Does anyone make a wallpaper removal game for the Wii?

Two weeks ago was perhaps the most stressful nail-bitting, stomach turning week of my life.  I lost sleep, couldn’t eat (which is never a problem for me), and chewed off most of my nails.  I had heard so many horror stories about loans falling through at the last minute, and was convinced that it was going to happen to me.  It didn’t matter that my credit score qualifies me for a Black Amex Centurion Card (but my income does not), I knew I’d get a call at the last minute saying that there was a small problem and the bank wouldn’t be able to finance me.

But then, two days before closing I got an e-mail while in Ikea.  Jen and I were picking out a new worktable for my office that will be used to lay out album spreads and prepare print orders for clients.  We were fully approved, and the financing was in place.  Whew.  I shed a tear of joy right there in the office section of Ikea.

Not only was I a new homeowner, I was given the given the ultimate stress relieving puzzle in the world.  If only I had the ability to pull wallpaper last week!  I would have been so much nicer to be around!

Wallpaper removal is a never ending puzzle of paper, paste, and horrible 1970’s patterns.  There are multiple levels to navigate through – from finding a corner to start pulling at, to sorting out the right diluent that effectively transfers through the top layer and penetrates into the paper backing and dissolves the glue underneath.  When you do figure out the proper combination, sometimes you are rewarded with a full sheet of paper peeling off in your hands, and other times you only get a tattered one inch fragment of sticky wallpaper.  

There are multiple levels to wallpaper removal, too.  Like an archaeologist digging in ancient Rome, you may peel away the first layer to discover another hideous sub-level (and these sub levels have more secret levels underneath).  And just when you think you have finished the room, you walk down the hall to another room full of puzzles.

It took me a week, but I have finally mastered the wallpaper puzzle.  There are no more levels to combat.  I am done.

There clearly is a direct one to one correlation between the amount of stress one goes through when buying a home, and the quantity and quality of wallpaper inside that same house, don’t you think?

The best wallpaper removal solutions

Our very first project in our house was to remove wallpaper.  We simply can’t stand the 1970’s flowery patterns that grace the walls in the Living Room, Kitchen, both Bathrooms, and on the border of our soon to be bedroom.  You see, the goal is to have a perfectly flat, smooth, museum quality wall.  No texture – very modern and sheik.

Years of helping my Dad, my FIL, and watching Tom Silva and Norm Abrams have taught me the proper way to do things.  The number one lesson is that the better prep work is done before a paint job, the better the results are going to be.  I’ve also found this out the hard way.

While the goal is the same, Jen and I have drastically different ways of removing the wallpaper.  She meticulously scrapes and peels using a 1″ putty knife, and the tip of a utility knife, turning to a squirt bottle only as a last resort to remove the final bits of glue and wallpaper backing.

My method relies on chemistry.  Go figure.

I start by drenching the wall with 1 capful of Downey inside a squirt bottle, and then fill it up with hot water.  I spray the entire wall, and then wait 20 minutes. Strangely enough both methods work equally well and fast.

Last night we started on a wall in the Dining Room, and today at noon, with my technique perfected, It was done. 

So I was off to tackle the breakfast room wall.  I filled my squirt bottle, and pointed it at the wall.  This paper was different, and resisted the solution – In fact all I did was clean the years of dirt off the paper.

So tomorrow, I’m off to pick up some different wallpaper removal solutions.

  • Vinegar and Dish soap (I think I’ll try Dawn)
  • TSP in water
  • Simple Green diluted 1:1

One of these will work, and for some reason I think the TSP will do the trick the best to get off the top layer of the wallpaper, and my regular fabric softener method will take care of the glue.

This was a fun project – be sure to check out my super popular how to remove a popcorn ceiling post.

15 Things to do after buying a house

Today at 10:00 I put myself (and my wife) into debt until the year 2039. After 60 minutes, 27 signatures, and 14 initials, we had a bottle of champagne, a huge gift basket of goodies, and two electric garage door openers.

I’m just about to crash for the night, but first I wanted to share with you some thoughts I had throughout today, my first day of home ownership.

15 Things to do after buying a house

  1. Call a locksmith and change all the outside door locks.  You don’t know if somebody’s buddy still has a key, and might decide to let himself in and crash on the couch.
  2. Change utilites to your name: gas, electric, water, sewer, garbage, telephone
  3. Visit the post office, and pick up a change of address packet.  Fill it out.
  4. Make sure you have a pizza delivery phone number programmed into your speed dial.
  5. Buy a big pack of Toilet Paper, and place next to a working toilet.
  6. Check the batteries in your new smoke detectors.
  7. Map out the nearest Ace Hardware, Lowes, and Home Depot, and Gas Station.
  8. Set-up high speed internet access.
  9. Bring your cell phone wall charger, so you don’t have to sit in the car and talk while the phone charges from the lighter adaptor.
  10. Change the Garage door opener codes.
  11. Find out what day is garbage day, and set your iCal alarm to the night before.
  12. Buy a lawnmower, and push it over the grass every week so the homeowner association doesn’t get on your case.
  13. Get a set of basic tools:  Hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, tape measure, ladder, and putty scraper.  No need to go overboard right now.
  14. Get some basic cleaning stuff, including soap and paper towels to put by the sink.  So you can wash and dry your hands as necessary.
  15. Finally, you might want to pick up a toilet plunger, just in case.
  16. BONUS – Leave a review for your agent on Zillow

What did you do after you bought your house?  I’d love to know.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.