It all started with two weeks of holiday
So where have I been for the past couple of months, well I’ve been busy but not so busy on the house. It all started with two weeks of holiday.
A the start of this time I did spend a fortnight off work but I only managed to get a bit of work done on the house as I made the mistake of going to a festival. Well I say it was a mistake but it was a good break and I did get to spend some time with the lovely Tara watching some bands at the Green Man Festival in Wales. Tara bagged me an artist’s pass and we got to stay in the artists’ camping area. It was really wonderful to see how the other half live at a festie, showers and civilisation. No squabbling over camping space and a door straight into the festival arena. It was all rather cool.
Still it didn’t bring the bacon home when it comes down to getting the house sorted, I only stayed at the festival for a couple of nights but what with the drive there and back, the organising before going and the cleaning after going then it really ate into my two weeks off. At the end of the two weeks I had managed to successfully scrape two bedrooms (the ones at the front of the house) free of their wallpaper.
Now getting two rooms clear of wallpaper might seem like a simple exercise but when the ceilings are woodchip and the larger of the rooms has woodchip ceilings and another paper underneath then things are a bit more difficult.
The walls were simple-ish, well they were still hard work but in comparison to the ceilings they were quite the doddle. My sister had kindly lent me her Karcher Steam Cleaner (See previous post and tools section for links) and armed with this and a Karcher wallpaper stripper head I worked on the walls over three days to clear down both of the rooms.
I invested too in a Zinsser – Triple Head Paper Tiger, to aid in the stripping of the woodchip. This turned out along with the steamer to be invaluable and if I’d not had one or the other then I’m sure that the job would have taken at least triple the time that it did.
The steamer was sensational, I’ve seen other commercially available strippers that look as though they were constructed in 1980’s Eastern Bloc countries where health and safety wasn’t an issue. Basically these strippers consist of a plastic box with a kettle element in them. Steam is produced and basically leaks into the stripping head – well that’s the impression that I get of them. With the Karcher there’s a proper pressure vessel and a trigger on the steamer head, when you press the trigger then pressured steam flows from the head into the wallpaper. This works a treat on most wallpapers and it makes stripping zillions of times easier. I remember as a child using vinegar infused tepid water to get paper off, it was smelly and not too pleasant, still I think I loved doing it. The pressure vessel is a full-on unit that’s built for the job, there’s no leaking or dial with an arrow that can potentially go to a red “danger” area, it’s all automatic and works brilliantly.
The Paper Tiger is another invaluable tool in the removal of wallpaper. Basically when wallpaper is of the gnarly woodchip or gloss paint covered variety, then you need something to allow the steam to penetrate the surface of the paper to get at the glue. Well most people may use a scratching device of some type, something fabricated from a bit of wood and some nails or a sharp knife (don’t use a sharp knife) but something to basically take a bit of the impenetrable woodchip surface or gloss paint off, this then allows lovely steam to get to the task of ungluing the wallpaper and heypresto magically you can peel off what was once the stickiest nastiest wall covering known to mankind. The Paper Tiger (get the triple head one) is a device with a set of wheels covered in sharp prongs that you spiral over the paper surface and they perforate the paper. Not only does this fill the paper with lots of tiny holes but the pattern left makes the paper not tear into strips when you come to peel it off. I’ve actually managed to peel whole lengths of woodchip off in one go, no breaks in the whole strip. It’s bleeding amazing.
- Getting back to why you shouldn’t use a sharp knife. Well imagine this, you have an uber-sharp craft knife in your hand and you’re working with the knife above your head. You WILL GET TIRED working like this, THE KNIFE WILL SNAG ONCE IN A WHILE, well you’re looking up and the knife will be coming down. Not good, get a Paper Tiger Instead.
- Even with a Karcher there is the hazard of having a little bit of boiling water running down your hands, well make sure you wear a pair of gloves.
- Wear goggles/safety glasses, when you’re stripping paper above your head flecks of paper will come down. Worse still is when you’re using the Paper Tiger with tiny flecks of paint being liberated into the atmosphere.
- Listen to a radio, stripping wallpaper is blinking boring.
- The Paper Tiger will clog up regularly with certain types of wallpaper, use the steam nozzle on the Karcher to clean the wheels. It takes much less time doing it this way to trying to do it with a brush. Make sure to wear safety specs/goggles while doing this as it does tend to launch itself around a bit it does.
Anyway the ceilings took ages, especially the large one that was double layered with woodchip and then this horrible vinyl underneath but without these tools it would have taken absolutely forever.