Gas station without pumps

2018 September 4

Wallpaper removal

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:12
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Earlier this summer, my son started removing the wallpaper in our kitchen (put up by some previous owner, so at least 33 years old). My wife has disliked the wallpaper since we moved in, but we’ve always been a little afraid of how much work it would be to remove.

He started out using a sponge and a scraper, but that was going very slowly, and I feared that we would end up having half-wallpapered walls when he went back to college, so I bought a wallpaper steamer (Wagner 715 Steamer model #1283132) and a wallpaper scoring tool.  I was originally planning to order them from Amazon, but for some reason Amazon claimed that they could not ship to my address, so I ended up ordering from Lowe’s instead (the price was within pennies).

The steamer is a bit of a pain to use, as it consists of a box of boiling water, a long hose, and plastic plate for directing the steam.  There is no shut-off valve and the hose is a bit stiff, so any time you put the steam plate down it blows steam and hot water all over.  Luckily, we have a ceramic tile floor in our kitchen, so we could put the steam plate on the floor when not using it, without risking damage to the floor. The ceramic floor also helped with picking up and mopping up all the wet, gluey mess that resulted from the wallpaper removal.  I’d hate to have to remove wallpaper over a carpet or hardwood floor.

The steamer takes about 15–20 minutes before the water comes to a boil and steam starts coming out the hose, but once it starts steaming, it works pretty well at removing wallpaper.  We managed to remove about 10 square feet of wallpaper an hour—it would have been faster if the we had large flat areas to work with, rather than having to work around doors and kitchen cabinets.  Ten square feet an hour may not be fast, but it was at least four times faster than the sponge and scraper technique my son started with.

The steamer also helped in doing glue removal after getting the wallpaper off, as it saturated the glue with water very quickly.  In a few places the steam got behind the latex paint under the wallpaper, and the paint peeled off the wall also.

The wallpaper was behind the kitchen cabinets, which look like they were installed in the late 1960s or early 1970s, so the wallpaper was probably about 40 years old.  Removing the wallpaper bits that were wedged under the cabinet edges contributed to the slowness of the wallpaper removal.

One rather strange thing happened after we remove one section of wallpaper—when we turned off the LED kitchen lights, they didn’t shut off completely, but blinked at about 1 Hz, with about a 20% duty cycle.  It did not matter which of the two switches we tried to turn off the lights with. If either switch was put in the unstable position halfway between the two stable positions, then the lights would go off.  Our conjecture was that there was some water or wallpaper glue on the outside of the light switch, providing a high-resistance path between the two contacts on one side of the switch.  The idea was that the power supply for the LEDs was seriously underpowered and slowly charged up its capacitor until the under-voltage protection circuit allowed the current through to the LEDs.  The LEDs then discharged the capacitor until the voltage dropped below the under-voltage threshold and the power supply turned off the current again.

We looked at the switch and it looked clean and dry, but we were convinced enough of our diagnosis that we replaced the switch (I happened to have a spare in the garage).  Sure enough, when we removed the switch, dirty water dripped out of it.  With the new, dry switch the LED lights worked normally.

Our next step is to scrub the walls (removing some loose paint), use spackle or joint compound to fill holes in the plaster and smooth out a few places, sand the walls, reprime, and paint. Although we have some TSP (trisodium phosphate) in the garage, we are not planning to use it on the walls, as rinsing it all off may be difficult and the primer manufacturer warns against having any TSP under the primer.  We’ve not decided whether to use a TSP substitute or just clean the walls with ammonia and water, relying on sandpaper to degloss any paint that is there.

We picked up a bunch of paint chips from the Sherwin-Williams paint store, and my wife has narrowed down the colors to two, both slightly greenish blues.  (I’d prefer a purer light blue, but she spends more time in the kitchen than anyone else, so her preferences matter most.)

I’m hoping that we can get most of the wall prep done in the next week, so that we can get the painting done before my son goes back to college in 2½ weeks.


1 Comment »

  1. […] I mentioned in Wallpaper removal, my son and I removed the ugly wallpaper from the kitchen (put up before I bought the house 31 […]

    Pingback by Kitchen repainted | Gas station without pumps — 2018 September 15 @ 12:16 | Reply

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