Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why? Totally Off The Wall !! ?

Why, Totally Off The Wall !! ?  Often-times I am praised for the 'clever' or 'evocative' name of my business.  I usually smile demurely and modestly say 'thank you' with true meaning and sincerity.

But, really –– WHY is the business named Totally Off The Wall !! ?  

Wallpaper removal (to the average person) is a seemingly 'no-brain' activity.  I mean, on the face of it, I can certainly understand that perception.  In fact, I had that very same belief when I started my business.  Well,– I did have 27 years as a wallpaper hanger under my belt when I started my wallpaper removal business... but I soon learned that I had a LOT to learn about wallpaper removal.

To this day, after 5 years of full-time wallpaper removal, I am still constantly challenged and actually 'amazed' by some feature of my job.

I'd like to share with you a just a brief 'glimmer' of what a wallpaper removal /wallpaper border removal job looks like from my professional perspective...

(Part 1)

•  The genesis of the name: Totally Off The Wall !!
It turns out that to be effective, wallpaper removal (for re-paint) MUST be a first-class job with no room for sloppiness in technique, human error, or laziness by the tradesman or tradeswoman.  For, you see, wallpaper 'paste' MUST BE COMPLETELY REMOVED or the job will 'fail'.  This is because 'paint' will not adhere to wallpaper paste without being adversely affected.  Nor will drywall mud (for spray-on textures such as 'orange peel' or 'knock-down') be unaffected by paste left upon the walls.  The paint will crackle (alligator), curl, or 'pop-off' and the drywall mud (for spray-on textures) will often 'slide' on the paste left upon the walls.  It is therefore 'VITAL' that the paste under your wallpaper be removed 'totally off the wall' –– thus the name!

•  Papers and other materials used for wallcoverings
Part of the challenge of wallpaper removal is the huge amount of different materials used in manufacturing wallcoverings.  The material that the pretty part of the wallcovering (only the inks, really) is printed upon is something called 'the ground'.  This is the paper, fabric, foil, etc. that we think of as the 'front' or 'face' of the wallcovering.  Often, in addition to the front/face of the wallcovering there is an entirely different material attached to this.  This would be called the 'back' or 'backing' of the wallcovering.  Then there is the complexities of the interaction of these two material layers to each other and of the backing material to the wall surfaces.  Sometimes, there is only one layer of wallcovering and this serves both as the printed-upon surface and the backing surface as well.  Unfortunately, there is no 'rule' over which type of wallcovering may be more 'advantageous' as difficulty of removal is dependent upon the totality of factors involved - such as...

•  Pastes and other materials used for wallcoverings
Another part of the wallpaper removal equation to consider is the paste (or other materials) used to adhere the wallcovering to the walls, ceilings, etc.  There are many types of pastes ranging from 'old-fashioned' wheat pastes, cellulose pastes and clay pastes, to newer pre-mixed pastes with starch base and added elements proprietary to each manufacturer –– that may be incompatible with other pre-mixed pastes –– and yet, are often mixed together by paperhangers.  How these various pastes 'react' to the 'ground' of your wallcovering and with what you/we think of as... 'the wall'... is often determined by the next factor in our equation...

•  Paint used on (or completely missing from) your walls
What we often think of as our 'wall' when we look into wallpaper removal... is a bit of a misnomer.  For, in truth, the wallcovering is actually adhered to the 'paste' (or other material) used and this 'paste' is actually adhered to an incredibly thin and quite vital layer of 'paint'.  There are many material properties of this thin layer of paint that affect the adherence of the paste and thus of the wallcovering.  The paint may have many different properties such as gloss/matte surface finish; oil-based paint, latex-based paint, or acrylic-based paint; it can be a 'primer' that was designed for good adhesion to you wall surface; or it can be a 'cheap' grade of paint with a weak or even a completely ineffectual 'bond' to your wall surface (in which case the paint will come entirely off the wall – attached with the paste on the back of your wallcovering).  In rare cases –  because of a 'missing' paint layer, wallcovering may be adhered directly to the wall surface.  Different wall surfaces (and, most importantly, their interactions with your paint layer) have a marked impact upon your wallpaper removal success chances...

