Misuse of Household Appliances

In our fine Casa Decrepit tradition of using tools and materials from the fine arts or handcrafting in home repair and restoration, Noel suggested we take out my textile steamer and try it out for stripping wallpaper.

We'd been kicking around some suggestions for stripping wallpaper, including things like spraying vinegar or fabric softener on the walls, and boiling water rolled on. The first two would create offensive smells, while we just could not figure out how to do the latter without burning ourselves. We could invest in huge quantities of WP Chomp, which is the wallpaper stripper I've used in other rooms, but that gets pretty expensive. So it was looking like we were going to be renting a steamer. Which is when Noel thought of using the little Conair jobby to do the trick.

I'm sure that somewhere in the legal department at Conair, there is a lawyer making a note that says "refuse all warranty claims from those idiots in Alameda." This steamer is a little appliance I bought for our wedding (I like to tell people I bought it for a unique "unity steamer" ceremony, but I bought it because I needed to unwrinkle my veil). It worked very nicely, and since then I have used it minimally, mostly for steaming dry-clean-only clothes that needed it, or for steam-blocking knitted clothes. I was feeling moderately guilty about keeping it around given how little I use it. Not any more.

Here we have a bit of the back hall before I started a little steaming session.

Before steaming

And twenty minutes later, significant progress.

One hour later

It even helps get the chalky paste stuff off the walls (that greyish coat over the yellowish plaster). I do find that in really thick, dry areas I still need to dampen the walls with the sprayer and let them soak for half an hour for maximum benefit.

Part of me wonders how much more effective a steam iron would be on the wall, but the failure mode for that is much more likely to actually destroy the appliance. (But maybe I can try to find one at a thrift store.)

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posted by ayse on 04/01/09