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.


dynochick (Jan) said...

Wallpaper removal is the worst.

The nasty water runs down your arm and everything and you gets sticky.

I have two bathrooms with paper and I so hope it comes off...but zi doubt it will.

Kate H. said...

I haven't had the water running down the arm problem . . . I guess having a tall-enough ladder helps. Keeps me literally on top of it. ;-)

For the scoring part I can't recommend Jim Parodi's "Hohlenpoker" too highly. All the little holes make your removal solution penetrate so much quicker and better than with a Paper Tiger, and it's small enough to get in the corners. Devote an evening when you're watching mindless TV to making it. Not too mindless, as those pins are sharp!