•  Wall surfaces and their affect upon paints, pastes and wallcoverings
How your wallpaper removal or border removal job job proceeds (with incredible ease or with difficulty bordering upon impossibility) is affected in a major way by the wall surfaces that you have in your home or office, etc.  Almost all pre-1940's houses were made with wood lath and plaster construction.  These houses are wonderful for wallpaper removal, as the plaster provides a hard, solid base which allows for ease of work with wallpaper removal tools.  These walls were not often 'perfectly' flat, however, and one can 'chip' the walls a bit with one's steel wallpaper removal tools.  Otherwise, (barring major paint defects) [see above] these are the very 'best' walls from which to remove wallcoverings of any type.  Many houses that are of post-World War II vintage have a drywall (gypsum board sandwiched between heavy paper) surface.  The older houses made this way still had a thin layer of plaster applied over the drywall... for a plaster finish much like above.  After the 1960's nearly all houses made using drywall were simply finished with 'primer' paint and 'finish' paint over the paper surface of the drywall... and more often than we would like, builders even skip the primer paint and just use 'regular' or 'finish' paint over the drywall (which is an absolutely incorrect method of finishing drywall and is a 'painting' defect)

•  A major wall surface defect that will cost you money if your contractor/s allowed it to occur while building your house...  

NOTE: this defect can NOT be 'prevented' after-the-fact and has NOTHING to do with your wallpaper removal contractor (except that wallpaper removal WILL EXPOSE the general contractor's or painting contractor's error, poor quality control or laziness).
 When the sheets of drywall are placed together, they are 'finished' with drywall mud (a gypsum product) and these areas are sanded flat prior to painting.  SOME TIMES the drywall finisher crews or the painters DO NOT SWEEP-OFF THE SANDING DUST from the areas where the drywall sheets are joined together.  When this happens, any paint that is applied to these ('un-swept') walls only lightly adheres to the sanding dust areas (especially so in the case of walls painted with airless paint sprayers).  This is a major disaster, as you will see the painted surface of your wall come off with (and on the back of) your wallpaper.  While you may think – "So what!" – the reality is that 'paint', although seemingly a rather 'thin' or inconsequential layer on your walls, actually has a 'thickness' that you can easily 'see' when it is removed from your walls.  This means that you will have to do 'something' in order to replace this 'missing' paint layer (which in the case of failure to adhere to your walls due to sanding dust not being swept off – will create an unmistakable 'H'-pattern all around your room/s).  You see, the 4' x 8' drywall sheets are applied in a certain pattern and if the sanding dust is not carefully cleaned off the gypsum-finished edges– the pattern of the edges of the sheets can be seen... and this pattern often looks like a series of very large Capital 'H's on your walls.  This very thin missing layer of paint must be filled-in with drywall mud and then sanded smooth to match a flat wall or re-finished to match a textured wall.  This can be an expensive proposition and has NOTHING to do with wallpaper removal and has EVERYTHING to do with a general contractor or painting contractor who did not do their job properly.  Good luck at your house!

(Part 2)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wallpaper Paste? ....... Wallpaper Glue? ....... What's the Diff? A sticky question answered!

As people search the internet with questions about wallpaper removal or about wallpaper border removal, you will often see people ask about 'wallpaper glue'.  

Well; in general, that is a misnomer.  For, you see, wallcoverings are most usually put up onto walls, ceilings and other surfaces (like columns) with 'wallpaper paste'.  There is a huge and important difference between 'paste' and 'glue' one that may impact your wallpaper removal situation.

Wallpaper Paste–

This is the most common means of securing wallcovering of all types to any surface.  Wallpaper pastes are water-based and are SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to permit later removal through use of water / moisture.  

