Monday, September 5, 2011

A Bird in a Guilted Cage

I confess it:  When I moved into the Sow's Ear eight years ago, I painted over the wallpaper on the 3rd floor.  Lately, I've been excusing myself by saying that I had to get my home study set up as soon as possible so I could hit the ground running on my new pastor's job.  But the fact is that though I moved in in mid-September, it was more like late October before I got it all finished and the furniture and books were fully arranged.  I had plenty of time to remove the wallpaper, if I'd been so inclined.  But I wasn't.

So it's eight years later.  And I've been working away (off and on) since the middle of August patching, mending, readhering the ceiling plaster up there.  Finally, about a week ago, I gave it a good look and declared the job done.  Time the get out the primer.

Except for one thing.

At the south end of my study is a window, and on either side of the window are two closets, their doors perpendicular to the window wall.  When you look inside the closets, you see that their other walls are painted wood plank.  On the room side, each of these walls has a built-in bookcase to the height of about four feet, and above these is a triangle of drywall.

These triangles of drywall had wallpaper on them when I moved in, and I painted them-- I painted over them-- to match the ceiling.  The bit above the righthand bookcase looked all right.  But the one to the left was a bubbly mess.  It's been hiding behind my reference books for years, but now, here it was, staring me in the face and laughing at me.

Should I just repaint, put back the books, and go on ignoring it?  Did I have to strip the wallpaper on that portion?  Or could I just open up one or two of the bigger bubbles and fill them with joint compound?  I blush to admit that that's what I did.

But the nagging guilt wouldn't go away.  It looked so awful, the paper must've been like that before, and I'd painted over it!  And in the angle where the wall meets the sloped ceiling, the paint-stiffened paper curled distortedly, as if whoever hung it had thought to paper the ceiling, too, and at the last minute changed his mind.  Was I going to let this abomination remain?  Was I going to connive at this transgression of every rule of home renovation?

For a few days-- mea culpa!-- I was.  But last Friday I knew I was trapped.  I got out the Paper Tiger, the spray bottle of vinegar and hot water, and the 5-in-1, and had at it.  For my sins, that paper was nasty hard to remove.  Took several applications and a lot of time to get it all.

I found out why the wallpaper was so ineptly applied at the top.  It had nothing to adhere to.  There was a gap ranging from an eighth to a good half of an inch between the wall and the ceiling, and nobody had bothered to tape it, they'd just filled the joint the best they could with caulk (now hard and crumbling) and covered it with the wallpaper.

Huh.  I discovered the same lame technique when I painted my kitchen in 2004.  Bought some drywall tape to take care of the problem then; maybe the rest of it was down in my workshop.

Couldn't find it anywhere.  So I tried to make do with a length of foam backer bead stuffed in and covered over with spackle.

Nope, that didn't make it.  So this morning I was on for yet another trip to Lowe's, to get a new roll of paper drywall tape.  It's on now, it's bedded, and we'll see how much fiddling it's going to take me to get it properly mudded.  I bought a corner trowel once, but decided I'd never use it, and took it back.  Ha.  If only.

Nevertheless, the now-paperless wall looks so much cleaner and freer and better than it did before.  Te absolvo. 

Does this mean I'm going to be thoroughly virtuous and remove the rest of the painted wallpaper before I recoat it?


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