Mrs. Cook owned my house before I did. The children next door tell me she was very kind. From sharing my house with her memory I know these things: She liked lace curtains and she loved her roses. I wish I could have met her. I would have liked Mrs. Cook.
She also had a thing for wallpaper. Everywhere. Layers and layers of wallpaper.
In peeling decades of wallpaper off the walls I could see the trends of the past: tasteful stripes, delicate flowers, and an explosion of unnatural colors! I also saw this:
That’s the trouble with wallpaper. It peels, falls down and goes out of style. A lot of it was just hanging and, like a loose tooth, I HAD to pull at it! In many places multiple layers pulled off like a sheet of cardboard. But in other places the wall was covered with paper backing that just wouldn’t come off.
So off I went to my favorite hardware store, where people now greet me by name, to find a better way to get rid of the sticky, stubborn residue. I came home with a Paper Tiger, a scraper and a bottle of wallpaper stripper. I added a razor knife to my bag of tricks to get at corners and narrow places where the Paper Tiger couldn’t go.
In order to get the stripper down to the glue it is necessary to score the paper with lots of little cuts. This is where the Paper Tiger comes in. It has a couple little wheels that scratch up the paper as you rub it against the wall. It’s a dandy little tool that I would buy again. I have many rooms to go and it will make my job a whole lot easier! In order to make it really effective, use it like you would use a sponge and scrub the wall thoroughly. In the areas where I had to use a razor knife I made cross-hatchings all over the paper. It was effective but the little holes made by the Paper Tiger resulted in the loosening of long satisfying sheets of paper, while the razor knife cut the paper into tedious little strips that had to be removed one at a time.
After the paper is scored thoroughly, spray the area down with the stripper. I was liberal with the stripper and really soaked the paper. Then, while it worked at the glue I moved on to another area and continued to score the wall. I ran out of stripper very quickly. Maybe I used too much at one time
but it really loosened the paper. I only had to run the scraper lightly along the wall to remove lots of paper all at once. The drawback to the stripper is that while very effective, it is also a little pricey and I didn’t buy enough. So I experimented. Dawn detergent takes off everything, right? I mixed up a bottle of soapy water and sprayed down another section of wall. To make this a real experiment, I did half of a wall with stripper and the other half with my soapy water mixture. I didn’t see a difference in the effectiveness. Both halves of the wall cleaned up nicely. In the photo, the top half of the wall was treated with soapy water. The bottom half was treated with stripper. A difference did show up when I cleaned the walls with clear water to remove any remaining stripper or bits of paper. Then I quickly noticed that my rinse water got soapy awfully fast. Maybe I didn’t need as much soap as I used.
As for the scraper in this wallpaper removal system. I’d say it is a keeper. You could use a putty knife if you wanted, but the scraper has a set angle that keeps you from gouging into the wall and the large handle is easy to hold. That’s a plus when you’re attacking an entire room.
I wish I could say that stripping the wallpaper was the end of the story and all I had to do was paint and be happy but this is an old house and things are never easy! This is what I found hiding under the wallpaper:
Oh well, repairing cracks and sagging plaster is another story for another day!