Wallpaper pastes fall into several groups:

Cellulose-based dry mixes
Wheat-based dry mixes  
Clay-based 'pre-mixed' pastes (water and other additives have already been added and this is sold in 1 gallon to 5 gallon cans)
Wheat-based 'pre-mixed' pastes (water and other additives have already been added and this is sold in 1 gallon and 5 gallon cans) 

Wallpaper Glue–

Wallpaper 'glue' is a rather recent development and is primarily of two types:

Seam adhesive is meant to help hold the edges of wallcoverings in difficult bonding situations such as on an inside corner where wallcovering materials overlap about 1/4".  Quite often, wallcoverings (other than plain paper) do not 'stick' to each other when using plain paste... this is most true with vinyls, foils, some fabrics, etc.  Vinyl adhesive, although not 'sticky' when first applied, does dry into a very good bond that is similar to 'white glue' – and, like white glue – is water resistant / water proof.

Border adhesive is meant to enable one to hang a border over another wallcovering that ordinary wallpaper paste will not 'stick' to, such as: vinyls, foils, some fabrics, etc.  Border adhesive often dries with the consistency of 'rubber cement' – and, like rubber cement – is water resistant / water proof.

PLEASE NOTE:  Very often, wallpaper borders have been incorrectly hung using 'Border adhesive' directly upon painted wall surfaces.  This is NOT what this material was made for!  It is an incorrect use by the paper hanger.  Your border is now 'glued' onto your walls and must be handled in one of two special ways as outlined in my E-book under WALLPAPER BORDER REMOVAL and under When Bad Things Happen to Good People

For more information and detailed references please visit: >http://TotallyOffTheWall.com<

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On Becoming Unglued

Hello.  My name is Michael Patrick Haluska and I own a successful and well-regarded wallpaper removal business called Totally Off The Wall !! with offices in Sarasota, FL and Herndon, VA.

While I am quite often praised for how creatively evocative the business name is, I am nearly as often kidded by my dear friends who say that it is indeed an apt description for my warm-but-eccentric personality.

Therefore, it came as little surprise to them when I announced that I was writing the 'definitive' book on wallpaper removal.  They were bemused, as they likely thought that I had set myself up for a mere 2-hour chore... at most.

Well– when I thought about the breadth and depth of the subject material that I chose to cover, I realized that unbeknownst to my friends, I had undertaken (and am continuously undertaking) a rather grand project.

Whether the wonderful folks who visit my blog site come to me from web queries such as: remove wallpaper border • remove wallpaper paste • removing wallpaper border • removing wallpaper paste • removing wallpaper glue • wallpaper removal • wallpaper removing • how do I remove wallpaper • how to remove wallpaper border • wallpaper border • wall paper removal • or • how to remove wallpaper, I will have to answer a wealth of questions from a plethora of personalties whilst addressing myriad skill levels from...  tool-savvy do-it-yourselfer's...  to never picked up a screwdriver new-moms trying to make their baby's room delightful.

Quite a task!  I hope that with the kindly input of my blog readers, I will one day find myself at that Holy Grail of being able to answer 'most' of the questions you guys will ask me! 

I graciously welcome your insights that allow me to improve my blog (and my E-book... see below).  Please email suggestions to: happymichael@mac.com

P.S.  I also remove wallpaper wherever YOU are, if the job is sufficiently large enough, and interesting enough, and you are nice enough and pleasant to be with... contact me: happymichael@mac.com

P.P.S.  Air fare, a spare room or couch and a bit of dinner is all that is required beyond my normal fee structure.  On a large job, it is indeed likely that you may 'save' money over having an inexperienced worker who may cause thousands of dollars of damage to your walls to the extent that they must be repaired by yet 'another' contractor.

For more information and detailed references please visit:  >http://TotallyOffTheWall.com<