sort. I washed more of it off, but then we took the electric sander to the walls, since our ultimate goal was to get the walls smooth enough to paint, not necessarily to get all the junk off of them. That old wallpaper made clouds of dust, so now our bedroom looks like it's experienced a dust storm as well.

And that's not all that was hiding under the wallpaper. We had holes. Some of them may have been knocked out sometime after the wallpaper went on, but some of them must have been there and they just wallpapered over it.
Hole 1: 

Hole 2:

Hole 3:

Hole 4:

We're not done yet, so no pictures of the finished product. Hopefully soon.We had a handyman come in to fix the big holes and I'm in the process of fixing the smaller ones. Then we get to paint and finally put our room back together.

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