17 February 2006


Years ago an acquaintance made a really snide comment about the area in which we now live. He said it was originally settled by the rejects and losers who were too stupid or lazy to continue the journey west.

It's always struck me as a harsh comment, yet I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I wonder if there is some inherited quirk around here that renders the locals incapable of dealing with wallpaper in a decent fashion.

I told Pat-the-neighbor that I was going to start stripping the wallpaper in the bedroom so we could paint.

"Oh, you never want to strip wallpaper! You're better off just painting right over it."

"It's vinyl. Textured viniyl. We can't paint over it."

I didn't get into the fact that painted over wallpaper gets tatty and ragged over time, and is nearly impossible to patch. I didn't mention that I'd heard stories of roaches eating all of the wallpaper paste away right from under the paper (a story that lives vividly in my imagination every time I see a wall of wallpaper). I didn't bring up that mold finds the cellulose structure of wallpaper adhesive a wonderful growth medium, and that putting oil-based paint over the wallpaper surface optimizes mold-growth conditions. No. I just left her muttering about how awful and fearsome it is to strip wallpaper.

So. I started stripping the textured vinyl wallpaper in the bedroom. The upper vinyl layer peeled off easily. Next, I soaked the under layer in hot water (Dave-the-wallpaper-guy in Ohio says to use the easiest methods first, and not resort to chemicals until you have to). The underlayer came off in sheets. Life was wonderful. I wanted to call Dave-the-wallpaper-guy to revel in my success. Dave-the-wallpaper-guy came to our rescue when we were in wallpaper-removal hell in our old house, stripping miles and miles of poorly installed paper; I knew he would appreciate a good removal job.

As I rounded the corner of the room, I noticed a weird flowery pattern appearing on the wall as I wet it. Huh? I stripped the old paper, and revealed ... another layer of wallpaper underneath. An earlier layer of wallpaper which had been painted over and then papered over.

I am stunned. I am disgusted with all of the previous owners of this house. I am disgusted with this community, which apparently consists of people too lazy and stupid to strip the old paper, let alone continue the journey west as our old acquaintance suggested.

And yet, I now am determined to triumph over this damned paper. I may not rest until every single scrap of paper in the entire house is taken down.

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