After a week of wetting, scraping and peeling wallpaper off the four upstairs bedrooms, bathroom and sitting room the antique plaster walls were revealed. And to our surprise, namely my Dad who is a mason by trade, the plaster underneath was in excellent condition only needing minor touch-ups to fill in cracks and holes.
In two of the rooms it was seven or eight or layers deep
Plain water works best to remove wallpaper if you are sensitive to the chemical softeners found in many of the store brand wallpaper removers. You’ll find to that slipping your scraper underneath dry wallpaper will lift it directly off the wall before needing to wet it as the old paste has most likely dislodged and lost it’s stickiness. It’s best to take as much off before wetting it. Simply fill your paint tray with warm water and using a paint roller, roll the water beginning at the bottom of the wall and roll on up to the top. Let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes and repeat that process until you can easily peel or scrape off a layer or two.
This will work well unless their is plastic or vinyl in the wallpaper. And seeing as most antique wallpapers were rolled on walls using a homemade paste, water will soften that paste easily. Even the newer wallpapers after the removal of the initial vinyl layer it will soften and peel quite easily once soaked with water.
There was this section of the original wallpaper that didn’t seem to want to come off. I decided to leave it there as it’s beautiful. It was created by Stanton and is entitled Blossom Time (Circa 1910). Last weekend I rummaged through a huge village wide yard sale in Hampton and purchased an antique frame to frame that area of wallpaper with. There is something special about preserving what was once there; in homage.
We found a secret door
Directly to the left of Blossom Time we found a secret door that was sealed. We originally thought it could have been a window but as we continued scraping and glanced down at the floor trim we realized it was door and not a window. We don’t know why it was blocked and someday I may install a door there to create a second floor deck on top of the first floor sunroom. That is why the second floor appears odd in this outside shot.
The tale is being told in pictures on Flickr (45 pictures and counting) and in mighty fine tweets on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me!
After the wallpaper was removed we began sanding with household kitchen scrubbies that you do dishes with to remove any picks and stray pieces of paper before priming.
Always read the damn paint can
After priming the walls we painted the trim, doors and banister with white semi-gloss latex. I spent 8 hours one day painting the trim and doors of two bedrooms with oil based primer. I could not for the life of me figure out why my stomach was turning nor why the fumes were so intense if this was indeed water based latex. It looked the same wet. Not until it dried and Dad came up to see me did we realize I was using the wrong paint. I had been complaining all day to Dad and my brother who were downstairs taking out cupboards in the kitchen that the fumes sucked and they just looked at me funny saying “Latex does not smell”. So, I laboured away getting high and sick…
…and the walls we painted a dark eggshell colour. What a difference!
I’m looking forward to moving in. There is no estimated date of when this will happen. We began doing the hardwood floors over and it’s really the last thing to do and I’ll post about that soon. I also dearly miss working in my shop and creating art.