Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wallpaper nightmare

What's more painful than watching paint dry? Stripping wallpaper.

The plan was to start the paintwork on our house on Monday and I had envisioned a few freshly painted walls by the end of the day. Boy, was I wrong. The living room area was wallpapered, so before painting could start, the workers had to remove it. And what a time-consuming chore it is.

After 3 hours with only half a wall done (and earlier excitement rapidly draining), we realised it was a sloooooooooooow process. If you think you can easily rip off the wallpaper like a bandaid, think again. It's akin to peeling off a price tag from a non-price-tag-friendly surface. Except this price tag is the size of a cathedral window.

Kenneth discovered that adding water helped the process significantly and to speed things up, we rolled up our sleeves and got into the action. It can be rather therapeutic, especially when you manage to peel off a large piece at a go.

Actually, taking off the wallpaper was easy compared to getting rid of the dried glue. That, my friend, is a real b**** to take off.

When I surfed the Net in a desperate attempt to see if there were secret techniques to this task, I found many forums with large volumes of swear words (worse than mine) directed at wallpaper because of its immovability. Nice to know we're not alone.

That's not all. Andre's room had a full-sized wall mural which was stuck on wallpaper style.

It's pretty but no 11-year-old boy would be caught dead with a monster-sized Mickey Mouse on his wall, so we had to remove it. Apparently, this was some high quality laminate which left a thick impenetrable layer of dried plastic-like substance. Unlike the living room glue, it didn't soften in water and the only way to get rid of it was to chip at it painstakingly as it broke off into teeny pieces of plaster and dust. Enough to make anyone swear.

Finally, after 2½ days, the living room was wallpaper-free. The glue marks, however, were impervious to washing or scraping. Our contractor says he can successfully paint over the marks, so we'll see how that works out. Andre's room, on the other hand, has been half abandoned for now.

If there's ever a piece of advice I could give you with regards to home decor, DON'T USE WALLPAPER. It doesn't stand well to wear, it's unsightly when it starts to peel and as we've discovered, it's a real pain to remove. There are many other better alternatives to dress up your walls.

Meanwhile, we're not disheartened - it's just a little bump in the road. We're still having loads of fun and the kids love to see all the works. Due to the dust in the living room, we had to move our command post to the patio. Of course we have Internet.

And there's always something very special about having a meal in a brand new, empty home. Even if it's just Burger King and prata!


Anonymous said...

huh serious? Everyone's been telling me wallpaper is the best thing... I have never had them because I love painting my walls. I am now contemplating to use wallpaper until I read your post... 8-? *scratch head* now.

Btw, you guys are having a picnic at your new place during renovation time? So cute...

PS: I managed to book for lunch tomorrow at you-know-where.....but outside seat... :(


monlim said...

QX: I think use wallpaper only if you're sure you'll never want to change to a different wall covering.

And outside seat is good! We always sit outside, the ambience is much nicer than inside :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I ever would change my taste to painting again....

No mossies? I like outdoor except for mossies only. Anyway I cancelled the reservation as I realised I forgot another meeting I needed to go to... I will reserve again, sometime in Nov perhaps. Thanks!


petite fleur said...

I feel your pain...I dread having to remove wallpaper.

Congratulations on your new home. Renovation can be both a frustrating & fulfilling experience. Go with the flow & have fun. Having just been thru it myself.

monlim said...

QX: No mozzies when I was there and they're always attracted to me!

Mei: I saw your pics, your home is beautiful and I'm so impressed your hubby did the renos himself!

Deb said...

I've loved your previous posts on education (but have never commented even though I agree heartily), but I really feel for you with the wallpaper! I've been through your pain, but perhaps even worse because the previous owner PAINTED OVER his wallpaper. That prevents water or wallpaper stripper chemicals from penetrating through to the glue :(
We spent 2 hours doing 5m2 of wall!! But then my mother and I discovered the wallpaper steamer and I think everyone should know about it... It hastened the job to about 5 minutes for 5m2! It also melts the wallpaper glue, which is then easily wiped off with a soapy rag.
Best of luck for your house renovations and congratulations on your new home!


monlim said...

Deb: Gosh, that sounds absolutely horrendous! Thanks for the tip, I think I've got mine under control now. My contractor painted over the last remnants of the glue and with many, many coats, it's not visible now. Thank God, if not, I'll heed your advice on the wallpaper steamer for sure!

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