Sunday, February 17, 2008


Since so many of you seem to be interested in the DIY project from hell we have taken upon ourselves, and even taken the time to send kind words of encouragement, I thought I'd indulge both you and me by giving you a progress report. We've just finished for the day so I can sit down and have some fun now.

The picture on the right is of what we call the "den." It actually used to be a separate room off the living room, a real den, but in 1999 we knocked down the wall between the two rooms and added hardwood flooring, thus exending the living room. So when I say "den," as opposed to "living room," that's what I'm talking about. The den is where we actually took all the wallpaper down. What that resulted in was innumerable gouges and brown spots where the covering on the drywall came off with the glue, thus necessitating extensive spackling. "Oh, no," we said, "this is a huge pain in the ass, let's try something else."

So on the wall nearest the camera, that's the living room wall going into the den, we decided we'd try just treating the wallpaper and then painting over it. The original directions for doing that said to remove the wallpaper at the seams only, where the moisture from the paint would be most likely to cause peeling. (You're supposed to just peel all of it off in those small areas, then spackle in those areas only, and then prime.) In the process of removing that paper at the seams, however, Steve noticed that the entire vinyl surface peeled off very easily. So with the thought of doing a more thorough job, he peeled the vinyl layer off the entire wall, not just at the seams, leaving the under-layer of paper that was glued to the wall. He painted primer over that. Looked great. Then we got up the next morning.

The paint had raised the nap in that porous paper. It felt like fur. What to do??? Spackle! Yes, that is spackle that entire wall you see there, closest to the camera. Not just little spots. The whole damn wall. (Do I make myself clear?) In the attempt to create less work by putting down less spackle, thus necessitatiing less sanding and, ultimately, less dust, we created more of everything we were trying to avoid. Much more.

What we did today was sand. We put a plastic tarp down over the living room furniture (picture on the left), a plastic barrier on the opening from the living room to the rest of the first floor, and sanded. See that light dusting on the tarp? That is what is now on every single surface, to one degree or another, in the entire house, including upstairs here, which we couldn't close off.

You remember what I said about my being the "maintenance man" a few days ago? Want to take a guess at who will be cleaning that dust while other people are sitting in their clean offices???? And after I do that, I'll move all that furniture in the living room into the den so we can start the process all over.

But at least now we're smarter about the whole thing than we were two days ago.

I hope.


Anonymous said...


I cheer you on... I wish I had photos to share with you - I know you would feel much better. Here's one thought - at least you know what was on the wall(s). We didn't. The kitchen was papered three times. Two were using the same paper - go figure?

In trying to remove this and scraping and wetting and pulling and trying to remove glue - I went through several areas all the way to the wood frame.

Hope that cheers you and Steve on a bit. I truly empathize - it is painstaking work as well as a chore to do clean-up. However, when it is finished - newly painted and more "jingle" can come your way because of it - it will have some merit. Note, I said some, because this is a job that you really cannot sugarcoat.


Cuidado said...

In my experience the wallpaper just has to be removed. I've done every room in my 180 yr. old house one at a myself. Most is plaster but there were changes made in the 40's where they used a paper based wallboard that just peeled off layer after layer. No choice but to paper over that or replace said wallboard with plaster or gyprock. It takes a lot of work and it certainly is a process of live and learn.

Ravel said...

I can't believe somebody will encourage people to paint over wallpaper... Whatever happens, it is Paper and it expands with humidity (paint). I tried it once, did a mess. Luckily, it was only a band of paper near the ceiling, so I installed a new one over it...
You'll be quite proud of yourselves when all will be completed and nice again.

michele said...

No spackling. A light sand to smooth the "fur" and another coat of paint. I don't do wallpaper removal unless the paper is ready to be removed. (Who needs that torture!) I do the "the-will-paint-bubble-the-paper-off-the-wall-test" (usually the answer is 'no' and small bubbles go away upon paint drying) then paint. I've painted over wall paper in several areas of my house. Unlikely that you would notice where unless I told you.

Ralph said...

MORE encouragement! Thanks loads, Linda. Actually, the cleaning up (a litle bit) tomorrow I can look forward to. And you're right. In spite of how awful I know it was for you, I had to laugh at you scraping all the way down to the bare wood. Sheesh!

I forgot to answer your question yesterday. No, it won't be bare bones white. A "sand," or some other pale brown has been suggested to us, so that's what we'll do. Consumer's Report just this month has an article on the best paints, and the top of the list happens to be Kilz, available at WalMart! So we can save some $$$ on that!

Ralph said...

AArrgghh to all three of you, Cuidado, Ravel and Michele. Cuidado and Ravel: bad news! I hope Michele's experience proves to be ours. (She wouldn't do anything herself unless she knew it would be perfect, so I have faith!)

Michele, we've already spackled over the fur and sanded! If we'd only known! Well, next time, if there is one....