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Lessons Learned While Stripping Wallpaper

January 18, 2011

I have spent the last couple of days stripping early 1980s wallpaper.  What a job!!  There were two rooms left in the house to be ‘de-papered’ and I had been putting the job off for four years or more. I decided this was the time to tackle it as I have been struggling with how to finish one of my paintings and needed a diversion.

1980s wallpaper is a bugger to get off.  The glue they used at the time must be toxic and is definitely made of some space-age material developed by NASA, used to hold solar reflector panels on to the sides of rockets.  The job entails removing the outer layer of paper using steam, water soaked sponges and a trowel.  You must tackle this part of the job gingerly as the paper is glued so tightly to the wall in spots that drywall is actually removed along with said paper.  Then comes the real work…removing old, stubborn glue that has been on the wall for going on 30 years.  First, you must spray the wall with warm water and let it sit for five mins or so.  Then, you take a wet (not damp but wet) cloth and soak the glue some more.  Finally,you remove the glue with a large trowel, regularly cleaning gobs of glue from the trowel and placing it in a plastic bag.  Then comes the fun part, repairing the damage that resulted from your frustration, sanding and finally painting!

You might ask why I would be writing about such a boring topic….boring it might be but boy do you ever have lots of time to think!  These are the life lessons I learned while stripping wallpaper:

1.  Don’t put things off.  The longer you put things off the more difficult it becomes to start whatever it is you are putting off and the more likely you are to resent the time spent doing it.  Get the things that you least like doing done first, then you can actually enjoy the rest of your day.  In this case, I get to paint the walls….I love painting everything, even walls!

2.  Take your time. I learned the hard way that the more you rush, the longer it will take to complete the job.  In this case, now I have several spots to fill with drywall paste…..yikes.

2.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Keep your eye on the outcome.  There will be bumps and bruises along the way but don’t let that stop you from finishing the job.  I was going to quit at one point, maybe I didn’t mind the wallpaper that much anyway, removing it and parts of the drywall were becoming frustrating and my muscles were aching.

3.  Attitude is everything. I took time to have a cup of tea and contemplate if I really did need to take the rest of the wallpaper off or not….yep I did but I didn’t have to do it all in a couple of days.  I could change my plan to paint the walls on the weekend, that part of the job could wait until next week.  Better attitude, less stress.  Less stress, more fun.  More fun, more likely to do the job.

4.  Change….it can be difficult but rewarding.  All I wanted to do was change the look of my two little rooms.  What a process!  However, when it is done I will love it and be happy that it finally happened.

The things you can learn from the mundane…..lessons are everywhere.

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