As I have been working on stripping wallpaper with my one-tank-a-day method, Jeff has been questioning why I don’t get a quote on having the work done. The steamer would be heating up, he would suggest it, and I would bristle. It’s not that I didn’t want to have the work done while I was doing things that were more interesting, exciting, fun, and NOT scrubbing off wallpaper glue, but, tedious as it was, it was something I could do myself. We were already having to hire out so many things that were beyond our capabilities or DIY comfort level, so I felt like if I could do it, I needed to.
I was also concerned about the quality of the work. This wallpaper was very easy to remove. It simply peeled off in all but two rooms and below the chair rail in the kitchen. Removing the wallpaper wasn’t a problem. It was completely removing the glue so it would be ready for paint. I just didn’t feel confident that I would find the right company that would do it as carefully as I would. I was imagining trying to prime over the walls and having the paint bubble up from glue that was left behind. So, I stubbornly pressed on.
Jeff tried again and made a proposition from a different perspective, “How many paintings could you do in the time you are stripping wallpaper glue?” I didn’t even need to do the math. I knew exactly his point and that he was right. My time could be better spent doing something that only I could do and I could easily balance out the cost of hiring the project by making a trade.
Paintings for wallpaper stripping.
As I stood on a ladder with a steam-soaked arm and a sticky paint scraper in my hand, it seemed like a pretty good trade. So, I started to do a bit of research. If you want to have wallpaper stripped, the best companies to call are those who do painting and wallpaper installation. Not all painters/wallpaper hangers will do it, since it’s such an unpleasant job, but many of them will. I sorted through a few companies that came up in a basic Google search and found a painting/handyman company with good reviews and an active Facebook page that showed a variety of projects and recent work. I felt confident enough with their online presence, which looked authentic and positive, to call and request a quote.
I decided I would ask for quotes for the three spaces that feel most overwhelming to me and are becoming a bottleneck to getting other projects done – the dining room, hallway, and Marshall’s room. The dining room walls are in the worst shape. When we peeled the wallpaper off the upper portion of the walls, it also pulled off some of the paint, leaving a chipping/flaking texture behind. The walls need to be primed and painted before we can start building and installing built-ins, which means my books will be parked on wire shelves until then. It seemed like so many steps and forever away. Marshall’s room has pink rose wallpaper, which makes me feel terrible for him every time I see it. It’s pretty paper, but not for a 16-year-old boy’s room!
And the hall? Oh, the hall goes on for miles. Getting those three spaces done would be a huge weight off. I could just start painting the walls and trim. There wouldn’t be a thousand steps that had to happen first. Even that idea made me happy.
The owner of the company came out that evening, checked out the project, and gave me a quote. It wasn’t cheap, but it was definitely in line with what I was expecting. We went a little deeper into the quote, which would include stripping the wallpaper, completely removing the glue, patching any holes, and priming the walls so they were ready to paint. This would be perfect. We decided to think about it overnight and, in the morning, decided it was worth it.
The crew was able to start the next day, which is crazy fast in this market! I think I caught them between jobs. It sent us into a bit of a flurry because we needed to remove all of my books from the dining room and move the rest of the furniture to the middle of the room.
We got it all done, though, so the crew could start the next morning.
Three people started attacking the walls, peeling off the paper, sanding off the glue, and spraying the stubborn bits. They are making progress that is blazing fast compared to my pace. It is glorious.
When I peeked in on their progress on the pink flowered wallpaper in Marshall’s room, those tiny bits of damp paper littered all over the floor told the whole story. This paper was a struggle to get off, but they kept at it. It took three people five hours, but they got all of the paper and glue off and are now working on patching, sanding, and priming today. (Look at those nice, bright recessed lights, though!)
Most of the paper in our house peels off pretty easily, just leaving the glue behind. This paper, though, needed to be saturated, left to soak, and then scraped off. The downside is it’s messier than just peeling off sheets, but the upside is the glue seemed to come off mostly with the paper.
I have to tell you, I have felt like a weight has been lifted. Instead of feeling guilty about hiring something I could do myself, I feel liberated from it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel a renewed excitement about getting to paint some walls and make real headway on the project list. Wallpaper stripping and glue scrubbing are still in my future, but it feels more manageable now. I have a few kitchen walls to finish, but the rest will be completely removed during the kitchen renovation. The guest room walls are covered in wallpaper, but I plan to just remove the paper and hang new paper, eliminating the need for thorough scrubbing. Both bathrooms are still sporting wallpaper as well, but I feel like those are reasonable for me to do and there really isn’t a rush to get those spaces done since bathroom renovations aren’t going to happen anytime soon.
If you’re someone who likes to do things yourself, you understand how hard it is to decide to hire something that you can do. It almost feels like cheating for some crazy reason. I have no problem hiring out work that requires special skills and knowledge that I don’t have and I don’t have any interest in learning. It’s hard to justify paying someone to do something simply because it’s tedious or will take a long time. But, I have learned over the years that there are some projects or some seasons of life when it’s just better to pay someone to do it. It can be a very good trade to gain time, and energy, more time for work, more time for family, or simply more time to not battle wallpaper paste. I hadn’t really looked at it in terms of what could be traded until Jeff posed that question to me.
I share this to let you know that I don’t do it all and I hope it will be an encouragement to you that you don’t have to do it all either. Sometimes holding onto doing a project yourself becomes more of a liability than an asset.
So, obviously, I’m not paying the crew in paintings. They would like to be paid in good, spendable dollars. But, I have calculated the number of paintings I need to create and sell in order to cover the costs of this project. And, for me, time at the easel is much more enjoyable than time removing wallpaper. So, I have been painting away, filling my drying shelves and I’ll have details about an original art sale soon.
I know it might come as a disappointment, but I’ll likely only write one or two more posts about stripping wallpaper instead of a complete book of all of the methods, liquids, and techniques we threw at the walls. I’ll be able to get on with things that will be more exciting, like putting a new color on the dining room walls and planning built-in shelving to create a library. But, before I do that, I need to get back to the easel and do some more paintings…