We have previously discussed the removal of wallpaper in much of the main floor but in the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom, ten-test board is missing on the walls, replaced with wallpaper alone. Though at some point wallpaper was covering many of the walls downstairs, ten-test was layered over in the early 1900’s and removal of such material was easy (well, as easy as any of this is).The wallpaper over the walls on the first floor, throughout the hall and stairs was not overly difficult and the oldest layer of wallpaper, the William Morris print, (the layer closest to the wall) was very weakly adhered to the boards behind and thus most layers peeled off as one unit.
This week we are back on the second floor. Wall covers up here prove far more frustrating than on the home’s lower level. Though there are fewer layers of wallpaper, they are as tight to the wall as they ever could or should be. The people who papered these walls meant this “décor” to never peel as no expense was spared in glue!
Glue on bare spruce boards can be very difficult to remove, very time consuming. Water in a misting bottle or moist sponges may be used to soak the old papers to make scraping far easier. We don’t require all the little pieces of paper to come off the walls in Pardy house because they will be covered predominantly in drywall and/or plaster. As long as the wall surface is smooth enough for the new walls to go up, then that can be considered ‘good enough’. With a personality like mine I wanted it all off the board but really that would simply be a waste of time and energy as it will all be covered over later this summer anyway.
Upstairs the wallpaper layer closest to the board wall was attached to cheese cloth strips; material similar to linen or thin cotton, these narrow strips had many purposes in hanging wallpaper for over 100 years. Wood boards expand, contract, and allow air flow between seams, so in order to place wallpaper over this gapped and moving surface smoothly, cloth was used to alleviate stresses.
Cheese cloth was traditionally placed in thin strips over all seams, narrow and wide, horizontal and vertical, to produce a surface as smooth as possible to accept wall coverings. These cloth stripes also allowed paper surfaces to create strong adhesions to an otherwise difficult material to work with- rough wood. Cloth was supposed to slow wrinkling and tearing, as well as creating a stronger bond to the board wall.
Today, with the creation of complex wallpaper glues and drywall, cloth is no longer required. Though these strips of cloth are strongly attached to most of the walls, finding the end of these strips and simply pulling hard can make for slightly easier paper removal.
Leann and I have already made contact with contractors and other tradespersons; decisions have to be made soon as wait lists can be long. Until next time, John is signing off from Pardy House.