Thursday, January 23, 2014

Scraping Along

What was the name of that instrument the Romans used to use to scrape the sweat and dirt off their bodies?

Oh, yeah, a strigil.  Pretty effective tool, a strigil.  If you didn't have soap and water, or if soap and water wouldn't do the job, a strigil was the tool for you.

But what's that got to do with preparing my dining room for repapering?

A lot.

Remember I said Monday that removing the old paste was a long, wet, messy, tedious job?  Well, it is.  And using only spray cleaner, a scrub brush, and an abrasive coated sponge, apparently an ineffective job, too.

I started on the east wall on Tuesday evening.  That's the wall that's clad in drywall.  Now, it's not like I've been working on this steadily since Sunday night.  I have other things to take care of, like work and gearing up a new used laptop computer.  I do what I can on the walls, and leave what I must for later.

Anyway, either I was deceiving myself on how well the old paste came off the plastered north wall, or it was thicker on the drywall or the drywall holds it more.  I know I was scrubbing and scrubbing and it was still sticky and gooey.  The Simple Green was not working.  The brush and sponge just spread the goop around.

So, back to first principles.  What is the time-honored way to loosen and dissolve old wallpaper paste?  A 50-50 mix of vinegar and warm water, of course.  And if the sponge is leaving the wet residue on the wall, well, time to start scraping.

Like with a strigil.  Or in this case, a plastic wallpaper smoother.

Spray, spray, spray.  Scrub, scrub, scrub.  Scrape, scrape, scrape.  Rinse, rinse, rinse.  Wipe, wipe, wipe.

Oh, my.  It's scary how much pasty glop accumulates on the edge of that scraper.  Once, twice, three times I have to repeat the procedure on each yard-square area of the wall, before I can even begin to fool myself into thinking it's no longer sticky and the paste is gone.

I'm still working on that one east wall with the drywall.  I'm barely half done with the room, if that.  And if I have to go back and redo (scrape) the walls I already have done, I'll wish I had a few of those sweaty Romans around to help me out, strigils and all.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Well, That's Done

By which I mean the dining room wallpaper stripping, as of around 11:30 last night.

Went on and scrubbed the mill dirt off the plaster around some of the windows, too.  That and general cleaning to remove the old paste and any remaining bits of wallpaper backing will go on for a bit, as it's a long, wet, filthy, tedious job.  If one could enchant a broom into bringing endless buckets of clean water (à la The Sorcerer's Apprentice), it'd be tempting to consider making it happen.

Before cleaning

There's probably lead dust in that bucket, considering the plant a little way up the river.

Clean.  Relatively-speaking.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Highly Valuable Use of My Limited Time

(She says with just the right tinge of snark.)

Here's where I got to as of 6:15 this morning, when my second bottle of wallpaper remover ran out and I decided to call it a night:

Finished publishing the previous blog post by 6:40 or so, whereafter I set the kitchen timer to ring at what I thought would be about twenty after nine and crashed out with the dog on the sofa. It went off, I heard it, but I didn't bother looking at a real clock.  No, I just reset the timer to ring at what I thought would be about 10:00 AM.  Plenty of time to make it to church.  But it took me to more like 11:30, and too late.

Whereupon I got up, used the can, fed and toileted the animals-- then crawled between my bed covers and slept (still in my clothes) till 6:30 PM.

Whereupon I fed and toileted the animals again-- and have been on the computer ever since.  My excuse is that I'm having second thoughts-- again-- about the color of the "Savernake" dining room wallpaper I bought from the UK in 2009.  Hey, I wonder if the color is better now, and if they'll take the eight rolls I have (all unopened) in even trade?

But now that the site has my location code it keeps reverting to the US page and tells me the company won't ship that William Morris paper to me here.  And that even if it did, it would cost me $98 a roll!  (I think I paid around half that in '09).  That won't keep me from giving them a transAtlantic call sometime this week, but still, this doesn't get dinner (breakfast) eaten or the remaining beige-with-pink-roses paper off the wall.

So now I'm also wondering if I would have been better off to have gone to bed at a (semi-) decent hour last night.

But moaning over what can't be helped is a further waste of my limited time.  And maybe I can redeem myself with some progress pictures.  Enjoy!

Hard at It

Yes, it's the middle of the night.  Yes, I'm sitting here making a blog post.  But yes, I'm also waiting for the wallpaper remover to work so I can keep on stripping the old beige-with-pink-roses wallpaper off my dining room walls.

I've never been big on making New Year's "resolutions."  Ambitions for the new year have always been more my style.  But this year I think my ambition to get my dining room wallpaper stripped had better be reinforced by the resolution to get it done before the end of this month.

And there's no reason I shouldn't get it done, provided I ignore my initial intention to get the stairhall trimwork all cut, shellacked, and installed first.  All those copes and mitres can take a long time . . . while wallpaper comes off in nice, big, satisfying strips.

Started the job last Saturday night, and got the old paper on the southeast corner and the strip over the portal to the living room taken down.
Working on the west window wall now.

I'm finding more than a little irony in the fact that since last spring I've been assigned to the Home Décor department at the Big Blue Box Store.  And every so often I'm called on to sell people the wallpaper scorer and the pre-mixed stripper fluid we carry.  But neither is so cheap or works so well as the hot water, vinegar, and dishwashing liquid stripper I mix up as needed or as the Hohlenpoker I learned to make from Jim Parodi's website.

No. 1 rule:  Do not kneel on der Hohlenpoker
Before I came across his tip I was afraid I'd have to invest in some expensive machine or exotic chemical or other to get the paper off the drywall the previous owners two back clapped onto the wall between the dining room and kitchen.  But as it turned out last week, all I have to do is roll the Poker over the wall, spritz on the vinegar solution, wait a few minutes, and with a little help from the 5-in-1 and the wallpaper scraper, off it comes. And if the drywall yields well to wallpaper removal, the plaster gives it up more easily still.

In the process of getting the paper off the plaster, I'm noticing that there's a layer of dark gold under the primer.  So apparently the dining room was glazed or tinted (not painted) gold, just as the living room was.

How far will I get tonight?  Depends on how fast I work and how willing I am to move the miscellaneous tools, equipment, and furniture that's in the way of the north and east walls.  Little things can make big roadblocks . . . or turn out to be no hindrance at all.