I’m not the handiest guy around. I have a stuffed-full tool box, but no heavy tools like a table saw. I have no problem checking car fluids, topping them off and changing burnt out taillights and such, but I can’t fix any mechanical part of a vehicle for crap. I put together all the assemble-it-yourself furniture from Target or wherever like a pro, but build a porch?…forget it!

However, the list of things that need attending to in our house (built in the late 1800s) has grown long enough, and our income hasn’t grown fast enough (to hire someone else), that it falls upon me to tackle a frighteningly long honey-do list.

Naturally, with a little goddess in the house, her needs go right to the top of the list, and so today I began peeling off wallpaper from the bedroom that had been her brother’s and will soon be her newer, larger, more bad-ass room (he’s 21 now and always welcome here, but it’s time for his sister to move up and he can use her old room, which will become the guest room, when he is in town). In some places, this means multiple layers of old crappy wallpaper, of course, and the previous owners had painted over the outermost layer just to make things more fun for me.

Good times.

All things considered, I’m doing pretty well (particularly since I’ve been doing it so far with only fingers and a Swiss Army knife…just call me MacGyver), and think I can be down to bare walls before July 4th, then move on to spackling and some plastering, and then painting and decorating. Goal is to have it ready for her birthday near the end of July.

I know I’ll be happy when it’s done. And who knows? Maybe my wife will be proud of the end result instead of make fun of me.

But just in the spirit of sharing, here’s what we look like around 20% through the wallpaper removal process:

2013-06-27 21.11.112013-06-27 21.11.222013-06-27 21.10.51

2 thoughts on “Handy(ish)man

  1. I have done a lot of this over the years in various 19th century abodes. It is like peeling the history. In one Baltimore row house that I owned I removed 12 layers of wallpaper in the living room with at least three paint layers, (that was kind of hard to determine) between various papers. Anyway I have two pieces of advice for you. 1) Don’t invest in any fancy things like steamers or kits designed for the purpose. The best thing you can use is a sopping wet sponge and a good blade. Get it good and wet – the humidity that we are having will help. 2) You might consider using at least a mask if not a respirator. Lead was in all that old paint, anything prior to 1970. I know that I lost some brain cells in the process.

  2. Not too worried about lead in this case. Outer layer was almost certainly painted after the 1970s and everything under it was pure wallpaper, under which is drywall.

    But thanks for the suggestions. I was wondering if a sponge might be enough for some of the more recalcitrant areas…most of the stuff so far is coming up fairly well with nothing but using a blade to pry it up.

    My issue is going to be more at the end point to make sure I get off any lingering glue, etc. so that I can slap a layer of plaster over it all to smooth things out and begin the painting.

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