It is easy to overlook but stripping old wallpaper can add thousands to restoration costs.
You’ve at last found the right house. It’s in a state but you’ve worked out costs for the new kitchen and bathroom, new carpets, rewiring repointing and painting throughout. You’ve even remembered to include a wedge for paving the drive and doing the garden. What can go wrong?
Hopefully nothing, but if you’re looking at one of the many period house that has several generations of vintage wallpaper and/or woodchip on the walls and (even worse) the ceilings, you might be in for an expensive shock.
I will deal with ceilings in my next blog, here I look at how much stripping wallpaper can cost.
The worst case scenario is all too common. Several layers of paper need hacking off with the original layer stuck on with heinous Victorian animal glue that is particularly stubborn. A medium sized room can take up two days to strip.
Then the problems starts.
The expression “papering over the cracks” has a literal meaning. Even if wallpaper wasn’t initially hung over cracks, the effort of stripping it often loosens vintage plaster. Once areas of plaster and render have “blown” (come away from the brickwork) it’s best to knock them off altogether and start again.
This not only means re-boarding and re-plastering; it also involves replacing or refitting skirting boards, sockets, dado and picture rail and architraves. All that just to get a wall you can paint!
It is not uncommon for these shenanigans to add well over a thousand pounds to the budget of restoring a large room. Of course it is not always that bad. Paper can come off easily and walls underneath can be in reasonable condition. The problem is that until you start stripping it is very difficult to know.
My purpose here has not been to teach how to strip wallpaper there are many good resources on the web for that. My concern is to emphasis the cost and consequences of stripping. Remember:
Don’t overlook the cost and consequences of stripping wallpaper when costing restoration work.
- In older properties, play safe and allow at least a thousand pounds for each room to be stripped.
- Test plasterwork thoroughly first. If it’s hollow forget stripping and just hack the plasterwork off.
- Decide if you really need to strip paper. Can you get away with papering over it and/or painting?