A couple of weeks ago, I borrowed a wallpaper steamer from a friend and set to the easy task of removing the crazy textured wallpaper from our bathroom. I would complete this in a few hours over the weekend and when I had finished, I would paint the walls white. This would be a quick and easy fix that would make a huge difference to the small room.
So I set about scoring and steaming the wallpaper, just like I had researched. Underneath the first layer of wallpaper was another layer of textured wallpaper. Husband and I conferred, and decided I may as well remove the second layer while I had the tools, so off I went.
Then this happened:
It turns out that the walls have never been properly plastered, in the 120-or-so-years since the house was built, so with the second layer of wallpaper (which is actually made of vinyl) came a layer of plaster, under which is the original lath and plaster, complete with horsehair clumps. And with that, what was supposed to be a quick, morale-raising win became a time-consuming and expensive remodel.
After getting a few eye-wateringly high quotes from plasterers, we realised we’d have to change tack. As we’ve just had the roof repaired and we’re starting a rewire next week, we needed to get the plastering costs down as low as possible, especially as this is just the beginning of the necessary replastering (see photo of attic, below). Very few of the rooms have been replastered this side of 1950, so we know that when we come to redecorate, we may well need to replaster first.
Inspiration struck when I got chatting to another slingy mum online about her renovation. She and her husband did much of the initial work in order to keep labour costs as low as possible. In a lightbulb moment, we realised that we could prep and overboard the bathroom and attic, then ask our plasterer to come in and skim both at the same time. Luckily, our plasterer agreed that this would work, and the quote came right down.
So this brings me to yesterday. Armed with the trusty wallpaper steamer plus a hammer, chisel and goggles, I set about removing the wall coverings from one side of the room. The wallpaper removal went very well – we just needed to take off the first layer of textured wallpaper, and I managed this in about 30 minutes (had to abandon post when the Boy awoke, screaming).
Later, I started on the 1930s ceramic tiles. Again, this was fairly easy and I was buoyed by my quick progress. Unfortunately, this bubble of enthusiasm was burst when I realised that a very thick layer of cement was lurking under the tiles. After a very frustrating couple of hours of attempting (mainly unsuccessfully) to remove the concrete using the hammer and chisel, I gave up and called in Husband for assistance. We plan to use his hammer drill to put holes in the cement and make chiselling easier. If that fails, we’ll use an angle grinder!
On the upside, Husband managed to remove the big old empty airing cupboard, making the bathroom look bigger already (if somewhat sooty – sidebar: why is there soot in a bathroom cupboard??).
It’s pretty hard to retain enthusiasm and motivation when your bathroom looks like this. We’re soldiering on, though, and keeping our end goal in mind!