Removing wallpaper in my WWII Dollhouse

or what will one day be, my WWII dollhouse. Hopefully! I am not 100% certain of my success after today’s (8th September) failure to remove the wallpaper in the kitchen of it. I started from the bottom, since I knew that one, would be a nightmare, thanks to the angle.

House in position!

House in position!

For months, I have planned on doing this, but have just not got started. I bought the kitchen paint in the spring and was all up for starting, but how? After careful research on the internet and thinking through things more than one time, I lifted the dollhouse from its stand, today, and tried to lay it down on the sofa, windows down, since my dollhouse most stupidly opens at the back. “Gubby” screamed “mamma, the door is broken”. Not that he could help me with the lifting at all, being autistic and getting stressed out over his mum’s crazy ideas. He prefers to stand on the side lines. Could I not have asked my husband for help this evening, with the lifting? No. He is against me doing any alterations to the house in the first place and wash his hands of it all.

So, the black front door is now broken off. Spiffy! And how much will that cost to replace? On the other hand, it was a very flimsy door and why on earth did the woman who built this house, in the first place, put in a door which opens outwards? It was asking for trouble! I got the dollhouse down on the sofa with a blanket under and propped the backdoor up with a suitcase. Now, I was ready. I thought. To make sure, I sat down and looked for the formula. How was it now one was supposed to remove the wallpaper and with what?

On one site it said, just spray on warm water and it will dissolve the wallpaper glue and you can pull the wallpaper off. Ha! You

Glue still in place!

Glue still in place!

can’t control the spray and all it did on my house, was dry and then I was back to square one. All sites saying that one should wait, while this and that work on the glue.

Time for tougher methods! I mixed in vinegar. Made no difference. Now I decided to play hardball. Instead of spraying, I got a sponge out and wiped down the backdoor area, which held the kitchen part wallpaper. But it just dried very nicely without having any effect at all. Madder than a hatter, I now stormed out to MY kitchen and pulled out the baking soda. Heated up the water again, but the mixture hot water, vinegar and baking soda only made the wallpaper wet, so I could get that off, but ALL the glue was still on the walls.

The only way I have been able to get wallpaper and glue off today has been by:

1. Mixing hot water, vinegar, dishwashing liquid and baking soda in a bowl. With a sponge, I have soaked the area. Yes, you heard me, soaked the area.

2. And right away (none of the foolishly suggested waiting time), I have had to attack the area with a cheese cutter and metal butter knife. I have scraped as hard as I could and my neck and shoulders are screaming in pain.

3. As soon as it has got too messy, I have used the vacuum cleaner to vacuum up all the garbage created by my scraping. (Otherwise the garbage glues on!) But I will admit, that the windows have got hurt on the edges and the pretty edgings came off the walls, since they were attached on top of the wallpaper.

I am not a happy camper right now. Since I have three more rooms to do. I will send my husband to some paint shop and ask if they have some less painful method of removing the wallpaper. This was not fun at all and I did not like to soak the wood the way I had to.

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20 days later:

I am ready to murder Bob Vila, who on a site said that the mixture warm water, vinegar, dishwashing liquid and baking soda works like a miracle, that it is only to scrape with one’s nail, after applying it to the wall, and the glue will come off. It has taken me three weeks to remove wallpaper and glue from four of the rooms in my dollhouse and the door which opens it. I very quickly decided to leave the attic rooms, because of the hassle, even though I do not love the wallpapers there either.

To all of you out there, who buy an old dollhouse, or like me, a brand new  ready-assembled and decorated house, beware of a couple of things. First of all, if you can, find out what the previous owner used for wallpaper glue. This will affect how easy or how difficult it will be to alter the house in to YOUR dream house. Also consider how much it will cost to alter it and compare if you really will save money. Perhaps it is better to buy your dream house as a kit and start from scratch? During these three weeks I have not been a happy camper and my thoughts have wandered to the house I really would have liked, many times over.

