Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the more recent pictures handy uploaded that make this post more enjoyable to read. Who wants to read 800 words about tedious projects without getting to see the gratifying before/after pictures? The one person who is still reading at the end of this post, that’s who. (You’ll have to settle for a small handful of in-progress photos.)
The second bedroom
This project has taken a ridiculous amount of time, but it’s finally in the homestretch. Somehow, this project — essentially the same thing I did in our master bedroom in 2 weeks before we moved in last year — has taken me 2 months to complete. I know I was working relentlessly from November 1 – December 10 last year, but this has given me new perspective for just how much of a maniac I was for 6 weeks last year. (Did I just do a humblebrag? I think so.)
All 4 walls were covered in several layers of wallpaper and paint and needed to be scraped down to the plaster, cracks taped and mudded, and then skimmed with a thin coat of joint compound to create a smooth surface for priming and painting.
Stripping the wallpaper and paint isn’t too hard, just time-consuming (and tiring on the hands and forearms.) Though our experience may be easier than you might find in your house since the wallpaper was really old and brittle and the paint is cheap and only on top of the wallpaper, not mixed between layers.
A rigid 2-3″ scraper can take the paint on top of the wallpaper right off, along with perhaps a layer or two of the wallpaper. Press down a little harder and get a little more meticulous and you can scrape right down to the plaster, but that takes some serious work. But if you just scrape down to the last layer or two, you can just soak the remnants with water from a spray bottle, leave it to soak for a bit, and it’ll just scrape right off with zero effort.
In the pictures below, anything brown would come off super easy with the spray bottle trick.
After weeks of this tedious scraping at night after work, I finally got all the wallpaper and paint off the walls. But getting the walls skimmed was another story. Before I could skim, there were 10-12 cracks that needed to be taped, mudded, and then floated out with joint compound to hide the edges and the raised profile of the extra mud on the wall. In general, these walls were in a little bit worse shape than our master bedroom, probably because of the water damage at the front of the house below the leaky dormer windows in the attic (now fixed, thank goodness.)
Even after skimming all the walls, I still noticed a few places where tape or edges were still visible and had to go back and mud and sand all over again. From the day I first said, “I think I’ll be ready to sand and prime tomorrow,” it took me almost a full week to actually get to the point where I could prime the walls. It felt like I was working with joint compound for 3 weeks straight.
But 3 of the 4 walls are now finished, primed and ready for paint. I’m waiting on electrical work on the 4th wall before I deal with it, since it’ll likely result in some holes in the wall and damaged plaster I’ll have to repair.
The ceiling is unchanged, still covered in wallpaper and paint. Just like our bedroom, I’ll cover it with new drywall instead of scraping. That’s waiting on electrical work as well. Exposed conduit on the ceiling needs to be moved into the ceiling above the plaster and then we’ll cover it all with new drywall and lose a tragic 1/2 inch of vertical living space.
Once the electrician finishes his work in this room, we’ll be rounding the home stretch. I’ve removed all the baseboards, trim and toe moulding as well and all of that — save the toe moulding — will be replaced. All the trim had been painted a zillion times and from the looks of things, everything was painted by putting a stick of dynamite in a can of cheap beige paint and exploding it all over an empty room.
I’ve got a couple of electricians bidding on a long list of work that includes this bedroom. Once I get that nailed down and get the work done, I’ll just have to drywall the ceiling (contracting that out — ceilings are a freaking pain without a second set of hands and a drywall lift) and patch that 4th wall to finish things up before we get into choosing paint colors and the finishing work.
I’ll come back later and update this post with pictures of the primed walls and a short video of some of the in-progress work. Note the picture below. The seam at the top right of center is what is on the wall every 16 inches or so. Overlapping wallpaper edges.
Any past experience stripping off wallpaper and paint like this? Easier or harder than I’ve described? Any pointers for others?