If the previous owner have used a standard wallpaper glue from a dollhouse shop, you will probably have no problems what so ever. You might be able to remove things with just hot water. But chances are that they have not, depending on how old the house is. I had a conversation last Friday, with a man at our local hardware shop. His first job ever, was in a dollhouse factory, located in our village actually. They made dollhouses for the company BRIO and his job was to wallpaper the houses. He laughed when he told me what they used for glue. “Karlsson’s klister” or in other words superglue. They did not care if people wanted to keep that wallpaper permanently or not. And what would bite on super glue pray tell?

I have been saying some really bad things about the lady who made this house. She bought the kit, built it and decorated, not for herself, but for selling.  Her choice of wallpapers, was terrible in my view. And to use your own concoction of glue, was very unwise, since the new owner might want to make changes. Her suggestion was to just paint over the wallpapers or put other wallpapers on top. But said man, from “Woody” in our village, said that this is not a good idea at all. You need to get things off the walls, paper and glue, to start anew. He dispelled the myth that you must not wet down the house too much. He said, “it will dry”. And I am here to testify, that when the glue sits like “Konrad’s Kalas Klister” (see tramp selling glue in “Pippi Longstocking”, which can be put on your shoes and then you can walk around on the ceiling!), you get so angry that you care nothing about anything, except to get that wallpaper glue off! I soaked the house!

When I got to the top-level of the house, she had used a different kind of glue, that was four times as bad as the other one. How could that be possible? It turned orange, when it got wet and stayed orange. Made it easier to see of course but that was the only positive aspect. By this time, I had given up the ceramic stove scraper, cheese cutter and butter knife. Instead I bought sandpaper but was too scared to go rough, since I did not want to have to paint the house all over first, before putting on new wallpaper. But sandpaper grade 180 was just laughable! It made a nice smooth surface but did not remove anything and if I do not find a nice wallpaper for the rooms, then I will have to paint. Imagine what it will look like with paint on parts of paper?!

My next thing to try out, was going to a paint shop in town. There I bought industrial strength glue dissolver. That glue was going to come off, whether it wanted to or not. The sales man, told me that they used it in the shop to remove their wallpapers, them always having some sample walls. He instructed me to wear gloves, be in a well ventilated room when dealing with the dissolver and putting down plastic for protection. Apprehensive, I went home with the expensive bottle. “Kitty” helped me carry out the dollhouse on our deck, since no way was I going to endanger our furniture or wood floor, indoors. I covered the deck with plastic, put on gloves and made the mixture. I litre hot water and one cap of the dissolver. No problem with ventilation in the garden. Success? None what so ever. It made no particle of difference. The glue was as stuck as before. But I sat there suffering, listening to our neighbours getting more and more drunk, having a crayfish party. I gave up when the woman started to sing a song in Finnish, not being able to a hold a tune for anything. Then I had tried a new mixture of the dissolver, less than 1 litre of hot water and 2 caps of “the dangerous stuff”. Waste of time!

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No, last Friday I was as desperate as you can get and bought a rough sandpaper but also a sandpaper sponge. And THIS was great! I made the concoction I had made earlier, since I did not want to carry the house outside again. And I was very liberal with the measurements. 6 dl hot water, in a large bowl, since you will get a chemical reaction in the bowl! 3 heaped table spoons of baking soda. NOW the water will rise. At least 1 table spoon dish washing liquid and finally 1 dl vinegar. With a sponge, I soaked the area I wanted to work on, and then I took the sandpaper sponge and dipped it in the concoction. Then I started scrubbing with the rough side. Unfortunately, it leaves black little specks all over, so you can’t see if you have got the glue off or not, but I had the vacuum cleaner handy, right beside me, sucking up all the “gravel”, so I could see. As with the sandpaper earlier, I did not want to take too much off, since the lady had painted the house first, before she wallpapered it, and I do not want to redo that work. When the house had dried, I went over small spots, with the rough sandpaper. I think that maybe, maybe, the house might be ready for new wallpaper and/or paint now. But this was NOT done in an afternoon, like some people have described on the internet. This was three weeks full of frustration and demanded a lot of muscle.

Tools I had to use in combination plus hot water.

Tools I had to use in combination plus hot water: Ceramic stove top scraper, hobby knife, cheese cutter, butter knife, grade 100 sandpaper, rubber gloves, sandpaper sponge, vinegar, dishwashing liquid and baking soda.

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